Under the Costa Rican Sun

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Under the Costa Rican Sun

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Ever been out of your comfort zone? Wondered what exotic new things are out there for you to see, sense, touch, smell and hear? This past summer a lucky group of Alisal students were given the opportunity to travel 2,862 miles south into the wonders of the beautiful country of Costa Rica.

Steve Rovell, the coordinator of this trip, received a phone call from the agency Worldstrides the summer before the school started. This phone call was actually the motive in which he decided to take a group of students on this journey with him. Rovell was given the choice to travel almost anywhere in the world, and Costa Rica was an easy choice for him to pick. Rovell had actually visited Costa Rica before with his family and stated, “I loved it both times I went.” Also, it was not just a trip where the students went to go have fun, but an educational journey as well, where they would learn about the biosphere and all their surroundings.

It was not an easy journey. They started with fifteen determined students who needed to raise $2,800, but only six were able to make the trip. Fundraising was difficult because Rovell’s group had to raise a lot of money and compete with other groups on campus.  The main competition was the 100+ students who went to New York City over spring break.

Despite the difficulties in raising the money, six students and one parent – Brenda Monroy, Josette Manzo, Daniel Estrada, Paula Fernandez Corazon Montero, Alexia Cordozo and Mary Helen Montero (Corazon’s mother) came up with the money. Manzo, who raised the greatest amount of money with the club said, “It was very difficult to fundraise money since we only had a couple of fundraisers, which were not very successful, from the club we only got like two hundred dollars.” She also started fundraising much of her money on her own. “I paid most of it on my own.” On the other hand, Montero who raised about $2,000 did not have many difficulties raising the money. She said, “My mom helped me a lot, but every month we had to pay a certain amount and it made payments easier, we also sold candy and stuff and I have a very supportive family and if I were to ask them to help me out or something they would help me out and I have a lot of friends they would help me out too.”

Through all the hard work the six students were able to go on the trip. Although most of the students felt it was awkward at first because they did not really know each other. “None of my friends went on the trip but then I became close friends with the people who went,” said Manzo.  Estrada said, “I was the only dude so right away I thought it was tight.” While the group was small, they were not alone; three other high schools from California shared the experience with them. Throughout the trip they became very good friends with all of the Alisal students to the point where Estrada said, “They were really cool we got them on Instagram and everything.” Cordozo added, “It was really hard to say goodbye.”

Once in Costa Rica there was never a dull moment.  They stayed for six nights and seven days in various places like Sarapiqui, Monteverde, Arenal and San Jose. Some of the accommodations were extraordinary according to Rovell. In fact they stayed at the Wyndham Resort, one of the best resorts in the world for two nights. Not only did they stay there but as well spent two nights in the Sarapiqui which did not have the best accommodations since each room only had a bed and one blanket with no TV or any electronics but by far was the most fun place they stayed. Montero said, “We didn’t have any electronics and it felt weird but there were like these pools outside and it kind of made up for it.” Fernandez agreed, “I wanted to use my phone but like then they would take us to these bat caves which were really fun to watch.”

They ventured into the jungle spotting venomous snakes, iguanas, poison dart frogs, howler monkeys, sloths, bats and a variety of insects. You would think the students would have been terrified to be around so many wild animals, but they were all fascinated by the vast amount of nature that surrounded them. In fact, Fernandez came across an ant pile in which she accidently stepped on and caused all the ants to rush up her leg and bite her, “That was the only part of the trip that scared me,” she said.

The students’ only issue seemed to be the insects but they found it a minimal distraction from all the other sights that they came across to. Not only was it very fun to see all the animals but the students were able to study the animals in the river, find the oxygen levels and study the bats that inhabited the rainforest to find ways they could help them.

The most fun they had while being in Sarapiqui was white water rafting, which was very thrilling with all the commotion of water being splashed all over until going down a cliff and repeating it all over again. The students actually got to jump off the cliff several times but Cordozo did not want to jump off at all, “I finally jumped off holding Daniel’s hand, I wanted the 2,800 dollars to be worth it.”

Another location they stayed at which was Monteverde, Rovell’s favorite place not only because of its beautiful view, but also because they got to go zip lining.  Rovell said it was frightening for most because you could not see the end of the zip line since it did go through a cloud but besides that it was very amusing. Montero also said, “It was really foggy and you never knew when it would end until you stopped but it was really fun. “

The students also got to do some community service by cleaning the jungle! Estrada said, “The community service was easy, just time consuming because the jungle is really big, but it was fun just walking around because while you were cleaning you saw everything like waterfalls, bugs, snakes.”

Soon enough they were at their final location, Arenal, which according to Rovell “was very beautiful.” Then they went on a hike and got to visit the the Arenal Volcano. During their stay they also go to go have some fun in the hot springs, which they felt was almost like a water park, but better. all of the students including the teachers enjoyed it, maybe not Rovell since he hurt his neck sliding down a very large slide. Estrada seemed to enjoy it the most.  “It was so fun. It was the #2 resort in the world and every hot spring was like a pool sized Jacuzzi and it was near a volcano and we stayed there late and we skipped out on roaming around the town just to stay there longer.”

Despite all the fun, Rovell said he will not do this program again this year because he is planning on teaching an AP course next year and needs time to organize that, but he would definitely do it again two years from now.

The six students who went this year had a trip to remember. Cordozo, who was very sad to leave, said, “I didn’t want to go back to my routine [at home] since I had just experienced a whole new thing.”   Estrada agreed, “Costa Rica was so much fun I’ll miss the sightseeing and the perfect sceneries and it was cool.”

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