“Here goes nothing, I guess,” is the thought crossing my mind as I step into Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on July 18th, 2009. My mom was late for work, so I enter alone. I check in, find my gate, and wait to board my flight to Miami where I’ll meet up with the other Girl Scouts and our leaders that will accompany me to Costa Rica tomorrow. It’ll be my first time flying internationally, so I clutch my passport like it’s a crutch, as the nervous jitters rack through my body like contractions. What if my roommate hates me? What if I drown? What am I doing here?? But I snap back into reality as my row is being called to board the plane. I suppress my urges to make a run for it, take a deep breath, and roll my suitcase down the aisle….
The flight went way more smoothly than my anxiety had led me to believe it would, and meeting up with the girls in Miami was indeed less high-school-sitcom-ish than I’d imagined. We were all just eager girls who were ready for new experiences who shared many things, even though we were from all over America.
When we arrived at the San Jose airport, our Holbrook (our travel agency) guide met us in front where we loaded our baggage onto our shuttle bus and went to a Gothic cathedral in downtown San Jose. In case you didn’t know, we Girl Scouts love to interact, so our first order of business was to meet up with some Costa Rican Girl Guides to trade campfire songs and knickknacks. Like I said, it’s just what we do. We then proceeded to settle in at our first lodge, the Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve/Lodge, that was literally in the middle of a rainforest. Afterwards, we had our first (of many) dinner of rice, beans, and chicken.
Some other activities we participated in were waking up early to go build a fence at a local senior’s home, to keep in the forgetful elders. Later that day, we did some white-water rafting down the Sarapiqui River. Another day, we did a tour of a local chocolate factory. We watched the entire process, from bean to edible turtle-shaped bites. In the the city of Arenal, upon arriving, we did a short hike up “Volcan Arenal”; from the point to which we hiked, we could actually hear the volcano bubbling. Our fourth day featured everyone’s favorite activity, ziplining. I saw so much beauty in those eight ziplines. The views were just plain breathtaking. We again changed our scenery and relocated to Puntarenas, where we met a crocodile named Osama on a bird-watching tour through the Guacalillo Estuary. Our guides explanation: they never know exactly where he is.
Our night endeavors consisting of a lesson in conservation at the Sarapiqui Conservation Learning Center, a salsa-dancing class, chilling in thermal pools heated by steam from the Arenal Volcano, and a “discoteque”, which is just like a big community party.
On our last day, we did more of our trademark “swapping” before we all loaded off into our flight to Miami, then our respective states, carrying back memories of the majestic sights of beautiful Costa Rica. The opportunity to go on such an amazing trip, getting to know girls who I have so much in common with, and sharing with them my first out-of-country experience is priceless. Pura vida!!
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