March 2008. The country of Costa Rica welcomes 20 Middle School kids. It’s hot and sticky; we all automatically start sweating, our previously cold bodies defrosting our “winter coats”, hair sticking to the sides of our faces. All the students who went to Costa Rica were encouraged to keep a journal, so we’d always remember the amazing things we experienced. The very first thing I wrote in my journal, “First off, it’s caliente!”
The very first day we were there, we visited an elementary school, and our emotional growth began. These adorable children danced for us and shared their culture. It was different; the school was extremely small, the children were all so happy to be there! That evening were arrived in Parissmina.
We stayed on this little island for three days and our main purpose was to patrol the beaches at night. We walked up and down the beaches, walking about six miles each night, looking for turtles, keeping them safe. Our goal was to get all their eggs so that poachers who lurked on the beaches at night wouldn’t steal the eggs and sell them. Our second day on Parissmina was probably the best. We started our day off with a boat tour. What do you get when you take three different boats, 20 middle school kids, and 4 immature teachers? A super soaking, tremendously fun water fight. Whenever our boat was under attack we hid behind our teacher, it was his idea to start the fight in the first place! Some other boats threw coconuts to create a splash; our boat had a bucket we filled with water to throw upon the other boats. It was exciting.
That afternoon, one of our teachers ate a pepper that was three times hotter than a habanera pepper! His mouth was on fire until dinner. Some of the girls and one of the male teachers got their hair braided, or in his case “palm treed” which are tiny pig tails. We hung out on the beach and swim in the ocean. We played soccer with some of the local kids on the island. We were hardly competition for these children who spend their lives on that field, if you couldn’t tell by their skills, you could tell by their field, torn and worn with thousands of memories leaping from each blade of grass. That night we saw our first turtle! She didn’t lay, but we got to pet her, she was the most graceful, elegant, beautiful creature I’ve ever seen!
The next morning we got to sleep until 8:30 am. It was heaven sent. Then we went to Senora Francesca’s house. We ate this amazing bread and drank glasses of lemonade. We got to be around a few local children, who were so cute. That evening we learned a local salsa type dance, which was very fun!
For the rest of our adventure, we visited la Fortuna, the volcano city, hiked up a humongous waterfall, visited organic farms, white water rafted, and stayed in guest homes, experiencing their daily lives and learning how the simple things made them happy. We even milked a cow at my home! We all realized how selfish we are at home, and had a different outlook on life, less egocentric, more appreciative. Learning that you can be happy, even with so little.
We finished off our trip by planting 50 new trees in the rainforest we’re they’d been torn down. It was the most emotional growth I’ve ever gained on a trip and I will never forget the wonderful people and places of Costa Rica.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.