During the spring of 2012, I had the magnificent opportunity of traveling to Costa Rica with 14 other third and fourth year Spanish students from my school. We stayed for eight days in the beautiful country, traveling between four different hotels. We participated in several service projects and enjoyed countless, once of a lifetime activities; some of which include: hiking through the cloud forest, horseback riding through the Costa Rican mountains, zip lining, and of course enjoying the beautiful beaches. The entire trip was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world; being in a country so different from ours helped me gain a new perspective on the world around me.
In the first few days we participated in more activities than I ever have in my lifetime; kayaking through bright blue lakes, drinking coconut water straight from the coconut, and swimming in the natural hot springs. Each new day brought new excitement, like horseback riding through the mountains, and zip lining over the jungle. The view from the zip line was the most breath taking experience I’ve ever had; dangling 100 feet above the tree tops, flying through clouds, there’s nothing like it.
Besides all the days full of excitement, there were also days just for relaxing. We spent an entire day on the magnificent beaches in southern Costa Rica. The water was a perfect turquoise color with a temperature just right for swimming. However, this beach experience was unlike any other for a few more reasons than just the ocean. Hanging just mere feet above our heads were wild monkeys who, if you weren’t looking, would swipe your belongings right out from under your nose. At one point, I walked out of the water to see a monkey with its hands in my backpack! On top of these hairy creatures, there were also scaly ones, namely iguanas! Scary as it sounds, several iguanas were roaming around the beach, sometimes just inches away from you. Also, iguanas apparently love bananas; a few of us were just sitting, enjoying a midday snack when, out of nowhere, an iguana leapt up and tried to grab my friend’s banana. She screamed and threw the banana; it was the scariest thing that happened the whole trip.
Of course, this trip wasn’t just a vacation; while we were there we completed several service projects. First we visited Monte Verde Elementary school; we donated supplies and spent a few hours getting to know the kids. They showed us new games and we showed them some of our old ones. The whole experience really was incredible, just to see how these children live and how different it is from here. Additionally, we each got to plant our own tree in Costa Rican soil. The trees will help to form a biological path to lead animals to the ocean. It’s amazing to think that I contributed to such a wonderful cause and that the legacy will grow forever. Finally, we visited an orphanage and donated supplies such as socks and t-shirts. We met with a few of the residents who were right around our age, we got to talk to them about what it’s like to live there and generally what it’s like to be a teenager in Costa Rica. I’m glad I got to see so much of a different country so I can better understand the world.
This vacation helped me realize that the world around me is full of exciting new adventures that reach beyond the limits of just my country. I hope to travel much more and reach new heights in my life.
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