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The night that I arrived in Costa Rica it was like stepping into a whole new world. I had never been out of the United States before but I was more than enthusiastic to venture out into new surroundings with my friends from school. We had boarded delta airlines from Norfolk to San Jose that afternoon, after prying ourselves out of our parent’s reluctant arms, and sat, looking out of the airplane windows with gazing eyes and pounding hearts. There were a few delays due to inclement weather but neither the pounding sounds of drums in the skies nor the sparks of electricity jumping from one cloud to the next could stop the journey. When we finally landed, my group of 11 students and 3 adults followed our tour director onto a bus and went to our first hotel.
Through the course of the trip we stayed at a total of four hotels including the grand hotel of Costa Rica and Mars de Luz. These hotels were comfortable, tranquil and had extraordinary views of the endless mountain ranges and the active volcano. Also some were family owned and after devouring the usual delicious meal of beans and rice or chicken we would try to bypass the infinite rain and run out to the dance floor to practice our cha cha cha and merengue with the family.
When we weren’t at the hotels we rode around Costa Rica in our bus, looking out the window at the mountainous landscape and bright city lights while listening to the perfect music was always a delight. Sometimes we would even stop on the road which would be relatively vacant and just take in all the wonders around us. Everyone would pile out of the bus and just gaze at the breath taking scenery of the highlands or take pictures in hopes to capture the best part of the memory and keep it with them forever. We went from San Jose to the Arenal region, to Monteverde, and to the pacific region. Each had its own beautiful terrain, activities, and sites. In San Jose we visited a biodiversity park and were astonished to find how close we could get to these wild animals such as white tailed deer, sloths, anteaters, and poisonous frogs. Then we went to the Arenal region and hiked up 400 meters to a balcony that looked over the Arenal volcano. It was a palisade with a prodigious, white crescent carving out its middle. It had a bantam of smoke coming out of the middle which made the air surrounding us hot but I believe this prepared us for our next adventure to the hot springs. After the hot springs we went kayaking and swimming up Lake Arenal which was more than a place of serenity. All of my friends wanted to splash around and dunk each other. However I most fondly enjoyed floating along in absolute silence. The final thing we did in Arenal was visit a waterfall. 460 steps up a mountain are usually too much but this was definitely worth it. A once in a lifetime chance to swim under a white, misty waterfall and everyone took advantage of it. Next stop was Monteverde for some zip lining. It was almost like flying 656 ft above the earth while screaming at the wind.
We ended the 9 day trip in the pacific region watching the sunset over the calm beach. Holding hand in hand my friends and I whispered the Costa Rican motto “Pura Vida” and wished we could stay in the deciduous land forever.