Every year, Orme faculty member Ilcen Reyes spends her Spring Break traveling with students through EF Tours to foreign countries, with the desire to learn more about the world. This year, Ilcen brought five Orme students – Julee Alden, Arely Chavez, Cheyenne Grant, Leonie Mayer and Nyx Vazquez – to Costa Rica. The trip exceeded the group’s expectations not only as an excellent educational experience, but it was also a great and wonderful adventure.
Costa Rica is unique for its dedication to conserving its environment. On the first day they visited INBio. This destination is located in the country’s capital, San Jose. The group was given an introduction to Costa Rica’s biodiversity. By visiting the Arenal Volcano, they learned how Costa Rica’s landscape was created by volcanic activity. The Cloud Forest is an excellent example of Costa Rica’s two-season weather.
“I thought the trip was a great experience that was not only fun but educational.” – Julee Alden
Walking through the lush forest, while breathing in the humid air, the group said it was clear, “We aren’t in Arizona anymore.” After a nature hike, the Orme adventurers had the chance to plant a tree, contributing to Costa Rica’s project of creating a corridor between two forests that had been separated in the past. They planted their very own tree in the Cloud Forest and named it ‘The Orme Tree.’
“The whole experience was priceless! We did a lot of crazy stuff like ziplining, river rafting and kayaking.” – Cheyenne Grant
A favorite for some of the students was the beach, and they thought that Manuel Antonio National Park was incredible. The forest sat on the shore of the beautiful ocean. Arely had a great time watching the monkeys there. She said, “I’m so tired of seeing monkeys inside cages. I loved watching them play. They’re little trouble makers!” She went on to say, “It is so pretty how the animals are just there. You literally just go on the river and there are so many different kinds of birds!”
“The trip was absolutely marvelous, and I would certainly travel to Costa Rica over and over just for the beauty of it all.” – Arely Chavez
Besides being fascinated by Costa Rica’s nature, Ilcen and the students got a special insight into the country’s culture. They visited an elementary school in Monteverde, a small village in the mountains, and enjoyed watching the kids perform traditional dances. Later, they played soccer with them. Learning about and experiencing the local culture, the group was surprised when they heard they would be eating rice and beans every day. Soon, however, they found out how delicious that traditional food was. After the ten day trip, Leonie said, “Wow, I could eat beans and rice for the rest of my life! But even better was the fruit! I ate so much pineapple my mouth was hurting!” And, our students had the opportunity to speak Spanish in real and natural situations, and improve their language skills.
“I was fascinated by how happy and positive the people of Costa Rica are. Even though most Costa Ricans have very little and live in small houses, walking down the streets you see people smiling and yelling Pura Vida!” – Leonie Mayer
Yes, our Orme travelers had many exciting and fun adventures on their trip, including: kayaking on Arenal Lake; riding a tram over the rainforest; river rafting at Sarapiqui National Park; and ziplining in the Cloud Forest, where Ilcen and Arely got stuck in the middle of South America’s longest zipline. Ilcen said, “It was fun because, even though we got stuck, the very handsome and friendly Costa Rican young men rescued us immediately.”
“Costa Rica was truly an amazing, beautiful country to visit, but what made the trip unforgettable was being able to enjoy and experience it with friends!” – Nyx Vazquez