Spanish Trip – June 29-July 1

These are our last days in Flamingo. On Friday, students completed their classes and said goodbye to their teachers once again. This time though, CPI had setup a nice little graduation for the students, where they received certificates of completion and a slide show of pictures from CPI. We then took off to celebrate the end of classes at the beach.

On Saturday, we visited two new beaches close to Flamingo. It was a nice relaxing day and the weather was great. We said goodbye Sunday morning and made our way back to San Jose. Sunday we had a lot of free time to get last minute souvenirs and hang out. We also said goodbye to our awesome driver, Rodrigo.

Tomorrow we are white-water rafting all day so students are pretty excited. We leave Tuesday very early in the morning. Students are sad to leave but also eager to get home and see family and friends. It’s been a blast! Students have made some great memories and learned a lot about so many different things in the Costa Rican culture. We are savoring our last hours of Costa Rica 2012 now, so I better go.

Thanks for following our blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed the updates and pictures. Until the next adventure this is Joel Gonzalez signing off. Pura Vida!

Spanish Trip – June 28

We have been really lucky with the weather lately. After classes students have enjoyed playing ping pong and relaxing by the pool and the sun has been out everyday. Today after classes we took a little drive north to go mountain biking. Little did we know how intense it would be. The trails were pretty advanced mountain biking trails, but we still had a great time and the views were spectacular on the coast. We managed to see some monkeys and a pretty big rattlesnake that no one wanted to get too close to. Enjoy the pictures!

Spanish Trip – June 27

Sorry for the lack of updates, we’ve had some internet trouble.

Every Wednesday students have time in the mornings to journal about their experience in a new culture. I have included some of Luke’s journal entry from this week.

“This trip has been really fun trying new things. So many things that I don’t really want to do but I end up liking them. Like the canopy tour, that was tons of fun. All the food has been great and I haven’t regretted trying any of it. Being uncomfortable meeting new families and trying to get to know them has been a great experience. This whole trip is definitely something that has made me mature more.”


Today is also Maddie’s 17th birthday so we celebrated with some great cake!

Spanish Trip – June 26

After classes this morning we made our way down to Tamarindo beach, one of the best in Costa Rica for surfing. Hans, Josh, and Rachel were the brave ones to try out the surfing. We had a great time riding waves, looking for crabs (mainly Luke) and relaxing in good conversation with our new guide, Lamar.

Spanish Trip – June 25

Flamingo is beautiful, yet very hot. Students arrived to campus today for their morning classes and to meet their new professors. The Flamingo campus is very nice as well and luckily the classrooms are air conditioned. After classes we went to eat lunch and then straight to Flamingo beach. It was a gorgeous day today and we were able to catch some good waves before heading home to spend the evening with families.

Spanish Trip – June 23/24

Sadly, today we left Monteverde. We took off this morning to Arenal for the weekend to relax and take a break from classes. We stopped for lunch before getting to Arenal. We took a nature hike and saw some interesting things on the trails. Once getting into our rooms at hotel, we looked behind us to see the beautiful Arenal volcano. It is a spectacular view. Everyone was eager to see the hot springs and so before dinner we tried out their pools, each pool having a different temperature. After dinner it was back to the pools to relax.

The next day we woke up to see Arenal with no clouds. The morning was spent relaxing by the pool and in our ooms until we left before lunch. It was quite a drive to Flamingo from there, though the scenery was great. We spotted some monkeys and birds along the way. New host families were waiting when we got to Flamingo and so students went straight their homes to eat and spend the evening with them. The beaches are incredible here but it is really hot.


Spanish Trip – June 22

Today is canopy day!! Students have been super excited (and a little nervous and scared) to go zip-lining! We meet up with our group at our usual meeting spot early this morning. We got to Extremo Canopy and started putting on our gear. Some students decided to take the final zip-line “Superman” style, so we had to put on some extra equipment. After a short demonstration, we made our way up the first ladder. Hans and Luke were the first to try out the lines. With smiles and hearts pounding, we flew amongst the trees with amazing views all around. For some of the lines we got to pair up to go a bit faster. In the middle of the lines we got to do what’s called the “Tarzan Swing”, where you hook on to a couple ropes and fly from a platform like Tarzan. The first drop is quite scary, but students loved it. After a couple more lines we made our way up to the last line, which is 1 km long! This is the one some of us decided to do “Superman” style. It took a little more time to hook us in, but being able to spread your arms and fly in the clouds looking over the cloud forest was absolutely surreal. Enjoy the pictures.

Spanish Trip – June 21

This morning our group did some volunteering at a nearby farm. Our guide told us all about the farm and their many uses of the land. We then bagged up some fertilizer and went out the coffee fields to level some ground for the coffee plants. It was a pretty good workout. We then got to see many of the different animals. Students haven’t been able to touch the dogs in the streets, and so they loved feeding the goats and pigs. After a quick coffee break, everyone grabbed a small tree and we walked out to plant them in a different field. While planting the trees, we caught eye of this amazing tree great for climbing. We had to take a couple pictures before heading back to the bus.

Spanish Trip – June 20

Every Wednesday students have time in the mornings to journal about their experience in a new culture. I have included some of Maddie and Juliana’s journal entries from this week.

Maddie –       “Class was long today, but helpful. It was good review and I feel like class is helping me a lot with conversational Spanish, while also reviewing difficult aspects of grammar. This evening, my family took us all to my grandma’s house to celebrate father’s day because they didn’t get a chance to on Sunday. It was an interesting experience! I met sooooooo many people, ate chicharones, and was able to keep up a decent conversation with my grandma tica. It was a great feeling, being surrounded by so many people who love each other. The kids running around playing with each other and the adults laughing and talking in the kitchen reminded me of my family, and what our family gathering are like back home. “


Juliana –       “I’m so glad to have a host sister my age. I always observe what she does and her lifestyle. It’s also great to share with each other stories dealing with our personal lives and our cultures. It gives me an opportunity to compare and contrast our lives. We both love learning new things and dogs. She is very creative and loves painting my nails. My sister walks to school while I drive to school. I know for a fact I will really miss my family in Monteverde, but I will definitely keep in touch with them. I’m so glad we are given the opportunity to live with host families and to visit Costa Rica because the memories I am making with my family and my roup are memories I will never forget.”

Spanish Trip – June 19

Today we woke up super early to go visit a Cloud Forest by Santa Elena. These rare forests are in tropical mountainous environments and usually have a pretty consistent cover of clouds. Students learned about the different trees and wildlife in the forest. Some of us were lucky to briefly catch a view of one of Costa Rica’s most popular birds, the Quetzal.

Spanish Trip – June 18

Monteverde is a very beautiful place. It’s filled with cloud forests, birds and monkeys in the trees, hilly roads and coffee plantations, and friendly locals. Students met at our new meeting point near Santa Elena to go for a scavenger hunt of the area. Students had to take pictures of all sorts of things…picture of you dancing with a local, picture of a fruit in season, picture of an animal, picture of the local soccer team, etc. Winners were Juliana, Josh, and Rachel who completed all tasks and were rewarded with some delicious ice cream.

We made our way back to CPI for our second Latin cooking class. This one was a lot more hands on for the students as you can see in the pictures. Students then went to their Spanish classes to meet their new professors.

Spanish Trip – June 17

Today was a day of travel. Students said goodbye to their host-families in Heredia as we packed up the bus to go to Monteverde. The ride got a bit bumpy as we made our way up, but the views were incredible. Soon, we were in the clouds and drove right to the CPI campus in Monteverde. We had little time today to explore the campus since their new host families were coming by to pick them up.

Today is also Father’s day so as students celebrate with their host-fathers here, they wanted to wish their dads back home a Happy Father’s Day!

Spanish Trip – June 16

Today I took our group into San Jose to explore the city a bit more. We rode the public bus from our home in San Joaquin into the city. We first went to a souvenir market we had seen before when we visited the National Museum.  We then walked down Avenida Central to “Mercado Central”, or the central market. Students had lunch beside locals while listening to the many sounds of the main market in San Jose. We then made a long walk down Paseo Colon to the famous “La Sabana” park. On our way we stopped for some wonderful ice cream. We sat in the park playing cards, throwing the frisbee, and watching the horses around us.

Spanish Trip – June 15

This morning students got a chance to learn some basic steps of popular dances in Costa Rica. This included Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, and Cumbia. In our free time I have been teaching them what’s called “La Rueda Cubana” which is a Salsa but danced with partners in a circle. Students have really enjoyed that and so learning some other latin dances was great. After that we made our way over to the patio area where we had a cooking class to make “Arroz con pollo”, or chicken and rice. It was delicious!!

Spanish Trip – June 14

Students have very much enjoyed the CPI campus in Heredia. Between classes and other activities, they’ve enjoyed the patio area where they can sip coffee and work on journals/homework. Often on break many find their way to the ping pong table. Students have enjoyed their classes as well, though they aren’t thrilled with having homework. Here are some pictures from around the CPI campus.

Spanish Trip – June 13

Every Wednesday students have time in the mornings to journal about their experience in a new culture. I have included some of Ali and Rachel’s journal entries from this week.

Ali-         “In Costa Rica, or at least in my family, I feel as though family is more important than anything. I feel that way about my real family too, but i love the way there is always someone from the extended part of the family visiting the house. They seem to know everything about each other and I think that is awesome. I got an excited feeling today when i realized how i am already understanding Spanish so much more. I also feel as though it is a lot easier to express myself and I now really enjoy the conversations I have with my Tica family because I am no longer afraid. I do not understand everything, but they are very understanding and patient with me. I hope that when I go to my next family, I will still have the confidence to talk with them as much as I do with the wonderful people in this family. “

Rachel-            “I finally met the grand-daughter of the family, Maria, who is 6 years old. She is the cutest kid ever. I love talking to her because I feel like her level of Spanish is the same as mine. Maria’s dad, Arturo, comes to pick her up at night and the other night he helped me with my homework. Arturo knows English very well and he is a nice outlet to have because speaking Spanish all night can be a bit overwhelming. Speaking Spanish isn’t the only new thing I have experienced here so far. During the first night I kept hearing all of these animal noises in the middle of the night. I pulled the blinds from the window and saw my neighbors had an animal farm!”


Spanish Trip – June 12

We met up early this morning to try our luck in seeing the Poas Volcano. The ride up to Poas is a long one but we were lucky to see a few pretty cool things before being surrounded in clouds. Sadly, we were not able to see much once we got up to the lookout but we still had a good time and learned about the last eruptions. We also took a hike and saw some cool things before taking a coffee break in the main lodge.

Spanish Trip – June 11

In the morning students’ families helped them walk to our meeting point in San Joaquin de Flores. We boarded a public bus to downtown Heredia for a walking tour of the city. Our tour guide, Javier, showed us some of the important landmarks and talked about the history of the region. Students were given free time to explore the streets and then meet up for lunch in the central market.

Once back at CPI, students entered their Spanish classes. Students have classes from 1-5pm with a break in the middle for coffee along with bread and fresh pineapple and watermelon. After classes, students made their own way home to their houses to eat dinner with their families.

Spanish Trip – June 10

Today students got a chance to sleep in a bit before breakfast. Breakfast included gallo pinto, eggs, toast, fresh pineapple and watermelon. Oh, and coffee! After breakfast we boarded the bus to go to Cafe Britt for a coffee tour. We arrived early which gave us some time to eat some fresh bananas and drink some amazing coffee while walking around the flower garden. The tour was very entertaining and gave us a good look at the history and production of coffee in Costa Rica. After the tour we ate a buffet lunch and got to sample a lot of coffee chocolate beans.

We then made our way to the CPI campus. Students had a written and oral test in Spanish to see in what level they should be placed. Today is Emily’s 17th birthday! So, before students left to meet their host families, we enjoyed some very delicious cake.

Finally, students took off one by one to be with their host families. Here is a picture of each student with their host family.

Spanish Trip – June 9

During our first night, students heard many things ranging from dogs to birds to a woodpecker and a rooster. Today we saw San Jose for the first time. Our group leader for the day, Javier, took us first to the National Theater. We learned a lot about the architecture and history of the theater.

Next, we visited the National Museum. We saw a lot of caterpillars and butterflies flying around us and learned a lot about their habitat. We talked about the history of Costa Rica and saw the mysterious “bolas” located around the museum and pondered where they came from and why.

After walking around quite a bit we made our way to the central market to eat lunch. The central market is one huge maze. Many people come daily to sell anything from meats and produce to house items and tourist souvenirs. It was a great opportunity for students to eat with the locals and hear the sounds of the market, while sampling some great authentic “casados” once again. We then checked out a more specific market for arts and crafts souvenirs. Students learned to bargain and convert colones to dollars.

We returned back to our hotel to eat dinner and then relax, as we have a big day tomorrow.