What better way to start off the month of July, than by going surfing on one of the most renown surf locations in Costa Rica? This is why yesterday, the girls from Upper Moreland High School went to Tamarindo for surf lessons, after their Spanish classes and a delicious “burrito” lunch!

Before the surf lessons, the girls walked around the beach town of Tamarindo, while they window shopped and appreciated this laid back town. Once it was time to start the lessons, they all headed to “Iguana Surf”, put on their rash guards, grabbed a surf board, and went to the beach where they would be taught the instructions and safety procedures.

 

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After they were all able to master their positions on the sand, they were finally sent to the ocean, to see how well they would do with the real thing! They all did a great job, and they were able to stand up many times! The girls all had a wonderful time, and after a day full of fun Spanish lessons and a surfing adventure, they were ready to head back to their familias “ticas”.

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It’s Wednesday, which means 2 things, it’s the middle of the week and it’s also a beach day! Today the SPI students had the chance to wake up early to enjoy the beach. Andres. our diver,  took us to Brasilito and the we walked to Playa Conchal, which is a beach with a lot of small pieace of shells instead of having sand. In Spanish, Conchal, is a place were there is a lot of shells, which is perfect name for this beach. At the beach all of the student went in different groups and all did different activities. Hailey and the Wills snorkeled by the rocks and some pangas and saw fish. Some girls were tanning, other went of the water or rode jet skies. Then some of the boys were playing guitar, swimming in the ocean and even got some massages to relax and enjoy the view of the beach.

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We spent most of the morning at the beach, and then we  had an early lunch, but that didn’t mattered because the students were very hungry and really wanted to have some lunch. But are day just kept on going! Once we arrived at CPI the students had Latin dance classes where the student got to learn Merengue; the students did an amazing job moving their hips back and forth to the right and to the left. Everyone has a great time and nobody complained about the heat because they were very entertained with the music. For the rest of the afternoon the student had Spanish classes and then some free time. Today many of the students were very tired from the beach day earlier today so they decide to relax by the pool while other people had a lot of energy and wanted to go to the beach again!

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It’s Tuesday and it’s the 3rd day of SPI Summer 2. All the students arrive at the Liberia airport a few hours after we left the students from Summer 1. It was a bittersweet farewell as the students got very attach to each other during the last two week. Then the 4 students who are staying for Summer 2 have to start the process all over again. On Monday it’s the first day of week and we were ready to roll! Once we had breakfast we loaded the bus and got ready to drive to Flamingo. Once we got to CPI Flamingo all the students took their Spanish test, one written and the other oral, in order to determine their level in the language.

Once everyone was done we had an orientation which explained  what to expect at their homestays and the Flamingo area. Then we had a tour around CPI Flamingo and finally some down time were the students enjoyed some internet time or just dipped their feet in the cool yet refreshing pool. At noon we had lunch and then the students were ready to take their first Spanish classes with their teachers.  Once Spanish classes were done we all got on the bus and were dropped off at the meeting point where the students got to met their homestays!

Today, Tuesday was our first volunteer day. We did something similar to Habitat for Humanity. CPI looked for a family that needed help and found a family with a really low income, barley enough to buy food. This is a big family, the grandma is the head of the family and she has the main house were she takes care of the grandchildren while the parents are working, if they have jobs. The parents have small houses made out of metallic sheets and the windows are covered with black plastics bags. The house of the grandmother is more stable, the main building is made out of cement blocks, but there are also other materials which are falling off.  Also the house is very small and simple, it’s the size of a medium size room and it had a living room, a bathroom and two bedrooms. The idea is to renovate the house as much as possible so the children of the family have a safe and comfortable place to grow and have a better future.

The students from SPI like working with this family because they know that they are helping many different children by having the house a safe place. After the volunteer work we headed to CPI to have lunch and Spanish classes. Today was a good day because the students had the opportunity to finish off their day with a walk to Flamingo Beach; go into the ocean or shop in the near plaza after class. Everyone enjoyed the beach and wished they could aty longer, I’m sure that they will be back at the beach tomorrow.

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Yesterday, the Upper Moreland group went on a trip to Santa Cruz and Guaitil after Spanish classes. These two cities both belong to the province of Guanacaste. Santa Cruz, which translates to “Holy Cross”, is known as the folk city of Costa Rica, for its traditional food, music and cultural festivities. Here, the girls had a delicious traditional lunch of a “casado” and “arroz con pollo”, and after walked around the park and went to the church in the main part of the city.

 

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Once they completed the tour of Santa Cruz, they headed to Guaitil, a city renown for its amazing and handcrafted pottery, a heritage from the native to Costa Rica, indigenous group of the Chorotegas. Here, the owners of the shot, Jesus and Susan, showed them the whole intricate process it took to make the pottery. The girls even helped out with the pottery, and once the explanation was done, they got some beautiful pottery to take back home!

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Yesterday, the girls from Upper Moreland High School woke up early to go to CPI and start their day learning Spanish. Here, they continue to improve their Spanish, and already we can all see how far they’ve come!

After their morning classes, they were all very hungry and ready to do some latin cooking! They made some delicious “chalupas”, with fried tortillas, refried beans, chicken, and cabbage. Once they were all satisfied with their lunch, they all headed to Playa Flamingo, a beautiful beach walking distance from CPI. They spent their afternoon there, swimming and having fun with the waves, and after watching the sunset, they were picked up and sent to their “familias ticas” for a nice dinner together.

 

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Después de un viaje largo pero muy tranquilo el grupo finalmente llegó a Costa Rica,  esa noche tuvimos una cena deliciosa y después nos fuimos directo a conocer el hotel donde íbamos a pasar nuestra primera noche. Es un hotel muy bonito, grande, cómodo, con muchas flores, árboles de mango y vista a las montañas, lo que el grupo jámas imagino es que se iban a despestar con los sonidos de los gallos, pájaros y vacas que estaban alrededor. Fue muy divertido ya que mientras desayunabamos todos estabamos hablando sobre lo mismo, reíamos y nos hacíamos preguntas como;  a usted quien lo despertó? el gallo? o la vaca?, unos decían que se habían despertado muy temprano por la culpa del gallo y otros le hechaban la culpa a la vaca. Es domingo y ya la aventura y nuevas experiencias comenzarón, ese mismo día por la mañana salimos para hacer una caminata por San Joaquín de Flores, donde pudimos conocer; la plaza, la iglesia, bancos, restaurantes y otros servicios que este pueblo típico nos ofrece. Una vez terminada la caminata nos fuimos para el C.P.I donde tuvimos un “pizza lunch” y donde las familias ticas estaban esperando por nosotros, los chicos estaban un poco nerviosos pero  a la vez muy contentos y ansiosos por conocer sus nuevas familias.

 

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Que mejor manera de comenzar nuestra semana que con una caminata por una de las ciudades más lindas y limpias del valle central de Costa Rica como lo es Heredia, también llamada “ciudad de las flores”. En medio de una leve lluvia y como parte cultural del recorrido caminamos un poco para tomar el bus público que nos llevaría directo hasta la ciudad de las flores. Una vez en el lugar  y con un clima excelente empezamos a caminar para explorar todos los rincónes de esta colorida ciudad, visitamos el parque de los ángeles, visitamos el parque central de Heredia donde pudimos apreciar su llamativa y vieja iglesia, además compartimos con los heredianos que en ese momento se encontraban en el parque, mientras caminabamos admirabamos las personas que se encontraban en los kioscos a la orilla de la calle,(en la acera) vendiendo  muchas cosas desde chicles hasta ropa. También visitamos la casa de la cultura donde pudimos observar fotos del pasado y de mucha importancia en relación a antiguos presidentes o personajes que de manera política o económica ayudarón a Heredia y al país en general.

Nos dimos el lujo de posar para una foto justo a la par del “fortin” uno de los símbolos más representativos e importantes de la ciudad de Heredia, el cuál fue construido como una base o fuerza para proteger la ciudad de las fuerzas enemigas.  Continuando con nuestra aventura nos fuimos a explorar el mercado central donde por supuesto estabamos rodeados de ticos, plantas, ricos olores, artesanias, frutas, verduras de todos los colores y tamaños, el cuál despertó nuestro interes por probar muchas de estas frutas y verduras, comimos jocotes, mangos recién cortados, chayotes, pejibaye, maracuya, guaba y los favoritos de los chicos fuerón los mamones chinos. Finalizamos con nuestra aventura almorzando un delicioso casado típico en una de las sodas que se encontraban dentro del mercado.

 

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City tour San José!!

Yesterday the Upper Moreland High School girls and their teachers said goodbye to Heredia and hello to Flamingo! They had their last breakfast with their Heredia homestay families, and they began the trip from the province of Heredia, to the province of Guanacaste, where Flamingo beach is located. After lunch along the way, the girls spent their first afternoon in Flamingo in a nearby beach called Conchal. It is a beautiful beach, with a clear blue ocean and lots of  different kinds of shells. This is where it gets its name from, because shell in Spanish is “concha”.

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They had a wonderful time swimming and looking at fish and starfish. Once the sun was starting to set, they were able to see the sunset, and head fast to the meeting point, where they all met their new familias “ticas”, and went home for dinner and a good night’s rest.

On Saturday, the Upper Moreland group woke up early in the morning to go visit the Poas Volcano, in the province of Alajuela. This volcano is 2,708m above sea level, and it is famous for the large crater that can be seen from a belvedere.

Before they went to the volcano, the girls stopped by the “Feria”, the farmer’s market in the city of Heredia. Here they saw and tried different fruits that are grown locally, and some they had never seen before! It was a great way to start the day, and once they were done, they headed to the Volcano.

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Although the day was gloomy and they couldn’t see the crater, they were able to enjoy the hike and the nature surrounding them. It was a great way to spend their last Saturday in Heredia!

 

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It’s Saturday, it may be the weekend but we don’t stop on our adventures even if its on a weekend! Today we went back to the Santa Elena Reserve area, to a tour park called Selvatura. Our activity for today was to go on the hanging bridges and also be able to appreciate the forest when it’s not pouring down rain, and learn more about our surrounding environment with our two tour guide, Marcela and Orlando.

The first part of the tour was to stop at the Humming bird station were everyone was able to see many hummingbirds fly around us. Some of the girls were scared because the little birds were flying really fast and they were also flying really close to us. Orlando said that his theory was that the birds were attracted not only to the bright colors of the ponchos, jackets and backpacks of the girls but to their blond and auburn hair. Orlando explain to us that there is a fern that has long hairlike features that the hummingbirds collect to create their nest and the hair of the girls looked really similar to the hair on the fern. It was a fun theory but it was not a fun feeling for the girls as they felt that the birds were going to attack them!

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Then we walked around some trails and on 10 different hanging bridges were we all had the opportunity to appreciate nature from a different angle as we were almost at the same height of the tree tops. It was different from Sky Tram because this time we walked through the forest and were able to walk slowly to the take pictures of nature and enjoy the view. At the 7th bridge we were able to see a family of Howler Monkeys or Monos Congos in Spanish. Then at the last bridge we also saw a small tree snake crawling from the bridge to the branch of the tree. All the student were every excited because they were able to see a couple of animals during this activity.

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Once we were done we had some time to souvenir shop and then we headed back to town to have lunch at Tico y Rico. Many of them were excited because they were able to eat fries, which they all really missed and then were there able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and take advantage of the sunny weather to walk around Santa Elena one last time.

On Friday the SPI group had their last Spanish classes. However in the morning we had a fun activity in Santa Elena to test how well the student knew the town. Our activity consisted in having a scavenger hunt and everyone was really excited as they had all explored different parts of Santa Elena in the past two week with their friends. They had to take pictures and videos for the scavenger hunt of many different objects, places and even people. This was a very fun and interesting activity because the students had to talk with the people from Santa Elena and ask them questions or ask them to help them complete their task, such as signing a song with them. Some of the other tasks were make a human pyramid and get extra point if you include a Tico, take a picture of a zaguate and find 5 fruits and vegetables that can’t be found in the USA. After about an hour we had the first two groups rush to the finish line and win! For the prize, we had a surprise for everyone. We all got our belongings and walked in front of the ICE building to see a sloth sleeping! It was really  close to us, it was brown and everyone enjoyed seeing the little guy or girl.

After the surprise everyone had some free time and then we headed back to CPI. Then the students had their last hours of Spanish classes and practice the performances that they were going to present at their graduation. Each class did something different, some of them did plays that they wrote themselves and others performed national song. The plays consider on series of events that had happened over the trip, such as planting trees at Life Monteverde with Felix, to our daily debrief with our really popular call PURA…VIDA! After the presentations all the teacher gave certificates to the students demonstrating their hard work and last but not least we gathered in the presentation room to see a slideshow with pictures of all the  adventures that we had together in this past 2 weeks.

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