Costa Rica Part II

This blog was created as a home renovation and project blog, the motto being, “Creating a home for as little money as possible.” My home is really special to me, but not nearly as important as other aspects of my life. For this reason I have also written posts about our dog, our cat, my husband, our wedding, my trip to Venezuela, our trip to South Carolina, etc.

I like spending time at home chilling or working on projects, but leaving my house forces me to grow as a person and makes me appreciate all I am blessed with even more. People are always surprised when I say that I hate to travel, but it is true. I detest it. However, I love to be in different places, so travel is a necessary evil. For these reasons, I travel as much as possible, and since I am a teacher and have the summers off, many of my trips occur in the months of June, July and August.

If you follow this blog to read home renovation and project posts, I apologize that there are not going to be many of those for a while. We have been too busy recently to do any projects, but we will return to them soon; I promise! Some of the objects in my house (example) and many of my design ideas and inspiration have come from my travels, so they are just as important to my creation of a home as the actual projects are. I hope they will inspire you as well.

If you have read any of my last five posts, you know that I just returned from Costa Rica. This trip was not purely touristic, as I took a group of students there. We had several goals for the trip that I outlined in this post. Here is our itinerary.

Arriving in San Jose, Costa Rica

We arrived in Costa Rica on Friday, July 05 and toured Alajuela, a town outside of San Jose where we spent the first night. This included a walk around the main plaza, viewing the cathedral, eating ice cream, then mangoes picked from trees in the plaza and finally dinner.

Walking around Alajuela, Costa RicaCathedral, Alajuela, Costa RicaIce cream, Alajuela, Costa RicaEating mangoes, Alajuela, Costa RicaEating dinner, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Saturday morning we left bright and early for the Osa Peninsula, stopping along the way to eat fruit, drink coconut milk and see the crocodiles and other wildlife in the Tarcoles River. It was a beautiful trip.

Rest stop by Tarcoles River, Costa RicaFruit at Rest stop by Tarcoles River, Costa RicaCoconut milk at Rest stop by Tarcoles River, Costa RicaTarcoles River, Costa RicaCrocodiles at Tarcoles River, Costa RicaBirds at Tarcoles River, Costa RicaAfrican Palms, Costa RicaPacific Ocean, Costa RicaCosta RicaCosta Rica

After arriving at the lodge, Hospedaje El Ceibo, we went for a tour of the local botanical garden.

Hospedaje El Ceibo, Costa RicaHospedaje El Ceibo, Costa RicaHospedaje El CeiboInteresting insect in Costa RicaSugar cane Costa Rica

That evening we had a Spanish lesson and a zoological lesson.

Hospedaje El Ceibo

On Sunday, we walked through the mangrove to the beach in the morning.

Mangrove, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaMangrove, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaMangrove, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaMangrove, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaBeach, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaBeach, Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaCutting coconuts to drink, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

That afternoon, we traveled to the town of Dos Brazos del Río Tigre. We dropped off our bags at the lodge “Los Mineros” and hiked up a mountain. On the way back down we stopped to swim in one of the branches of the river.

Hospedaje Los Mineros, Costa RicaHiking Osa Peninsula, Costa RicaClimbing a tree in Costa RicaView of the golf from the top of the mountain, Costa RicaCrossing a river in Costa Rica

After dinner we danced salsa at the lodge.

Dancing Salsa, Costa RicaDancing Salsa, Costa Rica

Monday morning we were again up early to hike up the mountain on the other side of town. It was a five-hour hike through thick mud. Fortunately, there was a beautiful pool in the river waiting for us near the end of the hike.

Hiking in mud, Costa RicaTree in Costa RicaTree in Costa RicaCrossing river in Costa RicaTigre River, Costa RicaTigre River, Costa RicaTigre River, Costa RicaTigre River, Costa Rica

Back at the lodge we ate lunch and then had some more Spanish lessons. We split into four groups and created improv skits. Afterwards we played soccer at the local school. That evening we played games in Spanish.

Playing soccer in Costa RicaPlaying soccer in Costa Rica

Tuesday morning we panned for gold. We did find some, although it was not much. A local showed us the proper technique. After lunch, we drove into Puerto Jiménez and everyone went to their respective host families.

Panning for gold in Costa Rica

Wednesday, the students were given internships at businesses in town. We chaperones walked around taking pictures and making sure that everything was going smoothly. We were also able to fit in a couple of games of badminton. My team won. 😉

Puerto Jimenez, Costa RicaWorking in Costa RicaWorking in Costa RicaPlaying badminton in Costa Rica

A kayak trip through the mangrove was scheduled for that afternoon. The weather was atrocious when we started off, but the rain abated shortly after we got on the river. On the way back, we stopped at the beach. The plan was to kayak back through the gulf, but the rain returned after we had been at the beach for about an hour, so we had to cut the trip short and return via the river.

Kyacking, Costa RicaKyacking, Costa RicaKyacking, Costa RicaKyacking, Costa RicaKyacking, Costa RicaBeach, Costa Rica

The next morning, the students again went to their internships. That afternoon we went to a mudslide. This was the only activity that I did not participate in. It looked like fun, but I was not in the mood to get that dirty. Besides, somebody needed to take pictures!

Working in Costa RicaWorking in Costa RicaMud slide, Costa RicaMud slide, Costa RicaMud slide, Costa Rica

Friday arrived with the hottest temperatures we had experienced thus far. It was the worst possible day for the sun to burn that hot since we were outside working in the park. I do not think that I have ever sweated that much in my life. We were careful to drink a lot of water and coconut milk. We also stopped for ice cream before we finished. Despite the heat and hard work, it was a fulfilling day. It would have been hard not to be proud since the park turned out so well. The kids celebrated with an impromptu game of soccer.

Cleaning park in Costa RicaCleaning park in Costa RicaCleaning park in Costa RicaCleaning park in Costa RicaCleaning park in Costa RicaCleaning park in Costa RicaCleaning park in Costa Rica

As a reward, we went to the beach after finishing our work. Everyone forgot the pains of the day floating in the sea.

Beach, Costa RicaBeach, Costa RicaBeach, Costa Rica

On Saturday, we went back to the rain forest to enjoy a day of adventure activities. The first was a Tarzan swing, which meant that we were hooked up to a rope and harness and pushed off a platform to swing through the trees.

Upside down on the Tarzan swing, Costa RicaTarzan swing, Costa Rica

Secondly, we did a zip-line to a tree that seemed to reach the sky. I am not sure how far up we were, but it seemed like a mile to me. We had to rappel down. Some of the group were scared, but they were troupers. Everyone did it in the end. Since I had exhibited little fear through the day, the guide proceeded to swing the rope while I rappelled down. It was scary but fun. He himself rappelled upside down.

Zipline, Costa RicaView from Zipline, Costa RicaRappeling, Costa RicaRappeling upside down in Costa Rica

I was the only one in the group to attempt the final challenge of climbing this rope. It was more difficult than I expected it to be, and I was exhausted by that point. You have to remember that we were doing all of this in 90˚F heat with high humidity. It felt difficult to breath normally in the rain forest, let alone climb a rope. However, once I began I was determined to finish and did.

Rope Climb, Costa Rica

The next day was the most relaxing day we had. The students spend the entire Sunday with their host families, so the chaperones were able to take a much-needed break from our responsibilities. We spend the afternoon at the beach. The tide was low when we started out, so we were able to cross this river by foot. This was the same river that we had kayacked earlier in the week.

Beach, Costa Rica

It was brutally hot, so we decided to take a break under this tree. Unfortunately, we made a poor decision because this manzanilla tree, which drips a poisonous substance on all who seek refuge under its shade. We had been warned earlier in the trip, and Yessenia is from Costa Rica, so we should have known. Luckily we discovered our error in time, when her twelve-year-old niece Aumony identified the tree for us. Aumony was hospitalized last year after sitting under the same tree. After that we were able to find safer shade and enjoy the beautiful beach.

Beach, Costa Rica

Getting back was a little more difficult. The tide had risen, and we could no longer walk back across the river. Eric brought a kayak so that he could ferry us back, but we proved to heavy a load. He pulled us for a while, but then we put our stuff in the kayak and walked the rest of the way.

Kyacking, Costa Rica

Monday was our final day in Puerto Jiménez. We met with the students in the morning and took them to the local school. It was the first day of classes after winter break for the Costa Ricans, so we had not been able to visit before. Our students spent the morning visiting classes.

Visiting classes in Costa RicaVisiting classes in Costa Rica

In the afternoon, we gathered again. We had brought a bag of impossible-to-disinflate soccer balls with us for the local kids’ soccer club. We delivered the balls to their practice that day, and then our students played a game with them.

Donating soccer balls, Costa RicaKids' soccer game, Costa RicaKids' soccer game, Costa Rica

That evening was the good-bye party for the students and host families. The members of our group had each written a toast thanking their family for their hospitality and together they sang a song they had written about the trip. Many tears were shed as everyone said goodbye.

Good-bye party, Costa RicaGood-bye party, Costa RicaGood-bye party, Costa Rica

I am going to miss doña Rosa, the woman I stayed with, as well. We had many long talks and spend a great deal of time appreciating the wildlife around her home. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture taken of myself with her, but here she is with Yesenia, her daughter, and Rebecca, the other chaperone from my school.

Visiting Costa RicaBird eating coconut in Costa RicaMacaws, Costa RicaLizard, Costa RicaLizard, Costa RicaWhite-faced monkey, Costa Rica

On Tuesday, we left at 8:00 a.m. for our return trip to San José. The trip was uneventful until the end, when the bus broke down in the middle lane of the road in rush-hour traffic in San José. I do not have any pictures of that debacle, but here are some of our tour of the city that evening.

San Jose, Costa RicaSan Jose, Costa RicaSan Jose, Costa Rica

The following day was a relaxing but long one. We spent the morning at the Hotel Aranjuez, which I highly recommend. At 11:00 a.m. we left for the airport. Our plane departed an hour late at 4:30 p.m. Luckily, it was a direct flight, but we still did not arrive back at school until 1:30 a.m. the following day.

Leaving Costa Rica

The trip was a beautiful one in every way. The students were well behaved and no one was injured in any of our adventures. We packed many activities into a short period of time and arrived home tired but happy. I wish that I could say that I had some time to recuperate from all of the travel last weekend, but alas it was not to be. Douglas had scheduled a race in Ocean City for that weekend, so we left the morning after I returned home to drive down there. Stay tuned for that story in another post.

Happy Homemaking!

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I am a teacher, traveler, artist, writer, homemaker and a whole lot more. In January 2009, I bought the Cape of Dreams. It was the second house that I had ever owned, but it was the first that I bought by myself. I now live in the house with my husband Douglas, our dog Kahlua, and Crème de Menthe, the cat. Because, what life is complete without a little Kahlua and Cream? I love arts and crafts of all kinds, and I refinish furniture as well. We are slowly redoing our entire house. You can read about my projects on my blog

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6 comments on “Costa Rica Part II
  1. D'Arcy H says:

    Whew, I am exhausted by all the work, play, heat and humidity in your post! The coolest thing (get it?) is that the kids will remember this experience all their lives, and for some it will inspire a life-long love of travel.

  2. Stacey says:

    Oh my gosh you stayed busy!!!! WHAT FUN. D’Arcy is right…. this will be a memory and experience like no other in their lives. (yours too, no doubt) Fabulous pictures, Jessica.

    • Thank you. The best way to keep kids out of trouble when chaperoning a trip is to keep them too busy to have time to get in trouble and to tired to want to. Or maybe that is what kept us chaperones out of trouble. Whatever it was, it worked!

  3. Wow Costa Rica looked awesome! I hope I can take a trip like that someday. Maybe when the kiddies are older! My hubby is from Colombia but I have never been there

    • I cannot recommend it enough. This was my second trip, and I am already anxious for the third! I also want to go to Colombia. I have been in Cucuta on the border of Venezuela many times, but I want to see the interior of Colombia, especially now that it is getting safer.

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