Costa Rica is a beautiful country with the nicest people I have ever met. Though we endured a four hour bus ride with some unpaved roads and only came out with a slight headache, everyone on the trip was very excited to reach the UGA Campus in Costa Rica. We were surrounded by some of the most beautiful plants and forests in the world, but the first insect we were shown was a scorpion that glows in the dark when you shine a flashlight on it. And what did we find after that night in our cabin? A glow in the dark scorpion. Welcome to Costa Rica!
On our first morning in Cost Rica, we awoke to the slightly annoying sound of a brown jay and began our first activity: a walk to the farm to milk cows. Our next activity was to learn about and participate in the Carbon Offset Program at UGACR. UGACR has a huge carbon offset program where they plant trees on and off campus at surrounding farms. According to the naturalist who led the talk, Dan “The Naturalist Man”, more than 35,000 trees have been planted as of December 2015. A quote he said that stuck with me was, “be your own superhero”, meaning when you participate in these activities you are saving the earth and saving yourself. We helped pack dirt to plant the trees in during the wet season.
Later, we went on a naturalist-led hike in the forest that surrounds the campus. Steep drops to the beautiful forest of San Luis are all that can be seen. Though we had a few bumps and falls along the way, everyone made it out of the forest intact.
The next day the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve was calling our names. During our hike, we saw many different beautiful birds and plants and learned that some had their own healing powers. Some seemed a little too good to be true, like the plant that cures cancer but shuts down the immune system. The tour guide had an extensive memory of bird classes and after about 30 minutes of chasing, we were able to finally see and get pictures of the colorful Quetzal bird.
After our hike, we headed to our host families’ homes and spent the night getting to know them. My host mom’s name was Lili and her son was Jose Pablo. We played games, helped Lili cook dinner and practiced our Spanish all while having a great time getting to know the family and their culture.
Then it was time to head to the beach and resort! We spent 2 nights at Hotel Villas Playa Samara relaxing by the pool and on the beautiful Costa Rican beach. The water was always warm and we were able to spend more time together before we had to leave the beautiful tropical paradise. Here I witnessed the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen, saw wild horses on the beach and never wanted to leave.
I’ll see you again Costa Rica!