This hump day is a hike day!

What a day! Hump day is more like a hike day as we started our morning meeting at 5 am at the base of Arenal volcano. A group of 12 students met myself and Ryan for a sunrise hike to the lookout point on our beautiful resort of Los Lagos. It was quite the way to wake up in the morning! We trekked up a steep incline in a heavy fog, in hopes that it would dissipate by the time we reached the peak. Even though it was an overcast morning, we had a fun time. We were tired and overheated by the time we reached the top… but nature must have heard our cries, as the skies opened up and we were caught in a downpour! We stopped to see several young calves on the way down and went to a VERY early breakfast after changing into dry clothes.

After breakfast, we did our final exploring while avoiding the tiny toads that appeared EVERYWHERE after the rain. Some students visited the hot springs, others took a last few turns on the water slides, and some chose to visit the butterfly, frog, ant, turtle and crocodile conservatories. We took a final snapshot of our crew and then started the long drive to the beautiful and lush Monteverde.

Halfway through our ride, we stopped at a traditional Costa Rican restaurant where most of the students had “Casado,” a national dish made up of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) fried plantain, a side salad and a main of either fish, chicken, or beef. After our stop, we went back to the rolling hills while playing bus games and listening to some music.

When we arrived at our hotel here in Monteverde, the students were eager to stretch their legs and unpack. We had a few minutes to explore our surroundings, play a few rounds of cards and get changed. Then it was off to the night hike! We met our guides and started our hike as soon as the golden hour hit. Bathed in a beautiful pink light, we saw our first bird: a motmot! We spent two hours exploring the jungle, seeing many species of birds (such as some impressive woodpeckers) several insects (a walking stick, cicada’s, June bugs, tree-cutter ants ….and a HUGE tarantula!) we even saw the ONLY species of poisonous snake in Costa Rica, though the highlight for most of our students was the two-toed sloth we saw at the end, happily and VERY slowly eating leaves just as we finished our hike. We were able to get a close look through binoculars and the keen eyes of our guides.

Keeping with the pace, we had a three-course dinner waiting for us as soon as we came back to the hotel. We’re adopting a cell-phone free rule for the dinner table (let us know if it sticks once your teens are back with you!) for the rest of the trip, though they were understandably eager to tell everyone in their lives about their recent adventures. After dinner, half the group decided to come with myself and Ryan to “The Tree House,” a super cool restaurant in downtown Santa Elena which has live music… and is ENTIRELY built around a huge tree in three floors! The rest of the group decided to call it a night, as they have been up for over 15 hours! The students will be signing in soon, and it will be room check time again.

Tomorrow we get a mini sleep in (woo-hoo! 8 am breakfast!) then we’re heading out for a jam-packed day of volunteering at Life Monteverde. We’ll be learning about sustainability and how we can personally impact the future in a positive way. After we get back, students will have the option of going to work out in town, visiting a bat conservatory/museum, or competing in an open-air card competition! After dinner students will have a chance to explore the town or have a chill night in. It’s hard to believe tomorrow will be Thursday. We hope all is well in Canada!

Pura Vida,

Caitlin, Ryan and Alex

Activities Coordinator