Journey to Costa Rica: Reflection

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  • Maggie Knesel, senior, Ashlyn Kirkpatrick, senior, and Brittany Freeman, junior, pose in front of a waterfall in Arenal.

  • Anika Van Lieshout, junior at EHS, and Abby Baechle, junior at EHS, smile in a park in Arenal before heading back to the bus.

  • Anika Van Lieshout, junior at EHS; Maggie Knesel, senior; Samuel Filson, senior; and Ashlyn Kirkpatrick, senior, explore the city of Arenal.

  • Costa Rica has several famous volcanoes; the one pictured is Arenal Volcano.

  • Maggie Knesel, senior, and Brittany Freeman, junior, while exploring the hotel they stayed at in Costa Rica. They are standing in one of the hotel’s three hot springs.

  • All of the students who went to Costa Rica pose with the students from a school they visited. During the visit, the school girls performed several dances native to Costa Rica.

  • Lauren Bhambri, senior, and Brittany Freeman, junior, smile in front of a cloud covered field while driving to Arenal, Costa Rica.

  • The teachers, Catie Gray, MHS spanish teacher, and Kim Lackey, EHS spanish teacher, joined the students at the high school for lunch.

  • Lauren Bhambri, senior; Katie Linder, senior; and Clayton Knittle, junior, talk to Bhambri’s host brother at school.

  • Lauren Bhambri, senior, and Katie Linder, senior, hug Clayton Knittle, junior, at the high school they attended during their family stay.

  • Brittany Freeman, junior, poses with her host family on top of a mountain while they watch the sunset.

  • A monkey casually sleeps perched on a tree branch in the Manuel Antonio National Park.

  • Samuel Filson, senior; Austin Warren, senior; and Brittany Freeman, junior, breath in the fresh air at the top of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

  • Catie Gray, spanish teacher, and Brittany Freeman, junior, smile in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

  • Samuel Filson, senior, and Maggie Knesel, junior, admire something in the distance in the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

  • Katie Linder, senior; Maggie Knesel, junior; Anika Van Lieshout, junior at EHS; and Julia Saak, graduate of 2015, show off their cheer skills in front of Arenal Volcano.

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Brittany Freeman, Communities Editor

It was 4 o’clock in the morning at the airport – not best time to be awake and at the airport. But this was the time we all started our journey together.

Costa Rica has a saying “Pura Vida” which translates to “Pure Life.”  It’s the idea of not dwelling on the bad things in life because it could always be worse. Instead, it is the philosophy of just enjoying every moment of your life to the fullest because life is short.

Over the course of the 14 days and five cities (San José, Arenal, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, and Ciudad Colón), we really tried to embrace the “Pura Vida” philosophy. I was grateful that Costa Rican (Ticos) were welcoming me into their culture – least I can do was enjoy it.

Onik, our tour guide, taught us so much about the culture and environment itself (especially about the ants). She was always open to sharing something new and so was Warner, our bus driver. Although Warner didn’t speak any English, we all enjoyed his company. He laughed even when he had no idea what we were saying.

As for myself, I stayed with a wonderful host family, the Hernandez family. Jorge Hernandez and Yendry Alfaro have two daughters, Rebecca and Camila. They welcomed me into their family with open arms, and went out of their way to make me feel as comfortable as possible. They took me to meet their family, to Waterfall Gardens (Costa Rica’s version of a zoo), and of course to school.

If you ask me or any other person that went on this trip, we will all tell you that school in Costa Rica is nothing like school in America. We went to their version of High school (a private school), but it didn’t resemble MHS at all. To say the least, they got multiple recesses per day (I think this surprised us Americans the most). It was funny when we would tell the students what school was like in America; they all had the same look of shock.

Aside from the Ticos themselves, everybody that went on the trip became a family. By the time we left for our host families, we all genuinely missed each other. At the airport coming home, you could see a difference in the group as a whole because we had completed our journey together. Still to this day, we all have our inside jokes and memories that we will all share for the rest of our lives.

Whether it was ziplining in the clouds, hiking in the cloud forest, swimming in a waterfall, learning to surf, exploring on the side of the volcano or spending time with my host family, I made the most of it all and make lasting friendships along the way.