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Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy Costa Rica

April 1-2, 2022

After a late-night flight, we arrived to the San Jose airport at around 6am. We all felt so dreary from the flight, but the excitement was tangible. The line for customs went by surprisingly quick and eventually we were in the humid, warm Costa Rican air. Soon after exiting the airport, we saw our enthused tour guide, Randall. His cheeriness helped us forget how sleep deprived we were as we boarded the bus and met our driver for the day.

The hour of driving went by fast and soon we got to our destination for breakfast, a place called El Jardín. The food was delicious, but the conversation with the group was even better. That along with a brief zoo experience out back ended about an hour later and we were on to the next place, the hotel. The next two hours of the drive, I was able to talk with friends and our chaperones. The hotel, Heliconias Nature Lodge, is a paradise on Earth. The lush gardens and surrounding areas are stunning. We were briefed with an orientation which set up expectations for the following days and then we got to our rooms. After figuring out our roommates, we found ourselves in the most gorgeous, serene cabins. We ate a delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant, Restaurant Leonardos. Every person we encountered was very friendly. Following lunch we spent free time, visiting the pool, reading, and playing soccer. Dinner was also delicious, as expected, and the hospitality was unmatched. Day one was a definite success.

By Helena L.

April 3, 2022

The first full day we had here was super exciting. Waking at a nice 7:30 in the morning was not the worst thing in the world. At around 8 am, everyone met up outside of their room for breakfast. The hotcakes were fluffy and hot, and the bacon and eggs tasted just like heaven.

We headed to Crisley’s farm where we learned about the history of the family business and the different components of making cheese, and farming beans and rice. Once the presentation was over we learned to stretch and make rolls of cheese. We were able to try some of the fresh cheese and it was probably the best thing I have ever had in my life. We were given a tour of the farm following the cheese making. We tried different fruits that most of us have never heard of before. We also looked at the different crops growing right now and were able to see some of the animals. Once we returned from the tour, the Crisley family made us a lunch of chicken, rice, salad, and beans. The chicken was my favorite.

After our time at the farm, we hiked to a waterfall. The trip was harder than expected because walking down steep, wet stairs was a challenge. The waterfall was beautiful though. It was worth the walk. We were able to go swimming before heading back up the steep, steep stairs, and it took everyone a lot longer than coming down. Back at the hotel, we spent our free time doing some yoga and going on walks. By dinner everyone was tired, which I think was a good sign of a successful day.

By Kelley T.

April 4, 2022

After another delicious breakfast, we headed out for the “Lucha” School. We received the warmest welcome. All the students were eagerly waiting in the front of the school, ready to greet us. Right away, some students approached us with little gifts and introduced themselves in English. Then, the students shared a presentation they had prepared for us. Since there are seven provinces in Costa Rica, seven students had each brought a homemade dish that represented each province. They shared a brief description with us and then invited us to try all the food. The coconut bars were definitely my favorite.

After introductions, we enjoyed a brief tour of the school in the form of a scavenger hunt. At the end of the scavenger hunt we got a package of chocolate, again more gifts!! As the students returned to class, we were assigned a project. We got the opportunity to paint a storage room that is going to be converted to a new classroom. We got out the paint rollers and paint buckets and got straight to work. We had amazing company, “Gemelo”, who told us what to do. We diligently worked all day, exchanging many laughs and smiles. Eventually, the cement walls were now a vibrant purple and green. It was so special to have the opportunity to be included in the creation of this space. And, it was extremely rewarding to see our work transform throughout the day. During our painting break, we had the opportunity to interact with the students, and played a game of tag with them. The kids welcomed us and we had so much fun together. After lunch, we cleaned old tables and chairs, which will be utilized in our next project tomorrow. It was such a privilege to be their guests today, the whole community was so friendly and welcoming. We are so excited to return.

By Josie P.

April 5, 2022

After waking up to light rain, we all went to breakfast and enjoyed some pancakes (our favorite breakfast) with fruit. After breakfast we headed off to the “Lucha” School and got started on our service projects right away. We separated into two groups with one going to repaint school chairs & desks and the other group going to re-paint tires that served as plant holders. After working for about an hour, the kids went out to recess and we excitedly joined in on their fun. We enjoyed playing an intense game of futbol with the school boys and were left feeling sweaty yet joyful that we got a chance to interact with the school kids. Afterwards, we headed back to our service projects and finished painting all the tires and school chairs with fun colors. We ended our service work at the school off with an amazing home-cooked lunch that consisted of tilapia, rice, beans, and steamed veggies.

Once we finished our service work we were off to the Proyecto Asis Rehabilitation Center. At this amazing center we were introduced to all the different animals that receive care by the incredibly funny care-taker Carlos. This introduction included parrots, toucans, monkeys, and so many more animals. We also had the opportunity to prepare food for the animals. This consisted of cutting up certain fruits, veggies, and even eggs. We then watched as Carlos gave our prepared meals to the animals. It was so exciting getting to watch the animals eat the food. Soon after, our time at the Rehabilitation Center came to an end and we headed back for our hotel. We enjoyed some relaxing down time which was spent at the pool and in the rooms. We then proceeded to end our night with a dinner of chicken nuggets, salad, and beans back at the hotel.

Erika C.

April 6, 2022

After waking up for an early morning run/yoga, it was time for another delicious breakfast of fruit, fried plantains, rice & beans, and eggs. Soon following breakfast, we were all eager to head out for our last day with the “Lucha” school. As soon as we arrived there were tables the children had prepared filled with Costa Rican food customary to two specific provinces, Cartago and Alajuela. The kindergarteners then gave each of us a small gift containing Costa Rican candy. Then, groups of students took turns presenting their food and showing us traditional dress from both provinces. As we tasted all of the wonderful food, the looks on all of the children faces were overflowing with joy as they watched us indulge. Right after we finished eating, even though we were all stuffed, it was time for fútbol. In the blazing heat we played numerous action-packed games with the children and even showed off some gymnastics skills. Before the children returned to class we handed out the candy and toys we had brought from home. Every one of them had a smile plastered across their face as they received the gifts.

While the children were back in class, we finished our project of painting tables and chairs. This time we brought a speaker to play our music and danced around the whole time. We even convinced “Gemelo” to join in with some of our dance moves. Hastily, we finished the entire project and enjoyed some relaxing time eating fresh fruit and drinking pineapple juice before the second group of students arrived. At 2:30 we split into 3 groups and were each were assigned a classroom. In each class we spent time teaching the young children how to speak some English. We translated categories like colors, numbers, animals, food, and many more. It was an amazing experience watching the children engage and interact with us as we conversed in Spanish and English. After our lesson and a bittersweet goodbye, it was time to head back to the hotel. We arrived back at the hotel for some down time spent in the pool or relaxing in the hammock. Lastly, we headed to the restaurant for a tasty dinner of quesadillas, french fries, and our favorite mango refresca.

– By Paige P.

April 7, 2022

We woke up this morning to a beautiful breakfast which consisted of hot cakes and pineapple. Then, we drove from the Nature Lodge to the Costa Rica Sky Adventure which was a scenic one-hour drive. We stopped along the drive to take pictures in front of the Arenal Volcano. We arrived at the Sky Adventure and got all our gear ready to begin the zipline tour!  We ziplined across seven different cables, which varied in lengths and speeds with amazing views of the volcano from all different angles. After our tour, we got back in the van and went to downtown Fortuna. We ate at Pizza Ranch and FEASTED on some pizza. After a filling lunch, we roamed the streets of downtown Fortuna and explored the souvenir shops. We got back in the bus and traveled back to the nature lodge. Some went swimming, some relaxed in a hammock, and some even explored the nature trails through the jungle. At 7 o’clock we had dinner which entailed chicken, rice, and french fries (the usual). We ended the night with a reflection of our service and stay in La Fortuna. We also did a little painting. We are all packed up and ready to take on Uvita! Can’t wait to surf… Kawabunga!!!

– By Eva L.

April 8, 2022
Yesterday was a travel day. We had to say goodbye to the hospitable staff of Heliconias Nature Lodge and packed up for a new adventure in Playa Uvita. We drove for roughly 6 hours and luckily stopped at our favorite place, El Jardín!! It was the perfect pick-me-up for our lengthy journey down to the beach and truly hit the spot. After our filling lunch, we did some souvenir shopping and were back on the road in no time. We finally arrived to the amazing and fun hotel, El Tecal.  For dinner, we munched on penne pasta with some scrumptious red sauce. IT WAS SOOOOO GOOD!

– By Riley P.

April 9, 2022
Today day 7, we awoke and went to eat breakfast, which was fluffy pancakes, fruit, and eggs. Then we got ready for surfing lessons! We walked 10 minutes to the nearest private beach and were all so excited to finally touch the Costa Rican water. The beach was breathtaking, the water was even better, and a nice temperature. We met our surfing instructors, put on our rash guards, and (don’t worry mom and dad) we put on sunscreen. Before we went in the water, we had a thorough tutorial without the surfboards in the sand as a safety precaution. Finally, we went in water and shredded the waves like no other. After the first half of our lesson, we had a break which consisted of oranges, mini bananas, and water. When it was time for our second lesson, we were about to get back in the water when to our surprise there was a crocodile in the water. Thankfully, our instructor got us out of the water safely. After a fun and eventful beach day, we walked back and had lunch, which was a hamburger, fries, and salad (tasted just like home). We had free time for the rest of the day!!! Some walked back to the beach, some hung out and relaxed, and many walked to a close market. To close out this memorable day, we had dinner, which was beef, rice, and salad. IT WAS THE BEST!

– By Riley P.

April 10, 2022

After waking up to another beautiful day we all enjoyed a nice breakfast of pancakes, fruit, eggs, beans and rice. Soon following breakfast we were on our way to the beach for yet another fun day of surfing and beach time. Some continued surfing and some relaxed on the beach. While surfing, we were challenged by the instructors to focus on the way of the waves and understand the different types as we surfed them. After doing this for a while we decided to take a break and join the others. During our break we were all really enjoying the beautiful ocean scenery and decided to call it a day and continued relaxing. After some time in the sun we packed up and headed to the hotel to eat a tasty lunch of sandwiches, fries, and salad.

Later we got ready to explore some shops and enjoy a gorgeous sunset on the beach. While exploring, we stopped at this delicious ice cream and coffee shop called Delicias. After that we walked around and saw some of the other local shops and restaurants. Then, at around sunset, we headed towards the beach where we saw the most beautiful sunset ever! We took lots and lots of photos and took in all the gorgeous nature. Once it got dark we were ready to leave and head back to the hotel. When we arrived we had dinner which consisted of chicken, rice, veggies, salad, and chips. After dinner we began to pack our bags and get ready to leave for San Jose in the morning!

-By Olivia C.

April 11, 2022

For the last day of the trip, we woke up to eat breakfast, having delicious pancakes and cereal. We packed right after to get ready for a three-and-a-half-hour trip to the Casa Cielo Grande, a beautiful house near the airport in San Jose. We stopped midway to walk across a bridge to see several large crocodiles at a river below. For lunch, we ate again at the El Jardin and tried the fruit smoothies there while some of us doing final souvenir shopping at the joint store. After arriving to Casa Cielo, we relaxed into our new rooms and enjoyed the view of the scenery. Shortly after, we had reflection which consisted of planning the categories and photos that would be inserted in a presentation to be shown to our school. We then got ready to attend a fancy dinner at the Mirador del Valle. We were served delicious fruit drinks and dishes such as fajitas or casados. After arriving back, we did an evaluation of the entire trip by filling out a paper form with Randall giving us an emotional speech on his enjoyment of this trip and the group briefly after. We currently are getting ready to rest for an early 6:40 A.M. flight back home!

-By Nathalie G.