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Seven Hills School Costa Rica 2016

August 4, 2016

Today the group woke up after a good nights rest and enjoyed breakfast at the Costa Verde Inn. This was our first introduction to the breakfast staple, Gallo Pinto (Rice, Beans, Eggs Onion and Cilantro).  After a meeting we departed the hotel for Finca Dona Rosa, a privately owned coffee farm.  We enjoyed a tour of the coffee farm where we learned about the importance of coffee to Costa Rica and the process of making coffee from bean to cup. Later, we hopped back on the bus with our driver (Chicho) and headed north towards Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna.  After dinner, we arrived at our hotel and went to bed.  It was a great first day!

August 5, 2016

We began the morning with a tasty breakfast before departing for a waterfall hike.  The walk was beautiful and well worth the effort once we arrived at the falls.  Later we stopped for lunch in La Fortuna and the profesoras tried their hands at making coffee, the traditional Costa Rican style. To top off the day we visited Baldi hot springs and we had so much fun playing in the hot springs and exploring the natural setting.  After that it was time for dinner!

“So far for me the trip has been amazing.  I’m learning so much and my Spanish is quickly advancing. I enjoyed learning about the coffee process.  I also enjoyed the hot springs.  So far my favorite part of the trip has been the waterfall.  It was a beautiful and amazing experience.  I can’t wait for all that is to come.” -Olivia D.

“It was a fun experience. The first couple of days have already blown my mind. I feel more comfortable speaking Spanish and the scenery is stunning and beautiful. I hope it will continue through the rest of the trip.” -SHS student

August 6, 2016

After a awesome night of sleep, and a tasty Costa Rica breakfast, we had a meeting and opportunity for reflection about the first few days of the trip.  Next we headed to a museum which described the history surrounding Arenal Volcano and the eruption of 1968.  We then got together and brain stormed all of the different types of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians we might see on our walk through the could forest. After lunch we left on our hike and took advantage of a chance to swim.  It started to rain and we took a break from swimming and wrote in our journals.  We had a meeting about the upcoming homestays where we got very excited, and a little nervous, about meeting our families in Monteverde!  Finally, it was time for bed after a very full day!

“My favorite part of the day was when a student told me, ‘I don’t want to leave this place ever!'”- Debbie D.

August 7, 2016

Today was very exciting because we got to start our homestays! We had breakfast at 8:30 am, finished packing our things, and left the hotel around 10:00 am to drive to Monteverde. We broke up the drive with a stop in Tirarán for a delicious lunch and to go shopping for some supplies. The trip felt short because we were singing and laughing most of the way! Finally, we arrived and met the families. We were all very excited, but a little nervous to meet our Tico (Costa Rican) parents. They were excited to meet us, too! After a small welcome reception, our families took us home for dinner and to settle in.


“Big day today. Finally met my homestay family. I was really nervous when we first met them, but then I ended up liking them. It was easy to speak Spanish with them and their kids loved to play and have fun. When I say I wasn’t excited for the homestay, I take it back.” – Nathan L.


August 8, 2016

Buenos días! Today, our teachers and Randall picked us up at our homestays so that we could spend the day together as a group. Some of our families have kittens and puppies! Once we were all together, we went to a local school with Katya, our local community coordinator. We had a “círculo de la paz” (peace circle), where we shared stories about our first dinner, night, and breakfast with our homstay families. We also met the principal of the school and Katya explained the work that we would be doing there. A representative from the school told us the history of the school and then we broke into two groups. One group was responsible for cleaning the green space beside and behind the offices by collecting the cut grass. The second group was responsible for painting some tables in one of the elementary school classrooms. We worked hard, but it was good to know we were helping the community. In the evening, we returned to our homestay families where we practiced Spanish, played games, ate dinner and then went to bed. It was another full day!


August 9, 2016

This morning, we met as a group at our meeting point all very excited to go ziplining! After awhile in the bus, we finally arrived in the Cloud Forest. It was a bit chilly since it was still early, so we had coffee and hot chocolate to warm us up.  Then, the guides came to give us directions and get the whole team started. We started with a practice cable, which was small, but made us excited to see what was coming next! Ready to go, we got a ride up the hill to get to the longer and faster ziplines. It was incredible to see the view of the Cloud Forest from the zipline — we even saw the Pacific Ocean! After we finished the zipline, we had pizza for lunch at the restaurant, Bon Appetit. It was so good! We left happy.


Our next stop was the school where the families were waiting for us to take a dance class. Our guide, Randall, was our teacher and our Tico parents, brothers and sisters learned the Latin dance moves with us. After the dance class, Katya, the group coordinator, brought us delicious coffee to have a small goodbye ceremony with the school. The director thanked us for helping with the school projects and congratulated us for being so motivated. We said goodbye and then, before going back to our homestays, we went on a walk to learn about “el arbol ficus,” a rubber tree. We learned about how the tree becomes hollow. Returning to the minibus with our driver, Chicho, we finally made it back to our homestays to spend the evening with our Costa Rican families.


“Today has been my favorite day so far because two reasons. The first being I went ziplining for the first time. At first I was scared, then by the second one I was having so much fun. The second reason being we had our first real memory with our Mamá Tica. She took us outside at night to show us the grill because we didn’t understand in Spanish. We walked out the door and Kristen closed it (even though she knew not to). Saide was sleeping and Papa Tico wasn’t home. Mama Tica had to crawl through the window so we could get back in. After, we couldn’t stop laughing!” – Leah


August 10, 2016

We started the day with a talk in the Bosque Eterno de los Ninos, the “Eternal Forest of Children.” The local experts of the Monteverde region taught us about the environmental challenges the region faces, such as rapid deforestation. Then, we got to work clearing a trail in the forest. We raked leaves off to the side of the path and moved sticks and branches to clear the way so that people can pass through easier. After finishing our project, we took a break to call home, have some lunch, and unwind with a quick game of soccer at the school. Some students joined us – it was our last time to see them as we continue traveling tomorrow. In the afternoon, we got to take a tour and see more of the Cloud Forest. A park guide showed us the way and explained the different types of frogs, butterflies and many types of insects that we saw along the way. Finally, we returned to our homestays in the evening for one final night with our host families.


August 11, 2016
Today we said goodbye to our homestay families and drove 4 hours to Playa Grande. The majority of the bus ride was talking and belting 2000s throwback songs. When we arrived at Playa Grande, we got our hotel rooms and unpacked a bit. All the 6 girls share one room and the boys share two rooms. We swam in the pool and walked on the beach while waiting for dinner to be ready. We ate rice and chicken and it was very delicious. Today was very fun and I can’t wait for surfing all day tomorrow!

August 12, 2016


Today we woke up at 6:20 when the sun woke us all up. We went to breakfast at 9:00 and some of us got pancakes. Then, we got in the bus and went surfing! We all got boards and surf shirts and then the instructors had us all line up on the sand with our boards. They had us practice how to paddle with our hands and stand up on the board before we tried it in the water. It was really fun! After surfing, we went to lunch. I got mac and cheese, other people had burgers and french fries. Then we went shopping and I got a really cute mug. We went to the beach after and then went swimming. It was a great day!




August 13, 2016
It was a busy last full day in Costa Rica! We took a canoe trip to a mangrove between Playa Grande and Playa Tamarindo where we got to see some wildlife and learn about the special ecosystem. We saw lizards, monkeys, and even a crocodile! In the afternoon, we returned to the beach where we spent time swimming in the waves and burying each other in sand. Finally, it was time for our final dinner together. To celebrate our last night, we all put on face masks with volcanic ash from Arenal volcano! It’s hard to believe we are going home tomorrow!