Lakeridge High School to Costa Rica 2017

Jul 11 2017

On Saturday we wrapped up an amazing week of Spanish camp in beautiful Manuel Antonio. We had a wonderful time surfing, visiting the national park, zip-lining, getting to know Costa Rican culture with our host families, and even celebrating the Fourth of July. 

A recap of the week: Campers traveled to Manuel Antonio and met their host families, and the next morning started off the week with a surf lesson at Manuel Antonio beach. We surfed, boogie boarded, kicked the soccer ball, and relaxed in the sun (and the shade!). That evening we enjoyed a salsa lesson, practicing the steps and rhythms of traditional Latin American dance. The next day we perfected surf skills in another lesson, and in the evening celebrated the Fourth of July in the Marina with fireworks and dancing. On Wednesday we shopped for souvenirs and visited a different beach, Biesanz, in the national park for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxing. That evening we watched a movie in the private theater of a hotel near the Máximo Nivel institute. Thursday was a National Park tour- we saw monkeys, sloths, tropical birds, and an enormous variety of other plant and animal wildlife. In the evening we barbecued at the institute with campers and their host families, and shared stories of some of our favorite activities in Costa Rica, and favorite aspects of Costa Rican culture. The final day, Friday, we ziplined through the jungle and took in more of the beautiful Costa Rican nature from a thrilling height. 
Throughout the week, campers improved their Spanish skills in classes in the afternoons, and in conversations with one another, the chaperones, and their host families. 
For campers continuing this next week in San José we are roller skating, taking a tour of a coffee farm and roasting plant, visiting museums, taking a cooking class and a salsa lesson, and ziplining in another beautiful Costa Rican location. 
Jul 7 2017


It's true we have been monkeying around. From Thursday's visit to Manuel Antonio.

2.  Spanish classes in the morning but beach time in the afternoon.

Nature walk at Manuel Antonio National Park.

On the way to Quepos on Sunday, we stopped at the Tarcoles River to view crocodiles.

On Tuesday, the 4th of July, we all went to the marina at Quepos for ice cream, dancing, and of course, fireworks.
(Sarah may have a photo of that, and the surf lessons Monday/Tuesday at Manuel Antonio.  I think everyone stood up on the surfboard.)

Jun 30 2017

Today after classes students let their creative sides shine.

Jun 28 2017

On Tuesday our afternoon excursion took us into the mountains to the beautiful Orosi Valley. We had a picnic of fried chicken (the best fried chicken ever according to some) at a scenic overlook. We were then able to visit the two oldest Catholic Churches in Costa Rica and the Basilica de Los Angeles.

Below are photos of the ruins of the church at Ujarras. The church was destroyed twice, once by volcanic eruption and once by earthquake before it was left to the elements. Students were returned to their host families by 7 and most report being asleep soon after dinner!

Below our tour guide Marcos describes the history of the church and the local ecology to the students.

Jun 27 2017

On Sunday we decided to have a day at the Parque del Este near our home stays. We met at our favorite ice cream parlor, Pops, and walked 3/4 of a mile to the park where the kids hung out by the pool, hiked the nature trails, played soccer, and relaxed for a couple hours. On Monday after classes we had a guided tour of San Jose where we learned some of the history of San Jose and walked though the mercado central which is a labyrinth of restaurants, tourist shops, food stalls, and medicinal herbalists. It's kind of like Pike Place market with Costa Rica flair. Here is a photo of the group with one of our chaperones, Andres, on our walking tour.

Jun 26 2017

Well, Saturday was a long day for our group. We had to get picked at 5:00 am for our day trip all the way to Tortuguero, on the Caribbean coast. Arriving at Tortuguero involves not only a long bus ride, but also a boat trip of more than an hour down the Rio Suerte to the national park. We met our tour at the school and after crossing the Continental Divide, stopped for a delicious breakfast. 

Our guide found a three-toed sloth in a tree next to the highway. Before reaching La Pavona, where we climbed into the launches that would take us downriver, our guide had found two more sloths, this time of the two-toed variety. Wildlife, including three species of monkeys, toucans and other birds, basilisks (called Jesus Christ lizards, for their ability to run across the surface of water), a visit to the village of Tortuguero, and the chance to dip our feet in the Caribbean were the highlights of our day.

As we made our way back on the highway, we had an adventure that we did not expect -- our tour bus broke down! We were able to get a hold of Andy, the bus driver who picks us up every morning. He became the man of the hour when he arrived in our bus and took us home. We were home around 8:30, a little later than planned, but in time for dinner and to have a relaxing evening. Sunday, we will have some time together in a nearby park, then have family time.

Here are a few more photos from Tortuguero... One of the three sloths we found and drinking coconut water straight from the coconut!

Jun 22 2017

After class on Thursday, we had cooking lessons. We made chalupas and a very Costa Rican dessert, Arroz con leche. Here are some photos.

Jun 21 2017

Lakeridge students learn how to do the salsa during one of the first few days in Costa Rica. Click on the link below to see students showing off some dance moves.

Jun 20 2017


On Monday our very nervous students took a test for placement in their Spanish classes. In the photo they are working on it in our classroom at Maximo Nivel. Once the classes were formed, they had their first hour of classes.

In the afternoon we went to Britt Coffee Tour to learn about Costa Rican coffee and to see a shade grown coffee plantation. There was an amazing buffet of salad and Costa Rican foods. Most of us tried chayote and had fresh mango juice. There was a butterfly garden with beautiful tropical butterflies.

Students then got to learn the meaning of Tica time as we waited over an hour for our tour to start. The tour was a combination of a slapstick play and information about how to produce coffee and Costa Rican coffee history. It was very interesting to see the shade grown coffee in person. It was very lush and there was a lot of diversity. Finally, Savannah got to help with the coffee tasting demonstration before we headed back to our host families.

Break time at Maximo Nivel.

Jun 19 2017

Hola and greetings from Costa Rica!

Once through security everything moved quickly and smoothly. We only had to wait a few minutes before they started boarding our flight. In Phoenix we had just enough time to find our new gate, buy a sandwich or slice of pizza and then off we went again.

We then flew for hours over the deserts of Arizona, Mexico before the plane flew over the Gulf of Mexico. After some time over water glimpses of a lush green landscape began to peek through the clouds, incredible towering cumulonimbus clouds. At one point, we could see the rays of the setting sun casting an orange glow in a tunnel in the clouds. Soon after we landed in rainy San Jose.

Our local host and teacher Melanie met us and we loaded into a bus and drove a ways to our homestays. At this point the kids were feeling excited and nervous, but each was welcomed by their host mother with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. By now it was about 8pm. I think we were all grateful for a warm meal and a good nights sleep.

Today everyone is enjoying a day with their host family. Monday we meet  for orientation and the beginning of language classes.

Jun 18 2017

Report from Tim:  "Everything went well after getting through security at the airport.  No problems with the flights -- most of the students got some sleep on the plane, and our arrival in San Jose was easy.  We were picked up immediately and then dropped off at our host families, although not without both a sense of anticipation and nervousness. Since it is Father's Day here as well, some of the students will be attending family events, as will I. 
More later..."