Costa Rica and Earth University, LaFlor: Day 3/Part 2

17 01 2010

Jan. 09, 2010

Buena Vista Lodge

We are leaving beautiful Guanacaste National Park and on our way to Buena Vista Lodge in Rincon de La Vieja National Park.  We are traveling down a dirt road for about 25 minutes when we reach a fork in the road.  Bennicio stops between the fork and is not completely sure which way to go.  Naturally he takes the road not taken.  Robert Frost would be proud.

Unfortunately, the road not taken is not taken for a reason cause it was a dead end at some fenced encampment at the top of a peak.  Fortunately the employees there were nice enough to open the gate so we could turn around.

Thirty minutes later, after an steep climb up another peak and an amazing view were reached our destination.  We pull in to the ranch like entrance and meander up to the lodge.  We pull up to the office and are greeted with glasses of mango juice.  After checking in we head down to our rooms which are cabin like buildings make completely of high grade wood that resembles teak, a common wood found in rainforests.  After a quick shower and downloading of my photos to my hard drive, I am off to the Sunset Bar for some cocktails with my classmates.

Proffesor Motley mentioned to me as we were unpacking that he had a feeling that there was much more to this place that we could see.  He couldn’t have been more right.  I am heading up to the bar with camera in hand (of course) and am not enjoying the uphill trek to the bar which is off a ways behind the lodge.  Upon reaching the bar, I realized that it was worth the hike and pain in my feet.

I am presented with one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen in my life.  Sunset Bar sits atop a peak looking over a valley and other mountain peaks as the sun was setting.  My breath is completely taken away and my body covered with goosebumps.

View from the Sunset Bar at Buena Vista (Beautiful View) Lodge

Sitting here enjoying this amazing scene before me as I sip on a Tequilla Sunrise talking to Will and Emily about how incredible this trip has been already and how lucky we are to be in this beautiful country.

The sun is now setting behind the mountains in the distance and I’m on to round two, or is it three?  I can’t remember this sunset is so distracting.  Alex has introduced some of us to a drink the bartenders recommend to him that has been dubbed Hombre Fuerte.  This drink is like jet fuel and seems to change colors as you go through it.  The five of us who got one each have one at a different level and different color. Will, Matt squared, and Alex have decided to chug the last ¼ of their drinks and it didn’t go well.  You try and chug 3 oz. of jet fuel.  Not a good idea even though the guys tried to do it another three times out excitement of the day.

I invited Bennicio over from the bar to join us at the table to finish watching the sunset and enjoy each other’s company and conversation.  After an hour of conversing and laughing it’s time for dinner so we are off.

Dinner consists of a buffet of everything under the sun, rice, black beans, chicken, fish, yucca, Spanish meatballs, baby corn and leche for desert, not to mention the extraordinary Costa Rican coffee.

After more mind-blowing food and pleasant conversation around the dinner table we are heading back to Sunset Bar for some drinks, music, and dancing.  I have to say that the highlight of dancing for me has to be dancing with Silvia who was teaching me some Latin moves that I didn’t already know.  We are having such a great time dancing with each other and socializing with the bartenders who by the way are so friendly and fun.  It’s easy to tell they are genuine and not just mocking us, sometimes-pretentious American tourists.  They are helping to teach us Spanish, making jokes, making us laugh, making great drinks, and plain making this experience at Buena Vista that much better.

I can’t even express in words how nice the people of this country are.  They are so caring and inviting.  The want you to enjoy their country as much as possible and seem to understand how magical this place it to foreigners.  You can see they truly live the pura vida.

Well we are pretty consumed and off to bed to enjoy the activities Beuna Vista Lodge has to offer.  Hasta luego!


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Costa Rica and Earth University, LaFlor: Day 1

9 01 2010

Jan. 7, 2010

I am in San Jose, Costa Rica!!!  As part of Elon University’s Interactive Media program, myself and 10 of my classmates are spending 10 days of our winter-term class in Costa Rica working on a project for Earth University.  Earth University teaches students as well as farmers about sustainable agriculture and ecological conservation.

My classmates and I departed from Elon University at 4 a.m. this morning and headed to Raleigh-Durham International Airport to begin our journey south.  Within a couple of hours we were descending into the cloud covered mountains of San Jose during our approach.

Tilt your head to the left

We arrived at 2:30 p.m. in San Jose and were greeted with warmth not only from the sun but also from the Latin population.  As my first extended trip to a foreign country, I was amazed and delighted, upon our arrival at San Jose International Airport to see the place buzzing with activity.  Hundreds of Costa Ricans outside the airport awaiting the arrival of their loved ones, cheering and singing.  It was a sight I have never seen at any airport in the United States.  I couldn’t help but smile.

We were shown to the coolest mini bus I have ever seen.  A white and baby blue two-tone Toyota Cruiser with a retro look and hinted back to the time of the micro-bus.  We were taken to downtown San Jose and dropped off at the Costa Rica Backpackers youth hostel on 6th St.  This is my first time experiencing a hostel and I have to say it is an incredible place.  The staff and other guest are as interesting and friendly as you could possible imagine.  The vibes I am getting from this place is exhilarating.

Upon checking in to the hostel we departed for a wonderful dinner at Nuesta Tierra two blocks down the road where I was treated to authentic Costa Rican cuisine.  I had beef strips with bacon, onion, sweet peppers, and fried plantains on tortillas.  This was my first time tasting plantains, but now I assure you it won’t be my last.  They are fantastic.

After dinner we returned to the hostel to enjoy happy hour at the hostel with my classmates and other guests.  The people here are so open and friendly.  I feel as safe as I would on Elon’s campus.

I write this as all my other classmates have headed to bed after a long day of travel and lack of sleep and can’t wait for the nine days ahead.

Tomorrow morning we head to Liberia, Costa Rica where Earth University’s LaFlor Campus is located.  There we are going to videotape and photograph the campus as well as interview it’s students and professors about what it is they do at the LaFlor campus.  We will gather information about their efforts in sustainable agriculture and ecological conservation education so we can develop a new LaFlor website to promote their cause.

Considering this first day has already brought great job I can only imagine what we will experience in the coming days.  This is already turning out to be the greatest adventure of my life, and for a cause that is near and dear to my heart.

Be sure to keep up with my upcoming blog updates from Costa Rica.  Talk to you soon.