COSTA RICA: THE ULTIMATE ADVENTURE
Program Blog for July 06 - July 19, 2023
July 6, 2023
The TTN Costa Rica Ultimate Adventure is officially up and running!
Today 5 of our travelers (Ollie, Michael, Anna Pearl, Gabby and Grace) arrived in the afternoon. From the airport we headed straight to lunch where some of the travelers had typical Costa Rican ‘casados’ for lunch. After lunch we checked-in to our hotel in Belén and some of the travelers went for a nap while others played some games.
Tonight the 3 remaining travelers (Rayne, Libbie and Alessandra) will be arriving.
Tomorrow morning after breakfast we will be driving to Caldera on the Pacific coast where we will have lunch before heading to the Mountain town of Monteverde.
That’s all for now folks!
TTN CR Team
July 7, 2023
We woke up this morning and enjoyed some typical ‘gallo pinto’ for breakfast with some delicious costarican coffee. After breakfast we got packed up and loaded up the bus and began our journey from Belén to Monteverde. We stopped at a supermarket so that our travelers could buy some supplies.
We then made our second stop at Caldera, a port town on the Pacific Coast where we had lunch and took a quick stroll on to the beach. Travelers took turns dj-ing on the bus ride and the group seemed to bond well.
At around 2.45pm we arrived to Monteverde where we checked-in to our hotel before we had the full program orientation. During the orientation, travelers were asked to reflect on what they hope to get out of their experience here in Costa Rica. They were then briefed on safety protocols and code of conduct best practices. We stopped briefly to take in the beautiful sunset.
At dinner we had a three course meal consisting of chicken soup, chicken, rice and vegetables and then ice-cream for dessert. After dinner the travels had a discussion about costarican history, cultural norms and culture shock. Lastly the program staff, Eden and Ryan had one on one check-ins with travelers.
Tomorrow we have an adventure packed day starting off with zip-lining in the morning before our cultural exchange activity with students from a local school.
Tomorrow’s traveler of the day will be Micheal who will be motivating the group, helping to keep them informed of the activities and will be writing the blog tomorrow.
That’s all for now folks!
TTN CR Team
July 8, 2023
Written by Travel Leader of the Day: Michael
Today the group woke up early, especially me as I had to do wake up calls being the travel leader of the day. We had a gnarly breakfast and then we went to the canopy of the cloud forest in Monteverde. There we went zip lining with beautiful views of the forest. We also went on the Tarzan swing. Some of the group were initially scared but it was really cool in the end. Then after the zip lines we went on the hanging bridges that surrounded the forest and we went on cool paths. I took some fire photos on the way so it was a very enjoyable experience.
After this we went back to our hotel to eat some lunch which was also really good, then we had a quick break and set of to go to a local high school to experience some Costa Rican folkloric dance and culture. First we got to actually see some demonstrations of the dance and it included a lot of different characters and dresses that are important to the Costa Rican culture. Then we got to make our own tortillas which a lot of people struggled with but they were delicious in the end. Finally we got to learn some dance moves that we saw earlier. We also got to play a dancing game which was a lot of fun. After all of that we played some ball games and then we said goodbye and headed back to the hotel.
We ate dinner and then set off for the final experience of the day which was a night hike. The trail was very close to our hotel so we arrived fast and we’re ready to go. We went at around 6 pm and stayed till 8 pm. Our guide, Roy, was very experienced with all the different animals around, and with the forests. We got to see a bunch of different animals like snakes, bugs, birds and it was overall a great sightseeing adventure. We got to get up close and personal with the creatures using Roy’s telescope. After that we had a chance to buy souvenirs before driving back home. When we got back to the hotel we had a debrief talking about our highlights of the day and now I’m here writing this blog to fill you in on what we did.
Tomorrow we will be going out to a coffee farm and The Santa Elena Cloud Forest reserve, then eating some tacos 😋.
And that’s it, Adios!
July 9, 2023
Written by Leader of the Day: Alessandra
Today was a very educational day for the group. I woke up early (shout-out to libby for the alarm) so that I could get moving to wake up the rest of the group. At a breakfast one might call gnarly, I presented the daily schedule while we ate.
On the drive to the Cafe Monteverde farm, we played music, and the time passed quickly. At the farm we split up to complete different tasks related to sustainable farming practices, that we then presented back to the group. I really enjoyed this because we got to experience first hand the different ways Cafe Monteverde ensures sustainability. We were able to connect as a group and ask our guide, Jorge, questions. Another thing I really liked about the coffee farm was getting to taste the different blends and guessing which one was light, medium and dark roast. For lunch we enjoyed a delicious meal with most of the ingredients coming from produce from the farm.
After the coffee tour we went to the Santa Elena Reserve to do some conservation work – we helped clean up leaf litter on the paths. We talked and sang and the time flew by.
We later went into town and looked in the shops. We dined at Taco Taco and munched on some Mexican cuisine. Then back at the hotel we reflected on
our time in Monteverde. From the hotel we watched a gnarly lighting storm.
This trip has been so enjoyable, and I am looking forward to the days to come!
Hasta luego, Ali
July 10, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Libbie
Today we travelled to our new base in Arenal. We began the day bright and early to enjoy our final breakfast at the Cipreses Hotel in Monteverde. After saying goodbye to our rooms, we had a gnarly karaoke session on the way to Lake Arenal. Following our acapella X-factor, we boarded our boat taxi to cross the largest man made lake in Central America. Seeing the mountains from the boat was a surreal experience, almost as if we were standing inside a green screen.
We were soon reunited with our amazing driver Don Greivin who drove us to Ranchot Margot, where we began our sustainable farming tour. While we toured our new home base, we learnt about the eco-friendly practices that Ranchot Margot employs to ensure self sustainability. Later, Eden hosted a high stakes quiz about the information our guide, Jocsen, taught us. The victor earned an extra scoop of ice-cream.
Next, we were thrilled to spend time in the pool (post swim-test), until dinner when we reluctantly ended our swim time, with plans to return tomorrow.
That was all for today,
July 11, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Grace
On today’s episode of adventuring Costa Rica,
The sun rose with an optional yoga class which some of our travelers attended graciously! The rest of the squad pulled up to our first meal of the day, yet again, a gnarly breakfast.
We then proceeded into the squash garden to aggressively tell the weeds who was boss. Continuing on, we assisted some of the Ranco Margot experts with the process of cacao planting.
One siesta later, our stomachs were rumbling, so we had to make a pit stop to the salon de almuerzo. Sequentially, post wild adventuring, we had some well deserved free time, which most of the group spent at the natural river pools.
After an aquatic afternoon, we headed back to nuestras cabañas, to prepare ourselves for dinner. The evening closed with a self reflection on our identities.
July 12, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Rayne:
Today was a great day in Costa Rica for our travelers. We had a big day ahead of us so bright and early we shared breakfast in the pavilion at Rancho Margot to fuel up for our adventures.
Our wonderful bus driver then took us to a trail for the La Fortuna waterfall. 400 steps downhill and we were at the base of the water where our friends splashed in the pool, lounged on the rocks, and enjoyed the gorgeous views from the shore. We then had the gnarly hike all the way back to the top.
Our next stop was at Cultour led by Doña Eli and Esteban. We were welcomed to their home where they met us with fresh sugar cane and their puppy Burrito.
Then Doña Eli took us on a tour to see their pineapple orchard and mango trees where we tried green mangos and salt. Our travelers friends were encouraged to plant a couple of trees in their garden as well!
We were shown how sugar cane is turned to liquid sugar with a two man press and we sampled both that and solid raw sugar, how sweet is that! After the tour they treated us to a delicious lunch with fresh fruit from the garden and tortillas that our group had made themselves.
After lunch, Doña Eli played guitar and sang for us. She called for another musician from the group and Michael joined in playing beautiful music for us all.
After our concert we were taught some dances by both Doñ Eli and Esteban. We danced for what felt like forever in a really great way. Before we left we wanted to contribute so we played the Cupid shuffle and the Cha Cha Slide. They were very kind and the experience was overall wonderful.
To end our outing today in La Fortuna we had some ice cream, explored some of the square and did a bit of shopping around.
We ended our day back at Rancho Margot, had some dinner and spent some free time together. It was a big adventure today but it was a perfect day to mark half way through our trip.
July 14, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Gabbie:
Today we woke up early to a beautiful view at the log cabin overlooking the Pacuare river. As we woke up we headed to breakfast, which was similar to yesterdays and again delicious!
Following our day 1 rafting training, we headed down to the river, to continue our rafting adventure.
The river had levels 1-4 of rapids and it’s safe to say we all got soaked. We had the same instructors as yesterday and they did an amazing job guiding us through the rapids. After roughly 2 hours we made it to the end of the river and enjoyed lunch with another group of teen travellers.
Then, the one and only Don Greivin picked us up and we all enjoyed a nice siesta on the bus until we got to our beachfront hotel. The Oceanview hotel in Cahuita had a gnarly view!
Eden (our LD/ local Cahuita expert) took us to a Playa Negra where we played a pickup soccer game with some of Eden’s former students.
Then, we showered up and took on the town in cute outfits for our dinner at Ewa restaurant.
Personally, I really enjoyed today and the activities we did. I think we all are realizing the trip is coming to an end and as sad as it is, we are excited to take in everything we have left. Adios! – Gabbie
July 15, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Oliver:
We started off the day later than normal eating another great traditional Costa Rican breakfast at our hotel.
After breakfast we prepared for our day of adventures. We then left for Cahuita National park. We met our guide Carlos who shared his years of knowledge of the surrounding flora and fauna with us.
We saw two and three toed sloths hanging loose in the tree-tops, howler monkeys howling amongst the canopy, and small white-faced capuchin monkeys curiously and cautiously observing us.
After a hot walk through the park we went for a swim at Punta Cahuita beach. After a relaxing swim in the gnarly blue water we were picked up by boat taxis and headed back to town.
We rinsed off the salt water and refreshed ourselves before returning to EWA restaurant for lunch, where we had pasta, casado, arroz con camarones with churros and ice cream for dessert.
We then walked back to our hotel where we got changed in preparation for our Caribbean cooking class at Wildlife Lodge with Sherin and her daughter Kehe.
We made chicken and rice with vegetables in salsa coco and fried bread. We were all tired from a long day so we got in our bus and the one and only Don Greivin drove us back to our hotel.
Before bed we had a bonfire at which we made s’mores and had a brief reflection. It feels like we’ve lost track of time, I can’t believe it’s already day 10. It feels like the trip just started.
July 16, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Michael:
Hola, Michael here popping in for the second time to talk about our amazing day in Cahuita.
We started the day with a buffet style breakfast in our hotel in Cahuita. After breakfast we got on the bus to visit an indigenous community town of the Bribri. On the way there, our guide Tito explained some of the history of the Bri Bri and the way they have interacted with the Costa Rican government over the last 200 years.
The tour began with us learning about some weapons, clothing and the Bribri way of life. Then Veto, gave us a tour of Viki and Catato, her parents, home. We learned about the different plants and trees that the Bribri grow. Then we visited the Bribri chaman’s hut, the place where people who are sick go to be cured. After the tour of the home, we made traditional hot chocolate out of authentic cocoa beans from the garden.
The chocolate making process is as follows:
* We put the fermented beans into a pot and cooked them
* Then we took the beans and used a rock to crush them and make them into a powder
* We put the seeds into a tray and shook it to separate the shells of the beans
* Then we put the powder into a grinder to make it a chocolate paste
* Finally we mixed the chocolate paste into hot water to create the hot chocolate!
We said cheers with Viki and Vilma, the chocolatier experts, and then we drank the hot chocolate. To close up the visit we ate a typical Bribri dish out of a leaf plate which was really good. On the drive back to Cahuita, we stopped briefly at the ‘Dos Aguas’ waterfall.
When we came back to the hotel, we took a dip in the pool to cool off while we waited for Randal and Erik, two Local Calypso musicians from the NGO “Play for Change”. They arrived and we sat around them to listen. They played a variety of different Caribbean songs, from well known artists like Bob Marley and Harry Belafonte to songs from local Cahuiteños. It was a very enjoyable experience listening and dancing to this type of music.
Then we went out for dinner, where most of the group tried a traditional Costa Rican Caribbean dish called rice and beans.
When we got back to the hotel, we had a nice party which included Scottish dancing (that our ID Ryan taught us) and karaoke. For the Scottish dance we learned four different types of dances – the dancing was high energy and everyone loved it. Finally we closed out the day with some karaoke and I had some gnarly vocals . And that’s it for today, Chao!
July 17, 2023
Written by leader of the day: Libbie:
We then arrived at Casa Vieja restaurant for an excellent dinner before reaching our final hotel of the trip. At the hotel, we had a Karaoke party part 2. Tomorrow we are off to San Jose for a tour of the Historic Centre and a presentation and painting workshop from a Costa Rican artist.
July 19, 2023
Written by Eden and Ryan:
July 18, 2023
Written by leader of the day:
Hi parents and friends!