Day 11- Sunday July 15

Today was a travel day.  We left Horizontes at 4 a.m., loaded the vans, and took the short drive to the Costa Rica airport where we said goodbye to Eddie and Felix.  I must express here that Eddie and Felix were so much more than drivers.  To the kids they were friends and entertainers; they played upbeat music in the vans, helped them practice their Spanish and pointed out interesting sites during our drives.  Eddie carried his machete around, and on the last day cut down several coconuts and mangoes so the kids could enjoy these fruits the way they were meant to be eaten.  They played soccer, joked around, posed for pictures, and joined us for meals.  They really helped to create a fun atmosphere. 
To us as chaperones, Eddie, Felix, along with James, our Seeds of Change liaison, Pablo, our host at Finca la Anita, and many others, they were the 100% reliable safety net that kept us and the students safe and secure at every moment.  They translated Spanish.  They knew where it was safe to walk, drive, and swim. They strung up ropes and guided us through stream crossings and on muddy hills.  When they felt a condition or activity was not safe, they said so and we followed their leads. They were lifeguards at the ocean. They allowed us to get in and experience this country in a way far beyond what a tourist would have access to, but did it in a way that kept our safety and security at the forefront of their concerns.  We are forever grateful for this skillful leadership.

We flew from Costa Rica to Atlanta where we had a very quick time through customs and security and a long layover where everyone had plenty of time for meals, catching up on social media and texting home, and just enjoying each others' company for a few last hours. Our flight home and arrival were uneventful, and then we were all greeted by our families in Minneapolis.  As I write this I'm sure the kids are enjoying sleeping in, or beginning to unravel their favorite stories and memories, getting caught up on life back at home, passing out gifts, and enjoying hot showers and dry clothes.

As chaperones, I must tell you what a joy and honor it was to travel with your children. They were funny, flexible, adventurous, and curious. They were polite and kind to our hosts.  They practiced their Spanish. They took advantage of this tremendous opportunity to learn and experience.  I saw picky eaters try new foods, shy people open up and make new friends, and everyone learn to tolerate the biggest bugs we'd ever seen.  Even at their most tired, wet, or hungry, they persevered, embraced the fun, and as became their theme... they "thrived." 

We had a great experience with this group, and we are very proud of their accomplishments.  We hope you're enjoying hearing their best stories, and eating some high quality chocolate.
Pura vida...Not for school but for life...

Sincerely, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Jaworski

Day 10- Saturday July 14

And we’re off! Yesterday was our final day in Costa Rica, so we made sure to have a lot of fun. In the morning at Horizontes, we ate beans and rice, fresh fruit and eggs. After breakfast, we took an hour and a half hike in the dry forest learning about the tree species and animals. We even saw an iguana and a spider monkey! At the end Eddie our driver picked us fresh coconuts and mangos and using his mad machete skills to cut them up for a snack. Before lunch, many of us took a PHAT nap. For lunch we had mushroom and ham pasta with steamed broccoli, zucchini, and carrots. We then all got ready and headed to the beach.

The beach was a highlight of the trip. The waves were big and fun to play in – for most of us. While some people were jumping and floating over the waves, others were getting destroyed by their powerful riptide. Despite a few wave attacks, we all had a great time swimming and laying on the beach until sunset. The Costa Rican sunset was an array of brilliant colors filling the sky, a beautiful sight for everyone. Following the sunset we loaded up the bus and headed back to Horizontes for dinner.

Upon arrival for dinner, there was a long, clothed table with a string of white lights surrounding the patio. It looked just perfect for our last night in Costa Rica. The lights hanging provided a cozy feeling which made us all feel at home. We gathered for a traditional barbeque dinner consisting of pork, steak, chicken, sausage, and a side of some veggies, mashed potatoes, and tortillas. Following the meal, we had some time to begin packing up for our long day of travels ahead of us. While we all got organized, we played cards, talked, and fit in some last-minute bonding time.

With the need to wake up at 3am for our bus ride to the airport, some intelligently decided to go to sleep early, while others decided to try to stay up the whole night! Overall, we are all very thankful for this experience, and we want to thank both our parents and our supervisors for allowing us to go on this trip. The Vis and STA Costa Rica 2018 Trip was a trip of a lifetime.

Peace and Love,

Katie, Meghan, Katie, Helaina, and Isabel

Day 9- Friday July 13

We woke up at Finca La Anita for the last time at 7:30 for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of eggs, fresh fruit, beans + rice, juice, yogurt, and toast with cacao nibs. We all had to pack up our suitcases the night before or early that morning for our departure to Horizontes. Shortly after we left, we stopped at the local women’s society to get beautiful, unique, homemade bracelets and other jewelry. After we purchased items for ourselves, family members, and friends, we embarked on our three-hour journey to Horizontes. We played music, took a nap, watched Netflix, and ate Chickys, a popular Costa Rican chocolate wafer candy. We traveled for about an hour and forty-five minutes before arriving at a grocery store in Liberia. After stocking up with an assortment of snacks, we continued our journey to Horizontes. At about 12:30 we arrived.

After stepping out of the van, we were greeted by an iguana. We then had a lunch of chicken with rice, salad, and pink potato and beet salad. After the filling lunch, we had a quick break before learning about the sea turtles that could’ve been on the beach. We then took a short hike to look at and discuss the symbiosis of Acacia trees and the ants living on them. It turns out, the ants live on the tree for food/shelter and the tree gets protected by the ants. Shortly after, we saw two wild deer in the forest. It wasn’t too long before we started to climb a lookout tower. Once we were up there, we could see for miles on every side.
After getting down from the tower, we played an exciting game of soccer with a couple of the locals. We played for about an hour, until it was dinner time.

Dinner was rice, beans, salad, a really good juice, and beef stroganoff. We settled in our rooms and hung out until it was eight p.m. At that time, we boarded the van and headed to the beach. The ride was filled with lots of classic songs like Don’t Stop Believin’, and Living on a Prayer. At the beach, we laid out our blankets and split into groups for turtle scanning. It took around 10 minutes to get to the north side of the beach and 15 to get the south side. We could only use red light to not disturb the turtles if seen. Sadly, to our disappointment, no turtles were spotted. However, the hermit crabs, warm breeze, and picking out the stars laying on our blankets made the trip worth-while. At 12:00 a.m. we returned to our humble abode to immediately crash into our respective beds. Almost all of us slept like rocks except the few that fell asleep at 3:00 a.m. Pura Vida!

Luke, Caroline, and Caitlin