This week we are writing from the Natural Reserve in Cerro Alto where we are beginning to wrap up our wonderful program. This past week was still full of adventure that we are so excited to share with you.
At the beginning of the week, we were still working on our service project at the Costa Rica Animal Rescue Center. Everyday, we were divided into 4 groups - birds, sloths/deer/pigs, nocturnals, and monkeys. Each group worked with the current volunteers and staff to help feed and care for their group of animals. Some days we chopped food, other days we cleaned cages, and sometimes we even got to help create enrichment activities of the animals. When we weren’t with the animals, we were reading, hanging out by the pool or just enjoying the nice weather. The rescue center even had 9 puppies there! Fleurie spent every moment of free time playing with them!
We loved spending time with the animals, but left the center after 3 days to head out to Epic Adventures. Epic was beautiful. We stayed in cabins overlooking the mountains. We also really enjoyed the cooler and sometimes rainy weather. On our second day at Epic, we went on a chocolate tour. We were able to see how the cacao fruit grows, how it is harvested, processed, and turned into chocolate. We learned a lot about the history of cocoa and how it started being used. We all got to practice the process of turning the cacao into chocolate by grinding the beans and mixing in sugar. Spencer even got to try out an old method of getting the shells of the beans using an old bicycle! It was a really fun morning and we all left the tour incredibly full of chocolate.
We also had an incredible dinner of chicken parmesan cooked by Chloe, Jake, Avery, and Jasmine. We all agreed that the dinner was one of the best we have had this entire program, they totally killed it! Our meal was only slightly interrupted by a giant and slightly scary-looking moth flying around the room - which we were all alerted to by Josh’s screams. Don’t worry though, it was harmless and we put it back outside where it belongs. After Epic, we went off to Tortuguero National Park for two nights. Here we went on a village tour and a boat tour. We saw wild spider monkeys, toucans, and a caiman. Alvaro got lots of good pictures of the wildlife there.
Finally, we spent the last 3 days on our rafting trip on the world-famous Pacuare River. It was absolutely a highlight of the trip! We rafted out 12km our first day through class II,III, and IV rapids. Guy loved paddling through the white water and floating down the river during the calm sections. We arrived at the Ecolodge and had a wonderful dinner. The next day, we hiked to an indigenous community and visited the school. It was really eye opening seeing the small school building that housed 12 students. Jake and Gus found a soccer ball and started a game in the school field. It was a lot of fun. When we got back from the hike, we jumped in the river and floated down for a bit in our life jackets. Kat liked it so much she did it twice! In the afternoon, we planted 13 trees to help offset our carbon footprint we’ve created during our time in Costa Rica. We rafted out the next morning and drove to our current location in Cerro Alto.
We are spending our last few days as a group, reflecting on all of our experiences, growth, lessons we learned, and things we are grateful for. We have loved sharing this experience with you!