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Hasta Luego Costa Rica

Hasta Luego Costa Rica

After spending my last week in Puntarenas studying and preparing for three finals, I was super pumped to go on the southern Costa Rica tour that was planned by USAC. Before I left though, I had to say goodbye to several of my friends who were not going on the tour. It’s crazy how good of friends you can become with people after only knowing each other for five weeks.

For the first day of the tour, we had a long bus ride. It was a little over 4 hours total. About two hours in, we stopped for a break at Marino Ballena Park and went swimming. The water was beautiful, and there were tons of acres of rainforest behind us. We arrived at Sierpe that night and would only be there one night, until we took a boat to Drake Bay the next morning. The boat ride to Drake Bay was amazing. Every time we took one of those little boats to another destination, I felt like I was in Pirates of the Caribbean. Drake Bay has a ton of picturesque rocks throughout the water and little islands scattered throughout. The resort was so beautiful. We stayed in wooden cabins and we were situated right on the ocean.

For our first full day in Drake Bay, we hiked to Cocalita Beac. On our way there, we encountered a huge grayish colored snake that was in the middle of the path. The waves and current were super strong at this beach to the point where it was impossible to stand up right even in shallow water. There were huge rocks to take pictures on and crabs everywhere. The next day we went to San Pedrillo Beach and Corcovado National Park via boat. We went on a two hour hike through the forest. We finally were able to see some stunning macaws and toucans in the trees. The trees were so unique looking. They had the smoothest bark and roots that all seemed to blend in with each other. There were tons of trees that had several roots that looked like separate trunks of different trees, but they all belonged to the same tree. The remaining afternoons and evenings that we spent at the resort were spent swimming in the saltwater pool, hanging out at the bar and eating snacks, and playing spoons with everyone in the evening.

The second full day of the tour was definitely my favorite of the trip. We went to San Josecito Beach and floated a river in the middle of the rainforest. We first had to canoe our way to the top of the river and then floated down from there. We jumped off the top of several waterfalls and at one point had to swim underneath a rock in order to get to the waterfall. The river water was the perfect cool temperature. When we got back to the beach we had a delicious lunch and spent the rest of the day swimming in the ocean. Some of us were able to go snorkeling, but unfortunately there was not much to see, and there were so many waves that we were getting sea sick.

For our last day in Drake Bay, we went horseback riding at a nearby beach. It was definitely the longest and most intense horseback riding experience I have ever been on. We went through the forest up and down some pretty steep hills and through fairly deep rivers. I felt bad for the horses because they looked underfed and it was really hot outside, but the guides assured us they were fine. My horse had a mind of its own and was more concerned with eating as many leaves as possible and avoiding rocks at all costs. We went pretty far up until this muddy hill, where we all got off of our horses and hiked up to a gorgeous waterfall. It was huge and powerful. We went swimming and jumped off some rocks in the waterfall area. At the end of the trek, I was able to experience the most stunning view of the ocean, beaches, and forests on the back of my horse on top of a hill. Our horseback riding ended with terrifying galloping across the beach, but I somehow did not fall off of my less than perfect horse.

We got back to Puntarenas in the late afternoon and all of the students spent most of the evening together saying our goodbyes to each other since about half of us would be staying the second session too. Our bus to the airport was leaving at 4 AM so we all went back to our host families fairly early. It was sad saying goodbye to my host mom and host brother. They really do start to feel like family after awhile, even with the language barrier. I will never forget the incredible 6 weeks spent in Costa Rica because of the breathtaking places we saw and explored and the fantastic people that I was able to build friendships with. The study abroad experience is definitely one that makes you into a more adventurous person that begins to realize how short our time really is at any point in our lives, and that we should take every exciting opportunity that comes our way. The Costa Rican saying pura vida will always be with me in spirit as I try and readapt to the fast-paced and competitive life in America, but I will continue to take chances and remember that it is the human experience with one another that supersedes our technological vices and obsession with reaching the top.


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