Saturday, April 18, 2009

We're Home

We're home, safe and sound! The trip home was long but uneventful. 

We spent friday morning in San Jose, packing and then doing a bit of shopping and sight seeing in the few blocks surrounding our hotel. Some students opted to stay in the games room and play pool or use the Internet. At 2:30 pm we met Pancho one last time and he drove us to the airport, where we said good-bye to him. We got checked in and through security and boarded our flight for LAX. 

It took longer than expected getting through security and customs on the way into LAX so we didn't get to the hotel until 2 am. Then there was a small problem with our reservation, so by the time we were in our rooms it was 2:30 am. We needed to be back in the lobby to catch the shuttle back to the airport at 5 am, which made for a very short night!

We got back to the airport, checked in and through security in plenty of time. There were several restaurants open so we had breakfast at the airport. I had a ham, egg and cheese panini and a then enjoyed a grande vanilla latte from Starbucks. Personally I've had enough of scrambled eggs, beans and rice for quite some time. We then caught our flight from LAX to Calgary. In Calgary we went through customs, collected our bags and said our good-byes to the students. It's hard to believe our trip is over!

I want to take this opportunity to say thank-you to the following:
  • Shira Windecker - for all of her planning, organization and work to convert her idea for this trip into a reality for these students and parents. Shira did an awesome job, working with EF, our tour guide and other contact people. 
  • Sandra Smith - our other "official chaparone" for caring for our students and ensuring that their sunburns and other mishaps were treated appropriately. 
  • To the parent participants who were so willing to help out with supervising their own children as well as others. I believe this trip went so smoothly because we had such a good adult/student ratio with lots of eyes to watch out for each other.
  • To the students who were so great at following instructions, taking care of each other, and being patient with each other even when sleep deprived and in need of some personal space. We were so fortunate to be able to travel with such an awesome group of students. It was a pleasure to get to know each of you on a more personal level. 
  • To Foothills School Division for allowing us to take our students on an international travel experience. We don't take this for granted as there are many school divisions that would not have allowed this sort of trip with junior high students.
  • To Pablo Yee, our tour guide,  for showing us your beautiful country, sharing your knowledge with us and letting us get to know you on a personal level.
  • To Pancho for driving us all over the country and going out of your way to show us the Costa Rica that most travellers would never see.
I will keep this blog active for quite some time. I will also change the settings on the photo gallery so that downloads are allowed. I've really enjoyed writing this blog and sharing our experiences with you. Students...see you in school on Monday. Adiós!

Saturday Morning

We're at LAX after a very short night. Everyone is pretty tired but in good spirits. I must say that all of the students are amazing travellers. Good spirited, even when sleep deprived. See you parents at the airport in a few hours.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photos Uploaded

It's Friday morning in San Jose. We have an excellent Internet connection so I've uploaded a bunch of new photos. I haven't added captions yet...they're coming.

I've also added to the post "The Amazing Pancho"

Transfer from Central Pacific Coast back to San Jose

We are back in San Jose. It is Friday morning and our trip is almost finished. We have to be checked out of the hotel by noon and we load the bus to the airport at 2:30 for the long flight home. Once again we have a layover in Los Angeles before catching our flight back to Calgary. At least we don't have to go through Vancouver on the way home.

Yesterday was a transfer day from the Central Pacific Coast to San Jose. It is not that far back to San Jose so we didn't have to get up for breakfast until 9:00 am which was a nice change. 

Everyone was pretty tired after being in the sun the day before. In spite of our repeated warnings and reminders about wearing hats, putting on lots of sunscreen, and wearing shirts, some students did not heed our warnings and got sunburned. Sandra, our nurse/chaparone, just happens to work in the burn unit at the hospital, so they are getting good treatment. Lots of aloe vera gel and lotion are being passed around. 

On our way back to San Jose we stopped at Sarchi, a town famous in San Jose for its furniture manufacturing and wood-working shops. Our first stop was at a large co-op market where the students could shop for souvenirs, coffee, chocolate, carved items, T-shirts and other trinkets. After about an hour of shopping we went to a local restaurant where we had a buffet lunch of rice and beans, chicken, salad, fried plantain, and other typical Costa Rican dishes. At the restaurant was another store which had fairly good prices for souvenirs.

After our shopping spree we got back on the bus for the remainder of our trip back to San Jose. The city was much different than when we left. When we left it was during their Easter holiday when everyone was at the beach or at home with family.  Now everyone is back at work so the city is very busy. We arrived in San Jose at around 4:30 pm, right in the middle of rush hour traffic. It is quite scary to see three lanes of traffic and then motorcycles zipping along the middle between the lanes.

At the hotel, we checked in, got showered and dressed and then headed to our final activity, which was a Costa Rican feast with traditional dancing and a time for the students to join into the festivities. 

The restaurant is located at the top of a mountain which is overlooking San Jose and the entire valley. Pancho did an amazing job of navigating up the narrow roads and 25% grades up to the restaurant. It was also nice that both Pancho's wife and daughter and Pablo's girlfriend could come with us. The view from the restaurant is incredible and the buffet supper of traditional foods was absolutely amazing. After supper a group of six traditional dancers performed a series of dances for us. After they had finished dancing, the music continued and all of our students started dancing and having a great time. What a perfect way to finish our trip, good food, good music, and a beautiful view of San Jose.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Photo Update

The Internet connection here still isn't great but I was able to upload a few pictures to complement some of the previous blog postings. I will make sure that all of my best photos get uploaded as soon as I possibly can and parents and students will be able to download any of my photos from the website. I will also leave the blog online for quite some time after the trip is over.

Manuel Antonio National Park and Beach

Today was a beach day! Since the beach by our hotel is not suitable for swimming, we drove today to Manuel Antonio Natinoal Park where there is a beautiful, secluded and sheltered beach with water that is clean, clear, and safe for swimming. We got to the beach around 11:00 am and had about four hours to enjoy the sun, sand, water and animals. The water was super warm and very clean so we spent lots of time swimming and enjoying the sunshine. The weather has been very warm down on the coast and the humidity is almost 100% so the water at the beach and the hotel pool have been very enjoyable. 

At the beach we saw all sorts of wildlife including monkeys, a sloth, racoons, iguana, and hermit crabs. At one point I was taking photos of an iguana eating the front claw from a crab. A moment later I noticed a crab scurrying along the beach, minus one large front claw. Poor guy! He must have gotten into a fight and lost.

After our time at the beach we spent a little bit of time at the local market before loading up the bus and heading back to the hotel for some free time before supper. Everyone was pretty tired after supper so some of the students headed to bed and were asleep before 9:00 pm.

Tomorrow is a transfer day back to San Jose with a stop at a large market along the way. Looking forward to buying souvenirs for family and friends.

Transfer from Monteverde to Central Pacific Coast

I've got some time and finally have some decent wireless service so I'm going to post a bit more detail of yesterday and today.

As I said earlier, yesterday was a transfer day from Monteverde to the Central Pacific Coast. We got up a bit earlier, packed up, had breakfast and loaded the bus. Pablo said that people used to sell T-Shirts that said "I Survived the Road to Monteverde", but have since realized that those T-Shirts, probably weren't good for tourism and the local economy, so they stopped selling them. They still haven't fixed the road! The road is gravel, narrow, winding, and bumpy. Pancho is such an amazing driver. I took some photos from the front passenger seat that give you a pretty good idea what I'm talking about.

Once we were down in the lowlands, we stopped for a crocodile tour with the "Crocodile Man." We got onto a low covered boat and cruised up and down the river looking at birds and crocodiles. When we would find a nice big croc near the shore we would park the boat and the guide would get out and feed raw chicken to the crocs. They are amazing animals. The bird life and scenery was really neat to see.

After the crocodile tour we headed for our hotel. The hotel is really nice, about 100 m from the beach and it also has a swimming pool. We spent the late afternoon on the beach. At this particular beach students are not allowed in the water past their knees because of the potential for rip tides. Students were really good about following instructions and had a great time, finding hermit crabs, digging in the sand, burying Jeremy and turning him into a mermaid...enough said.
After the beach we had supper and then some of the students enjoyed an evening dip in the hotel pool. This hotel, Playa Bajuco is a small hotel and we have the entire hotel pretty much to ourselves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 photos yet!

Just wanted to let you all know that we made it to the Central Pacific Coast. We had a really nice transfer day. Bus ride down from Monteverde was a little scary but I'll write more detail on that later. We are now at the hotel and almost ready for supper. I'll write a more detailed posting later. Wireless connection is really slow, so we'll see if I can get some photos uploaded. At this point it doesn't look hopeful.

Spiders, Scorpions and other bugs...

By the time you read this we will be away from Monteverde and the cloud forest which is home to all sorts of nasty critters. The hotel where we stayed is located outside the city and there is forest all around us, so many of these critters tend to find their way into our hotel rooms. Several of our students have been quite "freaked out" by the spiders and other insects in their rooms. We have heard that individuals from other EF groups have actually been stung by the scorpions. Luckily this species of scorpion has a fairly mild poison that is not much worse than a bee sting. That being said they are still really quite disgusting. On a personal note...I was under the impression that scorpions are fairly large (don't fit under doors) and that they live on the forest floor (they can't climb) but apparently I was wrong on both accounts. Last night when I went into my room, I checked my bed, bathroom, floors, and walls for big spiders and scorpions and was pretty sure my room was clear. I crawled into bed and looked up only to realize that I had left the overhead light on. As I looked at the light fixture, I noticed something brown and fuzzy on the side of the light fixture. To my surprise, I realized that it was a scorpion! Now I'm as brave as anyone, but I had visions of this little fellow, falling from the light fixture in the dark and ending up in my bed and I wasn't having any of that nonsense. The ceiling in my room is vaulted and is about 15 feet from the floor. It must have looked quite humourous when I got up on the bed with my sweatshirt in hand, jumped as high as I could and swatted the scorpion, who went flying off the light fixture, into the corner of the room and onto the floor. From there the nasty little thing started scurrying across the floor towards me. I grabbed my shoe and with a quick swat, flattened him. I was so disgusted I didn't even think to get out my camera. I told the adults about my little adventure but didn't tell any of the students because I didn't want them even more freaked out. I'll tell them when we get out of Monteverde.

Monday Afternoon - Santa Elena

This afternoon we spent a couple of hours in the quaint little town of Santa Elena. The central core of Santa Elena is only about two blocks by two blocks and has quite a number of shops, tourism offices and restaurants. We spent time looking at the shops, trying to get out money from the ATM at the Banco Nacional, and eating ice cream at a small ice cream shop. I ordered an iced coffee and was given a coffee milkshake which was delicious. Some of the students went with Pablo, who knows of a place where they sell both original and replica soccer jerseys. At 5:30 we met back at the bus and went back to our hotel.
Supper tonight was really good. The cooks prepared rice with a black bean sauce, mashed potatoes, fish (marlin), carrots, fruit, and fresh juices and coffee as beverages. After supper they opened the disco again. The students are having a really great time and they are starting to mix a little bit with the other EF groups from the U.S. There are students here from New York State, Brooklyn, Maine, Rhode Island, and Philadelphia. Quite a mix and a really good opportunity for our students to learn about other people.

Tomorrow we are going to drive to the central pacific coast, go on a crocodile tour, and then check in at the hotel, which is located on the beach and actually has a swimming pool. Students will not be allowed to swim in the ocean because there are strong undertows. They can go in the water up till their knees, but if they want to swim it will have to be in the hotel pool. We've heard that the beach at this spot is amazing. It is several miles long and not very populated. We're really looking forward to getting to the ocean.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tree Planting, Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, Canopy Zip Line Tour

Just a quick update on today's events. We first headed to a high school located in Santa Elena where we were introduced to a lady who works for a conservation group that is working at reforestation of the cloud forest. Each student was given a sapling tree and we hiked up the hillside and planted our tree. From there we went to the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve where we went on a 2 hour hike. We saw several types of birds, a millipede, a snake eating a gecko and experienced the sights and sounds of the cloud forest. The amount of biological diversity was amazing.

From the Cloud Forest reserve, we headed to 100% Adventure for the zip line tour. What a blast! We went on 12 different zip lines, a vertical drop and an amazing Tarzan swing. Sorry no pictures because I was advised not to take my big camera. Lots of the students got photos and we bought a CD which had pictures of everyone doing the Tarzan swing. I'll try to upload some at our next stop. We've just had lunch and have a few minutes before we head to the city where hopefully I'll be able to find an internet connection to upload these posts and the photos I've taken.

Easter Sunday

Today is a transfer day from La Fortuna to Monteverde, so the majority of the day will be spent on the bus.

We woke up this morning to the sound of rain drumming on the roof of the hotel. Unlike Canada, even though it is raining and is early in the day, the air is warm and comfortable. As per usual, we

 had breakfast at 7 am and loaded the bus and left at 7:45. Breakfast this morning consisted of pancakes and fruit with fruit juice and coffee. The food at this particular hotel has been all right, but the portions are quite small and this morning the majority of the pancakes were on the dark side. The students have been really good sports about the food and I haven't heard too much complaining.

Our first stop of the day was a German bakery which served a variety of pastries including their specialty, apple struedel with ice cream. I had chocolate cake. We purchased a variety of junk food and drinks, used the washroom and then got back on the bus. The road up to Monteverde is in pretty rough condition, although it has improved in recent years. It took almost 2 hours to travel the last 40 km. The road started off as very bumpy concrete and then changed to rock/gravel. At places the grade was extremely steep and there were some places where the road was washed out and was down to one lane. The roads in CR are not a high

 priority. Pablo tells us that in CR the first priority is health care, second is education and highways are pretty close to the bottom of the list. There are some places where mud slides have covered roads and the hastily created detours have become semi-permanent structures. As I mentioned y

esterday, Pancho, our bus driver is absolutely amazing. Today we crossed a bridge where there was literally only an inch of space on either side of the bus. By patiently inching forward he was able to squeeze the bus around a very tight corner onto the bridge and across (see photos). Amazing!

Our second stop of the day was at an elementary school, where we were entertained by a group of students who performed traditional dances. They were dressed in brightly colored costumes and put on an amazing show. The children are so beautiful and appear to really enjoy performing for their guests. The school itself is in terrible condition. Other than a couple of chalk boards and a handful of desks th

ere was nothing that would indicate that the building is a school. The teacher teaches traditional dances to the students and has them perform for tour groups to help raise money for supplies and to rebuild the roof of one of the buildings which was destroyed in a recent storm. The children are very accomplished dancers. We were informed that they recently won first place in a dance competition with over 100 school participating. After the performance, our students got involved in an impromptu soccer game with some of the village kids. The ball handling skills of the local players was really quite amazing. Both Pablo, our guide, and Pancho, our bus driver are former soccer players.

We arrived at Hotel Villa Verde in Monteverde at 2:00 pm and went straight to lunch. The food here is amazing and the portions are huge, a welcome relief after the last hotel. This hotel is quite rustic and does not have TV or Internet. If we want to use Internet we need to go to the town which is quite a distance away. This hotel has a disco which is very popular with our students. There are several EF Tours staying here so the disco was opened and students danced to music until 10 pm which is when students need to be in their rooms. We've all had a fantastic day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Introducing the Amazing Pancho!

I just wanted to take a moment to introduce you to our bus driver, Pancho. This man is amazing and parents and family need to know that we are in very good hands. Already we´ve witnessed Pancho navigate narrow streets, incredibly narrow bridges, back roads, and traffic congested streets and highways. At the Arenal volcano, he was told that he could not park where he thought he could, so he had to back up the bus about 300 m down a narrow road, and then parallel park it between another bus and a wall. He squeezed it into this tight space perfectly. We are very appreciative of Pancho´s skill, his quiet demeanor and ready smile. Thanks Pancho!

Later in the trip...

Pancho's skills with the bus continue to amaze us. On th
e way up to Monteverde is a bridge that has been called the "Oh my god" bridge, because the approach is so narrow that it is incredibly difficult to get the angle of approach right so that the sides of the bus don't scrape the sides of the bridge. The bridge itself is a "temporary" replacement for a bridge that was washed out in a mud slide. Pancho very carefully went forwards and backwards, a bit at a time until he had the bus lined up perfectly with literally only an inch to spare on each side of the bus. If one of the wheels would have gone into a bit of a hole the bus would have rocked and it would have hit the side. 

La Fortuna Waterfall, Lake Arenal and Baldi Hot Springs

Today was a water sports day so for the majority of the time I didn't have my camera. We've had an action packed day so I will relay as much as possible. My internet connection is pretty flaky so I will try to get photos uploaded to the website. If not I'll try to get them uploaded at the next hotel. Thanks for your comments on the blog. The primary comment from parents is that you want more group photos and photos of students. I would be happy to oblige, but the fact is that some of your sons and daughters are somewhat uncooperative when it comes to having their picture taken. We've done a couple of group shots so hopefully this will suffice for now.

This morning I got up at 6:30 to a clear view of the Arenal volcano. The top was clearly visible and part way down was a perfect halo cloud surrounding the cone. It was spectacular. After taking some pictures we headed down to the dining room for a breakfast of scrambled eggs with ham, toast, fruit, coffee and juice. After breakfast we loaded up the bus and headed to La Fortuna waterfall.

La Fortuna waterfall is very beautiful with a nice lookout platform at the top. To get down to the river at the base of the falls we had to climb about half a kilometer down a very steep set of stairs. The water falls into a large pool and then flows down a small set of rapids into a series of pools which are great for swimming. The water was quite cool but very refreshing. We played in the water for about an hour before it was time to climb back up the stairs and to the bus. The climb up was pretty tough but all of the students managed it without too much trouble.

From La Fortuna we had about a half hour bus ride to Arenal Lake which is the largest man-made lake in Central America. It was created during the late 60's in order to create hydro power for the country. Currently the power from Lake Arenal provides 40% of Costa Rica's electricity. At Lake Arenal we got off the bus, paired off and prepared to go kayaking. The kayaks were open on the top, very stable and easy to paddle. We started by paddling across the lake and then along the shoreline. At one point we stopped and the students had an opportunity to go swimming in the lake. Our guide told us that if you swam down to the bottom of the lake, there are houses which were flooded during the creation of the lake. After paddling back to the dock, we got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel for lunch.

Lunch was rice with a chicken sauce, salad, fried plantain and juice. After lunch we had about an hour to relax before we headed to the Baldi Hot Springs. These hot springs have 26 different pools, getting progressively hotter as you climb up the hillside. It is a beautiful resort-type setting with beautiful gardens. We had about two hours to enjoy the hot springs before heading back to the hotel for supper and then free time in the evening.

It was an action packed day and everyone was ready for bed at 9:30 pm.

Friday, April 10, 2009

IN Bioparque, Poas and Arenal Volcanoes

We got down to the lobby at 7 am, dropped of our bags and headed off to breakfast in an outdoor terraced area. Breakfast consisted of rice with beans, scrambled eggs, toast with pineapple jam, fresh fruit, coffee and juice. Some students are going to have to adjust to eating beans with rice as it is served with almost every meal. After breakfast we got on the bus and after about 20 minutes we were at IN Bioparque which is a former coffee plantation that has been converted into an educational facility. Their purpose is to educate the people about Costa Rica's biodiversity and protected areas. We watched a multimedia presentation and then walked through the park with a guide who pointed out the different plant and animal species in the park. We ended our visit with a 10 minute video about Costa Rica's natural history. This visit was an excellent introduction to our time in CR.

After leaving Bioparque we had a two hour bus ride from San Jose, out into the countryside and up a long winding road, through rural villages and farmland, up to the Poas volcano. At the volcano we hiked up to the viewpoint and arrived just in time to see the multiple craters before the clouds rolled in and obscured the view. It is difficult to visualize how big the region is that you are looking at. From the lookout to the far side of the crater region is about 1.3 km.

Our tour guide, Pablo Yee is very knowledgeable, has degrees in biology and volcanology, and is a government certified guide. He gave a short course on the formation of CR and explained how volcanologists monitor volcanic activity to ensure the safety of area residents and tourists. After our time at Poas, we loaded up onto the bus to go for lunch.

For lunch we stopped at a family owned place that served a traditional CR meal. We had a choice of chicken or beef with rice and beans, fried plantain, yuca (a deep fried root vegetable), shredded cabbage salad, potato skillet and a delicious beverage made from strawberry juice and milk. The meal was very delicious.

After lunch we had a 3 hour bus ride from Poas to the Arenal Region of CR. The countryside is absolutely gorgeous. We drove through several different regions that have a variety of vegetation and climate. We got to our hotel located in the heart of the little tourist town of La Fortuna and after having a bit of free time we ate a nice meal of fish, mashed potatoes and cole slaw. The evening was very warm and clear, so Pablo decided we should drive to the Arenal volcano. By the time we got to Arenal it was very dark and the clouds had rolled in a little bit. We got out of the bus and sat down to watch the volcano. The volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is erupting almost constantly, throwing large boulders up into the air, which crash down the side of the mountain, breaking apart and leaving a trail of glowing lava. We were watching from a safe distance of 3 km away, so it was difficult to get good photographs. After much trial and error I did manage to get three that I thought were keepers. Our entire groups sat and watched the volcano for over an hour before we decided to head back to the hotel and go to bed.

Costa Rica Photo Album

I've created a Costa Rica album on a portion of my website. The link will remain on the right side at the top of the page.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gran Hotel Costa Rica

We have arrived in Costa Rica at the Gran Hotel Costa Rica! Lots to report so here goes.

After spending about 5 hours at the La Quinta Hotel in Los Angeles, we left for the airport at 11 pm. We got through security and then waited at the gate until 2:15 when our flight left for San Jose. Everyone was pretty tired, so by the time we got onto the plane, most of us were able to get some sleep.

We arrived in Costa Rica to beautiful blue skies and warm breezes. The weather here today is 29 C. At the airport we met our tour guide, Pablo Yee and our bus driver "Pancho" (not his real name). They both seem very nice and we are going to be touring Costa Rica in a 48 passenger motor coach. We found out today that we will be touring with another very small group of students from New York, whom we will meet tonight at about 9 pm. After getting to the Gran Hotel Costa Rica, we were given a couple of rooms to change in and then we headed out to find something to eat. We ended up at a food court with a Papa John's Pizza, Burger King and a 

fried chicken place. It was a good experience to watch some of the students try to order and encounter a language barrier for the first time. Frustrating...but cool.

We've divided our group into three smaller groups, one group per chaperone so that we can walk around the area near the hotel and see some of the sites. Costa Rica is predominantly Catholic and with this being Easter weekend, most of the shops and restaurants are closed. Several of the groups went to visit a large church just a few blocks away from the hotel and marveled at the architecture and the beautiful stained glass windows. Apparently this evening at 5:30 pm there will be a large religious parade leaving from the church, circling around the main downtown area and then ending up back at the church. That should be a neat experience for the students. Supper will be at 7 pm and then I think everyone will be pretty much ready to go to bed.

Click here to see more photos. Feel free to leave comments, they are always welcome.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Los Angeles

We are now in Los Angeles! Our flights were uneventful except for almost missing our connecting flight in Vancouver due to US Customs only having one agent working at the desk. As the "final boarding" announcement was echoing over the intercom, we were running down the concourse to the gate. We all made it, so no worries. We're now at La Quinta hotel right near LAX airport. We will be having supper at 7 pm and then we have the evening to relax until we need to leave for the airport at around 11:30 pm. Our flight from LA to San Jose leaves at 2:20 am so we'll be pretty tired when we arrive. 

Ready to Depart

All present and accounted for! Everybody is at the airport and is checked in. We've given the students some time to shop in the airport before going through security. Everyone is pretty excited. Today will be a day of "hurrying to wait," which is kind of the nature of international travel. Everyone is in good spirits and it is good to see students starting to make connections with each other. 

A word about communication...comments are now working. At the end of each blog posting there is a comments link which will open a pop-up window. If you want to leave comments for your son/daughter, feel free and I will pass them along. If you want to leave a more private note, you can send me an email and I will pass that along as well. Send emails to

I'll try to get some photos posted later today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Itinerary While in CR

Day 1: Transfer to San José hotel
Most groups arrive in the afternoon or at night. Upon arrival at the airport, possible wait time of 2hrs for consolidated groups/split itineraries. Transfer to hotel (30min). Check-in usually not
possible before 2pm. In this case, group can store bags and exchange money.
7pm/8pm: Dinner at hotel; after dinner, free time.

Day 2: Transfer to the Arenal via INBio Park and Poas Volcano National Park; Arenal hot springs
8am: Guided visit to Imbio Park; Introduction to the Diversity of Flora and Fauna in Costa Rica
(2hrs). 10am: Transfer by bus; TD will lead group for sightseeing through a coffee plantation en
route to Poas Volcano National Park. Guided tour (2hrs).
12noon: Lunch at local restaurant (up to 1hr). 1pm: Transfer by bus to Arenal Region (3hrs). 4pm: Check-in at hotel in La Fortuna.
Visit a Thermo Mineral Hot Springs Centre: group will have chance to swim in pools with hot springs and mineral waters. Bathing suit and flip-flops required (2hrs).
Group visits Arenal hot springs (2hrs30min), which has 16 hot and cold pools of different
6:30pm/7pm/8pm: Dinner at hotel; free time after dinner.

Day 3: Kayaking on Lake Arenal; Visit to La Fortuna waterfall
9am: Kayaking on Lake Arenal.
Guided tour by professional guides; kayaks are for 1 or 2 person; helmets and life vest are provided (2 hrs).
12noon: Lunch at hotel.
Transfer to visit La Fortuna Waterfall (20min). Walking trail to the waterfall (1hr 30min).
6:30pm/7pm/8pm: Dinner at hotel; free time after dinner.

Day 4: Transfer to Monteverde; Local School Visit; Optional horseback-riding excursion in
8am: Transfer to Monteverde Region (3hrs).
Group will visit a local school. Lunch at hotel.
Optional horseback riding excursion [those not horseback riding can have free time at the horseback riding site]: (2hrs30min); the group will be provided with helmets and accompanied by professional guides. Transfer to hotel in Monteverde (up to 1hr).
7/8pm: Dinner at hotel; free time.

Day 5: Visit to Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve; Canopy tour
7:30am: Transfer to forest (15min); walking trail and tree planting at EF reserve (45min).
8:30am: Transfer to Selvatura (30min) for Canopy tour.
10am: Canopy tour (2hrs).
Lunch at hotel.
7/8pm: Dinner at hotel; free time.
Day 6: Transfer to the Central Pacific Coast via Carara National Park
Transfer to Central Pacific Coast (3hrs); visit Carara National Park on the way.
12noon: Box lunch or lunch at hotel. Free afternoon.
7pm/9pm: Dinner at hotel; free time.

Day 7: Optional excursion to Manuel Antonio National ParkOptional excursion to Manuel
Antonio National Park [those not going on this excursion will have free time]:
9:30am: Trip to Manuel Antonio National Park (1hr30min).
11am: Visit to Manuel Antonio National Park, trail & beach.
12noon: Included box lunch.
12noon: Box lunch or lunch at hotel. Free afternoon.
7pm/9pm: Dinner at hotel; free time.

Day 8: Transfer to San José via Sarchi; Free afternoon in San Jose; Optional 'Folklore Evening'
Transfer to San José via Sarchi (5hrs).
Lunch in Sarchi.
Free afternoon.
7pm/8pm: Dinner at hotel; after dinner, free time.
7pm: Optional "Folklore Evening" [those not joining this activity will have dinner at the hotel]: Transfer to Tiquicia (30min). Typical Costa Rican meal with dance, music and a
beautiful view of the city (2hrs).

Day 9: Flight home

Flight Information

To Costa Rica

Depart: 12:15 PM Calgary
Arrive: 12:42 PM Vancouver
Air Canada
Flight # 213

Depart: 2:10 PM Vancouver
Arrive: 5:00 PM Los Angeles
Air Canada
Flight # 554
Overnight Los Angeles

Depart: 2:20 AM Los Angeles
Arrive: 9:00 AM San Jose
Flight # 605

Return from Costa Rica

4/17/2009 - 4/18/2009
Depart: 6:10 PM San Jose
Arrive: 12:30 AM Los Angeles
Flight # 640

Overnight Los Angeles

Depart: 7:45 AM Los Angeles
Arrive: 11:47 AM Calgary
Air Canada
Flight # 569

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hotel Information

Hotel Information

4/8/2009 4/9/2009 - La Quinta Inn & Suites LAX
5249 West Century
Los Angeles, CA 90045
United States
Los Angeles 310-645-2200

4/9/2009 4/10/2009 - Gran Hotel Costa Rica
Avenida 2,enfrente del Teatro
San Jose 0625
Costa Rica
San Jose +506 2221 0796

4/10/2009 4/12/2009 - Las Colinas
Arenal Region
La Fortuna 145
Costa Rica
Arenal Region + 506 2479 9305

4/12/2009 4/14/2009 - Hotel Villa Verde
Monteverde Region
Monteverde 2365
Costa Rica
Monteverde +506 2645 5025

4/14/2009 4/16/2009 - Hotel Playa Bejuco
Central Pacific Coast
Puntarenas 45678
Costa Rica
Pacific Coast +506 2778 8181

EOJHS Costa Rica Trip 2009

We're leaving on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 for our trip to Costa Rica. Our group consists of 17 students in grade 8 and 9 and eight adults. On Wednesday we leave Calgary, shortly after noon, and fly to Vancouver. From Vancouver we fly to LA and then after a short layover, we fly from LA to San Jose, Costa Rica. We arrive in CR in the morning and will spend some time relaxing until we can check into the hotel in the early afternoon.

Check back often over the next few days to see photos, news of our adventures, and share in some of the fun.