Today marks the end of day 3 in Costa Rica. After 2 nights in San Jose, we headed Northwest to the coast in Guanacaste. This trek began early in the morning. Leaving just past 6 AM, the crew set out on our next adventure. Along the way we stopped for breakfast in a port town. After eating breakfast, we got back on the road to continue our drive to the beach. We hit a lot of traffic on our way, which allowed for us to knock out some work and for others to sleep. We powered through the traffic and finally arrived at the beautiful coast at Playa Hermosa. After checking in to the Hotel Mangaby, the group walked down to the beach to find a lunch spot. I enjoyed local ceviche while others ate snapper, burgers, and salads. The view of the beach made the lunch 10x better. Once we finished, we walked the beach and explored the small town of Playa Hermosa. The skies began to darken, and rain started falling so we all headed back to the hotel to unpack, relax, and finish our days work. With a couple hours of work and relaxation behind us, we got ready for a fancy dinner at Hotel Bosque Del Mar. Here, I ate some of the Mahi Mahi in my life, only second to the time I caught it fresh, then cooked it right after. It was fun meeting the rest of our professor’s family members over dinner. With our bellies full and satisfied we drove back to the hotel to play cards and enjoy the rest of our evening. It felt so nice to be on the coast away from city life.
Tonight, marks the end of day 2 in Costa Rica. So far this trip we have been staying in the city of San Jose. Today was an exciting day filled with learning. We had the opportunity to tour and visit three different Costa Rica based companies. Our day started off with a typical Costa Rican breakfast, Gallo Pinto! After breakfast we made our way to an office building near the city. When we arrived at the office building, we stumbled upon a police investigation. Apparently, an elderly man accidentally drove his car into a building below the company we were visiting. The company we saw had no damage, but it was crazy witnessing the after math of the crash. The first company we visited was called Procomer. They are an export advising company that helps local companies better manage their exports to reduce costs. Two professionals from the company presented their business model to us in a very informative and engaging way. After this meeting we visited another company, Aerospace Cluster, in the same office building. This company is focused on merging needs and opportunities to create value for companies. Once we finished learning about this company, we walked to a nearby mall to grab lunch. We ended up going to a tap house and had a tasty lunch. For our third company visit, we went to a manufacturing facility just outside of the city. This company, Vadendum Production Solutions, makes and assembles film tripods and rotating camera holders that are all used to film major movies and sporting events. It was a very impressive operation and I feel grateful to have been given the opportunity to tour the facility.
Today marks the end of our first day in Costa Rica and so far, it has been an exciting time. Our first day was filled with travels, greetings, and good food. Once we arrived in San Jose, we went to get our rental car, and from there the adventure began! After picking up the rental car we traversed through the city of San Jose. With an experienced Tico (Costa Rican) on board, it made it easier for me to explore this new city and helped me get my bearings straight much quicker than I expected. It took a few wrong turns before we found our hotel but nevertheless, we had a seamless drive through the city. With check-in complete we dropped our bags off in our rooms and then headed out for a walk around the vicinity. Luckily, the rain held off which made way for a nice walk. The group walked up an appetite, so we stopped into a restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat. After a tasty snack we headed back to the hotel to reconvene. We then got ready and socialized with the rest of the group before heading out for dinner. Tonight’s dinner was at El Boyero, a local Costa Rican restaurant a short drive from the hotel. Here we got a chance to meet some locals and here their stories. We also got to enjoy some delicious foods and hear some good music! In short, the first day was great. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful, even the customs agent at the airport! I’m excited to see what the rest of the trip has in store for me.
Today we had a big day ahead of us. We started off the morning super early and met up with Dr. Gonzalez’s son who owns a company called Cartuanis. Basically, he and some others take groups of people on crazy cool hikes which is what we did. This was probably one of the hardest hikes I’ve done, mainly because the whole time I was scared I was going to slide down the mountain. However, after getting to the bottom and seeing the view it was definitely worth it. We were surrounded by trees and even got to swim to this waterfall nearby. In total, the hike probably took about 5 hours and afterward they provided us with fruit and gave us t-shirts which were really nice. We then ate lunch with the most amazing view and delicious food. After lunch, we drove back down the mountain and to our Airbnb where we all showered and took naps. To end the night and our entire trip together we went to the very first restaurant we ate at which was El Portón Rojo.
Today we got up and did a hike around a volcano. First, a bus came and picked us up and brought us to the place. During the hike, we went to see a lot of different insects, some with very vibrant colors. The hike took about two hours and we finally ended up on this man-made lookout area where we could see both the Arenal volcano and the lake at the same time, which was amazing. We even got lucky this day because it was one of the only days we could clearly see the whole volcano without clouds blocking the view. Afterward, we went back to the hotel where we packed our things and from there drove straight to San Jose. The drive was super long and everyone was exhausted from the hike that morning. Immediately after arriving in San Jose, we went to Dr. Quesada’s parent’s house. This is where we all did our group presentations on the different companies that we chose. Afterward, we got dropped off at the mall in San Jose where we ate dinner and headed to our Airbnb to get some rest for the next day.
Today we got up and had a company visit this morning with VISA. While at their company we got to not only hear about the process of how they grow and export their products but we got to see the process as well. It really amazed me just how many pineapples they were exporting daily and how precise and efficient they were at inspecting and packaging their products. After this, we were given the rest of the afternoon off to relax and finish up schoolwork. Immediately after getting back, I was super tired so I took a nap. After the nap, I knew our presentations were due the following day so the girls and I decided to work on that the rest of the day until we finished. Once everyone finished making their presentations, which was essentially the last assignment we had for the trip, we all went out to celebrate with a nice dinner and some drinks.
Today we had another tour. We first got breakfast at our hotel and then we drove to the hanging bridges. These bridges are exactly what they sound like, they are long bridges that extend over parts of the rainforest. I really liked being fully surrounded by all the greenery and I thought the views were amazing. Unfortunately, we did not get to see any cool animals which was what I was hoping for. After this, we got a free afternoon to help us catch up on our schoolwork and rest. That evening we went to a very nice resort with hot springs. There were about 15 different hot springs/pools just at this one resort which was super cool. After that, we had a buffet-style dinner at the resort which was good.
Today we had to get up early as we had a really busy day ahead of us. I was pretty tired from the night before so I definitely had to get some coffee to start the day. After that, there was a train waiting for us that took us up this mountain where we then proceeded to get our equipment on, such as the harness and gloves. Once we were all ready we had to do a mini hike to get to the first zip line which was pretty exhausting but was totally worth it after seeing the view that we were ziplining over. My favorite zip line was the one that went through a tunnel of trees. After we finished we got to ride horses which were my first time so I was scared the horse was going to buck me off. My horse was kind of slow but I was just glad it didn’t go out of control. After that, we went back to the hotel. We then got changed and went to lunch in town where we also dropped our laundry off to get washed. After that, we decided to go back to the waterfall but the guys went with us this time. It was very refreshing and we even swam around the waterfall as well. Later that night we had a reservation for a hot spring then after that, we enjoyed a huge cookout that Dr. Gonzalez cooked for us which was amazing.
Today we got up around 7am because we had a rafting tour booked. Luckily I got to sleep early the night before so I felt great. The rafting company came and picked us up on a bus and drove us to the river. Once we got there they split our group into two separate groups and started giving us life jackets, helmets, and paddles. We then got in the raft where the water was freezing and had a training session on the different commands and safety instructions. The very first rapids we went through were probably the scariest but after that, we kind of got the hang of it. Along the way, we saw monkeys and toucans which was cool. At some points the guide let us get out of the raft and float in the water which was really fun. Then they provided us with a buffet-style lunch which consisted of rice beans, different meats, and more. As we were leaving the lunch place we saw a sloth hanging in the tree. After rafting we had the rest of the afternoon to relax which was much needed. Later on, the girls and I decided to go on a hike to a waterfall. The view was definitely worth all the steps we had to go up. Once dinner came around we decided on getting sushi and then finished the night hanging out by the pool.
Today we got to sleep in later than usual and walked around to a breakfast place right on the beach. I had a chicken biscuit which was so good. After that, we continued walking around the town of tamarindo and did a little shopping in the local shops. Once we were done it was time to hit the road and head to our next destination. Originally we were told it was a 6-hour drive which we were not happy about but it only ended up being 4 hours. During the car ride, everyone was super tired and exhausted from the night before so we all just slept. After 4 hours we arrived at our hotel in La Fortuna we settled into our rooms and then headed to dinner. The dinner was included with the hotel and it was really good. After a long day of driving, we all decided to just have a chill night at the hotel and went to bed early.