Wow, what a day! We saw so many things and learned a lot.
Our morning started off at 5:30 am. We got on our bus that was waiting for us just outside the hotel. Our first stop was the coffee plantation for a tour and breakfast. As usual, breakfast was great, and we got to go on a tour of how coffee beans are made. You wouldn't believe how long it takes to make coffee! The tour was really cool and the coffee smelled great.
Our next stop was the volcano. It is one of five active volcanoes on the island. It even had a sign saying, "in case of an eruption... stay calm." When we arrived, we had to walk up to this viewing area. When we got to the top, it was the prettiest thing I have ever seen. There was smoke arising from the volcano, and then when it cleared, you could see the crater. We decided to walk to another crater which had turned into a lake. The walk was pretty steep, and you were encaged by branches and leaves. I nearly passed out! We saw some wildlife along the way. When we got to the top, there was a beautiful lake. The landscape in Costa Rica is much greener than it is back home, and the air is fresh. After taking a couple of photos, we decided to walk back down to our bus to go to our last stop.
Today was the rainforest day. We had to get up super early in order to catch the bus to the boat place. The boat ride was amazing! The boat was kind of like a bus. It was small and covered, and it fit about 20 people. We saw monkeys, iguanas, and birds. I was really happy that we got to see the monkeys, because we don't get to see them that often.
After the boat ride, we got back on the bus and went to Monte Verde for lunch and a hike. On the way, we saw two pineapple trucks. It was really cool. I love to eat pineapples! I didn't know how close to the ground they grew.
For our last day of classes, we had class in the morning and then went to lunch and had a certificate ceremony to "graduate" from CRLA. The teachers said what we did and what we were good at and then gave us our certificates, and the people at CRLA made us cake to have after our lunch. I thought that the classes were very effective for the students at that level, and I had a lot of fun in the classes. It was a very different way of learning than at school. For example, there were only three people per class, so the teacher could focus more on helping certain students learn different things.
After CRLA, we went to a store called "Pequeno Mundo," which means small world. They had anything you could need for very low prices. We went there to buy food and clothing for the orphans that we had seen the day before and were now going to see again. When we were driving to and from the orphanage, we saw many houses that seemed to be leaning on each other without any stability. The people seemed to be very impoverished. Our tour guide told us that many people in those areas were drug dealers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and abusive or neglectful to their children. Many of the children in the orphanage had come from families that neglected them and left them on the street alone or were taken from their parents because their homes were unsafe. Some children in the orphanage were extremely nice, while others were unintentionally aggressive, but all of the kids would smile and laugh no matter what had happened to them in the past. I thought this was a very beautiful thing, because it shows you can change someone's life just by giving them safety and love.
Hola! We started off the day with our morning classes at CRLA. I have to say, waking up early and going to three hours of Spanish was something I was not looking forward to. But I did have a change of heart. Over the past two days we have learned so much Spanish it blows my mind. First of all, our (Alcuin) teachers, who basically knew nothing about Spanish, have been communicating at the places we have gone so well. Second, the classes go by so fast, and we all enjoy our teachers a lot.
When the noon hour arrived we filled up on a very satisfying lunch, that consisted of rice and beans, a choice of meat, and vegetables. Some of the kids also enjoyed an ice cream. After our lunch break we had an afternoon lesson and were assigned homework for this evening. It was then that we were led to a studio room for Latin dance lessons! Little did we know we would all be pushed to our physical limits as the instructor set the music level on high and led us through several styles of dance. Our smiles may have belied our fatigue, but it was such a great opportunity to try something new. Hopefully our muscles will recoup as we get another chance tomorrow to dance.
Whew! What a long -- but exciting -- day we've had today!
We began it all with a 4:00 a.m. meeting at the airport. We were all surprisingly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed running on adrenaline to be sure. We sailed through security, and our first flight was a breeze. After a quick layover in Houston, we hopped onto our second plane and enjoyed an equally smooth flight into Costa Rica. In keeping with the theme, we picked up our luggage and took a straight shot through immigration -- no lines, no waiting!
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