The last couple days of our trip I had a pit in my stomach because I knew leaving this beautiful, happy place was going to be hard. Good thing we occupied ourselves with lots of fun activities to keep our minds off it! The canopy tour was incredible, and I finally got to check it off my bucket list. While taking that gondola up the mountain 300 ft. was a bit nerve racking, looking to the left and seeing Volcan Arenal poking out of the clouds was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn’t believe I was seeing the part of the volcano that everyone looking at it from the ground up could not see. The beautiful landscape helped calm my nerves, and after climbing that first set of rickety stairs to the zip line I was ready to go! Being able to see all of Costa Rica in any direction I looked was unreal, I almost forgot that I was zooming down a zip line 150 ft above the tree tops (I have acrophobia). I am so glad I finally got to have this experience (along with many, many others during this trip).
I had the opportunity to plant an avocado tree in one of the fields at the coffee plantation we visited (Café Monteverde). So I’ve officially left my mark in Costa Rica, with a plastic knife with my name on it stuck in the dirt with my baby tree.
CPI celebrated its 20th birthday on the last night we were in Monteverde. We all brought our families to the party, and let me just say it was the most fun I have ever had in my life, I’ve always wanted to go to a real fiesta :) I brought my mama Joice, and my 2 hermanas Naty and Denise. I loved learning meringue from Denise, and the band was awesome. CPI really knows how to throw a 20th birthday/anniversary celebration! The video they showed about the history of CPI was great. It was so interesting to see how a small company with only one student has grown to have 3 different locations with groups of students and universities circling in and out every week. CPI is an amazing company and I would highly recommend it to anyone passing through Costa Rica looking to study. I’ve met the best people through CPI including my Spanish teachers, tour guides and chaperones, and especially my 2 families who I just fell in love with. I just can’t wait to go back and visit!
So Dr. Powell’s final question for all of us was a broad one but also one that took me no time to respond to. What did you learn? For one thing, that I want to come back to Costa Rica and live there forever, but also how to branch out and try new things, have new adventures, to stay open minded, to be flexible, to be prepared, to be compassionate, gracious, and giving, how to not be the “ugly American,” and so so much more. As far as what I have learned about myself, I know my level of capability and what I am able to do. I allowed an unfamiliar family to pick me up in a taxi, bring me to their home, and stay with them in their household for a week. I did that all over again with a completely different family in a different city for another 2 weeks. This was a pretty big thing for me as far as stepping out of my comfort zone, but I allowed myself to trust them and feel safe with them, and get to know them. Staying with these 2 families turned out to be my favorite part of the trip. I know I am capable of learning Spanish, and given one more year in a Spanish speaking country (and maybe living with a host family) I promise I’ll be fluent :).
Visiting the schools was another one of my favorite parts of the trips. When it comes time for me to teach, I do not think I would be the same teacher if I did not have this experience. I have been put in the position of an English language learner, and have learned to be patient and understanding. I have learned new teaching strategies for not only ELL’s but for the whole classroom. Dr. Powell taught us the different purposes of learning, and whether it is fun, a struggle, or both. After visiting the Centro Educacion de Creativa (The Cloud Forest School), I have decided that I want to come back and work there.
This was the trip of a lifetime, and after being back for 2 weeks I still think about it every day. I try to apply concepts the Tico’s use in to my own life, such as conservation and simple living. I am trying not to take things for granted, and to appreciate everything in my life. I have been staying in contact with my family in Monteverde as well as other staff at CPI through facebook. I can’t wait to go back, who wants to come with me? :)