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MHS students visit ‘breathtaking’ Costa Rica

Middlesex High School students on the Pacific Ocean in Jaco, Costa Rica. From left, they are Tyler Radabaugh, Jordan Blake, Joey Hoffman, Jack Ruark, Clayton Weston, Michaela Marshall, MaKenzie Bristow, Sarah Walton, Kersten Walker, Jillian Solomon, Riley Howe, Jolie Kamm, Maddie Wood, Chloe Saborin, Chloe Hodges, Ashton Carter and Kimberly Price.

by Jeannie Duke and Sharon Daniel

This summer, Middlesex High School (MHS) continued the mission of creating global citizens by taking a group of seventeen students to experience the beauty of Costa Rica with Education First Educational Tours. This is the third international trip in three years for MHS, having taken students to France and Italy the two years prior.

From the breathtaking mountains and cloud forest to the smells and sounds of the rainforest, each moment was full of the country’s rich culture and natural beauty. The journey began in San Jose where students learned that one of Costa Rica’s number one industries is tourism. That was evident by the exceptional welcome and wide variety of sights and activities that would be enjoyed over the course of 10 days.  

The Arenal region would provide a tour of a coffee plantation, the breathtaking La Fortuna waterfall, a rare clear view of the Poás Volcano, a kayaking trip along Lake Arenal, a visit to a chocolate plantation to see the process of making real chocolate straight from the cacao pod, and a relaxing evening in luxurious, natural hot springs.

On day four the students embarked on their tour bus through the mountains on many miles of dirt roads to reach Monteverde, situated near the Continental Divide. There the MHS students were able to take a walk through the Santa Elena Cloud Forest, ride horses along the mountains, zip-line through the Cloud Forest high above the treetops, take a night hike through the jungle, go on a canopy tour, and work with their peers to plant trees in an effort to preserve Costa Rica’s natural resources.

Day six took the group along the border of Nicaragua to the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica. The students easily settled into a beautiful hotel on the Pacific Ocean and prepared for the relaxing day that would follow in the Manuel Antonio National Park. The tranquil horseshoe shaped beach provided the perfect place for students to enjoy a full day of ocean play. Along the beach were many white-faced monkeys that were eagerly waiting for tourists to leave their lunches unattended. Wildlife is plentiful in Costa Rica and the Middlesex students got up close and personal with some grand reptiles on a crocodile boat cruise and were lucky enough to see three-toed sloths and howler monkeys on their journey.

With the tour winding down, the group traveled back toward San Jose. There were so many adventures, but one of the students’ favorite events happened on day eight when they were able to visit a local school in Sarahi. Language was no barrier as the universal language of smiles and kindness joined children from two very different cultures. Middlesex students were able to visit the Costa Rican students in their classroom and even participate in games with them on the school soccer field. Later that evening a festive Folklore evening was enjoyed with an astonishing view from the mountaintop to the city of San Jose below. The unforgettable tour of Costa Rica concluded with a whitewater rafting excursion on the Sarapiqui River.

Along with all the many incredible adventures, students adapted to the culinary differences as well. Beans and rice are a staple in Costa Rica and served with every meal. Rice fields are plentiful there due to all the rain. Costa Rica is also the world’s largest pineapple exporter, so that was always in abundance and simply delicious! There were sightings of native creatures such as sloths, monkeys, toucans, vipers, scorpions and even leaf cutter ants. Students were able to see palm trees grown for palm oil, teak trees, pineapple farms, and bananas growing all around. The flora and fauna of Costa Rica is something to behold.

Tenth grader Sarah Walton, said, “I learned a lot about the people and about their culture. It was a lot of fun!”  

Plans are already under way for another great adventure for the summer of 2017.

posted 09.21.2016

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