WELCOME to ASU in Costa Rica 2013!
This year, there are 12 students in the ASU Study Spanish in Costa Rica group. The students will be studying Spanish at el Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI) and will live with families in San Joaquin and in Monteverde, Costa Rica, for a month this summer. If you are interested in seeing pictures and reading about what the group is doing in Costa Rica, this is the place for you! Each new entry will be at the top (just scroll down from here), and entries much further down are from the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 programs. To see all of the pictures and videos in each entry about this year's group, click on "read more," since only the first picture or two will show up on the first page. This year, the students will join me in uploading photos, stories, and cultural information so that friends and family at home can enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience with them!
Just scroll down to check out our Costa Rica blog and please check back every few days between June 2nd and 30th for updates. After you look at any entry, please send comments, either to individual students or to the whole group. That way, you can participate, too.
We hope you enjoy the blog!
June 28th 2013
On Wednesday (January 26), our group did some volunteer work on a farm by the name of Life Monteverde. Working on the farm and learning about the different plants was an interesting experience. The farm is owned by a group of Fair Traders, which is trying to develop a system for small farm families to work together and improve their life. As of now, Life Monteverde has different programs in which they inform how coffee plantations where low environmental impact production practices are applied, production of organic fertilizers, tree nursery and reforestation with native species, poultry farm and organic garden, alternative energy, trails in secondary and primary forest, use of rainwater and knowledge resources. The first thing we did at Life Monteverde was plant trees on a hill which needs to be reforested for the future. ... read more
June 25th 2013
Last ¨Jueves¨ (Thursday), the class was in for a treat (literally)! We were fortunate enough to satisfy our sweet tooth and our curiosity by touring El Trapiche, which is one of Costa Rica´s traditional sugar-mills. Here the class was able to be educated on how some of the agriculture of Costa Rica is grown. With our tour guide, Jairo, we took a short walk through the farm where we got a glimpse of the many plantations that Trapiche offered, such as sugar cane, coffee, bananas, plantains, and pineapples. Jairo took us through the entire coffee process, we sampled authentic sugar cane, made our own chocolate, and we even got a neat thrill out of riding a Costa Rican ox cart! Oh, and to top it off, we even experienced the process of making liquor out of ... read more
June 24th 2013
After a relaxing night in the hot springs provided by the Arenal volcano, seven members of our group got up early that next morning to head out to go see the La Fortuna waterfall. La Fortuna, which is fed by the Tenorio River, is located near the edge of the Arenal Volcano National Park and is at the base of the extinct Chato Volcano. It was about a 15 min bus ride up to the entrance of the park. After getting checked in we walked up to the first lookout point. Once the initial shock of "wow that is awesome" sank in, the realization came that it was going to be a long way down to get to the waterfall. The hike down the almost 700 stone stairs took about 15 minutes with one stop about ... read more
June 23rd 2013
After a full week of classes, the ASU group enjoyed a Saturday outing at Selvatura, a nature park that is located only about 20 minutes from our host families' homes. The first part of the visit to Selvatura was a two-hour walk through the cloud forest, highlighted by 8 hanging bridges that allowed us to walk high up in the canopy, looking down at treetops and thousands and thousands of plants that attach themselves to the trees. We were divided into two groups, each group with a different local guide who explained many details about the plants and animals that we saw. Even though Selvatura is not known so much for spotting wild animals (usually only birds), we were able to see two howler monkeys, numerous coatimundis (a raccoon-like animal), plenty of hummingbirds, and two large, ... read more
June 20th 2013
This past weekend our group had the opportunity to stay at Arenal Springs Resort and Spa. The resort was absolutely amazing. It is located right next to Arenal, Costa Rica's most active volcano. Since July of 2010, the explosions and lava coming from Arenal have stopped. However, scientists believe Arenal is still very much alive. Looking up at Arenal will take your breath away. The pictures do not do it justice. Arenal, at 5,437 feet, is so tall that the top is often hidden by clouds. Every now and then the clouds will clear and you can catch a glimpse of the entire volcano. Arenal has been Costa Rica's most active volcano for the past 43 years. This started in 1968 when Arenal had its largest eruption in its history after almost 400 years of inactivity. ... read more
June 18th 2013
We went to La Carpio this past Tuesday, a sort of refuge for people coming to escape from Nicaragua. We went there expecting to help them, but I feel personally that they helped us as well. When we first went there, we went in for an orientation. We didn't just get the job assignments however; we got the entire back story for the whole organization. Gail, a truly amazing woman, entered the Peace Corps before my time (I won't say when!) to help when wars in Nicaragua were occurring. She wanted to create a safe haven for refugees from Nicaragua or victims of the awful circumstances to get back on their feet and start a new life. And so she did just that in Costa Rica, a country which took a stand and refused to have ... read more
June 14th 2013
This past weekend our group traveled to Manuel Antonio National Park. On our way to the beach, we had to take a 30-minute walk through the rainforest. There were nearly 300 species of animals in the park. We first came upon a two-toed sloth. We had the rare chance of seeing a mother sloth traveling across the tree-tops with her baby attached to her underside. Next, we encountered the white-faced monkeys when we neared the beach. Seemingly cute, everyone was excited to see them. As we found out later, the monkeys know how to snoop into our bags and retrieve the snacks we bought earlier. One member of our group (Jonathan) had his banana stolen right in front of him. Also looking for a free meal, there were raccoons. On the rocks sunning himself was a ... read more
June 13th 2013
Coffee beans, ground coffee, chocolate covered coffee beans, iced coffee drinks, coffee liquors, coffee candies . . . coffee everything! Today was our day to visit Café Britt and learn about the production of coffee, from the first step of planting to the final step of roasting and packaging. The Café Britt Coffee Tour is not just another tour. Yes, it is full of information about coffee production and its importance in Costa Rica, but it is also funny and full of surprises. We walked down a path totally surrounded by coffee plants and tropical trees, where the Britt guides explained the planting, growing, and hand-picking processes. Then we were led to the roasting area, where large roasters are used for varying amounts of time to create light roasts, dark roasts and espresso roasts. The next ... read more
June 10th 2013
We had an amazing weekend at the central Pacific coast enjoying a well-deserved break from classes and daily life in the Central Valley. The hotel (called Mimos) was very tropical and our first stop on Friday afternoon was the pool! Saturday morning was our highlighted time at Manuel Antonio National Park, but this entry of the blog is only going to tease you a little bit about that. There will be a blog entry written by a student focusing on the wildlife that we saw in the park and even at the hotel, so the entry you are reading now will not contain our wildlife pictures. But we did get some GREAT ones -- tease, tease -- so keep checking the blog for that upcoming entry. Of course, Howl, our own Red Wolf, is not indigenous ... read more
June 7th 2013
We are headed to Manuel Antonio National Park and the beach for the weekend in about an hour, so there will be no more blog entries until after the weekend. Just for fun, though, check out the pictures of our Latin dance class yesterday. Everyone did great learning the salsa, merengue and cumbia, although no one could quite keep up with our energetic dance instructor, Luis. Enjoy the photos and more to come next week! (Sorry that the Travel Blog website is not uploading videos right now. You would enjoy seeing this group in action!)... read more