Page 4 of MaRs BaRs Travel Blog Posts



This morning, after breakfast, the group headed to Don Juan Coffee Plantation to learn how Costa Rican coffee is produced. At the plantation, we discovered the difficult economics of growing coffee. Much work is involved but very little money is made in coffee production. During the coffee harvest from November to February, ripe coffee cherries are hand-picked. Each cherry contains about one to two coffee beans. Workers get paid based on the weight of coffee they pick. Most of the coffee pickers are from the neighbouring country Nicaragua, and receive minimal earnings for their hard labour. Furthermore, coffee farmers receive very little income to justify having a coffee plantation. Most of the money goes to the big corporations that buy the coffee and sell it for 3-4 dollars a cup. Farmers have to support themselves by ... read more
Canopy Tour Monteverde
Coffee Tour Monteverde
Coffee Tour Monteverde


Today, we were tasked with painting the railings and sheds of Santa Elena reserve a beautiful green colour. After applying multiple coats of paint, I found that we did an incredible job of painting the reserve a little greener. We even painted the bug shed, we washed down a couple of days earlier. While still being attacked by bugs, at the shed, I kept on telling myself “Pura Vida”. Some things never change. With the hot climate and the strenuous work we were undertaking, I started looking forward to snack time on the reserve. At first, snack time started off as an inside joke with the Mac-Serve group. We felt that we were being fed more than volunteering. But, we learned to appreciate snack time. Volunteering at the reserve was tiring and snack time provided the ... read more
Paint Job
Paint Job
Paint Job


This morning, after breakfast, the group headed over to Sky Adventures for our zip-lining adventure. Costa Rican zip-lines are known to be incredibly long and fast. They are a great way to view the beautiful Costa Rican forests from above. I’ve zip-lined in Jamaica before. However, the zip-lines in Jamaica, cannot compare to the ones in Monteverde. Zip-lining in Costa Rica was scarier but once accustomed I was able to appreciate the beauty of the cloud forest below. Like Jamaica, the last zip-line was a bungee jump. The hardest part was preparing myself to jump off the platform. I am glad, I forced myself to jump. Zip-lining was an incredible experience and I will definitely do it again. Three people from our group decided not go zip-lining. However, they did spot a quetzal while waiting for ... read more
Setting up the Trapping Camera
Zip-lining
Zip-lining


After breakfast, we met Fabian, our new trip coordinator, and then headed to the Santa Elena Reserve for volunteering. Our first task of the day was to create a gravel path for tourists to walk on. The whole morning, Renata and I hauled heavy bags of gravel up winding paths and stairs. I never realized how much work it took to build and maintain the trails. Heavy rain damages the paths and the Reserve staff are always working hard to maintain it. I definitely have gained a great appreciation of all the hard work done on the reservation. It was not all work, though. We had a lot of breaks and snacks. We also stopped to take pictures of tarantulas and cute coatis. After lunch, we were given the task to wash down a hut to ... read more
Santa Elena Reserve
Santa Elena Reserve
Santa Elena Reserve


This morning, we headed to the Santa Elena Reserve. The Santa Elena Reserve is a community run cloud forest reserve in Monteverde. Money raised from the reserve goes towards protecting and managing the reserve and providing higher quality education to the local school. When we arrived at the Santa Elena Reserve, we were given a tour by Sonia, a Reserve intern. We learned that a cloud forest is characterized by a consistent canopy cloud cover, which provides the forest with a continual supply of moisture. The moisture supports so much plant life that there is incredible competition for growing space. Trees are entirely covered with other plants including mosses and lichens to maximize growing space. We also learned about the Figueres tree, a tree that strangles other trees to survive. How crazy is that!!! On the ... read more
Santa Elena Reserve Tour
Santa Elena Reserve Tour
Santa Elena Reserve Tour


This morning, during breakfast Renata and I met up with the other McMaster alumni volunteers. We also met Leo, the trip coordinator from VIDA, McMasters’ partner organization in Costa Rica. After group introductions, we headed to Monteverde. The bus ride to Monteverde was incredible. Up in the mountains, we passed through picturesque countryside’s, lush green landscapes, and experienced our first Costa Rican massage as we winded around the bumpy gravel road to Monteverde. In Monteverde, we stayed at the beautiful Los Jardines hotel, where Renata and I got our own balcony overlooking the clouds. Then it was off to lunch at Don Luis, a contemporary restaurant near our hotel. After lunch, we had a quick siesta, before we headed into Monteverde town. Monteverde town is a cute little tourist town with gift shops and restaurants. You ... read more
Mac Serve Group
Lunch at Don Luis
Monteverde Town


Today, Renata and I are heading back to San Jose, for the start of the McMaster Alumni volunteer portion of our Costa Rican trip. Renata’s iphone still would not turn on after placing it in a bag of rice overnight. Sympathetically, I gave her my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone, so she would be able to take her own pictures for the rest of the trip. Renata’s wanted to have a fruit shake before we took the boat out of Tortuguero. At the time it seemed like a good idea until I had to badly run to the washroom while I was on the boat. Unable to enjoy the scenery, I was relieved when we finally reached La Pavona. I quickly paid the 1 US dollar to use the bathroom at the restaurant by the dock. When ... read more


Today we are heading out for an early morning canoe tour and day hike. The gloomy weather outside guaranteed that there was going to be a 100% chance of rain that day. So, I prepared my camera with my own plastic rain cover and used the dry bag provided by Tortuguero Tours as extra protection. Renata’s phone was still not working. Jessica, from Tortuguero Tours suggested that we try to place the phone in rice to help remove the humidity. So after the canoe tour, Renata and I are heading to the local store to buy some rice. At the Tortuguero Tours office we were treated to some fresh fruits and coffee while Jessica went to get our National park entrance tickets. We were also given binoculars to help us locate animals in the distance. On ... read more
Day Walk
Lunch
Lunch


Today, Renata and I are traveling from San Jose to Tortuguero. On the Caribbean coast, Tortuguero, has a prominent Afro-Caribbean vibe and a remote Amazon jungle sort of feel. The main attraction in Tortuguero, as the name suggests, is turtles. Green Sea Turtles, Leatherback, and Hawksbill turtles all nest on Tortuguero’s shores. However, since we are going in the off season, we are unlikely to see turtles. If we are lucky, we may catch a rare sighting of the leatherback turtle, the largest of living sea turtles. There are no roads leading to Tortuguero. The only way to get there is by boat or plane. We learned from research online that there is a way to take public transportation from San Jose to Tortuguero. After our first delicious typical Costa Rican breakfast of gallo pinto (rice ... read more
Boat Ride to Tortuguero
Night Walk
Boat Ride to Tortuguero


Pura Vida is Spanish for “Pure Life.” The phrase runs deep in Costa Rican culture. Costa Ricans use the term for multiple purposes: to say hello, goodbye, I’m great and everything’s good. Pura Vida is a relaxed, simple way of looking at life; no stress, no worries, being thankful and not dwelling on the negatives. People say you don’t quite understand what Pura Vida means until you come to Costa Rica. So, here we are, two sisters, on our epic journey to live the “Pura Vida Experience, Costa Rican style. Our first stop Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose. We arrived at Juan Santamaria International Airport at around 1:00pm. Getting through customs took a gruelling two hours and with traffic we finally arrived in San Jose around 4:00pm. However, we were not discouraged. It is all ... read more




Tot: 1.322s; Tpl: 0.045s; cc: 8; qc: 85; dbt: 0.1035s; 1; m:saturn w:www (104.131.125.221); sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb