Page 5 of MaRs BaRs Travel Blog Posts



Today, Renata and I are taking a guided hike to see the Rio Celeste Waterfall in Tenorio Volcano National Park. The Rio Celeste Waterfall is a striking waterfall that cascades down into magical turquoise blue waters. Apparently the magical blue colour of the water is attributed to the mixing of two non-colour tributaries: Rio Buenavista and Quebrada Agria. The point where the two tributaries mix is called El Tenidor, a surreal natural phenomena. The uphill hiking on uneven terrain made the day hike more difficult than I thought it would be. It was totally worth it, though. We even witnessed a cute monkey, entertaining us in the trees. After the fairly strenuous hike, we were treated to a delicious Costa Rican lunch before we headed back to our hotel. For dinner, Renata and I headed to ... read more
Rio Celeste
Rio Celeste Waterfall
Rio Celeste


Today, marks the end of Mac-Serve Costa Rica. While the rest of the Mac-Serve Costa Rica group woke up at 4:30am for their early morning flight back to Toronto, Renata and I continued our adventure in Costa Rica. Our next stop: La Fortuna, the adventure capital of Costa Rica. Renata and I decided to take transportation plus tour from San Jose to Arenal, to maximize our time exploring in Costa Rica. Today, we are visiting the Doka Coffee Plantation, Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Our first stop was the Doka Coffee Plantation. The Doka Coffee Plantation had a bigger coffee manufacturing facility than the Don Juan Coffee Plantation we toured in Monteverde. As a result, I was able to understand the coffee manufacturing process a lot better during the Doka Coffee Tour. After coffee ... read more
Poas Volcano
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Doka Coffee Tour


While the majority of our MacServe group headed out early for a day tour to Tortuguero, Renata and I decided to go on a guided half day tour to Irazu Volcano and Cartago City with Gray Line Costa Rica. We had an exceptionally clear day, so we had a great view of the Irazu Volcano in the distance. We also saw the massive craters that were made from the Irazu volcano eruption in the 1960’s. After our time at Irazu Volcano National Park, we headed over to Cartago. I thought that we would get a tour of the city, but we were only there for about 15 minutes before we left to go back to San Jose. There was this interesting farmers and artisan market that I wanted to check out. Instead we were dropped off ... read more
Cartago
Irazu National Park
On the way to Cartago


We waved goodbye to Monteverde, as we headed towards San Jose this morning. On the way, Fabian spotted a cashew tree and asked the driver to stop. He picked a cashew fruit off the tree to illustrate why cashews are so expensive. Each cashew fruit contains only one cashew nut. You must pick multiple fruits to get a bunch of cashews. Cashews must be roasted; in their raw form then are poisonous. The cashew fruit is edible but their stains are impossible to remove from clothes. When we arrived at Puntarenas beach, it was early afternoon and incredibly hot. Fabian booked at room at Puntarenas Beach Hotel, so the group had a choice to either head over to the beach or to stay at the hotel pool. Renata and I decided to head over to the ... read more
View from Mirador Restaurant
Drinks
Drinks


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




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