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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 10.3041, -84.798
Today's highlight was undoubtedly visiting an elementary school in the rural Arenal region. After a brief greeting from the maestra and a tour of the quaint building and grounds, we were free to spend time conversing and interacting with the children. Dressed in their navy blue and white uniforms and as cute as they could be, we found the students to be quite shy at first. But after a few simple questions in Espanol, they soon opened up and flocked around us to chat, ask questions, and take photos.
Twenty-five students ranged in age from 8-12 in one classroom, and many walk over six miles to school each day (round trip) because there is no rural busing for schools. Our students jumped right in to play a game of chase with the ninos, while some of the boys showed off their futbol skills on the adjacent field. We had brought some pencils and crayons as gifts for the kids, but it was immediately clear how much more the children need, from books to sports equipment. And yet, the bright smiles on their faces were as pure as happiness can be.
After a 4-hour bus ride through the green, undulating
countryside, an hour of which was over dirt road, we finally arrived in the Monteverde region. Needless to say, Dramamine has proved to be indispensable! And from bus to horses, we were onto the next activity. Three local cowboys in sleeveless tees and cowboy hats outfitted each of us with helmets and paired us up with horses for our ride through the forest. Upon horses with names like Rojo, Princessa, Popo, and Bourbon, we ventured down the muddy trail, riding beneath the trees with their swinging vines into an otherworldly environment of light and shadow, breeze and mist.
To cap off the day, some of our group participated in the optional night walk excursion with a local guide to spot some nocturnal critters. It turned out to be a worthwhile activity, as we were able to see an array of fauna, from cicadas and spiders, to Mexican hairy porcupines, sloths, and the elusive gray fox. Our guide taught us that all scorpions emit zinc, which makes them glow beneath a black light—an eerie sight, to say the least! Perhaps the biggest surprise was when Sean saw some tree branches moving and our guide called out, “That's a kinkajou!” A what?
It turns out these cute, agile mammals are in the raccoon family. Watching him crawl nimbly from branch to branch eating fruit was something straight out of National Geographic.
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