Day 8: Sarchì (a haven for artisans) and folklore evening

Today we went to the famous ox cart factory in Sarchì. Ana Castro was our guide.

They support local artists and buy their work because they have 500-800 visitors a day. The decoration is a traditional Costa Rican design which artists train 5 years to learn how to paint.

She told us that for 96 years they have been making ox carts. 60 years ago they created a wheel with 16 pieces and a metal hub which was from Philadelphia. The iron ring is hot but they douse it with water and then the ring shrinks. The wheels last 15-20 years.

They use hydrology energy to make the wheel.

Hydraulic machine in oxcart factory

Day 7: Carara National Park and Mantas Beach

Today we slept in a little and visited Carara National Park. On the trail were little cravings of different animals and birds so that blind visitors could also enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

Jessica is holding the sweet fruit of the Guasimo (Gua means trees;) the seeds are a favorite of animals and birds.

Cuevos de caballo tree

the philodendron, Swiss cheese plant, has holes in it to repel creatures that want to eat its leaves because they think the plant was already someone else’s lunch!

After the walk, we went for lunch and on our way out, we spotted a macaw we looked at it through Gustavo’s scope.

Mantas Beach

Capuchin monkeys misbehaving!

Capuchin beach monkeys

Capuchin monkey steals banana

Mischievous monkey peels stolen banana

Then we took a picture at the Jaco overlook

Day 6: crocodile tour and air tram and butterfly garden

Video links are in blue/green

On our trip, we saw howler monkeys! There was a cute little baby! The pics don’t do it justice.

Howler monkeys

We also saw a cashew fruit and learned that Costa Ricans eat the fruit, and the cashews are toxic unless they are roasted.

Below is a guanoabana fruit, or soursop

Our first view or the pacific!

we went on a crocodile tour and saw 30 out of the 61 birds in the pamphlet they gave us. Thank goodness for Gustavo; he knew EVERYTHING about the birds we saw.

And we saw this guy! 😳😳 the river king


Then we went to lunch and went on an air tram and nature walk which included seeing frogs, snakes, and a butterfly garden.

Plant cutter ant crossing boomerang

Butterfly boomerang

In the evening after dinner, we enjoyed marshmallows and a dip in our pool

Day 5: zip lining, farm tour, planting trees, dance lessons, and frogs

Video links are in blue/green

Today was jam-packed! We started our morning with zip lining! Gustavo took video clips of everyone and the kids will receive them . Mrs. Rodriguez also bought a cd with crystal clear pictures, so we will develop that when we get back.

After that adventure, we went on a farm tour where we milked cows, fed calfs, pet horses, went through a greenhouse, and saw some oxen with a traditional Costa Rican cart.

After that, we made our own tortillas which got cooked over a wood-fired stove and filled with cheese which was made with milk from the very same cow we milked!

In the afternoon, Shayne, Jessica, Jadyn, Leah and Coco (the cat) joined me for yoga.

We went into Monteverde down town for a quick scavenger hunt and ice cream and then went to go plant a tree in the biological corridor.

The purpose of the Biological corridor to connect Monteverde to mangrove park. There was massive deforestation in the 1950s in which 70% of the trees were cut down. The reforestation program helps mammals to be able to be safe and migrate appropriately.

Kenyon, Shayne, Abbey, Aleah, Carlie, and Jonàs with their tree, Pèpe.

Aliyah, Audra, Emily, Briana, Kyndal with their tree, Cow.

Akira, Kameron, Leah, Jadyn, Kaylin with their tree, Ganepito suavemente Quinto.

Maky, Sam, Franco, Travis, and Jessica with their tree, Peppa

After that, we had an hour-long dance lesson which we paid for using our activity fund. We learned merengue, salsa, bachata, and Cumbria.



Dancing 2

Dancing 3

Our final activity for the day, which we used our activity fund for, was to visit a frog sanctuary where we got to see some of ten frogs we saw on our first night walk, but many more as well!

Frog yawn

We finished the night with games: one Mr. Dolan taught to us and another, Mafia, which some of us have never played before. Below is a picture of the 6 winners of the bag tmr, and under that, Jessica instructs players in Mafia.

Day 4: Monteverde cloud forest and night walk.

Video links are in blue/green

Today we made it to Monteverde.

On our way, we stopped to see a porcupine, some guinea hens, and we also saw a Palm Sunday procession.

At our lodge, we were greeted by capuchin monkeys! We even saw a mama and her baby!

Capuchin mama and baby!

we watched the sunset before we went for our night walk.

We used our activity fund to go on our first night walk as well as this one! We got to see a sloth with her baby and another sloth eating! (Video to follow 🤦🏽‍♀️) we also saw scorpions, a huge tarantula, snakes, a mot mot bird sleeping, and a hummingbird sleeping!

Baby sloth!

Sloth eating!

Technical issues!

It wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t have tech issues! WordPress has a 3gb media limit and I am at 94%. I’m going to upload all videos to YouTube and then just link them. This process will take a while considering we don’t have the best service and I uploaded a zillion videos from Day 3. Thank you for your patience!! 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

Day 3: Rainforest chocolate tour, kayaking, La Fortuna Waterfall, pineapple tour and hot spring seasoneerd

*video links are in blue/green

We used our activity fund today for both the amazing chocolate tour and the crowd favorite, the pineapple tour.

Get ready to laugh! Our tour guide, Chapo, was hysterical! He started our tour on a serious note, talking to us about ecosystems and human destruction of our planet, encouraging us to do our part by reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Aztecs and Mayans in Central America were the ones who used the bitter bean and made it delicious. They considered it a gift from the gods.

The first chocolate bar was made in London. Africa sells 72% of all cacao in the world.

The dark side of chocolate is a documentary that shows unfortunate exploitation of labor to make chocolate. Fair trade and organic products are ways to ensure workers are treated with respect and earn fairer wages.

Before we learned too much about chocolate, Chapo showed us a cinnamon tree, a peppercorn tree, and Kyndal learned to pollinate a vanilla bean flower.

Kyndal pollinates a flower

It takes 6 months from flower to pod. Cacao trees can grow up to 80 feet high and give 35 years for harvest. It takes 70 beans to make a chocolate bar. And it takes 200 pods to make 100 quality bars.

Chapo had Akira smash open the fruit and we all tried a piece. Then a spitting contest ensued 🙈

Akira smashes cacao

Chapo shows off his fruit

Akira tries fruit

Aleah’s mouth of purple cacao

Chapo spits his seed

Akira spits

Audra spits

Jonàs spits

Shayne spits

Emily spits

Mr. Dolan spits

Seeds need to ferment which takes 7 days. Then they are dried for 15 days in the green house. Then they are roasted.

The beans then need to be separated from their shells; Chapo-style. 😂😂😂

Chapo grinds his beans

Kyndal and Audra grind beans

Kaylin grinds beans

Shayne grinds beans

Jonàs and Jessica grind beans

Maky grinds beans

After the smashing, the powder is ground with sugar. Also, Chapo style.

Chapo uses his grinder

HHS travel club knows how to grind

The mixture is then heated on a hot rock, or metate.

Hot metate

And as the Incas and Aztecs originally gave it to Cortes, we had it with chili and corn too…but we added the magical ingredient of sugar of course. No caca for us!

After the drink, we had all the spoonfuls of chocolate we could handle

After eating all that chocolate it was time to kayak Arenal lake. But first, we spotted a sloth and had to take a peak!

What an incredible experience to see such amazing views of the volcano and enjoy the hot sun and cool water!


Kayaking 2

Some of us had a bit of a harder time kayaking, but the boat helped!

We enjoyed coconut water after the excursion!

After kayaking, we had lunch and then ventured out for our incredible afternoon: La Fortuna Waterfall, the pineapple farm tour, and the hot springs.

Our tour guide for the pineapple farm was Danny. Danny says bananas are the number one export but pineapples are the second biggest export.

Leah’s tractor song

Tractor ride

Green, harder pineapples are more ripe. They will slowly stop ripening after picked and begin fermenting which is why they are refrigerated.

Each plant produces 1 pineapple and takes a year. It’s very labor intensive. If a pineapple plant is happy, it won’t produce fruit. (This might be the perfect plant for me, if you know me at all). Ethylene is produced when the plant is stressed and will induce the production of a pineapple. In the wild, a change in temperature will cause it to become “stressed out”.

Below is a worker clearing the fields after harvest.

Worker cuts pineapple

You can grow a pineapple at home by planting the top. If you want to induce a plant at home, cut an apple into pieces and put it into the crown. Plastic bag for 5 days, and in 25 days you will get a small pineapple. Four months after the pineapple is induced you will get a full-grown pineapple. Pineapples start brown, and are green when ripe, and yellow when it is over-ripe and animals will eat it.

Danny cuts pineapple

Hot springs

Hot springs boomerang

Day 2 continued: Arenal National Park

*video links are in blue/green

We went for a hike in Arenal National Park. The pictures speak for themselves. Thankfully, Gustavo is extremely knowledgeable and pointed out different plants, fruits, insects, and wildlife.

Leaf cutter ants

Boomerang video credit: Mr. Dolan

Plant cutter ant boomerang

The highlight of the trip? We saw a yellow-throated toucan take flight! (Photo cred to Jonás)

Toucan flying

We also got to see the keel-billed toucan up close with the help of Gustavo’s scope!! Wow!!

The hotel we are staying at this evening are actually little jungle bungalows. And there are mini pools that cascade into a big pool.

Dinner was chicken, rice, salad and yucca.

After dinner was a night walk. We saw really fun frogs, insects, and even some sloths!

i don’t want to talk about the picture below…thank heavens I was on the other tour! 😫

caiman tailcacao beanstree spikes


Scratching sloth!

Mr. Dolan and Emily eat termites!

Mr. Dolan eats termites!

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