UALR College of Business students will be touring Costa Rica during Spring Break 2014! We will update this blog during our trip, so please check back.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading about our adventures in Costa Rica! We leave you with some random pictures taken during the week. PURA VIDA!
For our last day in Costa Rica, we were able to relax and enjoy the beach at the resort. Since the Saturday was a free day, everybody decided to do different things. My day started with a late breakfast at the hotel, then a small group got together to visit the town of Tamarindo. Half of the group (guys) went to surf classes, while the rest of us went to souvenir shopping. Around noon we went back to the hotel so we could refresh at the pool. At the pool, we spent hours playing volleyball and laughing at each other. Nobody won – it was hard to keep a record while fooling around. Then to refresh a little bit, some of us took some time to have a drink and talk under the Palapas. Later, we took dance classes next to the beach, which was very fun. After the dance class, most people went to the beach to relax and wait for the sunset, so we could take some pictures of our last afternoon at this wonderful place. At dinner, we said our goodbyes to our incredible guide, Fernando, and promised to someday come back to Costa Rica. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was inevitable. However, we were hopeful we would be able to return, because ten days were not enough for anyone, at least not for me.
Contributed by Paula Medina
Today was our “Free Day” at the five-star, all-inclusive resort, Barcelo Playa Langosta. Everyone had different ideas of the perfect day in paradise. Some surfed, some shopped, and others enjoyed watching the monkeys playing in the trees from the balcony of their room. At some point during the day, though, I think we all made it to the pool at the resort where we passed our time reading, playing beach volleyball or water volleyball, taking Latin dance lessons in the gazebo, or chatting up our fabulous guide, Fernando and grilling him with endless questions about Costa Rica. The one thing I think we all managed to enjoy was the sheer unadulterated pleasure of a cold drink and delicious cheeseburger while basking in the beautiful Costa Rican sun. The day ended watching the sunset on the beach followed by a group dinner. Even as dinner came to a close, most were reluctant to leave the table extending the occasion with extra desserts or coffee. We started the journey as a group of strangers over a week ago and found ourselves reluctant to leave that table knowing that our journey together would be coming to an end. Although we will be parting ways after tonight, the friendships and memories formed will never be forgotten. As I walked away, I could only think of an expression commonly used in Costa Rica “Pure Vida” which means The Pure Life. Even though we all must go back to the daily grind of school and work, we will always have Pure Viva in our hearts thanks to Costa Rica.
Contributed by Kristi Phillips
I walked into town to find the Banana Surf shop to take some lessons. I have ridden every single type of board that I can think of besides a surfboard. To my surprise it was just like wake surfing and I actually rode my first wave on the second try! There are two lines on the board, one horizontal and one vertical. Your chin should be just behind the horizontal line, and your body should stay center with the vertical line. Your feet should always stay together and your toes should barely be touching the back of the board. When you paddle it is always one arm at a time in order to keep going straight. When you are looking for a wave to ride it is all in the timing…when the wave is just about to white cap is when all I could hear was PADDLE, PADDLE, PADDLE!!!! You get to feel the force of the wave catch you and throw you forward…eyes always on the beach, if you look down you will be right where you’re looking. When you stand up you put both hands inside your chest and push up bringing your front foot then back foot onto the board. Now all you have to do is keep your balance and ride it in! When you do wipe out, the board is attached to your ankle by an ankle ring so the board is always with you, but it can hit you. To avoid getting hurt always fall off to the left hand side (if you are regular, opposite if you are goofy), then hold your arms up over your face and curl into a ball until you can pop back up.
Contributed by Sawyer McDaniel
You know it is a great trip when every night you say that this was the best day of the trip. Looking back now I have to say that Friday was the overall best day of the trip. We woke up at the all-inclusive resort, and headed off away from the beach back into the mountains. Here we were off to our day of adventure, the business part of the trip was completed now it was time for some fun!!
After a long bus ride we made it to our destination where many memories were to be made over the next 12 hours. You know it is going to be fun when one of the first things you do is sign a waiver and put on a helmet. We started the adventure off on horseback, these horses were really tame and ready for our little trek thru the woods. We had just gotten used to riding when we came to an unplanned stop, at this stop we saw many people over looking a waterfall, swimming and playing in the water. Why wouldn’t we have joined them. It didn’t take long for us to join in on the fun, we were jumping off the top of the waterfall and having a grand ole time! We mounted the horses again and had a peaceful ride for another couple of kilometers. I now know how far that is only because I asked. There is a funny story behind that and it had to do with me being called an (implied ‘stupid’) “American.” I am sorry I did not readily know the conversion from miles to kilometers, I do however now know that for every mile there is about 1.5 kilometers. After the horse ride we were taken on this beautiful tubing excursion. We rode these inflatable tubes down a river canyon for about an hour, we had some very choppy rapids that made for a great time, and also some soothing and relaxing open water floating.
That afternoon we were not yet done with some extreme sports. We got all harnessed up and were ready for some zip lining. There were between 15 and 20 zip line stations that took us thru the tree tops of the rain forest, between the gorges, over the water, and swinging like Tarzan from platform to platform. That made for the time of my life!!!! How else would you round out a time like this other than with some spa time? We spent the last few hours of the day in a natural hot tub. This water was heated by the active volcano beneath. Many of us also participated in a mud bath, I was skeptical of this at first but was soon partaking in a mud bath.
All in all this was a wonderful experience, and one that I will never forget.
Contributed by Bryce Green
Endless natural wonders excite the soul in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Lush landscapes with exotic flowers and as many waterfalls as you can imagine abound. But what is most remarkable is the great care the people have taken to protect these sacred surroundings. Costa Ricans have set aside one-quarter of their land as national parks and protected areas. With tourists flocking to this hidden gem to enjoy amazing outdoor activities in a place where the locals are happy, friendly, and always exclaiming ”Pura Vida!”, it is no surprise that local businesses have staked their claim in the adventure tourism market. Small, family operated ranches have transformed acreage from working farms to tourist destinations that promise all the outdoor fun a visitor could seek.
Our group was able to experience such a place first hand when we participated in a canopy tour (plus some) during our final days in Costa Rica. As our bus pulled up to Hacienda Guachipelin, a hotel and adventure center dedicated to ecotourism and situated at the foot of the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, I had no idea how amazing the day ahead of me would be. Yes, I had signed up for horseback riding, tubing, zip-lining, repelling, and rock climbing but I had no idea how much fun I would have. Ending the day by covering ourselves in mud and then taking a dip in multiple hot springs didn’t hurt either. As our trip grew to an end, I knew I would soon be finding my way back to Costa Rica and the quest for Pura Vida!
Contributed by Maradyth McKenzie
Today we visited El Viejo, a sugar cane farm and mill. El Viejo owns 12,000 hectors, and about 6,000 hectors are planted in sugar cane. At the end of our tour, we got to taste the raw sugar cane. It was very sweet! The most interesting thing to me was the change in the weather and the environment as we changed altitudes. We have been at higher at higher altitudes all week , in the rain forests. Today, we descended to the tropical dry forest, which is at sea level. The weather was hot and dry, and there were cactus plants. It seemed almost like a desert. From the rain forests to the tropical dry forests, Costa Rica is beautiful!
Contributed by Samantha Cook
On our last morning in San Jose, we said goodbye to our friend John at breakfast and loaded up our bus with six days of luggage and memories. The bus ride to the beach is a long one, so we entertained ourselves by singing karaoke to Neil Diamond, Guns N Roses, and of course Fernando’s favorite, the almighty Garth Brooks. That was pretty fun and I especially enjoyed the lyrical wonders of Hotel California sung by a certain professor who will remain nameless.
On our way to the sugarcane plant, we stopped at Mi Fincha, a restaurant where scarlet macaws squawked above our heads. Once we arrived at the plant, called “Azucarera El Viejo,” the general manager welcomed us and I was delighted to find out he too was from Louisiana. We watched a short film (in Spanish) and learned that the plant we visited spans 2,000 hectors or about 5000 acres. The company owns 6,000 hectors of sugarcane and 12,000 hectors of property in total. 1.3% of all electricity in Costa Rica is produced by El Viejo. A unique irrigation system called a central pivot is used, the only one in Costa Rica. Within the agricultural export cycle, 25% is sugarcane. El Viejo is the second largest of three major mills and 60% of production is for domestic use. Its largest importer is the United States, and in one day the company can produce 15,000 50-kilo bags of sugar. In a year, roughly 1,440,000 50-kilo bags are produced, along with 38,000,000 kilowatts of energy. Farmers are paid by how much sugar and molasses in the sugarcane is harvested, not by quantity. Overall, it was very interesting to learn about El Viejo and meet a fellow Southerner.
Contributed by Marilyn Breaux
We headed west of San Jose on Wednesday to visit La Finca de Mariposas, or the Butterfly Farm, located in the small town of La Guacima, Alajuela. This small business breeds and sells butterflies and their larva to educational programs around the world in an effort to enhance public knowledge and awareness of the species. Upon our arrival at the farm, we were greeted warmly and offered fresh Costa Rican coffee. We were then led through the peaceful butterfly garden by a wonderful tour guide named Rosa, who was kind enough to educate our group on the life cycle of the butterfly and the breeding practices of the facility. Although it seems butterflies do not take to me as quickly as they did a few of my fellow students, I was able to convince one to take a picture with me. Following the tour of the garden, Paola entertained us with a presentation on the business history and practices of the farm. Not all of the larva raised and exported is bred on site at the farm, but is instead outsourced to approximately 80 to 100 families across Costa Rica. However, most of the families incorporate the help of 3 to 4 members of the family making the Butterfly Farm an employer of 300 to 400 Costa Ricans. Once collected from the outside breeders, the larva is then shipped in large containers just in time to guarantee the butterflies will emerge after arriving at their final destination.
Contributed by Maradyth McKenzie