It’s been quite busy for all of us on the Pioneer Program in Costa Rica! From rafting to salsa dancing to waterfalls, to white water rafting, our schedules have been full of fun.
After finishing up our last day of work and taking family photos on Friday, we headed over for salsa and merengue dancing in our homestay village. It was a blast, and we danced the night away. After all of that excitement, we slept soundly, and it’s a good thing we did, because we had another full day ahead of us.
Saturday morning we all had to wake up extra early to visit the Niyaca waterfall! Our tour guide was Daniel, Marina’s homestay Dad who helped us navigate the tricky hike to the base of the waterfall. The hike was a very steep downhill slope, and required us to take our time so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves. Our tour guide led us to the very top of the waterfall for the view, and what a magnificent view it was! We could see all over the valley, and so naturally, we had to take a few pictures of the stunning nature. From there we continued down a very steep path to the base of la catarata. When we finally reached our destination, we all knew that it had been worth the climb! Niyaca was gorgeous, and the water cascading down the huge rocks into a pool below amazed us all. The site was the most beautiful thing some of us had ever seen! Naturally we jumped in and had a great time swimming at the base and jumping off a rock into the water.
Soon, we had to leave the waterfall and hike back to our village where we were greeted by ice cream and fruit brought to us by our homestay families. The villagers brought a piñata for the occasion and the kids of the village took turns in whacking it. Far too soon, it was time to say goodbye to our families and go to our hotel in Alajuela. Some of us had tears in our eyes as we said our final goodbyes, hugs, and promises to write.
After a 4-hour long ride to our hotel, we had some time to ourselves before going out to dinner for some delicious and well-received pasta. It was a nice change of pace from the rice and beans we had been dining on for the past few days.
After dinner, we all went to bed as soon as we could, so we could wake up for another early morning on Saturday to go white water rafting! After stopping for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of rice, beans, and fruit, we made it to the Pacuare River. After putting on sunscreen and receiving instructions from our guide on how to safely navigate the water, we hit the rapids, and what a blast it was! We shouted with joy as our boats were tossed up and down by the waves. The river itself was beautiful, and we were surrounded by gorgeous, leafy scenery, and even spotted a Toucan or two! After 3 hours on the water, we stopped for some lunch on the river, and then it was back into the water for us. Soon enough our boats came upon an approximately 15 ft. tall rock that we were able to jump off of into the water below.
Once our group got to the end of the river, we hosed off and then hopped back into our bus to head back to our hotel to rest, and then we headed off for some delicious dinner, and then it was back to the hotel for us. At the hotel, we relaxed, and were handed our certificates of achievement for completing 30 hours of community service each! What an achievement!
It’s going to be hard saying goodbye to each other tomorrow, because we have all grown so close together. Each of us has had a unique experience on this trip and has learned much more than we could have ever learned if we had been mere tourists. Costa Rica is its own different, unique, and wonderful culture.
One thing that we have all picked up on here is how to live, as the locals say, a pure life. ¡Pura vida!