Costa Rica Summer 2013 Day 3
Alexander Aston Zapata
After lunch we headed out to see all the animals and then head to the waterfalls. My favorite was seeing the jaguar. They were so beautiful and powerful, elegant. It made me want to go into the cage and pet them and be with them. One was laying down trying to sleep and reminded me of my dog at home. The waterfalls were very cool to experience. My favorite part was when there was a separate little trail that took you to the base of a 120ft waterfall. The power of the water falling created such a mist and wind that was very cool to feel.
The rest of the trip that was planned worked just fine, las cataratas, waterfalls. After arriving at
La Paz Waterfall Gardens we ate lunch in the restaurant with what felt like a thousand noisy kids which was about the world’s most polar opposite of peace, but the food was good. La Paz was a sort of animal sanctuary, almost like a small zoo. All of the animals live in the Costa Rican area, but these were confiscated from people that owned them illegally. They were kept in cages at the garden because they are not able to survive on their own after living in captivity for so long. They had birds, butterflies, monkeys, snakes, frogs, and jungle cats. The animals weren’t in their natural habitat, but we were able to see them up close because most of the cages allowed us to go inside. The butterflies are my favorite, so much so that my dorm room is decorated in them. I wanted to take a picture of this very beautiful blue one but it would never land where I could see it. I was able to hold a toucan in the aviary. My experience was much better than that of Sra. Zapata’s. In the room with the poison dart frogs, Andrés talked with the
worker because he thought it was dangerous to be in the open with them. Apparently poison dart frogs only hurt you if you have some sort of cut where it can go directly to your blood. My favorite was called blue jeans. It is teeny tiny with a red body and blue legs.
Today was another wonderful day in Costa Rica. We went outside of San José to see the countryside of Costa Rica. The nature in Costa Rica is unbelievable. The vegetation is so green and full of life. We drove by the fields of coffee plants. Many Costa Rican families grow coffee for many generations. We stopped at the local coffee gift shop. I tried 100% pure coffee and it was wonderful. I also bought some to take back with me to the United States. We also took many beautiful pictures with the view of the coffee fields.
Then we tried to go to see a volcano, but it was too cloudy and we would not be able to see anything, so we decided to come back another time. While we were driving in the countryside, we saw a lot of cows and sheep. Costa Rica is often called Switzerland of America, because it is very green and has a lot of mountains. I also think that it is called Switzerland because it produces a lot of natural milk. We stopped by the road and bought fresh strawberries, which are also growing on the local farm.
Costa Rica Summer 2013 Day 2
Alexander Aston Zapata
Today my brother and I went to the gym in the morning to get a little workout in before the day got started. We were a little disappointed that the gym didn’t have near as much as we thought and the main machine that we could have used was broken. Nonetheless, we made it work and we enjoyed ourselves. The gym is in a neighboring hotel on the fourth floor. This allowed for a beautiful view and I was able to get a panorama shot of the view. That was very nice.
After going to the bank to exchange money, we continued on to the “centro”, a huge warehouse that was turned into a shopping center with small local shops set up along the walls and local restaurants. They have streets and all. This is where you can find typical foods and crafts of Costa Rica. That was very fun and I got a souvenir for myself there.
The supermarket was much like going on a trip to Kroger except that all the products are in
Spanish and the prices are in colones instead of dollars. They have a big section of fruits and vegetables and many of them I was unable to recognize. There was one fruit that looked similar to a strawberry but with hair where the seeds are. It was odd. The kiwis were twice as big as ones that I normally buy. Buying the food in the store was not that big of a deal. The fun came when Señora Zapata taught us how to cook. It is difficult to cook a new type of food for the first time. Our experience was made even more difficult because all of our instructions were in Spanish. The fruits of our labor were well rewarded. I have discovered that I like plantains, a lot, and in pretty much any way you want to cook it. Polina, Señora Zapata, and I worked in one kitchen while Alex cooked the meat in the other kitchen. Andrés was the only one not to help cook but he did wash the dishes for us.
Today was a very interesting day. We had a breakfast at the restaurant in our hotel. For the first time I tried a traditional Costa Rican dish rice with beans Gallo pinto. It was very good. After breakfast we walked through the park toward the museum. The trees in the park were very beautiful; they looked like somebody painted their bark. Unfortunately, the museum is closed on Mondays. So we decided to come back another day.
Then we took the bus to the center city of San José. The traffic in San José is very heavy, and many people drive motorcycles because on the motorcycle it’s easier to go through the traffic. The traffic here is very dangerous. Near the National theatre of Costa Rica was the square with a lot of pigeons. I fed the pigeons from my hands. It was a lot of fun. One pigeon sat on my head. We had lunch in the local bakery called Samuelito. I had enchilada. We also visited local bank to exchange dollars to colones, Costa Rican money. The bank was very big. In order to be served, you need first to get a number and wait until they call you.
Day 1 Blog
Alexander Aston Zapata
Once we got the hotel, we decided that we were going to go out to eat since we hadn’t the whole trip. This turned out to be more of an adventure then any of us had imagined. Not only did it start to rain, but it poured. We were not prepared for this type of down pour, especially with two to an umbrella in shorts and a jacket. It also didn’t help that we weren’t entirely sure where we were going or where exactly the restaurant that we were looking for was located. The sidewalks had begun to flood and some left 8-12in puddles of waters; more like mini lakes. Dr. Zapata and Kimberly unfortunately found this out the hard way when they decided that they were wet enough that a small puddle wouldn’t hurt, not realizing that it was a 12in deep puddle. One step in and they were calf high in water with 6 or 7 feet to go. It was hilarious, all up until a speeding car came around the corner and hit a puddle which then sprayed my brother and I’s backside. It looked like a scene straight out of a movie. It was all good fun and laughs. After asking two different people along the way, we made it to the restaurant.
We all met on campus to drive to Nashville for our first plane ride which would lead to Charlotte,
North Carolina and eventually Costa Rica. It was the first time I had been on a plane in 20 years and my memory doesn’t even extend as far as my first plane trip so it felt like a completely new experience. Other than being utterly clueless on airport procedure and that feeling your stomach has disappeared into your spine during takeoff and landing, the journey was nice. The trip to Charlotte was quiet and much quicker than I had anticipated. Leaving Charlotte for Costa Rica was a bit more exciting. The man and woman to my side asked about my trip and why I was going to Costa Rica. They spoke with me in Spanish a little about all of the things there are to see in Costa Rica. By the end of our plane ride they seemed almost as excited for me as I was myself. I finally got a stamp in my Passport after going through Customs and then we took our picture by the “Pura Vida” sign before venturing off into the third airport of the day.
Our trip to Costa Rica started very early in the morning. We met at 3:00am on campus and drove together to the airport. The flight was fine and not long at all. We arrived to San José around 3:30 pm. It was raining, but the rain stopped soon. We arrived to the hotel and checked in without any problems. The hotel is very nice. The name of the hotel is Cristina suites. We are all living in an apartment, which includes three bedrooms and the kitchen. Kimberly and I share a bedroom. After we settled down we had decided to go out to eat something. It was raining, but we decided to walk under umbrellas. While we were walking rain got heavier and heavier, and then it was pouring. We were walking for about 15 minutes, and by the time we arrived to the restaurant we were completely soaked. I hope that for the rest of the trip we will stay dry. The food in the restaurant was very good. The restaurant’s name was Princesa Marina, which serves seafood. I really enjoyed my dinner. I ordered a juice called Mora, a shrimp cocktail and the fish in the mushroom sauce. The price was very reasonable for a large dinner. That was my first experience in Costa Rica and I enjoyed every moment of it.
May 2013 Leadership through Sailing
Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology Ken Ayers calls his Leadership through Sailing class in the Caribbean a “memory maker,” and describes sailing as a metaphor for life. On a good day, sailing is easy and sailors run with the wind and the current. But life isn’t a straight road. It’s packed with unexpected adversity and many twists and turns, from losing a job to the death of a loved one to the end of a relationship. Leaders weather storms more effectively than others, and are more adept at navigating the twists and turns of life. Participants in the Leadership through Sailing class learn to make adjustments, change course and even change goals. They come together as a team during a life-changing, magical week of exploration and discovery as they learn to sail.
Leadership through Sailing
Leaving the Windward Passage Hotel in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, we headed toward the dock in Frenchtown where our ten day journey on the Caribbean Soul. During our walk to the boat, we witnessed a rare occurrence: a pod of dolphins swimming in the bay. Stepping onto the dock we saw the Caribbean Soul for the first time. We then took our first step onto the boat, which may have been a bit of a doozy for a couple of us. Our attention was directed toward Captain Ayers as he walked into the cockpit and told us what to be expecting throughout this adventure. “This boat beneath you is not a toy,” he said, “and sailing is not a game.” We were then directed to go forward to the bow where we learned our first, and most important knot for this trip: the cleat knot.
Leaving St. Thomas to our stern we sailed southeast and began our adventure into the waters of the Caribbean. The three of us sat on the bow as we motored to our first destination. We took that time to get used to the motion of the ocean and take in the scenery. On the bow we got soaked in the salt water for the first time. These would be the roughest water we would pass through on this trip. The waves crashed into the boat so hard, even Captain Ayers got drenched in the cockpit.
Two hours later we arrived at Christmas Cove. This would be the first time any of us would grab the mooring with the hook, loop the lines through it and secure the line down to the bow using our newly mastered cleat knots. While in Christmas Cove, we took our first snorkel of the trip. Only one of us had snorkeled in these types of waters before; however, everyone quickly caught on. After dinner, we discussed Chapter 1 of First You Have to Row a Little Boat. We were required to read this book before stepping foot on the boat, even though we wouldn’t fully understand the meaning of it.
We went to our cabins, made our own beds, and experienced sleep on the water. We knew the next nine days would be full of hard work and we would start each day bright and early.
We woke up to the sound of the bell ringing, which signals us that it is time for breakfast. We had no idea what time it was, only that it was early. We came to the galley where we ate cereal, toast, cinnamon rolls, and yogurt. After breakfast, we began chores including dishes, cleaning the heads, and sweeping the floors. It was raining cats and dogs outside where we began our study of the basic boat parts and terminology. We motored to our next destination where we took a 2.3 mile hike to the Petroglyphs as a team building activity. It was a tough hike and we made make a couple wrong turns, but in the end we all felt very accomplished. Some of us unfortunately experienced a number of mosquito bites.
Back at the boat, we took another snorkel. We saw a barracuda, some small balaos, and some colorful fish and coral reefs. We encountered a nurse shark, but they do not have large, sharp teeth so we knew we were not in danger. When we were done snorkeling, we swam back to the boat, ate dinner, and watched a movie to learn more about becoming a team. The movie was White Squall, based off the true story of a boat named Albatross. The movie really showed us how people who do not know each other well or at all can come together as a team to reach a shared goal. We hope by the end of this week, we will become a crew as strong as theirs. Steak, baked potato and fresh asparagus was the meal of the night.
Today we woke up before the bell because we had each gotten a wonderful night of much needed sleep. After hearing the bell, we came up for breakfast of bacon, eggs and English muffins and discussed what would be in store for us today. We once again did our morning chores and prepared to leave the mooring.
We began class in the cockpit, reading our second textbook to learn about jibing. We discussed how the process worked and we began learning how to do it hands-on. Each one of us had a different job in order to let out the jib sail. We then took turns practicing jibing, during which we discovered it was going to be a lot more difficult than we had anticipated. We realize none of us know what we are doing, but we believe Captain Ayers will get us to the point we want to reach. We furled the jib sail as we arrived at our next destination.
After lunch, we took the dinghy to shore so we could begin our second hike. In the shallow water, we saw many starfish and small fish. We headed toward the trail so we could go see the Annaberg Ruins. This was an estate on the island of St. John. We saw where slaves lived and worked as well as other historical buildings on the estate. From the top, you could see 7 different islands, including those on the British side. The view was breathtaking. We headed back to shore, got back on the dinghy, and went back to the boat. We then went for another snorkel where we saw a Southern Stingray. We saw a small Balao dive down and grab a fish for his dinner. We also saw even more starfish and fish that were multicolored and had many differing patterns.
We swam back to the boat, had a traditional Memorial Day dinner, and had class again until it was time for bed.
Tomorrow we leave the US and head east into the British Virgin Islands. We are becoming a team.
Entering the British Virgin Islands
Today we woke up to the smell of biscuits and sausage gravy. When we were finished eating breakfast and completing our morning chores, we left the island of St. John and headed toward the British Virgin Islands. After we were between the islands of Tortola and Jost Van Dyke we began to learn how to tack. This was something the three of us had never attempted before, but after a demonstration from the Captain and First Mate we felt we were capable of tacking the jib sail. After practicing only a couple of times, we had completed Phase 1, which consisted of each of us taking turns practicing with the starboard side while the Captain took the helm and the port side. Phase 2 included the 3 of us taking turns tacking from the starboard and port sides while the Captain was the helmsman. After completing this phase, we moved to Phase 3 which was when the First Mate took the helm and the 3 of us alternated between the sides of the boat. We completed all 3 phases successfully and within 2 ½ hours! We felt very accomplished as a team as we had finally come together and completed this task.
Because of our accomplishments and teamwork, we were given the afternoon off to sightsee on the island of Jost Van Dyke. We went through customs because we were now in the British Virgin Islands. We headed to the beach to soak up the sun and search for shells in the water. We also went shopping for souvenirs at Foxy’s. We even met Foxy himself, who happens to be a Kentucky Colonel.
When we got back to the Caribbean Soul, we helped prepare dinner. Tonight we had salads and spaghetti. Tomorrow we set sail to the far end of the British Virgin Islands, leaving the United States further to our stern.
Today started off great as we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast. When the chores were done we headed further down Jost Van Dyke for our third hike that took us to the bubbly pools. The path to the pool was very secluded, and at the pool only a few other people were there. The pool wasn’t very bubbly today, but it was full of very tiny colorful fish.
After returning from the hike, we went to Monkey Point for a snorkel. In this reef, we were surrounded by fish everywhere we turned. We saw multiple schools of fish and a flounder. When we got back to the boat, we had grilled turkey and swiss for lunch. We left Monkey Point and headed to Marina Cay for the night.
Here at Marina Cay, we browsed Pusser’s Company Store for souvenirs. We then walked to the restaurant to make reservations for dinner. We walked along the beach and searched for shells before heading back to the boat for the afternoon.
Shortly after we had all showered and gotten dressed for our one night of dinner off the boat, along came the rain. A typical rain storm here lasts about 20 minutes, but after waiting for 45 minutes we realized we weren’t going to shore anytime soon. We decided to play cards and make a quick dinner, which consisted of salsa, bean dip, and quesadillas. Being on the boat for the night gave us a chance to bond as a group and have a little fun. Sometimes an unplanned, spontaneous event is just what you need.
Tomorrow we will sail to Virgin Gorda with not only the jib sail, but the main sail too!
This morning after a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits, fruit, and English muffins, we learned to put up the main sail as we left Marina Cay. On our way to Virgin Gorda, we got more practice with our tacking skills. When we reached our destination, we went for a snorkel around Devil’s Point. While we were snorkeling, we looked over to find a sea turtle right beside us. We snorkeled to shore and took a sandy trail back to the dinghy. The trail had boulder caves we went inside of.
We had flatbread sandwiches and wraps for lunch. We then put the main sail back up and sailed to Soldier’s Bay. It was a long sail, so by the time we got to Norman Island it was almost time for dinner. For dinner we had blackened tilapia, coleslaw, squash and zucchini, and cornbread. When our evening chores were done, we had ice cream for dessert while watching a confidence-building movie. The movie was called Captain Ron. It was about a man who discovered he was the new owner of a sailboat, not knowing how much work the boat would require. He begins his 45-day journey knowing nothing about sailing, but by the end of the trip his family sails the boat by themselves. Seeing his progression through the trip and looking back at ours made us realize how far each of us have also come.
Tomorrow we are heading to another part of Norman Island, Benures Bay where we will take a snorkel and our last hike.
This morning after breakfast and finishing the morning chores, we headed to Benures Bay. We took the dinghy to shore for our last hike on Norman Island. This island has been called Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson due to its beautiful scenery and treasure left behind. No other group of students have been to this area to hike, so this was our time for an adventure. When we reached a point where we could go multiple ways, we picked which way to go first and explored more. It led us to Money Bay. It was a small beach with large rocks cutting across the bay to create a smaller, circular beach. We headed back toward the boat a little later. At some point during this hike we hid a can for future students to find, similar to the book the crew members from White Squall signed. It is labelled “Kentucky Wesleyan College Leadership through Sailing 2013.” It is filled with paper and pens for those who follow us to sign and leave their legacy.
After lunch we unfurled the jib sail and headed to the location of our next snorkel. There were 3 caves to snorkel through. The first cave was narrower but very long. We couldn’t go very far back because it was too dark. The caves were full of many different kinds of fish. The third cave opened up in the back to the side of a rock where vines were hanging down. We attempted swinging from the vines, but they were difficult to get a grip on.
For dinner we had a good southern meal: pork loin, sweet potatoes, turnip greens and cornbread.
Tomorrow we begin our journey back home.
This morning we headed west, leaving Norman Island to our stern and sailing back to the USA. We have come a long way and we have learned more than we ever thought we would. Today we were no longer swabs. We became crew. The captain gave us the helm and left getting home safely to us. We set the jib and navigated home, sailing past Flanagan Island which is the most eastern and southern part of the United States. We sailed through The Narrows with the US to port and the British Territory starboard.
We went to Cruz Bay to go through US Customs and have an afternoon offshore. We ate lunch at High Tide and went shopping for some souvenirs. We went to one store that had jewelry in shapes of the Petroglyphs, some of which we had seen on our first hike. After our visit onshore, we set sail for our last nights’ destination: Buck Island.
The sail over was a jib run downwind. We went through the most treacherous passage, Current Cut, where the current of the Atlantic Ocean meets the current of the Caribbean Sea. The currents oppose one another and the water appears to dance as we sail through it. We arrived at our final destination for the night and picked up our last mooring.
The island is currently a seagull sanctuary, but after walking along the shore we realized you can feel the islands history. Slave ships would come to this island to drop off the men. This was the last place those families would be together and the last time a man would see his wife and children. They took the women and children to St. Thomas and sold them, then they came back for the men. When you walk on shore, the seagulls are not pleased. We snorkeled over to shore and hundreds of birds sat on the rocks staring and squawking at us.
After dinner we all began to reflect on how far we have come. On Day 1, we knew nothing about sailing. Now on Day 8, we have more knowledge than we ever thought we would. Stepping on the boat and seeing all of the lines was a little intimidating, but now we know what every line is called and what it does.
Today we head home. St. Thomas lies just to our north. It will be a short but melancholy sail because this is our last one. We have realized this course is not really about sailing, but about life. Sailing is just the metaphor used to understand it. We have gained confidence and learned that we can do things we never thought we could. We have learned about coming together as a team, because even if you don’t get along 100% of the time, you must work together for a common goal. We have learned that you cannot control everything and sometimes things will get away from you. Things will happen unexpectedly and all you can do is trim your sails and face the wind.
We will be taking these lessons home with us and will remember them for the rest of our lives. This class has been about learning who we are now to determine where we are going. We may not see everything that will be thrown at us, but we now know you can’t always stop it, you can’t always control it, and you certainly can’t avoid it. Heading to the airport, we realized how sad we were to leave. We have grown not only as individuals on this trip, but also as teammates. Walking to and through the gate, it hit us: it was over.
Enjoy junior Claudia Benson’s journal about her Winter Term 2013 trip to Costa Rica. Claudia is a Criminal Justice and Spanish major from Newburgh, Indiana.
This is a dream come true. This is place is an amazing place with its beauty, its people, and its culture, “Pura Vida.”
January 10, 2013- Today we went to Inbio Park. It was an amazing park where you are able to see the different flora and fauna Costa Rica has. We met a tour guide who was very specific in explaining all the information we needed to know about the place. The most amazing part was when we walked through where the butterflies where and after chasing them for a few minutes, one came up to me and stood on my right arm. The tour guide said to me, “you are going to have good luck for a year.” That was really good to hear!
Also the food in Costa Rica is amazing. In the mornings at the hotel where we are staying (Christina Suites), they serve a buffet, all you can eat. They have gallo pinto (rice and black beans), fresh fruits (papaya, pineapple, watermelon and others), eggs, vegetables, homemade bread, yogurt, different kind of fruit juices, coffee, tea, and other delicious food.
January 11, 2013- Today we went to El Volcan Poas – a main crater, active and beautiful in Costa Rica. It is very well-known for its beauty and excitement. Next to it was the Botos Lagoon. It is an extinct volcanic crater filled by rainforest. Only a few microorganisms and algae can live in it. Then we went to La Paz Waterfalls with over 70 acres of wildlife and forest to explore. You are able to walk around and see the animals and watch the waterfalls sprinkle on your face. You also walk through long trails wind along the La Paz River through both cloud and rainforest, showing the diversity of the plant and wildlife, while not disturbing the natural surroundings.
After walking for so many acres, we decided it was time to find a coffee shop to try the delicious Costa Rican coffee. We drove to San Jose and found a coffee shop called Café Don Mayo. Don Mayo comes from the best coffee-growing zone in Costa Rica, the highlands of Tarrazu, by a small family business dedicated to cultivation, processing and exportation of their own coffee farms, for the most demanding markets worldwide. It has been recognized as the best coffee in Costa Rica, winning the First Place in the Cup of Excellence Costa Rica 2009.
January 12, 2013- Today we went to the National Park Braulio Carrillo. The park was established on April 15, 1978. It is the most extensive area in central Costa Rica with 117,842 acres and is managed by the Central Volcano Range Conservation Area administration. The park’s name, Braulio Carrillo, is in honor of the third Chief of State to govern Costa Rica from 1837 to 1842. The National Park has a magnificent flora and fauna that is protected by thick evergreen forests and lush vegetation, mainly made up of primary forests, where some 6000 species of plants and large trees exist, like Manu, oak and others. It was a great experience to be able to walk on trails that were surrounded by wildlife and other beauties of Mother Nature.
January 13, 2013- Today we went to the Golden Museum, three museums in one. We were able to see where the money in Costa Rica (Colones) started and how its appearance has changed throughout the years. Then we went to see all the different types of coins in Costa Rica, since before and after Christ. The exhibition for the coins belongs to a man named Pacheco. He is a very rich individual in Costa Rica, and he owns the collection of coins. He is leasing the space at the Museum so everyone who walks by has the privilege to see the different kind of coins in Costa Rica. Each coin at the museum is worth more than $10,000. This was a great experience to learn how the money in Costa Rica has changed through the years.
We then went to see another exhibition. This time is was of Lola Fernandez, a Colombian-born painter who moved with her family to Costa Rica in the late ’20s. She traveled all around the work and has worked mostly with abstract. She is still alive and lives in Costa Rica.
Lastly, we went to see the Pre-Colombian Museum. I learned that a lot of animals like the jaguar, puma, and the felines in general had so much to do with beliefs, traditions, and culture.
January 14, 2013- Today we went to Tarcoles River, Jaco Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park. At the Tarcoles River, we saw from a bridge a family of crocodiles. There were more than 40 at the time. They were sun bathing and relaxing while everyone watched them from above. All I can say about this tour is that it was amazing. I can’t believe I came so close to nature and found out how beautiful it really is. We were able to go into the mangles and see a family of Capuchins, a type of monkey in Costa Rica. They all came at once to be fed and of course it was the male boss that came first, then the rest of the family. It was amazing; they are like little people fighting to get food. We also got to see a crocodile; she was about seven feet long, just lying in the water and relaxing. Out of the entire day, that was the most interesting part of it, seeing the monkeys in the mangles. One monkey followed us all the way out to the beach. He thought the whole time we had food for him.