Monday, October 4, 2010

Homestay, History, & Ecology Itinerary

Day 1 ------------- Arrive and Stay in Central Valley hotel (Central Valley hotel)

Most flights get in around mid-day or later and the students are pretty tired. Usually the best idea is to get the kids some rest or at least just stop moving for a bit. All depending on the flight schedule we can switch this around. The Central Valley is not what you come to Costa Rica for but it is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes and I think it will be worth the night stay especially since you want to enjoy some history we can surely make it interesting. Leaving the Central Valley in the morning we pass through the capital city. Anybody who says San Jose is uninteresting, does not know their history. It is nice to hear somebody wants to come to Costa Rica to learn a little history along with ecology.
(Meals: None)

Day 2 -------------- Drive to Homestays with stops along the way (Sitio de Mata Homestay)

Click Here to Meet the Homestay Families!!!

Our final destination today will be what I consider the real "Gem" of Costa Rica. I know there are active volcanoes and waterfalls and there happen to be homestays all over the country but the mountain village of Sitio de Mata not only is the "Eternal Spring" but it is just filled with the nicest people and most pleasant people you can imagine. Before we arrive to the village we will make some stops along the way in the capital city of San Jose. We don't always get specific request for history in trips although we always put it in. Your guide (if you book with us) will be a young man by the name of Jheudy who has been given the name Wiki-Jheudy. Time and time again he has kept student groups interested in the history of Costa Rica and does an amazing job. I've heard guides say that Costa Rica does not have that much history which is not true at all. Central America is an absolutely wonderful place for kids from the US to get a history lesson. We leave the table open for discussion,  keeping it interesting and allowing every student to have a respected opinion on each subject.  Just facts for the history part of the tour, no personal opinions coming from our guides' mouths that the kids will take back home.
After we leave the city we will hit the country-side and the history continues to come alive as we learn about the agriculuture and see the first capital which was Cartago and learn about the Spanish arrival. We'll get to our homestays just before dinner and get a warm welcome when you meet your families. These families are amazing and they love having you as their guest.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)

Day 3 ------------------- Day in the Community (Sitio de Mata Homestay)

Have you met us yet Cecilia?

Today you will be surrounded by beautiful green mountains and the smoking Turrialba Volcano. You will have spent your first night in your homestay and hopefully have worked on your Spanish a bit. Breakfast will be with your homestay family and some of you might spend the morning walking your homestay brother or sister to school while others just hang out and try some of the random fruit they put on the table. Every home is in walking distance of each other and there will be two students in each home. We will spend this day in the community doing different activities with the locals. We'll visit a protected area overseen by the community and plant some trees where they are trying to get the area reforested. Our idea will be to get some dirt on us and get some trees planted. One thing I like to do is tag the trees and send a picture of the tree to the kids once a year. With social media now, it is so easy and its just a little reminder to the kids of the importance of the little things. After this activity you will go to your homestay for lunch and then we'll meet back at Fressy's house. Fressy runs the show and she also is Mrs. Recycle. She is going to give a little course to the kids on how to make jewlery out of recycled goods that we collect from the local school. Its a great project and the kids actually wear the stuff they make. It is trash but not really trash once you look at it. Afterwards you will head back to your homestay and spend the evening with your family having dinner and working on your Spanish. We can have a meeting in the evening just to check on things but this will be up to you Cecilia, you make the calls.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)

Day 4 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Visit Tapanti National Park (Sitio de Mata homestay)

What I consider one of the nicest national parks in the country and probably one of the least visited by tourist (which is nice). This park is close to the area we will be staying and absolutely beautiful. The best part is we will be walking through the park with Jheudy who will be your naturalist guide and the kids will be experts on the tropical rainforest and different animal and plant species by the time they leave the park with Jheudy. We will spend the morning in the park and then make a few more stops on the way back to the homestays making a 3/4 of a day tour out of this and arriving back in time for dinner. After dinner I will need everyone to have their dancing shoes on because we will be having dance classes. The dance classes will be to prepare us for the FIESTA the community will be having for us when we depart. So if the kids don't know how to salsa, no worries, we got some of the best dance instructors from the community.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5 ------------------------- Guayabo & Irazu Volcano (Sitio de Mata homestay)

Today we will visit one of Costa Rica's archeoligical sites which is Guayabo and has a bit of history behind it. We will also visit Costa Rica's tallest active volcano crater which is the Irazu Volcano. This is a beautiful drive to the top where you will be over 10,000ft (you will need a jacket). If it is clear you will have a view of both coasts. This is an amazing volcano and just a great place to walk around surrounded by a complete different type of vegetation. This is also one of Costa Rica's national parks. After the day of touring we will head back to the homestays and spend some time with the families and do dinner in the homes.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 6 ----------------------------------------- Community Day ( Sitio de Mata homestay)

Today we have some activities planned for the kids that are fun. We will visit a school where the kids will go into the classrooms and we will split them up into small groups with 3 of your kids and 3 of the local kids. We have 10 questions and we have them ask each other questions. They have to be interesting questions like how do you get to school? One kid might answer: A horse and the other kid might answer a Subway. It is an amazing culture experience on both ends learning about how these kids live. After the school visit we can do a soccer game or cooking classes. Cooking the local cuisine or running around the soccer field with the locals is always fun for everyone.
After the day activities everyone goes back to their house to shower up and get ready for the evening show of fun and games. This is where Cancun meets Rural Costa Rica. Its good clean fun though don't worry. The community puts on the best culture experience you could imagine and all the dance and food you need for a lifetime.

Day 7 ----------------------- Enter Pacuare River Overnight Rafting Trip (Camping on Pacuare River)

National Geographic has this as one of the top five rivers on the planet. I put this on the itinerary because it is a great fit for a group of students wanting to end a gmemorable week of homestays with a little fun and adventure. It is camping but its not roughing it too much. All the tents are set up nicely, above ground, and beautiful bathrooms and eating areas sort of set-up like an eco-lodge on the Pacuare River. The river is absolutely beautiful and virgin rainforest from start to finish. It is the heart of natural beauty when it comes to Costa Rica and it turns out the only way down is by raft and if you want to engulf yourself in nature for one night then this experience is like no other.  If you don't think this is for the group, Cecilia, no problem, we can work something else out but I always like to try and put this in first, but I understand if it doesnt fit.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 8 ----------------------- Leave Pacuare and drive to airport (airport hotel)

Depending on your flight time you will need to get an airport hotel or fly home in the evening.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner)

Day 9----------------------- Fly Home!
(Meals: Breakfast)

Just thought you might be interested what this dad thought of his kid visiting Sitio de Mata...

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