By Abby Sonnenberg, ECS Student Reporter
On the week of Feb. 18, 13 students and three chaperones from Ellicottville Central embarked on a school trip to Costa Rica. Their trip lasted for nine days and covered the entirety of the small Latin American country.
The first day saw their flight from Toronto to San Jose – the Costa Rican capital – and, for some students, was their first time leaving the United States.
The second day brought the students to tour a dairy farm. There they learned about the inner workings of the farm and were given the opportunity to milk some of the cows. Later that day, the group went to a pineapple plantation and learned about the work and time that goes into harvesting them.
The next morning began early; the group woke at sunrise for a long bus ride to the Arenal Volcano, where they went kayaking and swam in the nearby Arenal Lake. On the way to the next stop, students stopped to see one of the many waterfalls Costa Rica has to offer. Later that day, they went on a hike through the rainforest near the volcano. The hike included a series of hanging bridges, where several students discovered a new fear of heights.
Another long drive brought the group to a cloud forest, where they walked for about a mile and a half and learned more about the different types of forests found in the Latin American country. The group learned that the difference between cloud forests and rainforests – the two main types of forests found in Costa Rica – lies in the elevation and moisture levels. In the evening, the group went to a frog pond to learn about more of the wildlife that can be found in Costa Rica.
The group went zip lining through the forest the next day, traveling on over a dozen cords – two of which were around half a mile long. From there, the group went for dancing lessons, and learned more traditional Costa Rican dance types such as the merengue, salsa, and cumbia. Later that day, they went on a coffee tour and learned more about the major Costa Rican industry of coffee manufacturing.
On the sixth day, the bus ride to the Pacific coast took about four hours. The group took a break about halfway through to visit and volunteer at a sanctuary primarily meant for the scarlet and great green macaw breeds. Later that day, they arrived on the coast, a beach of black sand due to previous volcanic activity in the area.
The same day, several members of the group went on a night walk through the forest, a tour guided by a man who pointed out several species indigenous to the area. Many of the students were surprised to learn that scorpions possess a characteristic that allows them to glow in the dark under a black light. The group also spotted several sleeping birds, a tarantula, and a green species of venomous snake known as the eyelash viper.
On the seventh and final day before the flight home, they visited the Manuel Antonio National Park for a beach day. It was quickly discovered that the wildlife there is much friendlier than in Ellicottville, and especially more daring – several attempts were made to steal the snacks brought by beachgoers.
The students and chaperones alike agreed that this trip to Costa Rica was an incredibly enjoyable experience, one that opened up their eyes to a new culture and brought them – even if only for a week – beyond the back-wood boundaries of western New York.