Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio Blog #7

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 7

We started off today with a breakfast of omelets, pancakes, potatoes, bananas, rice, and orange juice. After breakfast, we took a short walk to Manuel Antonio National Park. Manuel Antonio was a beautiful rainforest with many species of wildlife. We saw different animals ranging from the rare stick bird to monkeys to sloths and even deer. Allan explained to us that the stick bird was a sight to see in the morning because of three factors, the stick bird is nocturnal, the stick bird is a recluse, and the stick bird has the best camouflage in nature. Allan said that the stick bird usually doesn’t make appearances in nature, and it was something that he has seen few times before. After the walk, we were rewarded by a nice view of the beach and time to play in the sand for 30 minutes. After the sand time, we walked back along the trail, spotted some monkeys, and got back on the bus.

We drove for 15 minutes to Ronny’s place, a nice restaurant with a beautiful view over the ocean. We had a selection of nachos (chicken or beef), fajitas (chicken or beef), or salad. Most people chose nachos. After the delicious lunch, we drove for an hour and a half to a place where we previously shopped and ate lunch to shop for souvenirs. After 30 minutes of shopping and drinking free samples of coffee, we left for another hour and a half drive to the capital. Once we arrived, we unpacked, showered, and prepared for our farewell dinner. We arrived at Nuestra Tierra, where we had our final Costa Rican-style dinner of potatoes, meat, salad, vegetables, and rice. We then drove back to the hotel to finally settle in and go to sleep. Unfortunately, tomorrow will be our last day, but we still can’t wait to experience San Jose fully!

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Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015 Blog #6

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 6

whitewater raftingWe started off today with a breakfast at the hotel of rice and beans, eggs, omelets, sausage, beef, and juice. Afterwards, we took a ten-minute drive to a whitewater rafting house, where we transferred to a bus for another 25-minute drive to the Naranjo River (the Orange River). After learning the safety rules and learning the commands, like paddle forward, paddle backwards, or tuck into the raft, we hopped onto the river. It was cold, but refreshing. The theme was teamwork, so every time that we paddled, we wanted to do it synchronized. We went down the river in three boats, one boat of five boys and a guide, one boat of five girls and a guide, an one boat of the three adults and two guides. There were calm parts of the water, but also rapids, where we got wet or got stuck on top of rocks. Mrs. Kane even lost her shoe on one of the rapids, but fortunately it was recovered by a guide on a kayak. It was unbelievably fun, but all good things must come to an end, so we had to finish up. We took a 10-minute drive back to the rafting house where we transferred back to our regular bus and went to lunch.

We had lunch at a pizza place that was built around an old fashioned train. We tried many pizzas including salami, Hawaiian, veggie, and shrimp. A few people like Aaron and Sam ate around 10 pieces each.

After lunch, we went surfing. We first learned to paddle and stand up, then we were sent into the water five people at a time. I got beat up by the waves before finally catching one, but it was worth it. The ride to shore on the wave was exhilarating and fun, though short. After an hour of surfing, we all went into the ocean to play a game where we tried to float over or dive under waves. After a while of playing that game, we had to leave, so we sadly said goodbye to the beach.

When we got back to the hotel, we immediately jumped into the pool for an hour of Marco Polo. Afterwards, we showered and ate a dinner of salad, chicken, pasta, or seafood rice at the hotel. Tomorrow, we will be going to Manuel Antonio for a while to explore the wildlife. We hope that there are monkeys!

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Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015 Blog #5

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 5

Today, we woke up to a breakfast of eggs, fresh pineapple, rice and beans, and toast. After this well-balanced Costa Rican breakfast, we drove off to the elementary school of Escuela de Los Janos for a donation drop off. When we arrived, we were introduced to the meager 30-40 people at the school and played with them for 30-minutes. During this time, the younger kids divided up and came to us as they wanted.

Community ServiceOne child in particular, named Josephi, asked us to help him build a makeshift slide out of a wooden board and a sloped dirt mound at the perimeter of the school. The slide was a success, and a large line of children formed to try out the makeshift slide. After playing on the slide, Josephi asked us to head over to the cement court to play a game of soccer. After soccer for 10-15 minutes, we were allowed to present our donations to Don Pedro, the principal. After donations, Josephi asked Nick for his hat, so Nick decided to give it to him to help Josephi remember this day.

After the school, we went to eat lunch at a restaurant that served standard Costa Rican lunches, which included salad, potatoes, beans, rice, and a choice of meat: beef, fish, or chicken. After lunch, we took a 3-4 hour drive to the Rainmaker Plantation.

The Rainmaker Plantation was not as much a plantation as a rainforest. This rainforest had many trails filled with nature. We had the opportunity to see lots of wildlife, including Poison Dart Frogs, toads, and Fire Ants.

StreamOn the trails we passed a large stream that had fresh water. Allan taught us that if we were going to drink the water, we should always dig a hole next to a place where the water is stagnant, and drink the water from the hole. This is important because the water could have bacteria or parasites that would be bad for you if you drank them.

We left the rainforest and drove to our hotel, Hotel Espadilla. We unpacked for around 15 minutes, then left for dinner at El Avion, a restaurant that was built around a military airplane. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and watched the Warriors game against the Cavaliers. The Warriors ended up winning, and clinching the NBA Championship. Allan said that we would be surfing and white water rafting tomorrow. We can’t wait!

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Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015 Blog #4

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 4

We started off today with a breakfast of pineapple juice, pancakes, fruit, and eggs. After breakfast, we went to the Canopy Tour, A.K.A. zip-lining. After the 10 to 15-minute drive to Monteverde Extremo Park, we stepped off of the bus and got our harnesses on. After a brief demonstration by a guide, we hopped onto the first zip-line. Proper technique is to keep your strong hand wrapped around the line behind you while holding onto your harness with your weak hand. After the first few lines, we were all exhilarated but also still scared of the imminent danger that came from the extreme heights and speeds.

After lots and lots of steps, we arrived at a zip-line that we could not see the end of. We each had to pick a partner to go with us because our weight was not sufficient to give us enough momentum to get all the way across to the other side of the mile long valley. When we went across, we were going fast and the wind was blowing extremely hard. The experience almost felt like standing on the roof of a moving car, with the wind blowing on your face and your hair getting blown back. After more regular zip-lines, zip-lines across the abyss, and more steps, we finally arrived at the second to last destination, the Tarzan Swing.

The Tarzan Swing was a giant bungee cord that attached to our harness that caused us to enter into a pendulum-like motion. The swing initially dropped us for about five feet, then swung us back and forth a couple times before two guides caught us and helped us off of the bungee. Everybody went on the Tarzan Swing, except for Eric, who chickened out at the last minute. Even Sr. Lopez and Mrs. Kane went on the Tarzan swing.

macawblogphotoAfter the Tarzan Swing, we went on more steps, and ended up at the top of the grand finale of the zip-lines, the Superman Zip-Line. On this line, we were not in the traditional seated position, but in a position lying down on your stomach, head first. While we descended, we felt scared and satisfied at the same time. After the first Superman Zip-Line, we were attached to another Superman Zip-Line where we were sent through a dark tunnel before emerging on the other side and finishing the tour. After the tour, we rested for a while and at the same time enjoyed the rare sight of a Red Macaw, a protected species with a variety of colors and a long, feathery tail.

For lunch, we enjoyed a variety of different meats inside of a tortilla on the premises of the tour. Also included were cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, and beans. For a dessert, we were fed fruit-flavored marshmallows drizzled in chocolate. After lunch, we went to the city of Monteverde to go shopping for a variety of souvenirs and food. We went shopping for 45 minutes before leaving to go to the Quaker Cheese Factory.

The Quakers were originally a family from Alabama who moved down to Costa Rica during the time of the Korean War. The Quakers started a successful dairy business that continues today. At the cheese factory, we were treated to ice cream by Allan and Sammy. We later went to the hotel and hung out for one or two hours. After we finished at the hotel, we went to a pizzeria called Johnny’s Pizzeria where we ordered a variety of pizzas or a spaghetti bolognese. Allan said that tomorrow, we will be visiting a school in need and a rainmaker plantation. We can’t wait!

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Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015 Blog #3

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 3

To start off the day, we had a breakfast of pancakes, toast, fruit, and ham and eggs (Eric’s favorite, of course). After breakfast, we packed, said goodbye to Hotel Arenal, and left. We left to go horseback riding. We got to meet the horses (mine was called Manuela) and hop on. The horses trotted, walked, and ran on our trip to the Arenal River. The River was cold, but refreshing as we stepped in. The river proved a challenge for some, but was easy for others. While tubing, we had to use our arms to propel us to a destination, and was sometimes difficult. The rapids included lots of tipping over and getting stuck on rocks. Overall, the whole excursion with the GoAdventure crew was extremely fun.

After the excursion, we went to a family owned restaurant where we were allowed to make our own tortillas, and eat a taco made with home-style cooking. They were delicious, and we were sad that we didn’t have a chance for seconds.

After lunch, we went over to the frog pond to explore different Costa Rican species of frogs. We saw some cool species including rain frogs, toads, and bullfrogs. Some got up to 20 pounds. After the frog ponds, we went to the hotel and chilled out while listening to the Golden State Warriors Game (in which the Warriors won by 10 against the Cavaliers). We later had dinner downstairs of spaghetti, vegetables, and tomato soup. Tomorrow we will be going on a canopy tour and to butterfly gardens.

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Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015 Blog #2

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 2

After a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and toast, we got in the bus for a short drive to Don Juan’s Eco-farm. At this farm, they make everything that they need using natural processes. This even includes the energy which comes from methane gas.

After lunch, our group had another short drive to our next destination. We went to the ASIS Animal Rescue Center to get a tour. We saw many different animals in the shelter, but sadly many of them could not live in the wild again. For example, the spider monkeys were attached too much to humans to go back to the forest. Most of the animals were there because people had them as pets, but ended up not wanting them. It was quite sad to think about. At the end of the day, we learned not to keep wild animals as pets.

After lunch, we went shopping for a while at La Fortuna. We bought a variety of items, from whistles to shirts. After shopping, we went to a hot spring near Mount Arenal. This hot spring was a series of pools that were either cold or warm, with many water slides interspersed. It was extremely fun. Eric, Trevor, Nick, and Sam had competitions to see who could go down the slides the fastest. Eric was thrown into the air by a bump because he was going so fast. Unfortunately, our night got cut off abruptly due to a thunderstorm. The lighting and thunder continued for about an hour. We were stuck outside under a shade during the storm until Allan got us our towels and we were able to shower and dry off. Then, we went to a restaurant nearby to eat a buffet dinner of rice, beans, meat, bread, and cheesecake. A great end to a great day.

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Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015

Blach Middle School Manuel Antonio 2015 Blog #1

This entry was written by Nicholas Kikuta of Blach Middle School

Day 1

We finally arrive at San Jose Airport in Costa Rica after our second part of a red eye at 10:00 a.m. Everyone is tired, but at the same time excited and ready to explore. We exit the airport and are greeted with a warm welcome from our guides, Sammy and Allan. We get on the bus, a large van with comfortable seats that fits 15. Sammy and Allen are both young and easy to connect to so everyone is comfortable.

We then learn that the bus ride will be around an hour so some catch up on our sleep while others, *ahem* Eric and Amber *ahem* seem to be brimming with energy.

Our first stop is at a coffee plantation. Allan imitates a typical work day for a coffee field worker, even though the season is September through April. Allan becomes a Nicaraguan worker who is illegally working in Costa Rica. He arrives at the plantation everyday at 5:30 and leaves everyday between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. Allan strips bright red fruit from the coffee plant and puts them into 28-pound baskets. For each basket that he fills and turns in, he gets $2-4. A good worker makes $30-40 a week. After these berries are picked, they are sent to a manufacturing plant where the fruits are pitted and the seeds are washed and roasted.

After learning about coffee, we drive for a while through the mountains and arrive at a park with lots of cypress trees. These aren’t any ordinary Cypress trees—they are cut and shaped into unique images. We see many different shaped trees such as a duck, a dinosaur, and a human. After a bit of exploring, we are able to meet the man who shaped all of the trees.

We later continue to lunch, which consists of a traditional Costa Rican meal (potatoes, eggs, meat, veggies, rice, and beans), or pizza. Most of us choose pizza, while Sammy and Sr. Lopez choose the Costa Rican dish. As we continue to the hotel, we stop at a restaurant called Restaurante Las Iguanas, named not for the food, but for the many iguanas that live in the canopy of trees next to it.

We later get to the hotel, get settled, and the five boys go swimming. After swimming we go to dinner at a nice restaurant where we are served chicken and rice, or another traditional meal, or pasta, or even a hamburger.

After dinner we go back to the hotel and play cards to end the day. Sammy and Allen tell us that tomorrow we will be going ecofarming and to the hot springs, an exciting day.

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