7th Grade Adventures in Monteverde, Costa Rica
by Sara Fernandez Valladares, Middle School Spanish Language Acquisition Teacher
What a journey! It's been a long day but a fantastic one. Although our day had a very early start, the students were full of excitement and ready for the adventures to come. During the first flight, everyone slept and rested. After a quick stop in Miami, we continued on to San José in Costa Rica. During this second flight, no one slept, as the students were eager to get to our final destination in Costa Rica. They were so excited that they were even practicing their Spanish together on the plane.
Once we landed in Costa Rica, we were welcomed by our guide and we began our bus trip to Monteverde. About an hour later, we stopped to have lunch, which the students called "una comida deliciosa.” After lunch, we continued our journey, during which we marveled at the natural beauty of the countryside and spotted several animals such as cows, horses, dogs, and even goats. The bus ride was filled with exclamations of “Wow!”, “Look at that!" and "Did you see that?"
Finally, we arrived in Monteverde in the late afternoon. We met the host families whom the students would be staying with for the next few days, and each group of students left with them. To our surprise, they did not show any signs of fear or sadness while they were leaving with the families, just excitement. They were looking forward to putting their Spanish skills into practice in the real world!
Today we picked up the students bright and early from their home stays to explore the Cloud Forest Reserve. The students were excited to tell us all about their home stays: the dinner and breakfast, the different pets in the homes, and the conversations they have been having in Spanish with their host families.
Once we arrived to the Cloud Forest Reserve, we met with our guides and split into groups to discover the wildlife in the reserve. Thanks to our guides, we saw a sloth mother and her baby, a tarantula, a quetzal, and a toucan, plus little snakes, tadpoles, and many different types of plants.
After our visit to the Cloud Forest, we went to El Centro de Monteverde, which is literally the geographic center of the town. Here, students enjoyed their lunch and had free time to enjoy games together in the beautiful weather. Once we finished our time there, the students headed back to their home stays in the afternoon.
Today students rode the school bus with their host “brothers and sisters” to spend the day at the Cloud Forest School, otherwise known as el Centro de Educación Creativa.
Once we arrived, we joined the rest of the students from the school for what they call "The Circle", a tradition that takes place every Monday, during which the students share important events such as birthdays, news, etc. The teacher who was leading the circle took this time to introduce us to the rest of the school. After this, we were given a tour around the school’s impressively big campus by a 10th grade student ambassador.
Next, one of the host mothers, Marina, led a cooking class and taught of us how to make empanadas de frijoles. The students liked the empanadas so much that they each ended up making two of them! After the meal, students enjoyed free time by playing soccer with some students from school.
We began our day with music class at the Cloud Forest School. Some of our students showed that they were risk-takers and played different instruments in front of the Cloud Forest School students!
Later, we set off for the adventure of the day: ziplining above the cloud forest! We completed 13 ziplines (each of them with different heights and lengths, and a Tarzan swing. The students were all risk-takers and tried the ziplines. We had a blast!
As usual, the day started early in Monteverde. We went to visit the hanging bridges in the cloud forest. As we were walked over the bridges, we could observe different types of trees and plants, and we were even able to spot the elusive quetzal!
Once we were done exploring the bridges, we headed back to the Cloud Forest School where more activities awaited us. After having lunch, we had a class with Eduardo, the nature and environment teacher at the Cloud Forest School. He showed us several crops and explained how due to the rain, there were a lot of weeds that had grown around these crops. Such weeds are harmful to the crops and needed to be removed, and so that’s exactly what we did. Students had more fun weeding than they expected!
Finally, we had our Spanish class, where we continued working on our newspaper, The Costa Rican. It looks fantastic!
Today started off with P.E. class at the Cloud Forest School. Everything was explained in Spanish and our students listened carefully to everything that the teacher said from beginning to end, and then had fun playing games with the Cloud Forest School students. To conclude the class, we played a soccer match in mixed teams.
Later, we went on a chocolate and coffee tour. Students learned about the processes through which coffee and cacao seeds are transformed into the final product. During the tour, students had the opportunity to enjoy some chocolate that they had made themselves. They also made their own jugo de caña de azúcar using a machine that they operated manually to squeeze the juice out of the sugar cane bars. At the end of the tour, students were able to taste the coffee from Monteverde.
When we returned to the Cloud Forest School, the students had lunch and then had another nature and environment class. This time, they worked on removing harmful weeds that had grown near the school’s zucchini crops. To finish the day, we had Spanish class and continued working on The Costa Rican. Our days have been jam-packed, and so we had a lot to report!
We began our day with a quick soccer game with students from the Cloud Forest School, followed by Spanish class. Afterwards, we had nature and environment class, during which we cleaned up the area of the forest where ISB students planted trees the year before.
Students had the cafecito with their home stay families. Every student spoke in Spanish about their experience learning about another culture and living with a home stay family here in Costa Rica. All of them agreed that the families were very nice, the food was amazing, and. We are so proud of them for how they were able to express themselves in Spanish!
After the cafectio, we visited the downtown so students could buy a souvenir. After this, we returned to the Cloud Forest School for one last unforgettable experience in Costa Rica: a guided night walk in the school’s forest. It was really fun to explore the forest and observe the wildlife in the darkness of the night with our flashlights.