¡Hóla! My name is Sydney, and I am writing to you from Costa Rica, the place that AMIGOS Monteverde y Costa Atlántica Session B is lucky enough to call home for the next three weeks. After a late arrival the first night, and a nice few hours of sleep in a San José hostel, we took a beautiful bus ride into the cloud forest of Monteverde, where we will be staying for the 8 days. The views here are absolutely breathtaking. Everywhere you look the trees are lush and green, and short plants with big, beautiful leaves line the walkways around the hotel. I know I speak for everyone when I say we are SUPER excited for the excursions planned next week where we get to learn about the ecosystems and geography that make this land unique. Until then, we are appreciating nature within the grounds of the hotel. I have been thoroughly enjoying all of our time here, but wanted to share a few of my favorite moments from the trip thus far.
1. The group discussions!
Each individual in the program is just that: individual! Every person has a unique perspective and interesting stories to tell. Though this circumstance poses the threat of division, our shared passion for social and environmental justice unites us, making for incredibly thought-provoking conversations. I am very excited to continue learning from my fellow Amigos.
2. Spanish School
Without question, Spanish school at the Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI) is the most difficult part of the day, but also one of the most rewarding. In our classes of three to five students, we only communicate in Spanish (for the most part), which can be a challenge. However, I am finding myself picking up all sorts of new vocabulary! Additionally, the opportunity to practice Spanish conversationally is a great way to learn the ins and outs of the language, in a way that we do not learn in Spanish classes back home.
3. A Mover las Cachas
“A Mover las Cachas”, or “Let’s move our butts,” is an hour-long period spent outside playing games. This activity period is always fun, but was extra special today: Our group leader, Zyro, taught us how to dance salsa! It took us a bit, but we were getting the hang of it by the end. What made this activity even more fun was the fact that it was our first time spending time as a full group. The festivities continue tonight at dinner, which will be the first meal we eat as a full group!
If these first days are a window into the rest of our time here, I am certain that these next few weeks will be absolutely incredible. For now, we will focus on soaking in every last second. ¡Hasta pronto, mis amigos!
4. Monteverde Biodiversity
¡Hola from Ashley! The Monteverde cloud forest that we are going to explore was the original reason I wanted to come to Costa Rica. Since the very first time I saw pictures of cotton-like clouds above the dark green canopies, I have been wanting to visit Monteverde in person. The cloud forest has great biodiversity, especially in epiphytes, plants that inhabit larger trees and absorb nutrients from the rain and fog in the jungle. Many kinds of orchards and lichens are observable. Many unique animals that grew to adapt well to damp weather also live here, such as the white-faced and howler monkeys, emerald toucanet, and trogons. However, the biodiversity has been threatened by climate change: The moisture that characterizes the Costa Rican rain forest makes the animal species here more vulnerable to warmer and drier environments. I am excited to learn more about methods to preserve the rainforests, as well as what we can do, as teenagers, to help contribute.