The Time I Almost Went To Panama For Spring Break

As Costa Rica’s official religion is Catholicism, “spring break” here is actually Holy Week (Semana Santa). All of the students in the ISEP program went on a service learning trip for the week. We stayed in the very small town of Altamira in the south of the country to learn about the organic practices that sustain the community and do some work to help further those practices and generally beautify the volunteer lodge.

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The volunteer organization we worked with is called AsoProLA (Asociación de Productores La Amistad). The people of the organization were AWESOME! They were considerate of our wants and needs, fed us more amazing food than we could have imagined, and taught us so much about the beauty of rural life in Costa Rica.

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One of our activities during the trip included a hike in La Amistad International Park, located on the border of Costa Rica and Panama. I was very excited to visit my first international park, although I was slightly disappointed that we were not able to cross the border. However, we did get to wear cool boots, see beautiful landscapes, and learn a lot about the plants of the park.

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Overall, the experience was a humbling one for me. While learning a lot about nature and hanging out with gringo pals/new pals/adorable dogs was fun, my limits were also tested spending a week with a lot of large creatures sneaking into our room. We were also without access to Internet, hot water, and the comforts of home and host family in Heredia. In other news, I discovered I’m not the best at working with mosaics…

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Despite struggling through new experiences and homesickness, the last night of our week there was absolutely wonderful! We spent time with our host families, workers from AsoProLA, and others from the community. There were games, food (of course!) and so many kind words about our shared experiences. We certainly didn’t have a typical “spring break” this year, but we will all be able to take home unique and cherished memories.

P1000907 (400x300) A few more photos from our time in Altamira…

Showing off the boots/shorts combo that was quite popular for the week.

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Eating organic, fruit-flavored ice cream at the local heladería – SO GOOD!

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A beautiful view that we were rewarded with after getting soaked during a ride in the bed of a truck.

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Pura vida!

Tori :)