I was reading back through my previous posts and realized I quit posting with 5 days left! In my defense, the Internet at the resort was very sketchy. Plus, it was great to be unplugged for a few days. But in all fairness to those of you following, I'll try and fill you in on what we did those last 5 days.
I'll start by saying, it may seem hard to believe, but things actually got better with each passing day.
We began the 18th by leaving San Jose bright and early and heading to the El Viejo Sugar Mill. This was a 14,000 acre sugar cane farm. It was beautiful. Imagine the cane fields of Louisiana but with mountains in the background. We had an interesting talk with the manager who is actually from Gueydan, LA and an LSU graduate. The farm uses harvesting equipment manufactured in Thibodeaux. It's definitely a small world. After a delicious lunch in the ranch house, we headed to the all-inclusive resort, Barcelo Langosta, in Tamarindo.
The resort was awesome! We checked in and then all headed to the beach to watch the sunset. Beautiful! After a quick dinner and shower, most of us walked to the onsite discotheque where we danced the night away. All in all it was a good first night at the beach.
Our second day at the resort was a free day. This means lots of sun, sand and water. Oh and did I mention the cold, fluffy drinks??? Yummy! This was a perfect day! Although, I was enjoying myself so much I forgot to put sunblock on my face so by the end of the afternoon I kind of looked like I had "face planted" into the sun. Oh well! After a fun day by the pool, Mike, Laney, Sergio and I headed in to the town of Tamarindo for some shopping. As we were walking, Mike decided that we had walked far enough and took it upon himself to hitchhike for us! It was hysterical. He got us a ride into town with a man from Vancouver who was in his 70s at least. On the way, we stopped and picked up his significantly younger Russian wife who was walking on the side of the road. One of our best experiences for, oh, 365 reasons!! Shopping was cool. What a neat little town. I did my part to stimulate the Tamarindon economy. We met up with our fearless leader, Gabby, and her husband. The six of us ended up sitting on the beach watching the sunset and sat there long enough to transition into fireflies. But all good things must end, so we had to go back to the resort and the kids. A quick dinner and a long talk by the pool and this perfect day was over. I can't describe how happy I was on this day. It will go into my list of all-time best days ever!
Our next day started bright and early as we took off on the short bus for our all-day excursion. First, we did the canopy tour. I had done this before in Puerto Vallarta, but this was so different. It was green and the scenery was beautiful! The next adventure of the day was white water tubing. This was a blast! Soaking wet and a little cold, we went back to the main building for a buffet style lunch. Several of us found an out building with hammocks secured underneath and took a much needed afternoon siesta. The more adventuresome of the group took on the horseback riding segment of the tour. Not being too comfortable on horses myself and given the rain, I decided to sit this part out. The consensus from those who went was that I made a wise decision.
Our final stop of the day was a natural hot spring and mud bath. Relaxing and warm. This felt great on our tired muscles. Thanks to a few rambunctious students, I ended up "mudded" several additional times, but it was all in good fun.
Exhausted, damp, but full of wonderful new memories, we took the bus back to our resort. After an invigorating and much welcomed shower, I enjoyed another good meal with fantastic company. A quick trip to the disco revealed that most students had either chosen to go into town or call it an early night. A few dances later, and thus ended another perfect day in Costa Rica!
Our final day in paradise and I took it mostly easy relaxing by the pool, swimming, and playing a little beach volleyball. Once again, I had to prove I wasn't old!! Still have bruises to support my case! Haha!! Several of my students asked if we could all get together one last time for dinner in town before we all went our separate ways the next morning. We ate at the Copacabana. The food was sinfully delicious. Grilled jumbo shrimp with coconut and curry sauce. Beef tenderloin with a green peppercorn sauce. The perfect blend of sweet and spicy. One of the students spied a tshirt at a next door souvenir shop with a "short bus" on it. Of course, we all had to buy one. What a fun group!! We ended the evening on a high note...literally...with karaoke. Two of my UL students were the best and Drew actually won first place!! I was extremely proud of everyone as we all took the stage to sing the last song of the night.
The next day we were up early to take our final ride on the short bus. Nine students traveled with me, two went out on an earlier flight, and three stayed behind for an extended vacation. The ride to the airport was sad and quiet, but nothing compared to the mood once we arrived. Most of us managed to hold back the tears until through security. I think it's fair to say that we all left a piece of our hearts in Costa Rica. The flights home were non eventful, thankfully. The customs and passport agents in Atlanta had us all laughing again. As we each caught our rides in Lafayette and went our separate ways, I knew this wonderful, memorable, life changing adventure had come to an end.
So how do I reflect on the 10 days we spent in this beautiful country? Well, for those of you who know me and for those who don't, suffice it to say that up to this point in time, 2012 has not been very kind to me. It's been a long and trying 5 months. I went to Costa Rica with no expectations excepting the desire to escape. I could never have known that this trip was not only just what I needed, but that it would touch my heart and renew my soul. It was a combination of the experiences, the beauty of the nature, and, more than anything else, the people. I fell in love with the Costa Ricans, the folks who guided us through our journey, and my kids. I was the teacher. I was there to lead and influence. So how do you explain to a bunch of college kids that you needed them much more than they will ever know? That they touched your life forever? Words cannot express my thanks to everyone who had a part in my experience. I now conclude this blog, this adventure, with a new understanding that most often the best things in life are those that are unexpected. We just have to keep our hearts and minds open to them. Until my next adventure...adios!