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Hello Friends and Family!
This morning we left our very plush accommodations
at the Marriot
on the Pacific Ocean to head back to San José
, the capital of Costa Rica. On our way we stopped at a gift shop and saw crocodiles at a bridge over a national park. Upon arriving in San José
, we had time to shop at the Mercado, a street market with various handicrafts and souvenirs
. Afterwards we headed out to Café
Britt, a coffee processing facility. The staff there gave us an interesting, informative, and entertaining tour of the farm, complete with costumes and coffee. We ended the evening with supper and cultural dancing!! We have had a great time, but are tired and ready for tomorrow's VERY EARLY flights!
La Cosecha- Victor, Janet, Brian, Shane, Garrett, Melody, Eric, Patrick, Lisa
Free Day in Paradise
Today everyone got to do whatever they wanted. From zip lining and sand volleyball to massages, shopping, and tanning by the pool, we had fun. The adventure-seeking members flew across 6 zip lines, swung on a Tarzan swing, and repelled quickly down a tree. The beach was a slight disappointment. Instead of gorgeous white sand, it was muddy and rocky. But not everything can be perfect, right? After attempting some pool volleyball (which the girls lost by about 50 points) we tried sand volleyball. That went much better. We visited the nearby town of Jaco and ate lunch there. We quickly found KFC, Subway, and a little pizza shop. Definitely a nice break from rice and beans. We did a little shopping and found some sweet souvenirs: dresses, jewelry, t-shirts, and wooden trinkets. After returning from town, we played a little soccer match. Brian G1 (aka Brian Gray) caused injuries on the field. From nailing Elizabeth in the stomach to hitting Kristin in the head, Brian was kicking butt and taking names. He scored three goals, tying with Gustan, our soccer-loving tour guide. (He calls it football and says that our football should be called "rugby lite".) Surprisingly, it did not rain today. We ended our activities with supper at the Mariott. Today was "super fun" and we really enjoyed our day of relaxation at the resort!
Day 4 Costa Rica Experience
Blog for June 21
Welcome from the Kinkajoos (a type of monkey)! Today after leaving from our host families, we traveled to a sugar cane plantation. We learned how to convert sugar cane into brown sugar or Dulce T. We sampled it with coffee and ate potato mash with crepes and molasses. Afterwards, we went to the actual sugar cane plantation where we saw different varieties of sugar cane and learned about their organic practices. We had lunch at La Hacienda which was a buffet lunch overlooking the beautiful valley. They showed us how to extract the juice from sugar cane and made us some molasses candy and brown sugar. It was amazing! We saw Macadamia nut trees and surrounding plants related to the potato family that gave off natural pesticide. Next, we saw the sorting proccess of the macadamia nuts and even cracked a few. We played games with the local youth including: volleyball, basketball, electricity, and corners. Kirk even found a couple of Snickers at the local super market(It was kind of a big deal)! After meeting up with our host families the group got together for an exciting fiesta, complete with bar-b-que and dancing! This is where Kyle found his future sweet woman from Holland (This was another big deal). We learned to Salsa, Dan did some shagging (big deal), Kyle tried
dancing with the woman from Holland, and we all danced the night away! We went home with our host families for the second night, which was the biggest deal of all! (Btw, Kyle got locked out of the bathroom and Mr. Big Deal himself- Kyle- got it open with a credit card.)
Day 5 Costa Rica Experience
Blog for June 22
The day started off on a sad note as we departed from our "new" houses (a.k.a. our host family's houses). Then we were off to start our adventure at the local farmer's cooperative where we were given the opportunity to purchase an authentic machete. After that we split into our different buses and headed to the mini-vegetable farm. We were able to see how they grow and package different types of produce including: carrots, broccoli, beats, celery, parsley, and cabbage. It was interesting to learn that just four employees work over eleven acres of land doing everything by hand. The majority of the vegetables went to a local market but some was exported to the United States, primarily Miami, as well as Italy. We then traveled to a coffee plantation, where we learned how coffee beans were harvested. We were able to learn the process from seed to store. This was also a family operated farm where all of their merchandise is distributed over the Internet and in local stores. We drank lots of coffee and ate yummy chocolate covered coffee beans. Some of us bought wayyy too much stuff for our beloved family back home. Afterwards, we had a very late lunch. Followed by a very, very long bus ride through the rain....with only one bathroom break! We finally arrived at our hotel (airconditioned!! yippee!!) at 7:15pm. We were greeted with a refreshing pineapple drink as we departed from the bus and checked into our hotel rooms. We were also able to try a mimone fruit, a spiny fruit with a big seed in the middle surrounded by a sweet, fleshy fruit. The day ended with a delicious dinner, and a celebration of Melody's birthday.
Labels: Costa Rica, FFA, proficiency
Post for Saturday, June 20, 2009.....
Good news! Everyone survived whitewater rafting!! What a great time for all who went. We enjoyed a wonderful trip down the Sarapiqui
River. The guides were fantastic and we saw several types of wildlife when we weren't paddling! We saw monkeys, toucans, parrots, king fishers, porcupine, and sloth. Our fearless leader, Cindy, took an extra "swim" in the water when she fell out of the raft! We also had 3 other "swimmers" but everyone had a blast! The other thing we did today was tour a pineapple farm. We got to learn all about the whole process from planting shoots to the harvest. The pineapples are planted and harvested by hand. The pineapples are unloaded at the plant by floating in water. They are then rinsed, dried, sorted, boxed and stored at 45 degrees. We learned that pineapple does not have to be yellow in order to be ripe, and should be stored at 45 degrees to prevent it from fermenting. All in all it was a great day!!!
Friday, June 19th
Welcome to the jungle! Today we started our day with a nature walk through the Arenal Hanging Bridges. We saw an abundance of wildlife and were able to experience the humidity of
the rainforest. Three species of monkeys were spotted including the howler, spider,and white faced. Additionally, we encountered some posionous creatures such as the posion dart frog and two viper snakes. Toucans, macaws, and various other bird species were spotted at different times throughout the walk. The highlight of our hike was crossing the suspended bridges, some reaching heights of nearly 250 feet! We then enjoyed lunch on our own in the town of La Fortuna, and were able to have some free time to browse local stores. Loading back onto the bus, we traveled to a local farm where we learned how brown sugar was made in the early days. We then continued to a local school where young children demonstrated traditional Costa Rican dances. Just as the rain began to fall, we made it back to the farm to taste fresh fruits like pineappe, papaya, bananas, starfruit,
lime, and passion fruit among others. Next, we ventured to the hot springs to enjoy a relaxing night. We then finished up our day with a dinner of steak, chicken, rice, beans, and rice pudding.
Melissa McDonald, Lara Davis, Dustin Doherty, TJ Hines, Ben Hutto, Brian Holman, David Gibbens, Rex Price, Kurt VanDeWalle
Costa Rica - Day 1
Hola! Today was day one of the Costa Rican Proficiency trip. We left Miami and flew to San José. We boarded the charter buses and we were on our way to finally eat some lunch at El Rodeo. We experienced new dishes such as: cold fish soup, palm hearts, and chimchurri sauce; however, some were familiar such as steak and chicken. After eating, we headed to Alajuela to tour the Buttterfly Farm. Our guide Jonathon informed us about butterfly species and anatomy as well as the connection between humans and butterflies as part of the the ecosystem. Following the tour, we took some very winding, narrow roads in the dark and the rain. Finally, after some scary turns, we arrived at our hotel, the Volcano Lodge in La Fortuna-San Carlos. More stories from the trip to come tomorrow!
Adiós from La Cosecha (the harvest):
Melody Brewen, Missouri
Lisa Schluttenhofer, Indiana
Victor & Janet Fiorini, California
Garrett Owen, North Carolina
Shane Blaes, Kansas
Patrick Savelle, Georgia
Brian Hills, Illinois
Eric Kamler, Nebraska
Back in the USA!
We have all arrived back in the US! What an incredible twelve days we had in Asia. The I-CAL program was fortunate to have twelve amazing college students apart of the program this year. The students truly had a thrust for learning and experiencing international agriculture. Now that they are back in the US, they have been given the challenge of helping others understand international agriculture, marketing and trade. While we enjoyed our time visiting the many cultural sites China and Vietnam have to offer (the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Olympics Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, and dragon boat races), it was the tours of dairy farms, feed mills, and aquaculture operations that truly made the program memorable and educational.
We would like to thank everybody who read the blog while we were overseas. We are lucky to have been able to work with the US Grains Foundation again this year to provide such an amazing opportunity for our collegiate students.
Until next year!
National FFA Organization