From LBCC to Costa Rica – Part 3

Some of the team took the chance on Sunday, June 25 to try some local restaurants. This is a place called “Taco Taco” located in Santa Elena

We Live Here Now

On June 27, 2023, the team found themselves in unfamiliar rooms and homes scattered around Monte Verde and Santa Elena. Each was greeted by their new host families and sat down for true Spanish immersion over breakfast. Most homes are nearly exclusively speaking Spanish. The members of the LBCC Costa Rica Study Abroad team are in varying levels of Spanish study, yet all are immersed in the language. Sunday being their free day participants found various activities, some traveling with their host families while others explored Santa Elena.

In Santa Elena, dogs run free. Monte Verde Institute Coordinator Paola Rojas said that all the dogs have homes, they just enjoy following anyone who pets them. Santa Elena is also home to many souvenir shops and the Cloud Forrest attracts lots of tourists. Over all Costa Rica is well-traveled by tourists. Nearly 2.4 million international tourists visited Costa Rica in 2022. Tourism is the largest industry in the country and its main source of hard currency.

Josh Robles takes a photo of a dog that followed some of the team on a long hike. 

Along with tourism Costa Rica is known for being one of the most sustainable countries in the world. Costa Rica is 98% free of deforestation, creates 93 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, and conserves around 30 percent of its territory. Costa Rica being such a small country with so much travel in and out from non-natives is a challenge.

One of the classrooms at MVI

Monday came and the participants were met at each of the checkpoints near their homes to begin a walking tour with Rojas. As they went Rojas took them to Café Zuccaro, a bakery and coffee shop she works at in addition to MVI. Rojas explained that she had spoken to the owner and that anyone who shows the contact card Rojas gave them would receive a 30% discount. Coffee is a main staple of Costa Rica, and everyone is served coffee by their host families, but the chance to grab a second cup at Café Zuccaro along with a pastry sounded great to the participants.

Homestay families pack their MVI participant’s lunch for school each day.

From the furthest homestay, it is about a one-hour walk for the participants, the closest being close to 5 minutes. The walk into the cloud forest however is beautiful. As Rojas lead them they passed through Santa Elena and up the hillside where on a clear day you can see the Gulf of Nicoya. Most days depending on the schedule the participants can choose to walk or catch a bus to school. At the end of the day, they can all opt to purchase a shuttle home. Everyone agreed that would be a great choice on days with torrential downpours.

Upon arriving at the institute the team was greeted by the MNI staff and cups of fresh fruit. The team then met with Elena González to learn about the sustainability practices at MVI. At MVI there is a significant focus on using less than is taken and breaking down waste so it can return to the earth with a smaller impact. González also provided a tour of the Institute. González shared all the ways MVI practices sustainability, from natural greywater filtration to reforestation projects.

Make sure to check out Sarah Rose’s blog!

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