May 2, 2024

Costa Rica!

Each year, Seabury middle schoolers join their teachers on a week-long field excursion that ties into the overarching concepts, ideas and topics explored during the year. They’ve participated in Model United Nations in New York, and gone on a road trip through Washington State. This year, students immersed themselves in an exploration of the global environment –– and their spring journey took them to Costa Rica.

Upon returning, our young travelers were asked to write about some of the most memorable moments of their trip. The amazing wildlife was a recurring theme, but there was also new food, exciting physical adventures and wild weather. Students described observing (and hearing) howler monkeys, juvenile and adult crocodiles, “a huge, maybe even four-foot-long iguana,” and a Jesus Christ lizard that ran right across the surface of the water.

One student with a long-standing passion for ants recounted seeing a species he had been “waiting for ... forever.”

“It was on March 28th, a Thursday.  On that day we were on a tractor ride at a butterfly farm, it was after the main attraction with butterflies. I saw a mature colony of Atta cephalotes, the hairy-headed leafcutter ant. After smelling the sweet scent of flowers, [and] due to it being a sweltering hot day, the foraging trails were not as active as they would have been in the night. Although that was not an issue, [because] when searching for large leaf cutter ant majors, you can stomp on the mound which alerts them … after a few seconds around 10 or 20 large leaf cutter ants emerged from the entrances of the mound [and] because I was prepared with forceps I was able to snag one and take a few photos of it.”

For other students, experiencing the local cuisine was memorable. Some recalled the fried plantains (“they smelled like bananas, and tasted very sweet”) or the fresh, ripe fruits such as pineapple and watermelon. One student described their meal in rich detail: 

“[W]e were finishing up our lunch of rice, fish, some sort of potato-esc tuber, and something else I cannot remember. The fish was bone out, and it had a slightly salty taste under the umami, and it was two parts crunchy, and one part soft, for the texture. The rice had the starch left on, and it was still hard, but in a way that added to the appeal of it. The tuber thing, had a bit of a sauce on it, which was not super watery, but it wasn't super gelly either. It was more akin to a boiled-down teriyaki sauce in texture but had a starchy taste.”

The group also enjoyed several special excursions, including zip-lining, horseback riding, a river tour, and a boat ride amidst a big storm. One student’s writing focused on the vivid sensory experience of the zip-lining tour: 

“While I was zip-lining there were many notable moments, but I remember waterfalls that I could see from the higher ziplines. I could also taste the humid air [and] it tasted like air warmer. I could smell the trees in the forest and the dirt on the ground when I had to walk from one zipline section to the next. I was able to hear the wildlife in the trees, and I could also hear the ziplines hum. When I was on the zipline I had to hold onto the clip that was connecting me to the zipline, and I also had to have leather gloves on to protect my hands from getting burned from the friction if I had to touch the line.” 

Another described the ups and downs of the horseback riding experience: 

“While horseback riding, it was a rather scary sight, as there were many rocks and hills, but the horses were very good at navigating it. You had to touch the reins to make sure the horse went the right way. The smell wasn't great as the trail was covered in horse poop.”

And several students recalled the timing of their stormy boat ride with wry amusement: 

“In the first half of the boat ride, it was clear skies as far as one could see. On this half, it was warm-ish, and we saw quite a few creatures. … But these were just a prelude to the main event, a massive storm, which, amusedly, only lasted until we got off the boat. So, the only time we were in the storm was when we were on the boat. After the storm started, we beelined it back to the dock because there was a lot of water.”

“After a little while of hot sunny weather without warning it started to rain heavily. … As we headed back the driver got soaked, when we got back i rushed towards the van to grab 5 bucks from my phone case and ran back to give it to the driver.”

Sometimes, the simple moments stood out.  

“I was looking for another lizard, and I found an old coconut, which felt very rough and hard, and I tossed it into the river to see if it would float. It did, and I heard the little splash it made. Later we saw it floating downstream.” 

With Costa Rica’s vibrant turquoise coast, it’s no surprise that splashing in the warm ocean waves was a highlight.

“The beach had a nice salty smell. Some of the waves were massive and warm. After I got wet, I helped make a sand wall with my friends. I almost lost my shoes to the waves. We ate lots of delicious pizza after we got dry. I saw that the loud and giant waves were fun that day.”

One student was moved to poetry by the ocean experience: 

“Alex got a bloody nose

Ava swam deep down below

Claire claims she almost drowned

I inhaled some water

Tasted almost bitter

Swish swash swoosh

The water moves

As i cut down below

9 feet deep i go

Touching to bottom

Before pushing back up

Again and again i go

Claire was lying

No one almost drowned.”


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