Education outside the classroom

March is off to a fantastic start! It’s so funny how such good things can come from plans that get changed. On Monday we were supposed to go to a cafe we’d heard about but when we got there it was closed- so we walked across the street to a different one, Saul, and it was amazing. They gave us the most delicious samples of smoothies and the place was decorated in hanging plants and some zebras, don’t ask me why but it was cute. They had a re-purposed bathtub as the sink and hand painted plates hanging on the walls to add an authentic vibe to the place. Rob Greenfield was a guest for the school’s Sustainability Day and I highly recommend finding his work on social media as he has quite the unique projects and was such a joy listening to. One of his projects was to wear all the trash produced by someone in a month and his documentary of it is quite insightful so really go look him up. The Central Market was one of our stops Thursday morning as we looked for gifts to bring home and purchased lots of lots of coffee to take back to the states. It’s so hard to say no to vendors when they give you free samples and are so kind, but that’s everyone so if I’m not careful I’m going to spend all my money without realizing it! (sorry mom and dad I’m trying my best not to). One of my favorite stops was a man whose family owns a coffee plantation- he gave us chocolate covered coffee beans and passion fruit and that was superb. If you combine two of my favorite things, coffee and chocolate, I can’t say no. Speaking of chocolate, I got to make my own at a chocolate tour we went to on Friday! La Casa Del Cacao is where we spent our afternoon learning the history of chocolate production and tasting samples ranging from 100% dark chocolate (quite bitter and I hate to say it but no good) to the chocolate we made that got lots of spoonfuls of sugar added. I learned that 50% dark chocolate means only 50% of the bar is actual chocolate and the rest is sugar.. whoops. I experienced my first earthquake/earthquake tremor that night which was so strange. I was sitting on my bed when it started shaking and I honestly thought I was just feeling things because I was so tired but then I looked at my wall and saw the paintings shaking and realized it was real. Definitely something you don’t forget! I had my last school field trip this weekend to the Pocosol Biological Station near Monteverde. We spent the weekend in the rainy cloud forest doing lots of hiking and looking for frogs and snakes and all kinds of other critters. There was a boiling clay pot where we stopped to rub clay all over our faces because it’s apparently really good for your skin but it reeks of a sulfuric smell so pros and cons to putting in on your face. We took a night hike and not gonna lie it was kinda scary, especially since we were looking for poisonous snakes with our little flashlights and our professors say they blend in with the vines and every time you look up there’s a vine hanging right by your face! Luckily we had our extra thick, clunky rubber boots to give us the ultimate protection from a snake bike in the feet. We stayed in a cute wooden tree house lodge with lots of porches and rocking chairs to sit in and watch the fog roll off the mountains. Sunday was spent bird watching and after over two hours of hiking the trails we finally saw the bird we came looking for, the Quetzal. It’s a vividly colorful bird but that’s about the only one we saw- it’s hard to see animals in nature when you’re in a group of over 25 college students who can’t be quiet to save their lives. Ignacio, aka Nacho, did a great job guiding us though and has a great eye for spotting things I never would have seen even if I was looking for it. Even though it was rainy and much colder than usual, it was beautiful to be up at the tops of the cloud forest and be surrounded by nothing but nature- no service provides a great opportunity to actually talk with people and appreciate your surroundings which is exactly what we did. A few people have already been sent home due to COVID-19 which makes me appreciate each day here even more! Prayers that I get to complete my program and that my family can still come visit at the end!!

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