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Ingrid's trip to Costa Rica

Below are some of the best pictures from my January 2006 trip to Costa Rica.

Spanish School

I studied at ILISA for two weeks. I was very impressed with the school and all of my teachers. They were very friendly and professional. I had a great time and learned a lot.

The exterior of the school building
The interior of the school.
Graduation on Jan 20, 2006. Teachers are mostly on the right, students mostly on the left.

Home Stay

These are a few photos of the house I lived in. It was very nice by American standards. I had my own room and bathroom and got breakfast and dinner each day. My host family was very friendly.

The outside of the house.
My room
The living room / family room

National Theater

One of the afternoon school excursions was to the National Theater in downtown San Jose. It was built in 1897 with money from a tax on coffee and was quite impressive.

Entrance to the theater.
The main lobby.

Irazu Volcano and Lankaster Gardens

I took a one day trip to Irazu Volcano, Orosi Valley and Lankaster Gardens from Expediciones Tropicales. I got to see a lot of things during the day, and thought it was worth the trip.

The large crater at the Irazu Volcano. Notice the tiny people, who are still far above the crater.
View of the lake from the restaurant. This is a dammed lake, used to provide some of the country's large supply of hydroelectricity.
Flowers and view of the Orosi Valley
Some of the many orchids at Lankaster Gardens
Another of the many orchids at Lankaster Gardens

Coffee Farm

I had a chance to visit the small coffee farm of someone I know and learned about their family history with coffee and about growing and harvesting coffee. It was very interesting.

The front of the 65-year old house and similar vintage tractor. There aren't a lot of houses in Costa Rica that are so old. The house had been in their family since it was built by her great-grandfather.
Coffee beans drying. The family hired temporary workers to harvest the coffee, and sent the ripe (red) beans off to be processed as a premium product. These remaining beans they will dry and then sell for a lower price.
Some of the coffee plants growing on the lower-left. They had a nice diversity of other trees growing with the coffee, not just coffee plants like some farms.

Tortuguero National Park

I took a two-day trip up to Tortuguero National Park with Jungle Tom Safaris. I was amazed to see how many other visitors made the trek, although once we got up there, we didn't see many other people. Our guide, Fernando, who takes the Saturday-Sunday tours, was very good at spotting and identifying plants and animals.

We saw a huge variety of animals, but my camera wasn't up to the task of capturing many of them. Sunday morning I watched a spider monkey and toucans behind our hotel, and then we went out on the boat and saw howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys, egrets, herons, caimans, crocodiles, an iguana, basilisk lizards, black river turtles and more. It was very exciting. Below are a few of my better photos.

On the way up there we went through miles and miles of export banana plantations. We stopped to watch them wash and package the bananas. The whole banana growing process is still done mostly by hand.
Here was the smaller of the two boats we were on, which let us go down the smaller canals.
Here is one of the rare pictures I have of myself, with my new caiman friend. (I was sitting on the boat.)
It's hard to pick out just one scenery picture, but this is one of my favorite views of one of the Tortuguero canals.
A white-faced capuchin monkey. Not a great photo, but one of my better wildlife photos.
Spider monkeys. We saw a number of spider monkeys, including one that was hanging out in the trees behind our hotel. At least in this picture you can identify the monkeys.
A green basilisk lizard, missing some of its tail.
Some interesting things I found on a beach. On the left is a .... and on the right is a sea bean, also known as a hamburger bean, legume family, genus Mucuna, both on some sort of driftwood.

Sustainable Travel

I went to two interesting projects for the last couple of days of my trip. The first was Finca La Flor de Paraiso, a small farm and school a few hours out of San Jose. It was a beautiful place with many interesting people working and volunteering there. They grow vegetables, herbs, and have many different kinds of livestock.

Map of the farm, upper third is buildings and cultivated land, bottom two-thirds is forest regeneration area.
Reforested area, only 8 years after being pasture. Lots of pioneer species filling in.
A mot-mot in the botanical garden
The medicinal herb garden

The second place I visited was Nacientes Palmichal. They have a number of cool environmental projects. It was more of an adventure to get there than I expected, and I didn't arrange in advance to see their projects, but the lodge is beautiful, and I enjoyed my last day in Costa Rica exploring their paths.

The rushing stream near the lodge.
One of the many butterflies I saw.

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