Recently, I accompanied a group of students from the United World College (UWC) of Costa Rica on a trip to Orosi, Cartago (see separate story, pages W6 and W7), for an intensive, one-week Spanish course. My family, the students and I traveled from Santa Ana to Orosi on a sunny Monday morning.
Upon arriving in Orosi, we circled the town and viewed the oldest church still in use in Costa Rica, Iglesia de San José Orosi. Later, we met the owners and operators of Montaña Linda language school, Toine and Sara Verkuijlen. Sara enthusiastically described what the classes would be like and the surrounding area and activities.
While my family and I stayed in the hostel, the UWC students stayed with nearby Tico families. The weather was charming and the sky was clear, so clear that every morning we had the most amazing view of Turrialba Volcano, which was active while we were there.
Every morning, before classes, we would hit the nearby café, Orosi Lodge, and while my parents enjoyed a cappuccino, I would dig some change out of my pocket and play a few games of foosball with my sister, Natalie.
During the evenings, I remember watching my parents play backgammon while I played cards in the common area of the hostel. The weather was always fresh and cool and there was always some kind of quiet social activity going on around us. However, the very best adventures happened just after lunch. Each afternoon we had the most delicious meal with a dessert con helado and afterwards we were engaged in an adventure pre-planned by Sara or Toine.
Although there are two thermal baths in town, we hiked out to a natural thermal hot springs located on the wide river. In the river, we swam in the fresh flow and bathed in a natural pool of hot water. Of course, there was a splashing tournament or two, usually started by Nicole Mugabo from Uganda or Yam Matarasso from Israel.
On another occasion we were led on a hike with our guide, Nano, a local farmer, who gave us a brief history of the area, took us rock scaling and finally to a giant waterfall. At the waterfall we found fossils of all shapes and sizes. It was really cool and beautiful.
Not only did we learn Spanish,we also saw the sights and met new people, and the students joined Sara, volunteering their time to teach English to young children in a nearby community center. One of my mom’s favorite activities was the visit to the nearby LankesterBotanical Garden just outside Paraíso.
On the last night, Sara arranged for dance lessons for our entire group and their homestay families. I was surprised at the smooth moves of David Opoku from Ghana and Moussa Sarr from Senegal. But their skills were nothing compared to the limbo skills of Stacey Love from Jamaica. I’m still amazed at how low she can go! Overall, I had an absolute great week in the OrosiValley, but boy was I beat when we returned home to Santa Ana.
Nicholas Appleby is 11 years old and hails from Canada. He has been in Costa Rica since August 2006, and lives on the campus of the UnitedWorldCollegeCosta Rica in Santa Ana, southwest of San José, where he is homeschooled by his mother, Tanya Appleby. His dream is to become a writer.