It’s morning, and the warm sun wakes you as it slowly spills onto your pillow. Outside the window lies the village of Turriabla, Costa Rica — full of lush, green farms, a towering volcano, and sparkling Caribbean coastline.
Today, we’re headed to a local school where we’ll work on our Spanish language skills and help children sharpen their English. Later this week, we’ll go zip lining through the Costa Rican canopy, soaking in the sounds and smells of the forest as we whizz by.
El Sendero means “the path” in English, and this trip is all about taking a path less traveled. It’s an opportunity to break from your normal path and explore a new one. While we’re in Costa Rica, our group of students in 8th grade through 12th grade will be using their more than two years of Spanish experience not only to help improve the quality of life in this rural village of about 280 people, but to fully immerse themselves in a cultural experience.
Don’t worry, though – you don’t have to speak Spanish the whole time. It’s just to help sharpen our skills!
Sometimes traveling with a group of unfamiliar people of varying ages can be really intimidating. It’s scary to leave the safety of your friends and family to venture out and try something new. But one of our past travelers discovered something remarkable while on the Sendero trip – even while she was still uncertain about her choice when she left. We’ll let her explain in her own words:
“That summer, I became ‘una chica muy valiente’ (a very brave girl) as my Spanish-speaking friend Fabi fondly said. I had challenged myself in many ways that I never knew I could, and pushed myself to many limits. I even brought back Fabi’s enthusiasm for the Spanish language into my classroom. Usually a more timid Spanish participant, I started to take more risks. Wherever life takes me, I know I will be able to meet and overcome the obstacles that will be thrown in my way, to a large degree because of the confidence my Costa Rican friends and my adventures bestowed in me.”
But this trip is more than language immersion. Like all of our RLT trips, there’s an adventure as well. Over the course of the 19 days we’ll spend in Costa Rica, we’ll also be learning to surf in the warm, sparkling waters of the Caribbean, whitewater rafting through the rushing Pacuare River, kayaking in more peaceful waters along the coastline, hiking in the colorful rainforest, and sampling chocolate and native berries from this beautiful, exotic land.
Bonus: Because this trip entails 72 – 80 community volunteer hours, we’ll all receive a Presidential Volunteer Service Award upon completion of El Sendero (Hello, college applications!) But really, more than the benefits and certifications that come along with this journey’s experiences, the people we’ll meet, help, and serve will be the lasting impressions that make this path a memorable one.
So, maybe at this point you’re thinking…I might want to do this, but I’m not sure. Take a look at this short video from some of our past trips to Costa Rica to help you get a better feel for what to expect. The full description and itinerary (plus a photo gallery) are also here for you to check out here.
In Costa Rica, the saying is “Pura Vida” which means “full of life” or “This is living!” Let’s go really live.