Education: Harvard B.A. Social Studies, University of Barcelona
Medical Certification: Wilderness First Responder
RLT Leader: El Sendero '16
Travel Experience: Chile, Spain, Kenya, Jordan, and London
Pura Vida (“Pure Life”) is our introductory international adventure and community service trip for middle school students. Our journey takes us to the Southern Pacific coast to explore small tropical villages, work alongside local artists to renovate public spaces, volunteer in organic gardens, and share games with our young Costa Rican friends.
He absorbed so much good from this trip and came back changed and more mature and more open to what the world is and the beauty of it all." - Parent of Benjamin L., Costa Rica: Pura Vida
Help with butterfly and other wildlife field studies at a neighboring national park. Visit a local school to help teach English and share games with our young Costa Rican friends. Discover hidden waterfalls, snorkel crystal blue waters, and zip line through the rainforest canopy all before closing with a celebration on the beach. We also take full advantage of the many natural wonders and adventures of Costa Rica on this middle school community service trip.
Keep scrolling to see for yourself the true meaning of “Pura Vida!”
From some of the biggest and strongest creatures on the planet to some of the smallest and most delicate, we hone our wildlife spotting skills along the journey. Whales spout in the distance, butterflies flutter around our noses, and magically colored macaws are sprinkled throughout our surroundings.
#2 "Across the Gulf Adventure" to Puerto Jimenez
The last town on the Osa Peninsula before entering Corcovado National Park, Puerto Jiménez is rooted in gold mining and logging. With the creation of the park, the mining and logging have decreased drastically, while the sunsets, dolphin sightings, and tranquil beaches still remain. We soak in the tranquility along with the history of this gem of a town.
#3 Small schools, big differences
Not far from our basecamp, we visit a local school to spend time with youth and help out with ongoing projects. The inevitable dance, song, laughter, and knowledge shared make for priceless moments for everyone involved. Trade some English language skills for some Spanish language practice after jumping into a game of fútbol!
#4 Marino Bellena National Park
Established in 1990, Marino Ballena protects 5,510 hectares of beach, mangrove, marine, and rainforest habitats. It's tough to decide what's more impressive: the landscape or the diversity of living organisms throughout it!
There are plenty of reptiles for which Costa Rica is famous, and iguanas are the stars. They can be found just about everywhere, including the beaches. Costa Rica is home to about 30 species of mammals but many, many more reptiles.
Costa Rica is the ideal place to hone Spanish language skills with the warm and friendly ticos!
Widely referred to as “jewels of the earth,” rainforest jungles are home to two-thirds of all animal and plant species on the planet. A magnificent world awaits discovery with brightly colored birds, in-your-face howler monkeys, and slow-as-molasses sloths.
We strap ourselves into a harness, latch to a cable, and zip along 525-foot-high lines through the canopy surrounded by the scenic beauty of the rainforest.
Join forces with local artists to learn about the rich artisan tradition in Costa Rica and work alongside local development organizations to renovate public spaces in Puerto Jimenez.
Even if they aren’t seen, they definitely are heard. Pound for pound, the howler is one of the loudest animals on the planet!
A tico-style meal of mixed rice and beans served with eggs and tortillas is a great way to start the day. Add a dollop of sour cream and there is nothing quite like the country’s national dish!
With 750 miles of coastline, there is a special place for everyone. Many of the country's beaches (playas) are part of a national forest or nature reserve, making it easy to see wild creatures only a shell's throw away from the beach.
Community Service Work in Agua Buena and Puerto Jiménez: Public Space Renovation, Recyling Projects and Environmental Garden Work, Art, School Visit
A Certificate of Community Service indicating the total hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
Exposure within community and country
Snorkel and Kayak: South Pacific waters
Hike: Jungle Treks to Waterfalls
Zip Line: Rainforest Canopy
Explore: Butterfly Farm, Puerto Jiménez, Marino Ballena National Park, Organic Farm, San Jose
Culture: Bribri Indigenous community, visit with a local school, homestay in Agua Buena, local artisan visit
In San Jose we stay in a hotel. During our time in Agua Buena, we stay with two local families. In Puerto Jimenez, we move to bunkbeds in a dormitory near the beach. While in the jungle, we sleep in platform tents with mattresses. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability.
Newark, NJ (EWR)
A leader-escorted round-trip flight will be available (but not required) for those travelers who wish to fly with a leader. Please contact our office for details.
Join in on the fun! Check out #PuraVidaRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
Costa Rica is more than a summer vacation destination – it’s a place of nonstop adventure. We arrive in San José and become oriented to the Costa Rican sights and sounds. We take time to get to know one another, the country, and our tico hosts.
We spend time with the Bribri. One of the main indigenous groups in Costa Rica, with numerous settlements and several dialects, the Salitre group moved from the Caribbean to the Pacific many years ago by crossing the Talamanca Mountain Range. Here we share music, meals, language lessons, and explore the land together.
Next, we transfer down the coast to one of the most peaceful places in the country. During our time in Agua Buena, we connect with local artists, teachers, and development associates to restore community spaces and exchange stories. Working alongside our new friends, we garden, paint, sand, and replant. While in Agua Buena we also assist on an organic farm and learn about agriculture on the equator. Helping around the farm, hiking through the jungle, and playing soccer fill our time in this magical space and place.
Transfering to Puerto Jimenez, qe exuberantly zip-line through the roof of the rainforest and then hike alongside a creek to swim under crystal clear waterfalls. We see Marino Ballena National Park, spot incredible wildlife, and snorkel the refreshing waters of the South Pacific.
We end our journey with a traditional feast on the beach, celebrating our support of Costa Rica’s monumental conservation efforts to protect this amazing land.
Arrive in San Jose, transfer to accommodations. Get oriented by exploring the local area.
Spend time with the Bribri, one of Costa Rica's main indigenous groups. Share in culture, music, and meals with a community that moved from the Caribbean to the Pacific many years ago.
Joining forces with community members, artists, and local development associations in Agua Buena, our group works to renovate a local park. We complete projects such as gardening, replanting, painting, and sanding while learning about Costa Rican culture from local experts and exchanging stories with community members. Learn how to live in harmony with the land and help care for the earth and community. Exchange ideas and swap visions alongside the town's amazing artist. Stay overnight with local host families and share ideas over authentic Costa Rican cuisine and visit a local organic farm to learn about agriculture on the equator.
Ferry across the Gulf to visit a butterfly farm, spotting crocodiles and other wildlife along the way. In swim-friendly locations, cool off beachside, kayak, and soak up the sun. Visit a local school to help out with improvement projects, swap stories, and play soccer with the students.
Zip through the leafy green canopy, hike to hidden waterfalls, snorkel wonderfully warm waters, and close the trip with a traditional banquet.
Say goodbye to our new friends and head home.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Costa Rica. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations is a personal one, and should be discussed with your family doctor.
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200 and we’ll happily send you one!
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to the starting destination on the first day of the trip, and from the ending destination back home on the last day of the trip.
The Pura Vida program offers an optional escorted flight for participants. All interested students will meet a leader at the Newark International Airport (EWR). Students also have the option of meeting a leader incountry on arrival day in San Jose, Costa Rica.
If you wish to have your participant fly directly into the starting location, please call the office for details.