This past weekend our group had the amazing opportunity to visit the Caribbean side of Costa Rica for 4 days. Our previous independent visits to the beach had been on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica, which is closer to San Ramón. However, we have been learning about the Afro-Costa Rican culture of the Atlantic side of Costa Rica, and this field trip was our opportunity to see this culture, as well as other ecological aspects of Costa Rica that we have learned about in our ecology class.
We left Thursday morning for the Caribbean side and we made many stops on our way to Limón. We stopped at Bravilo Carrillo National Park and then we also stopped in a small town off of the highway where we were able to see the railroad tracks of the historic Ferrocarril line, the first mode of industrial transportation between the capital and Limón. We also stopped at a pineapple plantation, and our last stop before arriving at our hotel for the night was Puerto Mohín, which processes 90% of Costa Rica’s imports and exports.
The next day after breakfast we had a ”charla”(an informal chat/lecture) with a native Afro-Costa Rican who has lived and studied in Costa Rica and the United States. He talked with us about the importance of the Jamaican culture in Costa Rica and how it came to be as it is now. Next, we explored Limón with our history professor before heading to Cahuita. On our way to Cahuita we also stopped at a banana plantation.
Saturday was a great day that was a great combination of learning and enjoyment. We had the amazing opportunity to go snorkeling with our ecology professor in the Atlantic Ocean. We got to see the coral reefs, after learning about them in class. We also saw many colorful fish, as well as a stingray! After we snorkeled the boat dropped us off along a beach that was the entrance to Cahuita National Park. After eating lunch on the beach, we walked for about 3 miles through the forest with our professors, stopping at various points to discuss different plants and animals. We were able to compare this forest with that of the Bravilo Carrillo National Park. After our hike, we had some time to relax on the beach before returning to the hotel. In the evening we went to Puerto Viejo, another nearby beach town, to have dinner and observe the differences and similarities between the two small beach towns.
On Sunday we got to spend almost two hours with a local calypso band who taught us about this type of local music and also played a few songs for us. After lunch in town we began the five-hour trip back to San Ramón.
We all had a great time and learned a lot, but we were also happy to return home to our host families and rest up before starting another week of classes.