Pura Vida!

Thursday, April 11, 2019 - By: Jack P, Whittall ‘20

Over Spring Break, nineteen Brentwood students of various backgrounds embarked on a voyage down south, to the rich coasts and lucious biodiversity of Costa Rica. Led by courageous chaperones Mr Ian McPherson and Ms Alanna Martin, the group spent almost ten days under the Central American sun, attending to many memorable activities many of us had not foreseen or been a part of previously. We spent most of our time in Costa Rica along the coastline, with time spent on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of the country. It was a fantastic trip overall, and was a very eye-opening experience for all of us.

As well as becoming well versed in methods of harvesting cinnamon and Colon to American Dollar exchange rates, we all became qualified wood sanders during our service work at the Puerto Viejo Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. There we were given the chance to help out by building different parts for a baby sloth habitat, as well as by doing other miscellaneous chores around the site. “It was super rewarding to give back to the community. Helping at the centre was great, and the whole experience was really gratifying,” said Quinn P, Ellis ‘20. It was manual labor made interesting, as it’s not often you get to make a difference by assisting in rehabilitating injured animals in a foreign country.

Part of the trip consisted of a two night stay at the Punta Mona Eco Lodge, and after a muddy four-hour trek through the diverse Costa Rican rainforest, we had arrived. It was a small isolated village, created under the principles of permaculture, which basically meant it was designed to be entirely self sufficient and truly ecologically friendly. As a result, we were pushed out of our comfort zone a little bit. Sleeping in tents or shacks, eating fully vegan for three meals a day, learning a great deal about unfamiliar tropical plants, as well as sitting through a spiritual cacao ceremony made for somewhat of an unusual stay. And with almost no wifi at all, we really were cut off from the outside world. “It made us realize how different and unique places around the world can really be,” says Iysus D, Mackenzie ‘20. It was quite the change of scenery, and as we would all agree, it was also quite the experience.

Another highlight was visiting the Manuel Antonio National Park, home to a huge amount of diversity, where monkeys would roam in the trees within arms reach of the tourists. Other highlights included a canopy zipline through the tangle of the rainforest, as well as private beginner salsa lessons. No one realized how much energy it would burn, and everyone got very sweaty, very fast. Max G, Whittall ‘19 said he loved “being able to play soccer with the local kids” in Manzanillo, as it was especially neat to be able to interact with part of the culture in such an authentic way. A personal highlight for me was all ten guys on the trip surviving three nights in a single room together, collectively battling the onslaught of cockroaches and the random power outages during the torrential rain.

We left Costa Rica stocked with local chocolates, sand in our clothes, and some nifty temporary tattoos, and as a group, we made a ton of unforgettable memories. The time spent together was well worth all the travel, even if it put us at the mercy of Mr McPherson’s Dad jokes. We would like to thank our chaperones as well as everyone involved in organizing and fundraising for the trip, as it was an experience filled with many unforgettable moments.

Jack P, Whittall ‘20

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