News - Costa Rica Expedition

The expedition was a challenge from day one we were in charge of our accommodation, transport, budget and food. This meant that each day we appointed leaders who were charge of keeping everything running smoothly it also meant that the group was totally in charge of the expedition and whether it would succeed or fail.

We headed to ‘Rincon de la Vieja’ first to complete our acclimatisation phase. Whilst in the national park we saw a huge variety of wildlife, trekked to waterfalls and hot springs as well as camping in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. The group remained in high spirits despite being attacked by mosquitos and after four days of bean feast and rice we became accustomed to our new diet.

Next we headed to ‘Gandocca’, near the border with Panama, for our community project phase supporting a turtle conservation project. We lived within the community and helped to carry out repairs on the community building. We completed nightly patrols of the beach looking for laying turtles and helping to prevent poaching. We were very lucky that during our stay two batches of turtles hatched and we all released baby turtles into the ocean. This was the highlight of the trip for quite a few of us and a memory that will last a lifetime!

A very rewarding three days were spent in the local primary school teaching the children English which the classes really enjoyed. At break time there was a friendly game of football; we were embarrassingly defeated by the home side but had a great time doing so. It was eye opening to see the difference between English and Costa Rican schools and even though the students didn’t have as much equipment as us they were always happy and really enjoyed having us in their classrooms with them.

After we said goodbye to ‘Gandocca’ we enjoyed a day of white water rafting near the capital San Jose which the group thoroughly enjoyed and it was a nice break from the constant travelling and organising.

Throughout the trip we became more and more confident until catching a taxi across town to book a bus journey in Spanish became second nature. It has to be said that Sarah Pope was a key part of our group and her amazing Spanish skills made all of our lives easier.

All of the skills we had gained so far were put to the test on the final trek. Now more than ever we had to work closely as a team to complete the trek.

We began the main trek in ‘Zona Santos’. The terrain was very challenging and we really had to work as a team to support each other to the end. Although the rainforest we were walking in was awe inspiring, there were many hills on narrow muddy tracks and lots of water crossings some waist high to cross before we finally reached the end of our trek. Each time we crossed a river people stationed themselves across the tricky points to help each other across. We were carrying packs ranging from 20-30kg so the walking was not made any easier and the packs definitely didn’t get any lighter. Team members often walked at the back of the group to support those finding the trek harder and this support was greatly appreciated.

We spent the final part of our trip recovering from the trek, visiting national parks and zip wiring through the rainforest canopy. Of course it was results day whilst we were away and after a tearful (happy tears) few hours it was obvious that everyone had got the results they were hoping for and would be starting on the courses they had chosen.

The trip was a once in a lifetime adventure and it was made even more memorable because of the individuals that made up our team. We would just like to say thank you to our families, friends and the college who supported us in our endeavour. The expedition was a huge success and ‘like all good travellers we have seen more than we remember and remember more than we have seen’.

The Westwood Costa Rica Expedition Team

Joanna Collins             James Evenden         Ed Boulton                 Georgina Lowles

Gabriella Lowles        Amy Tideswell           Amy Simcock             Nina Somerville

Chelsea Holden         Jenny-George Wightman     Kirsty Hayes  Paul Hargreaves

Nathan Ball                Antonia Harrison      Alex Fowler-Hill        Sarah Pope

Alice Baker                Tori Hargreaves

As a teacher and member of the group I would like to say how proud I am of all the students’ involved in the expedition. They showed admirable qualities throughout the trip, supported each other and pushed themselves to achieve more than they ever thought possible. It was hard work for all involved but definitely worth it!

Miss Hargreaves

View the complete gallery here: Cost Rica Gallery

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