SHS Students Embark on Week-Long “Pura Vida” Trip 


One of the greatest gifts the world offers to its people is the opportunity to travel, as it provides unique experiences of adventure, education, and a first-hand appreciation of other cultures. This February break, a group of SHS students had the chance to explore the world beyond our small town, spending the week in various towns throughout Costa Rica.

Organized by SHS Spanish teacher Sarah Colangelo and science teacher Charlie O’Driscoll, a group of 18 upperclassmen and 3 teachers left on February 15th for their first stop in San José. From there, they went on to visit Tortuguero, la Fortuna, Arenal, and Monteverde. Each town provided non-stop adventure, keeping the group extremely active, whether it be through ziplining, horseback riding, swimming in hot springs, or even playing sports with the local kids. They also managed to fit in a visit to a cloud forest, the most active volcano in Costa Rica, and a tour of the chocolate and coffee-making process. “If you’re looking for a beach relaxing vacation, this is not it,” claimed senior Jack Nelson.

With so much fun planned into the week’s schedule, it’s almost hard to believe that both students and teachers left with enough knowledge to be taught in a regular week of school. Throughout their travels, the group was not only informed of the importance of conservation but witnessed negative effects the climate has on biodiversity. In Monteverde’s cloud forest, the “dead quiet” atmosphere of an area that once had species dispersed throughout demonstrated the unnatural consequences humans have created for our environment.

Nevertheless, the activities weren’t targeted for the sole purpose of entertainment and education: each managed to tie back to a bigger theme, displaying the evident “Pura Vida” lifestyle of Costa Ricans. The adventurous mindsets that the students undertook helped to engrain the message that life is too good to be stressful. The locals reinforced this concept as well with their simple lifestyle and welcoming attitudes. Though many communities were impoverished, they showed utmost gratitude for what life provided them. As the group continuously supported local businesses (for instance, staying at family-owned hotels), they were able to become more in touch with this widespread happiness in Costa Ricans’ everyday life.   

Reflecting on these life lessons Nelson took back with him, he adds: “We take life so much for granted here in the U.S., and Costa Rica can tell us so much about how to enjoy what we have while we have it.”