#SOMESTORIESINSPIRE, SHARED BY ALLISON FORTUNA
i found an opportunity with johnson & wales university to take a few classes on eco-tourism and adventure travel based tourism for a month in costa rica and jumped on it. my friend patti had lived there for a short period of time and told stories of how much she had loved it, that was pretty much all i knew about this place. with a group of fifteen other students, i hopped from town to town in costa rica. we stayed in sarapiqui where our classroom and the majority of the studying took place. the rest of the month was spent going on eco-tours, really engulfing in the culture. i didn’t know anyone else going on the trip which made me a bit nervous, but mostly excited to experience such a beautiful country with total strangers. i roomed with my now friend sam.
we spent our first night on a secluded island called tortuguero and encountered monkeys, giant cockroaches, giant spiders, and many more unfamiliar animals that kept us alert. we went on guided kayak tours and explored the town for a couple nights. one of the most beautiful encounters was witnessing the sea turtles come to the beach in the middle of the night and lay their eggs.
we then took our travels on to sarapiqui where we would be studying. sarapiqui was an unusual town. there were a lot of farms and definitely not too much going on in the area. we were staying in an amazing eco-lodge called tirimbina, where carlos chavarria would be taking us on guided tours and teaching us in the classroom daily. every morning after breakfast we were lead on a guided hike through the rainforest and considering the activities around town were limited, during our free time we would go on our own to explore the rainforest or play cards and dice. in the classroom, we split into groups then assigned a different project. my group’s project was to explore the different eco-lodges in sarapiqui to learn how sustainable they really are.
we discovered that in costa rica, a lot of hotels are rated on a “leaf” system (opposed to a “star” system) based on certain qualifiers such as if the hotel had a special septic system, a compost system, certain signage, etc. the more inclusions, the more leaves they would get. one of the most ironic things we learned were how some hotels were more sustainable than others but didn’t have as many leaves solely because of paper work or minor details that were looked over.
one of the most interesting experiences i had while in sarapiqui was a day hike we went on through the rainforest to get to a small town over where there was a biological lodge. at this biological lodge, we learned from a man who resided in this area basically in the middle of no where. students would come through just to study with him. he made us a vegan dinner and taught us everything he knew, including warning of the critters to be weary of. we cautiously stayed up all night playing cards, nervous of the boa constrictor who liked to wrap himself around the toilet, panthers and the bullet ants and spiders who played hide-n-seek in our shoes.
while the trip in sarapiqui was slightly exhausting, it was one of my most memorable experiences to date. after leaving sarapiqui, we hopped from la fortuna where we hung out in natural hot springs, to monteverde where we went zip lining, and lastly my friends and i finished our trip in montezuma lounging on the beach with locals, learning to surf, drinking cerveza and napping. although i didn’t realize it in the moment, this month in costa rica held a large impact on my wanderlust. i found myself wanting to travel and be outdoors more. this is where i really found a deeper appreciation for nature.
CONTENT AND IMAGES PROVIDED COMPLIMENTS OF ALLISON FORTUNA + FRIENDS, EDITED BY EUNIQUE DEEANN
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