Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Central America Mar 2nd, 2018 to Mar 10th, 2018
Cost: $1,208.00 Partner Organization(s): Rio Drake Farm Service Type: Environmental conservation, sustainability Language(s): English and Spanish (recommended, but not required!) Number of Participants: 10

Trip Logistics & Participant Requirements:

On Friday March 2nd, we will take two cars from Charlottesville to Dulles, and fly from there to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, where we will be staying at the Costa Rica Backpackers Hostel for the night. On Saturday, March 3rd we will take a taxi to the bus station; from there we will take a bus from San Jose to Sierpe, and then a boat ride over to Drake Bay, where our site contact Edin, will have a  car waiting to take us to his lodge.

On Friday March 2nd and March 9th, we will stay at the Costa Rica Backpackers Hostel in San Jose.  While in Drake Bay, we will be staying in an eco-lodge on the Rio Drake Farm property, owned and operated by our site contact, that has dormitory style rooms and private bathrooms.  Bounded by the jungle and the shores of a lagoon, this idyllic getaway spot boasts palm trees, tropical birds, and LOTS of hammocks, which are perfect for lounging and enjoying the environment around us.

On Friday, March 9th, we will return home the same way we came, taking a boat back to Sierpe, a bus back to San Jose, stay a night in San Jose. On Saturday, March 10th, we will fly from San Jose back to Dulles, and then drive from Dulles back to Charlottesville.

Some knowledge of Spanish would be helpful for this trip, but it’s by no means a requirement—our site contact speaks English, and most of our possible projects won’t be communication-intensive. That said, being able to speak Spanish will allow you to engage more fully with the people of Drake Bay, potentially making for a more meaningful experience. The same goes for a background in sustainability or the environment: it’s not necessary, but you may get more out of this trip if you have one. Don’t let a lack of experience in either of these fields hold you back from applying—what’s most important is an open mind and a can-do attitude!


Service Activities:

Río Drake Farm has two major goals—preserve the environment and contribute to the development of the local community.  Past projects have included beach clean-ups, planting trees or vegetables, building hammocks, aqueducts for drinking water, and recycling stations, and painting community rooms and the local church.  We will be doing three days of construction work (building a bridge) and two days of beach clean-ups by collecting trash along the shore. Regardless of what we do, be prepared to get your hands dirty, and bring work clothes you don’t mind getting dirty too! For our service learning, we will be examining the cultural and political differences between Costa Rica and the US, and how these differences impact the environment. In addition we will discuss meaningful service and how we can create change in our own communities on an individual, local, national, and global level. We will have service learning reflections every night!


Regional Background:

One of the most stable nations in Latin America, Costa Rica is known for its booming ecotourism industry. Its beaches attract vacation-goers looking to unwind, while its national parks (which contain around 25% of the country’s land area) present a paradise for naturalists and thrill-seekers alike. Possibly the greatest draw of Costa Rica, though, is its inhabitants. Their motto, Pura Vida ( pure life), speaks to their reputation as extremely friendly and easygoing people. Costa Rica is also a well-known producer and user of sustainable energy, taking electricity from wind, water, and geothermal sources. It’s been lauded as one of the “greenest” countries in the world and plans on becoming carbon-neutral by 2021. However, many areas are still transitioning from an agricultural economy to a more modern one. Costa Rica’s beauty attracts larger foreign businesses which makes it hard to find a balance between development and sustainability.  


Community Background:

Drake Bay, which lies on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, takes its name from Sir Francis Drake, who reportedly used the port in the 16th century. However it was accessible solely by sea until the late 20th century, and only settled very recently. As a result, its rainforest landscape remains in very pristine condition, an attraction which has led it to become an ecotourism destination since around 1990 and which has led the Costa Rican government to make extensive efforts to protect it. Río Drake Farm works to preserve this amazing landscape while ensuring that the community can develop and coexist with it.


Recreational Activities:

Our time in Drake Bay will allow us to experience pura vida to the fullest! Potential activities include a chocolate tour, during which we’d get to taste and grind local cacao, as well as learn about how chocolate is made, ziplining, swimming, hiking, canoeing, and resting in hammocks! Recreational activities are dependent on the interests of the participants. We’ll also be doing some sightseeing in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, at the beginning and end of the trip. Consistently rated one of the safest and least violent cities in Latin America, this economic and cultural center boasts a wide array of museums, parks, and monuments, not to mention two central markets where we can enjoy the local food.


About the Site Leaders:

Jei-Si is a 4th year majoring in psychology and kinesiology.  She was born in MA, raised in NY, and now lives 5 minutes away from Sophia in northern VA!!  She had an amazing time as a participant on the Annapolis trip last year and is super stoked to lead the Costa Rica trip with Sophia this year!!!  She loves swimming, reading, finding cool places to study, and spending tons of time outdoors.  And if she isn’t eating a snack, she is probably talking about eating a snack.

Sophia is a 4th year studying Spanish and Math. She loves getting to know people from other countries. She went to Costa Rica her first year with ASB, studied abroad in Spain her second year, and went to Point Reyes, California last year with ASB. She is super excited to go back to the beautiful Costa Rica and to lead an ASB trip for the first time. Some of her favorite activities include eating popsicles from La Flor Michoacana, going to concerts, dancing at kazaxe, and avoiding conversations that begin with “what are you going to do after you graduate?”