A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10 & Costa Rica Trip Recap

semi-overcast 87 °F

My journey to Costa Rica with my high school group under the No Barriers' Youth Company was one that I will remember for a lifetime - I can undoubtedly say that it was the BEST traveling I have ever done and I would recommend it to anyone my age who loves to travel and learn about themselves and others.

First, I will give the recap of the Costa Rica trip as a whole and then I will write briefly about the travel day home with a couple of photos from the airplane.


My first order of business is giving well-deserved shout outs to the truly OUTSTANDING staff who led this trip. I am really, really thankful to these amazing adults who were the reason this trip functioned as smoothly and positively as it did.

Ms. Smith (chaperone - teacher from OPRFHS) - Thank you, Ms. Smith, for being an awesome mentor to us along the trip! You contributed a great deal to the group with your witty sense of humor.

Mrs. Nelson (chaperone - teacher from OPRFHS) - Thank you, Mrs. Nelson, also for contributing your positive energy to this group, and I greatly enjoyed pointing out all the birds I could to you!

Mr. Farley (instructor - teacher from OPRFHS) - Thank you, Mr. Farley, for leading our class in all of the pre-trip classes and field trips. Without these, our group wouldn't have bonded nearly as well as we did on our trip. Also, thank you for your unforgettably sarcastic sense of humor and the very wacky way you run! (inside joke for people on the CR trip)

Louis (bus driver from Costa Rica) - Thank you, Louis, for being an overall awesome person. You were the "underdog" of the trip since you had to drive the bus so much everyday and had less direct contact with us than Alexa, Mario, and the teachers; however we greatly enjoyed your amazing driving feats, your sense of humor, and seeing photos of your beautiful family.

Mario (birding & natural history guide from Costa Rica) - Thank you for, Mario, for as a fellow birder, reaching out to me and greatly augmenting my trip by pointing out awesome bird species to me, leading the fantastic morning bird walks, and being always willing to "talk bird" with me during the trip (birders out there, you know what I mean). Thank you for also being a friend and mentor to me!

Mario is a fantastic guide for birding, natural history, and culture in Costa Rica! I would recommend him to ANYONE thinking about doing ANY sort of guided trip to the country; however, he is also a fantastic birder and I would especially recommend for birders. Here is his information:

Mario Córdoba H of Crescentia Expeditions
[email protected]

Alexa (expedition leader from Costa Rica, main group leader) - Thank you, Alexa, for leading this entire trip with a vibrant and contagious positive energy. You are such a great person and, from going out to lunch with the Costa Rica group the day after we returned from Costa Rica, everyone misses you SO much already! Thank you, also, for making my trip special and birding with Mario and me at La Selva Biological Station for one awesome morning. Our group was truly inspired to be compassionate global citizens by your bottomless enthusiasm, and the detail I miss most from the trip is your "Pura!" and the group's excited "Vida!" response.

Alexa is an extremely knowledgable, kind, generous, and caring guide in Costa Rica and, like Mario, can tell you everything there is to know about the country. I promise that if you go on one of her tours, you will not regret her positive energy and vast knowledge of the country. Here is her information:

Alexa Stickel of TropicAves
[email protected]

Secondly, here is my personal outline map of the highlights of my trip to Costa Rica:

  • La Carpio - working with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Fondation and playing with the children there
  • 1st group evening circle meeting @ Selva Verde Lodge - the group really started bonding there
  • An astounding morning of birding with Alexa and Mario at La Selva Biological Station
  • River float down the Sarapiqui River
  • Tour of a pineapple farm with the hilarious guide Miguel, eating dozens of pineapples
  • Tour of Don Juan's farm with the hilarious guide Sergio, comparing 2 farms in one day
  • Visiting the orphanage in La Fortuna and playing with the children there
  • Boating across Lake Arenal, then Louis, our bus driver, making record time to Monteverde
  • Finding the RESPLENDENT QUETZAL with Mario @ Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge
  • Hilariously fun Mid-trip Meeting with the group completely bonded by this point
  • Ziplining through the cloudforest, also riding the scary "free fall" rope swing
  • Night Sky Acitivity @ Corozalito Beach
  • Watching a mother sea turtle lay eggs @ Corozalito Beach
  • Visit to one room school house in Corozalito and playing with children there
  • Picking up litter, swimming, and picnicking @ Corozalito Beach
  • Soccer game with the same school children as earlier in the day
  • Closing Ceremonies meeting under the giant fig tree in Corozalito
  • Fun bus ride back to San Jose, seeing monkeys, planning out thank-you presentations
  • Thank-you presentations for Alexa, Louis, Mario, and Mr. Farley
  • Our last dinner in Costa Rica @ San Jose

Thirdly, here is the complete bird list for my trip to Costa Rica. I identified 168 avian species in total, including exactly 100 life birds:

Great Tinamou LIFE BIRD
Little Tinamou LIFE BIRD
Gray-headed Chachalaca
Black Guan LIFE BIRD
Crested Guan LIFE BIRD
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron LIFE BIRD
Green Heron
Great Egret
Cattle Egret
Green Ibis
Double-striped Thick-Knee LIFE BIRD
White-throated Crake
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Swallow-tailed Kite LIFE BIRD
Double-toothed Kite
Roadside Hawk
Gray Hawk
Ornate Hawk-Eagle LIFE BIRD
Crested Caracara LIFE BIRD
Common Pauraque LIFE BIRD
Gray-rumped Swift LIFE BIRD
Mangrove Swallow LIFE BIRD
Blue-and-White Swallow LIFE BIRD
Gray-breasted Martin LIFE BIRD
Southern Rough-winged Swallow LIFE BIRD
Violet Sabrewing LIFE BIRD
Stripe-throated Hermit LIFE BIRD
Long-billed Hermit
Green-crowned Brilliant LIFE BIRD
Blue-chested Hummingbird LIFE BIRD
Steely-vented Hummingbird LIFE BIRD
Crowned Woodnymph LIFE BIRD
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird LIFE BIRD
Coppery-headed Emerald LIFE BIRD
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer LIFE BIRD
Green Violetear
Purple-throated Mountain-Gem
Rock Pigeon
Pale-vented Pigeon LIFE BIRD
Red-billed Pigeon LIFE BIRD
Band-tailed Pigeon LIFE BIRD
Short-billed Pigeon LIFE BIRD
Ruddy Pigeon LIFE BIRD
White-winged Dove
Inca Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Ruddy Ground-Dove
White-tipped Dove
Gray-chested Dove LIFE BIRD
Crimson-fronted Parakeet LIFE BIRD
Olive-throated Parakeet LIFE BIRD
Orange-chinned Parakeet
Brown-hooded Parrot
White-crowned Parrot LIFE BIRD
Scarlet Macaw
White-fronted Parrot LIFE BIRD
Red-lored Parrot
Mealy Parrot LIFE BIRD
Groove-billed Ani LIFE BIRD
Squirrel Cuckoo
Black-headed Trogon LIFE BIRD
Gartered Trogon LIFE BIRD
Orange-bellied Trogon LIFE BIRD
Slaty-tailed Trogon
Rufous Motmot LIFE BIRD
Turquoise-browed Motmot LIFE BIRD
Ringed Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher LIFE BIRD
Amazon Kingfisher LIFE BIRD
Rufous-tailed Jacamar LIFE BIRD
Prong-billed Barbet
Emerald Toucanet LIFE BIRD
Collared Aracari LIFE BIRD
Keel-billed Toucan
Black-mandibled Toucan
Black-cheeked Woodpecker LIFE BIRD
Hoffman's Woodpecker LIFE BIRD
Golden-olive Woodpecker LIFE BIRD
Rufous-winged Woodpecker LIFE BIRD
Lineated Woodpecker LIFE BIRD
Plain Xenops LIFE BIRD
Northern Barred-Woodcreeper LIFE BIRD
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper LIFE BIRD
Cocoa Woodcreeper
Streak-headed Woodcreeper
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper
Red-faced Spinetail
Fasciated Antshrike LIFE BIRD
Dusky Antbird
Streak-crowned Antvireo LIFE BIRD
Paltry Tyrannulet
Yellow-bellied Elaenia
Mountain Elaenia LIFE BIRD
Piratic Flycatcher LIFE BIRD
Olive-striped Flyatcher LIFE BIRD
Common Tody-Flycatcher
Bright-rumped Attila LIFE BIRD
Long-tailed Tyrant LIFE BIRD
Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-billed Flycatcher LIFE BIRD
Social Flycatcher
Gray-capped Flycatcher
White-ringed Flycatcher LIFE BIRD
Streaked Flycatcher LIFE BIRD
Tropical Kingbird
Rose-throated Becard LIFE BIRD
Cinnamon Becard LIFE BIRD
Long-tailed Manakin LIFE BIRD
White-collared Manakin LIFE BIRD
Three-wattled Bellbird LIFE BIRD
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush
Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush LIFE BIRD
Black-faced Solitaire
Clay-colored Thrush
Rufous-naped Wren LIFE BIRD
Band-backed Wren LIFE BIRD
Stripe-breasted Wren LIFE BIRD
Rufous-and-White Wren
Plain Wren
House Wren
White-breasted Wood-Wren
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren
Lesser Greenlet
Rufous-browed Peppershrike
Buff-rumped Warbler LIFE BIRD
Olive-crowned Yellowthroat LIFE BIRD
Golden-crowned Warbler LIFE BIRD
Three-striped Warbler LIFE BIRD
Passerini's Tanager
Blue-gray Tanager
Palm Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Golden-hooded Tanager
Green Honecreeper LIFE BIRD
Blue-black Grassquit
Variable Seedeater LIFE BIRD
Buff-throated Saltator
Black-headed Saltator LIFE BIRD
Orange-billed Sparrow LIFE BIRD
White-eared Ground-Sparrow LIFE BIRD
Stripe-headed Sparrow LIFE BIRD
Rufous-collared Sparrow
House Sparrow
Blue-black Grosbeak LIFE BIRD
Black-faced Grosbeak LIFE BIRD
Red-throated Ant-Tanager LIFE BIRD
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Melodious Blackbird LIFE BIRD
Bronzed Cowbird LIFE BIRD
Giant Cowbird LIFE BIRD
Great-tailed Grackle
Montezuma Oropendula
Golden-browed Chlorophonia LIFE BIRD
Olive-backed Euphonia LIFE BIRD
Yellow-throated Euphonia
Yellow-crowned Euphonia


The group awoke at 2:00am in order to bus to San Jose International Airport in time for our flight. Once at the airport, we said our sad goodbyes to Louis, Mario, and Alexa - it was really hard to leave those special people - and then we boarded our 6:00am flight to San Salvador, El Salvador.

I sat in the middle seat between two friends, Carolyn and Jaycie, on the flight to San Salvador. Here is our last view of Costa Rica before we flew out over the Pacific Ocean:

The descent into San Salvador was beautiful as we followed the Pacific coastline and saw many picturesque volcanoes and river deltas from the window.

After an annoying layover through security lines in San Salvador, we boarded our 4-hour flight back home to Chicago, where I sat in the aisle seat next to a mother and her daughter.

We landed around 2:45pm Chicago time and were back at Oak Park River Forest High School, two blocks away from my house, at around 4:30pm. When I arrived back to my house, the whole grandeur of the trip finally dawned on me - I had been in 3 countries in one day and had just spent 10 days in paradise: Costa Rica.

With this conclusion to my posts about my life-changing trip to Costa Rica, below are two inspiring quotes that Alexa read to us during our Closing Ceremonies under the giant free in Corozalito. I am leaving tomorrow, Monday, July 27, for my family's annual 3-week vacation to Sun Valley, Idaho, so I will start posting daily about that either tomorrow or the next day.

"Humankind has not woven the web of life - we are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."

"The best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you didn't even think to ask."

Posted by skwclar 20:46 Archived in Costa Rica

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Wonderful reports! Your life list is amazing!!

by Ann Gunkel

Sounded like an amazing trip! How many birds did you get in Panama? You got more species in Costa rica than me when I was in panama. Have fun in Idaho and I'm looking forward to reading your posts.

by isoo

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