Costa Rica 2014

The trip was cancelled on July 3rd, 2013, due to low interest.

When: Jan 17 – Feb 16, 2014

Where: Costa Rica

Who: 8-10 students (ages 14-19) plus trip leaders Dev & Marian

Departure Airport: Miami

How Much: $3700 (includes all food & activities) plus airfare

Priority Application Deadline: July 1, 2013

Do you think about what it means to “live sustainably?” Do you want to meet inspiring people who are working on the cutting-edge of the sustainability movement? And would you love to do these things while exploring the lush jungles and beaches of Costa Rica? If so, then this is the trip for you.

Trip Purposes

On this Unschool Adventure trip, here’s what we’ll set out to accomplish:

Join a Sustainable Living Community in the Costa Rican Rainforest

We will begin by spending two weeks at Rancho Mastatal, an environmental learning and sustainable living center on the edge of the last remaining virgin rainforest of Costa Rica’s beautiful Puriscal County. We will familiarize ourselves with various natural building techniques, help out with the center’s various projects, learn about permaculture, explore the jungle, visit a local organic chocolate farm, interact with the locals, do yoga alongside waterfalls, cook, and play with farm animals.

Stay with Local Families, Practice Spanish, and Experience Tropical Ecology

For our next adventure, we will spend a week living with local families and participating in their day-to-day lives in the rural village of Mastatal. Each day we will receive Spanish lessons from Marco, a native Spanish teacher, and get together for lively group gatherings.

The tropics are known for diverse and exotic plants and animals: monkeys, butterflies, and orchids, to name a few. We will go for hikes through the jungle, take pictures, observe, and explore with trip leader Dev Carey, a Ph.D. ecologist with previous experience exploring Costa Rica.

Experiment with Community Living

Finally, we will travel to the coast where we will design our own mini-community by renting a large house near the Costa Rican beach. We’ll shop for local food together, explore the beach, and discuss the principles and practices of living successfully (and inexpensively) in community with others. If you’re interested in living with friends in the future (instead of by yourself), this experience will help you avoid the most common mistakes.

Waterfall & swimming hole near Rancho Mastatal - credit Rancho Mastatal

Waterfall & swimming hole near Rancho Mastatal – credit Rancho Mastatal

Trip Itinerary

January 17: Meet in Miami Airport early and fly together to San Jose, where we will take a bus to Mastatal.

January 17-30: Live at Rancho Mastatal, enjoying work projects, community life, jungle adventures, mini-classes, and tours

January 31-February 6: Homestays in the town Mastatal with local families.  Daily Spanish lessons and group gatherings.

February 7-14:  Travel to the coast to the beach town of Uvita.  Live in a group house.  Play about with our own community design.  Take local trips. Continue to explore the local ecology.

February 15-16: Travel day back to San Jose. Spend the night in a hotel and have a final celebratory dinner.  Go to airport the next day and fly back to Miami together.

Everyday Activities

  • Daily group meeting and check-in
  • Helping with group meal preparation, clean-up, and packing
  • Free/unstructured time for exploration, photography, journaling, R&R, and spontaneous fun
Goat friends Fenway & Ollie at Rancho Mastatal - credit Rancho Mastatal

Goat friends Fenway & Ollie at Rancho Mastatal – credit Rancho Mastatal

Rancho Mastatal - Main House. credit - Rancho Mastatal

Rancho Mastatal – Main House. credit – Rancho Mastatal

Have More Questions?

Contact us via e-mail or phone and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

This trip sounds incredible! Who’s leading it?

Dev Carey and Marian Pierce are your trip leaders. Dev has led many more than twenty trips of 30+ days all over the United States and Mexico. He spent three months in Costa Rica studying tropical ecology and founded the Vision program in Western Colorado. Marian currently teaches for Vision and has visited Rancho Mastatal four times. Both leaders are WFR certified.

Do I need to know some Spanish?

Previous Spanish language experience is helpful but not necessary. Both trip leaders speak conversational Spanish, and you will learn enough in the first couple weeks to get your basic needs met during homestays. Help will be close at hand if you ever need a translator.

How much are the extra costs on this trip?

he program fee does not include airfare, personal spending money, or the $29 Costa Rica departure fee.

Please plan to buy a plane ticket to Miami International Airport. From there, we will take a group flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. The group flight’s estimated cost is anywhere from $500 to $900 (depending on availability). We recommend bringing $100-$150 for spending money (for snacks, Internet, souvenirs, etc.). Finally, there is a $29 departure fee to leave Costa Rica. In total, the estimated extra costs are $630-$1080 plus domestic airfare to Miami.

What special items do I need to pack?

The key to enjoyable international travel is to pack light and smart. Because we will be traveling on buses, students should be able to easily carry all their own stuff (try and keep it to no more than 20% of your body weight). We recommend a compact internal frame backpack for the majority of your stuff plus a day pack. Special items to bring include a lightweight sleeping bag, raincoat, long sleeve and light weight clothing (think: synthetic) for bugs and sun, sunglasses, broken-in walking shoes/boots, layers of clothing for all temperatures, a hat, a Spanish language notebook and dictionary, and journal makings. A full packing list will be provided after enrollment.

Is there Internet access? How will I be able to keep in touch with my family?

There is an Internet cafe in Mastatal where students may access e-mail. The rates are reasonable, but the connection is slow. We will make an effort to access an Internet cafe every three days once we are at the beach. There is no cell phone access (unless you bring a special international-enabled phone). Trip leaders will carry an international cell phone in case of emergency.

What kind of food will we eat?

For the majority of the trip, you can expect to eat a gourmet, whole-foods diet comprised of grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and veggies that accommodates all dietary preferences. If you do have dietary restrictions, you might expect to pay a bit more during your home stay for your family to accommodate this, as they are likely unfamiliar with gluten-free or vegan diets.

Will I get sick?

It is not uncommon to get mildly sick when traveling in Latin America, although by taking the right precautions before, during and after your trip, it’s unlikely that you will become seriously ill. Costa Rica has one of the higher standards of health care and hygiene in Latin America.

What if I have allergies to stinging insects?

If you know that you are allergic to any stinging insects and have been instructed to carry an Epipen by a doctor, it is critical that you carry it, along with Benadryl or a similar antihistamine, with you at ALL times during your stay in Mastatal. There are many wasps, bees and other stinging insects in this region and it is not uncommon for people to get stung. Mastatal is somewhat remote and therefore travel to the closest open medical clinic can take up to two hours. If you know that you have an allergy to any stinging insects, please think hard about joining this trip. If after weighing the risks you decide to join us, please come fully prepared in the case that you get stung.

Do I need any vaccinations? Is there malaria?

No special vaccinations are necessary for travel in Costa Rica at this time, and there is no malaria risk. Consult your health care provider for normal recommended travel vaccination.

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