Adventure - Art - Culture - Juniors Abroad at George Fox

Central America

Faculty: Viki Defferding, Isabelle Corneaux
Class Meeting: Monday, 6:30 - 9:00 PM


The study tour to Central America will focus on the people of Central America including our Central American brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the incredibly diverse plant and animal populations of the jungles of tropical highlands and beaches. In classes, students will give presentations about history, culture, beliefs and other aspects important for our trip. They will also write a short paper, write reactions to some readings and learn some survival Spanish. A reflection journal is required during the trip.

We begin our study tour by visiting the ancient Maya site of Copan, Honduras where we will learn about the early Maya culture that settled there and observe how that culture and its beliefs have influenced today’s society in this region. There are pyramids, temples and other structures, as well as tunnels to explore. Other activities include a visit to a Maya-Chorti Indian settlement in the hills where we will observe 2 micro industries, one of colorful cornhusk dolls and the other a women’s weaving co-op, we will worship with local Believers and experience their unique cultural adaptations of the Christian Faith, we’ll visit a Bilingual School spending a day with students and possibly challenging the school’s soccer team to a friendly game against GFU students. Later we’ll visit a bird rescue center, cool off in the river and share a meal with a local family while learning to make tortillas. Students will have the opportunity to spend a day with a Honduran family from the Bilingual school.

Arriving in Costa Rica the high adventure portion of our trip kicks into gear. Our first adventure begins in the remote area of the Corcovado National Park, named by National Geographic Society as "one of the most biologically intense places on Earth!" Corcovado is home to a large population of animals including many endangered species; various types of monkeys, jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, and anteaters to name just a few, a plethora of birds including the resplendent Quetzal and the Red Macaw, amphibians like the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, and of course many reptiles and insects.

Our visit to the Corcovado also includes a trip to Cano Island the location of the largest concentration of coral-building organisms in the Pacific Ocean. Swim along the reef in the company of white-tipped sharks, barracudas, red snappers, dog-toothed snappers, and several varieties of rays. Cano Island Biological Reserve is ripe with marine biodiversity. The reefs are host to many marine life including: schools of jacks, parrotfish, damsels, eels, lobsters, sea urchins, giant conchs, manta rays, sea turtles and white-tipped reef sharks. Our next travels take us from the beaches to the high mountain cloud cap forests of Monteverde where the adventure continues with a night rainforest hike, ziplining, bungee jumping,* canyoning,* and a number of outdoor activities* you can choose. We’ll learn about the Quaker history of this area and enjoy fresh made ice cream at a creamery that was started by the founding Quaker families. We then travel to the Arenal Volcano where we will enjoy soaking in relaxing hot springs fed by the volcano (for high adventure folks there are water slides into some of the hot spring pools). In the Arenal area we will also hike to a waterfall, jump off a rope swing into the river and enjoy a Chocolate Farm tour that includes the production of sugar cane, chocolate, medicinal and other tropical plants.

Also in Costa Rica we will visit a wood crafting village, tour the National Cathedral and National Theater, tour the Poas volcano, tour /hike 5 additional waterfalls at La Paz Waterfall Gardens and learn about coffee production in Costa Rica. What an amazingly busy schedule we have ahead of us! There will be a lot of outdoor activities on this trip including walking, hiking, guided night hike through a cloud-cap forest, climbing pyramids & temples, zip-lining, canyoning, rappelling, and water sports as weather permits. Possible home-stay in Honduras or Costa Rica. 0;;

* Activity costs extra – you must pay for this activity.

Additional immunizations will be required.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Honduras & take bus to Copan Ruinas. Settle at hotel, enjoy a short city walk and then dine at Sacbe maya, a local restaurant specializing in Maya food. PM group meeting. Bring snacks from home for about 21 hours of travel!

Day 2: 8:00am: Visit archeological site of Maya ruins & museum. Lunch at ruins. Afternoon free. Meet at Carnitas Nia Lola for dinner. PM group meeting.

Day 3: 8:00am: Visit Mayatan Bilingual School: practicing English conversation & reading with students in various classes, eating lunch at the caseta, and in the afternoon taking on the school’s soccer team in a friendly game of soccer. D on your own - see trip booklet for suggested restaurants. PM group meeting.

Day 4: 9:00am: Visit Bird Rescue park & swim in the river (weather permitting). Maya museum on the main Plaza. Afternoon free. L & D on your own - see trip booklet for suggested restaurants. PM group meeting.

Day 5: 9:00am: Spend the day with a Honduran family, learning about Honduran family life and activities. Rejoin the GFU group in the evening for dinner at the Marina Copan Hotel. PM group meeting.

Day 6: Free morning (attend mass at the church on the plaza if you wish). Noon tortilla making lesson & meal with a local family. 7:00pm Evening church service. D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 7: 7:00am: Leave for Costa Rica; 4 hour bus to airport, purchase your own lunch at the airport, 2 hour flight to Costa Rica. Settle in San José Hotel. There is an athletic park with jogging trails nearby where you can “get the kinks out” from the day’s travels. See booklet for nearby restaurants for dinner on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 8: 8:00am: Leave for the remote Corcovado National Park area: “one of the most biologically intense places on Earth!” (Nat’l Geog). A 3-night tent adventure! Don't forget insect repellent & sunscreen! L & D included & group meeting.

Day 9: 9:00am: Corcovado National Park hike with guide. L & D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 10: 8:00am: Cano Island 2-hour boat ride & then snorkeling (scuba if you are certified), swimming, beach, hiking trail. 2-hour boat ride back to Corcovado. L & D included. PM group meeting.

Day 11: 8:00am: Leave for Santa Elena & the Monteverde Cloud Cap forest & National Park. L on your own. Settle at Hotel Don Taco. Dinner at the Treehouse. PM group meeting.

Day 12: 7:00am: Morning Zipline adventure includes giant swing & rappelling; afternoon free (bungee jump*). Night rainforest hike, you must wear closed-toe shoes and long pants! (sloths, jeep beetles, red-kneed tarantulas, bats & much more!). L & D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 13: Choose your own adventure* morning (*canyoning, *bungee, *different zip-line adventure, *horseback tour, *coffee/sugar tour). 3:00pm to Monteverde Creamery (yum!). 8:00pm: Frog Pond tour. L & D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 14: 7:00am: To La Fortuna: jeep-boat-jeep. Hotel Luigi. City walk. L & D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 15: La Fortuna waterfall hike & then rope swing into river. L on your own. Baldi Termae hotsprings, includes dinner buffet. PM group meeting.

Day 16: Don Olivo Rainforest Chocolate Tour. L & D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 17: To San José through Sarchí wood crafting village. L included. D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 18: San José city tour, including National Cathedral, National Theater, Jade or Gold museum, indoor market. L & D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 19: Poas Volcano, La Paz Waterfall Garden includes buffet lunch. D on your own. PM group meeting.

Day 20: Café Britt coffee tour includes buffet lunch. Afternoon free. Farewell dinner at Mi Tierra (typical Costa Rica food). PM group meeting.

Day 21: to PDX via IAH (Houston). Snacks for day of traveling.

*Activity costs extra – you must pay for this activity. L = lunch, D = dinner. All days include breakfast.