Final Day In Costa Rica

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hola Amigos,
Waking up before the sun comes up at 3:30 to get ready to depart was more challenging than anticipated, but it marked the journey of a long day ahead. It also meant an end to a wonderful week of beautiful sights and weather. As the team brought down their luggage to put on the bus, It was the last time we would see our tour guide Josh, who showed us great hospitality and a great time. We boarded the bus for our short ride to the airport, which would be the only short ride of the day. The team boarded our plane and headed for Mexico City. Once in Mexico City we had a 6 hours to enjoy and roam around. There in Mexico city we enjoyed team bonding as well as shopping and one last round of foreign sites. We enjoyed hours of playing cards and joking around with each other, as well as eating Mexican food and trying to relax as much as possible. As the time passed the team got more and more restless, anticipating our flight home and ready to get on the plane. Finally when the time had arrived the team was ready to board, as we did, of course I would be the one to get the random search after a long six hour wait. But I was clean and got on board safely. The flight to JFK was a 4 hour flight but didn't seem so bad. Upon arrival at JFK and going through customs the team was ready to get in the vans and begin our journey back to good old Moravian. After two hours of driving back we finally arrived back at Moravian at 1:30 a.m. This completed our 22 hour journey that made us that much better for the experience. Now the journey was over and everyone was exhausted so off to bed we headed to rest for our practice and much anticipated game versus Kean University.

                                        Izel Dickerson  Sophomore guard

Sunday, December 30th

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hola Amigos,

Today, in our last full day in Costa Rica, it turned out to be a pretty eventful one. This morning we left the hotel (Costa Rican Tennis Club) around 9:30am and headed towards the Irazu Volcano. The trip up the volcano was a rough ride with a lot of twists and turns for the majority of the hour trip that it took from San Jose to reach the summit. Once we arrived at the National Park at the top, the view was breathtaking. The volcano was a crater that you looked down into that was very very big. Also, our guide, Josh, informed us that the admission to get to the National Park is 5 times more expensive for tourists compared to native Costa Ricans. The weather at the top of the volcano was also an experience in itself. It was windy with very strong gusts and the wind chill was probably around the mid to low 40's, compared to high 70's in San Jose. Also, when we arrived the weather was clear and you could see every inch of the crater, but that did not last very long. It took nearly two minutes for the wind to blow cloud cover over the volcano, and once that happened you could no longer see any part of the crater, so luckily we were able to arrive 10 minutes earlier when the weather was cooperating. We left the volcano and headed back down, towards town and ate at a restaurant about half way to a third down. This was a very nice restaurant that seemed to do very well with receiving tourists visiting the mountain and looking for something to eat afterwards. One side note about Costa Rican cuisine is that every meal has essentially two things, rice and beans, and of course this was no different at this restaurant. The meal that I had included a thin steak with onions, rice, diced potatoes, soft tortilla shells, and a side of black bean dip that came with a couple tortilla chips. Another aspect about the cuisine is that all-natural fruit drinks that are native to Costa Rica are very common with every meal as well. The three drinks this restaurant was offering was blackberry, mango, and cas (a fruit native to Costa Rica). All of them are very delicious and sweet juices, that tend to be thicker than normal fruit drinks in America.

After we ate at the restaurant we were on our way to Basílica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles. This is a church that is located outside San Jose in Los Angeles. The English title of the church is Our Lady of Angles Basilica. The church is famous for the pilgrimage that Costa Ricans take to the church every August. Usually around 1.5 million people will travel to the church on foot from anywhere they are in the country. It takes some people around 2 weeks to make it the church by foot. Another tradition about the church is that visitors who want to pray will walk on their knee to the alter to show their piety. The rock that the church was founded on it also on display in the church and those who made the walk to the church will bring small medallions to put in front of the rock. These medallions are shaped like certain body parts in hope that a miracle will happen for either themselves or a loved one. Lastly, the church was natural water springs that flow under the rock and visitors of the church drink and bath in the water (it is considered to be extremely holy water that has miracle capabilities). Because of this many people will bring large water containers to fill up to bring back home to a loved one.

After we left the church we headed back to San Jose and the hotel. We then had an hour and a half practice at the court in the hotel. After practice we had diner that was a traditional Costa Rican dish that is found on the Caribbean side. It was, believe it not, rice and beans that was mixed together. You the had the choice of either steak, chicken, or fish, and I chose the chicken. It was very delicious that had curry and a bit of a kick to it.

That was today, a very exciting long day that was a good way to end a nice 5 days in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. Our flight tomorrow leaves at 7am, so we're waking up at 3:30am, and I couldn't be any more excited for that!

Adios! See ya in Bethlehem! Mike Weinert

Thrills and Skills

Today was our fourth day in Costa Rica.  It was full of bus rides and adventures into strange territory.  To start the day we went to visit Arenal volcano which was near our hotel.  This volcano is considered one of the sixteen most dangerous volcanoes in the world and has been “suspiciously inactive” for the past 27 months said our tour guide.  This information immediately sent ripples throughout the bus as we all mumbled our fears amongst ourselves.  Within ten minutes we would be within a kilometer of this dangerous volcano.  Once we arrived we climbed a building and took a ride on the sky tram up into the top of the canopy.  Some of us were terrified because on the second platform we were on we were about seven hundred feet above the ground.  Once on the second platform we watched the zip liners go, it looks like a fun experience.  On the ride back down to the original building I stood and admired the view.  The view of the man-made lake next to the volcano was one of the most beautiful sights that a man could take in. After we went down we proceeded to a hiking trail with our tour guide.  He explained some of the plants and told us about some of the animals. We barely saw any animals today but the most terrifying part of the trip was right ahead.  A little bit up the hiking trail we came upon the first of two walking bridges.  The two bridges were 400 feet long and high enough to put fear into any human.  These bridges shook with each step and most of us were hanging onto the edges ready to say our last words and prayers at any second.  The braver ones tormented the rest of us by jumping up and down and shifting their weight around to make the bridge sway even more.  Once we crossed both bridges we were thankful to still be alive but then we were told we have to back track and do it again so two more times we said our last words in fear.  After we finally got back without losing any kids, we boarded the bus and drove to lunch at a buffet which we ate on the bus during our drive back to San Ramon.  After many hours on a bus for this week, we all came to the agreement we have been on the bus way too much.  Once we arrived in San Ramon we went right to the gym where we held another clinic for kids in San Ramon.  We broke up our players into five different stations: shooting, rebounding, defense, ball handling, and passing.  The language barrier was obvious and prevalent and sometimes made it hard to communicate with the kids but thankfully some of our hosts players spoke both English and Spanish and they helped us.  Some of these kids had a passion for basketball and seeing us help to develop that was an incredible feeling.  After this we practiced with the members of the San Ramon team were there.  I was unable to practice because of my injury but everyone seemed to enjoy playing with each other and working together.  The thrills and skills that we experienced today were a great part of our experience in Costa Rica and made for a great day.

Zach Arcona

Day with the wilderness

Friday, December 28, 2012

Today was an awesome day enjoying the wildlife and outdoors of Costa Rica. In the morning, we departed from our hotel and traveled to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge. On the way there, there was a road out on the original path that we were supposed to travel so we had to go all the way back to the hotel and take a different path. This added another hour to our trip to the refuge. On our way we stopped at an iguana reserve where there was an abundance of protected iguanas. When we arrived at the refuge we took a boat tour through the jungle. We saw all different kinds of wildlife that we have never seen in their natural habitat before. We saw two different kinds of monkeys, lizards, alligators, and a lot of different birds. We also saw several kinds of fish, but the water was muddy so it was hard to see them. On the boat a lot of the guys were scared of the alligators and when we would get close to the trees and the shore they would worry about spiders and snakes coming onto the boat. The weather while we were on the boat was very pleasant and it was very sunny at times. After the boat trip, we had lunch at a small restaurant where we had our bus parked. They served us chicken paella, potatoes, vegetables, and beans. We came back to the hotel after lunch and some of us took a short nap before we left again for the Baldi Hot Springs. Everyone agreed that the hot springs were one of the best things that we have done so far in Costa Rica. We ate a buffet style dinner at the springs and everyone had a large portion of food before we started relaxing in the pools. They had 35 different pools and 3 water slides. Everyone had a blast on the water slides and some guys were scared because they were so big and fast. While we were there it was raining the whole time, but it didn't get in the way of us having a night full of fun. It actually made it more enjoyable because it was a way to cool down after being in the springs. When we got tired of relaxing in the hot springs and taking in the scenery we dried off and waited for our bus to arrive. While we were waiting for our bus we got to enjoy some music and watch Coach Hickman show off his dance moves. Overall today was a great day outdoors and we all got to enjoy some sun while it was out.

Kerry Reider

Winning Ways

Today was very busy in Costa Rica.  After a team breakfast and a quick introduction on life in Costa Rica by our tour guide Josh, we had some time to tour the capital: San Jose.  Just from walking around for a couple of hours, we were able to notice many differences between a city here and an American city.  For starters, most of the houses did not have numbers on them like they do back in the states.  If you ask someone for directions down here to a specific place, their answer will most likely be a point in a certain direction and an estimate to how far it is.  Our tour guide said that everyone you ask will give you an answer no matter if it’s right or wrong because they like to help one another.  While in the city, we quickly learned that public transportation is heavily used like it is in one of our cities; however, it is much more affordable here in Costa Rica.  This doesn’t just apply to San Jose, but there are a lot of stray dogs in Costa Rica.  Almost everywhere we went so far we have seen a stray dog.  One of the places that we stopped at in the city was the artisan marketplace.  We got to shop around and try to get used to the currency.  For every American dollar, that would equal 500 colones.  Sometimes it’s tough when trying to buy things in American dollars and then receiving colones back in exchange.  You have to make sure they aren’t ripping you off and giving the wrong change because you are a tourist.  After a team lunch in downtown San Jose we were then off to San Ramon.  San Ramon was very different compared to the capital.  Just like everywhere we’ve been so far, the people are very friendly.  Right when we got there, we got to host a basketball clinic for the kids of San Ramon.  At the clinic, we showed the kids how to dribble, shoot, pass, defend, and rebound (amongst some other things.)  The toughest challenge that we faced was the language barrier between us and the kids.  Most of our teachings had to come through demonstrations since they had no idea what we were saying other than some basic basketball words that we learned in Spanish before we got there.  The clinic was a great experience and we all had fun helping children learn the game of basketball where normally they wouldn’t be able to do those things.  After the clinic, we got a quick tour of downtown San Ramon before our 7 o’ clock game against Coopanae Universidad de San Jose – San Ramon, the best Pro club team in Costa Rica.  They were last year’s champions for their Pro league.  After a slow start to the game, we fell behind by as much as 19 points during the game.  We cut the lead down to 11 points at halftime.  After some adjustments in the second half we were able to tie the game in the 4th quarter.  We came back to win the game 64-63.  Today was a great day, from San Jose to coaching the clinic, and to top it off with a great win against a good international team.  It’s a great day to be a Hound. 

-Kenny Gula

A New World

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

We got to Cancun at 10 o'clock and left for San Jose around 10:30 AM. We arrived and passed through customs at around 2. Waiting for us outside the airport was Josh, our tour guide and planner for the week. Josh also coaches the team we will be playing tomorrow night in San Ramon. Josh will be showing us around the cities San Jose, San Ramon, and La Fortuna, which is the site of an active volcano. Today was the first time many of us had seen or been around a foreign country, which is exciting in many ways. Learning local customs and sayings along with seeing the landscape of a different country is something none of us will ever forget. When we arrived in San Jose, they were celebrating "Tope", which is a cultural festival where people ride horses through the center of the city, dressed in traditional attire. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Soda Tapia, and after enjoying a hearty meal, we ventured over to observe some of the ceremony. Many citizens were out in what could best be described as "cowboy" clothes (ie. boots, cowboy hat, flannels, etc.) watching the procession from the sidewalks. Later, we returned to the hotel where we met with the Costa Rican National Basketball Team for an exhibition match. At halftime, we were down by 1, 44-43. The final score was 90-77, but the game was much closer than the score indicates. The hotel provided an excellent meal for both teams afterwards. Tomorrow we will be doing a community service clinic in San Ramon and are very excited for what the rest of the week will bring for our team!

Mike Bonavita

On the Road Again

Upon completion of our two practices on December 23rd and 24th, Moravian College Men's Basketball has now embarked on a trip to Costa Rica on Christmas night. After a long and fun van ride, we left from JFK airport and arrived in Mexico City for a layover flight. Captain, D.J. Strayhorn got randomly searched when going through JFK airport and teammate Cameron Cullen guessed correctly that he would be the one to get randomly checked. We are all glad for the first flight to be over but writing a blog at 6:09 am is not what I thought I would be doing at this time, sleep would be better.

Cameron Cullen