By Hannah Downing and Emily Butner, Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica 1 2018 Participants
On our first full day in Costa Rica, we left the hotel at an early 4:45am in order to get passed the blockades being set up by unionizing workers, our first real taste of Costa Rica’s unique culture. We arrived at the base river rafting company and enjoyed a delicious breakfast as we observed the jungle plant life.
We didn’t expect whitewater rafting down the Río Pacuare to be a time of contemplation, but during the rests between navigating the class III and IV rapids, we felt inspired. The landscape demanded attention. The air was damp and pressing. The calls of wildlife were frequent and unique. The sweet smell of decaying plant life and earth was subtle but constant. The image of the jungle itself was overwhelming. The mountains of thick foliage were immense and brimming with strange sounds and smells. The whole scene brought us into a surprisingly pleasant existential mindset. We were surrounded by insects, barely minutes old, as well as the ancient jungle bedrock. It felt like a perfect moment to exist, to witness every stage of life, both young and old.
After our adventure, we ate a brief lunch and then continued on to our new hotel in Cahuita, where we swam in the warm waters of the Caribbean Coast. As the sun set in shades of pink and gold, we reflected on our short time in Costa Rica, the new friends we had made, and the adventures yet to come.