Friday, July 20, 2012

Goodbye Costa Rica! + Advice for the next team

We woke up, showered, packed and had our last tropical breakfast at the hotel. We left the hotel at 10:30am and said our final goodbyes to Luis at the airport :( I already miss his goofy sense of humor! Luis and Jenny were awesome ISL leaders--I couldn't have asked for anyone better! We thanked Kenneth, too. He did a fantastic job driving through the clouds up in the mountains! And elsewhere since there are no traffic rules in Costa Rica--or so it seems. But I guess these Costa Ricans are used to it. The San Jose airport was under tight security. First, you have to pay a $28 tax just to leave Costa Rica. Then, we went through the usual security--but they even had another security depot at the gate! We couldn't approach the gate without having someone check our passport again, have our bags searched and get patted down. And we weren't allowed to take anything we bought in the airport on the plane--not even water. Good thing I didn't get any souvenirs. It didn't appear that they are always under tight security--maybe someone tipped them off about something? Our plane left a little late at 1:15pm. The flight was about 4 hours but it went by really fast! I had a TV screen in the chair in front of me and I watched The Hunger Games for free. I was so excited they had it!!! Our layover in Atlanta was short and sweet this time. Going through customs and border control was as smooth and quick as can be. I had just enough time to go through customs, security, find the gate, get a smoothie and call everyone before boarding the plane. Upon ascending, we went through a slightly turbulent storm cloud. My nails were dug into the seat in front me until it was over. Now I know what it feels like to be a cat. The second flight felt like it went by really fast, too. Taylor and Rachel didn't get moved, so we all sat together like planned. We chatted for a while and listened to music. When we landed I was super anxious to see Chris and my mom! My luggage arrived just fine and all of us girls said our goodbyes to each other. I was especially said to say goodbye to Rachel and Taylor--the 2 girls I felt closest to. I had such a fantastic time in Costa Rica and I wouldn't have traded that experience for the world! I recommend the trip to everyone who wants to go into physical therapy. It was the best thing I've done all summer or even all year, and I'm sure it will be one of the best things I'll ever put on my resume. Providing free medical care was very good for the soul. Experiencing the people and the culture really added to my character and growth as a person!

Misty rainforest mountains.

Our guides reading the thank you card, and Taylor haha.

 For anyone going on the physical therapy trip to Costa Rica:
1. You more than likely will get the same team leaders--Luis and Jenny. They are physical therapists themselves who work and live in Costa Rica, and they are awesome!!!!
2. If the hotel you are staying at is El Sesteo, they will have a safe. You do not have to worry about wearing a money belt the whole 2 weeks you are there. However, the safes are not big enough for a laptop or an iPad. Other people on my trip brought laptops and they were not stolen.
3. You will not always go to the same clinics that we went to. Our itinerary changed the first day we were there.
4. You will be able to do laundry at the hotel, but only from 4-8pm and it costs $5.00.
5. You will have access to free Internet at the hotel. If you have an iPhone, you do not need to bring a computer also. Make sure you go into AT&T before you leave to let them know you are going abroad. I bought 50 international texts for $10. I thought that was a good deal to keep in touch at times when there wasn't free Internet. You can download the Skype app for free and use Skype over the free hotel Internet. With that said, Facebook is also free only at the hotel.  Go into Settings, Go to General, then Network, and make sure your phone's Cellular Data is turned to Off--also make sure your Data Roaming is Off. As an extra precaution, go to Settings, make sure your phone is set so that Airplane Mode is On during the times you are not at the hotel--including when you first land in Costa Rica. I had no overages on my phone bill when I used these settings. Also, the hotel room phones allow you to call the US for a cost of $0.46/minute.
6. Bring at least 3 pairs of scrubs.
7. If your group decides on ziplining, you do not need to bring special clothes or gear.
8. Don't worry about trying to plan and book your recreation days before leaving--on your first full day your guides will help you do that. Your guides are from Costa Rica, so they know the best places to go and how to get the best prices. The ISL bus is your means of travel on your recreation days as well, which is free.

For those who are interested, here is the link to my Italy blog:

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