Dancing at Monteverde to Riding the River in Celeste

Authored by:
Chris Jeney

Chris Jeney

-   Setting up for the final week in Costa Rica   - 

Watching traditional Costa Rican dances quickly turns into a participatory event!

    The students at CIEE’s Monteverde campus in Costa Rica within the Climate Change Mitigation program have been working hard! Some rise early to enjoy a bout of physical activity before the mid-morning hot sun. Others stay up to finish their daily journal entries and work on upcoming projects. This past Wednesday afternoon’s schedule included a display of traditional Costa Rican dancing that the students could sit back, watch and relax; or so they thought…


    Right as the students had settled in, calibrated their ears and eyes to the music and dancing, the dancers raced towards the onlooking students! The dancers, ranging from beautiful young girls to wise and wonderful women, picked partners and whisked them onto the dance floor! Arms swinging, feet shuffling, dresses and scarves flowing through the air as each pair of dancers and students joined in the celebration of Costa Rica! 

Students dressed in Costa Rican dancing garb [from left to right: Madison (16), McKenzie (17), Lilly (16), Adah (17)]
Students dressed in Costa Rican dancing garb [from left to right: Madison (16), McKenzie (17), Lilly (16), Adah (17)]

After all the dancing, I got a chance to talk to Madison (pictured above). I asked her about what she thought of the event and how it embodies the spirit of Costa Rica:

"This is a fun skirt!"

"It was fun, care-free, and inclusive."     

What most of us anticipated as a lazy river ride turned into a rollercoaster of rapids! 

20 CCM students, 2 Program Leaders, 2 teachers, and 1 Staff member (some out of frame) linking hands for a photo op before floating down the Rio Celeste. 

    Riding in vans through the mountains of Monteverde is a tough task. But throw in a midway pitstop at a supermarket and a warm meal upon arrival to our destination. Rio Celeste  is a river that flows down from the volcanic peaks of the Tenorio Volcano in the Guanacaste Province. I thought it might be somewhat odd to have eight guides helping us freely float down a beautifully calm turquoise river. The guides introduced themselves and gave us the safety briefing that included demonstrating the best way to raise one’s rear-end out from the middle of the large innertube to avoid contacting river rocks. Then I saw they put us in front of the rapids for a photo. That’s when I got a much better picture of what we were in for.  As I looked around to do a headcount, I saw all the students’ smiling faces and wide eyes. Time to tube!

Dulce (15) and friend, Dynisha (15) pictured here in the gardens outside of their cabins on the edge of the Tenorio Volcano National Park.

Dynisha and I were paired up for the river excursion. About half way through another pair passing by us on the river asked Dynisha

"Hey, has Chris been yelling a lot?"

"Yeah, like pretty much the whole time." She replied.


    The best way I can explain what preceded to ensue was a water world version of bumper cars where mother nature is the driver. Students, Program Leaders, Teachers, and Staff alike were paired off to ride down the river. After stints of sitting tight in classrooms and staying silent on night hikes, we could let loose! I can imagine the faraway tourists hearing the cheers and whoops in the distance, then scratching their heads wondering what new species of bird or howler monkey they were listening to for the first time. As I finished up and exited the water, I saw the students had found a swing set and used it to dry their clothes. Our experience riding Rio Celeste was truly living life to the fullest. As they say in Costa Rica, ¡pura vida!



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