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Diarios de la Costa Rica--Day One

Oct. 16, 2004

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San Jose, Costa Rica – Georgia Tech women’s basketball began the first day of their five-day journey through Costa Rica Friday. Junior Cheytoria Phillips, a native of Raleigh, NC, provides today’s journal entry describing the day’s events, as well as what the team looks forward to tomorrow.

My journey began at about 5:15 in the morning, after a restless night to finish packing and to double-check my list to make sure that I did not leave something crucial. I was so excited to be going out of the country for the very first time and to use my very own passport. I got the locker room around 6:10 to pack all of my gear and to recheck my bag to make sure my forgetful self did not leave anything. We loaded the bus exactly at 7 am to head out to the airport with half of the team as well as myself halfway sleep. While checking in I was beginning to panic because while I started out in the front of the line, by the time I had physically gotten my ticket just about everyone else was gone. My passport took like 15 times to be swiped before it was cleared…. I thought that for some reason my passport was invalided or something. After getting my ticket I headed to the checkpoint and realized that the airport was packed, on a Friday morning and thought to myself that the work week is over and all of the people had to be traveling for pleasure.

While on the plane I thought that I was slick because our study hall monitor was seated in front of me and I had plans on going to sleep but little did I know that she would be walking around after the plane took off and got steady in the air, so my plans basically for a nap was busted.

After arrival to the Costa Rica airport I was immediately fascinated with the scenery because everywhere I looked out the window of the plane was lush and green. When we got off the plane I the first thing that I notice other than the pleasantly change in the weather was obviously that all of the signs and posters were in Spanish. When everyone unloaded off the plane we had to do what all “tourist” do, go through customs. Finally after getting out of the airport we met our tour guides. They all seemed cool.

First stop, getting something to eat at this restaurant Freddo Fresas at the top of the hill. On the way up to the restaurant the scenery was gorgeous, beautiful bright flowers and and just hills and hills of trees and brushes and coffee plantations. I noticed that the kids wore uniforms and the tour guide told us that there is a group that goes to class in the morning and a group that goes in the afternoon, I thought that was interesting. I also saw that a lot of the residents owned some sort of agriculture, cows, goats or something and that there was a dog at almost every house. Speaking of houses, they were brightly colored and pretty small to the houses that I am use to seeing at home and had angled roofs because it rains 365 days of the year. Which we experienced today, one minute it would be raining the next it would be hot.

Once we all got situated at Freddo Fresas, we drank this strawberry juice, because Costa Rica is also known for their strawberries, which I thought was great. My plate consisted of rice and beans, a fixture on every item served here, chicken, potatoes, lettuce, a tomato, and fried bananas with some type of tortilla. Everyone thought the food was pretty good. After eating dinner we headed to La Paz Waterfall park. At one point on the way to the park we smelt eggs, sulfur, as the tour guide says, turns out we had driven right over an active volcano. Scary right?

After arriving at the park we all had to check out the bathrooms here, they were very nice, especially since there was more than one and the sinks, for the faucet was modeled after a water fall, which was very creative I thought. After looking at the bathroom everyone was instructed to grab a walking stick because the path through the rain forest could be very slick. First stop was the butterfly cage, the largest conservatory in the world. Here I saw a butterfly that looked liked a face of an owl when its wings were spread and many other including their national butterfly. We also got to see some of the different cocoons of the butterflies, even one that looked like a gold bug to help with camouflage. Next stop were the humming bird, where several sugar water tubes were set up to attract the fast moving birds. Here everyone was trying to take a picture of them but they were moving to fast, however yours truly was fast enough to capture one. Next stop through the thick rainforest to see the waterfalls. After walking up, down, around and sideways on steps we came up upon the most beautiful scenery that I have ever seen in my life, the waterfall was amazing. When we got there everyone rushed to take picture and when we did, the water that was falling form the cliff began to spray us so we looked like we had just run through the sprinkler a couple of times. Being wet was put out of mind for the time being because this was a first of many of us. As we continued to make our expedition through the rainforest we came across three more smaller waterfalls, where our tour guide had us look one of them up and down for 30 seconds and then off to the rock and when you did that it look like the water was going in reverse on the waterfall that I thought was cool. After looking at the three smaller waterfalls we begin to exit the rainforest and had to wait on a little min van to bring us back to the top of the park because the walk back it just too much. After leaving the rainforest we headed back to our hotel in San Jose.

The trip back took about an hour and a half, which was a ride that I slept all the way to the hotel. Once at the hotel, we checked in and then went to the mall across the street for dinner. Here in Costa Rica, a pedestrian is likely to be hit if the don’t move out the way, the roads are small and there is little room to share and the cars dominate the roads. Once at the mall we I ordered a chicken sandwich from Burger King. Here the difference was that the ketchup was sweeter, almost like a barbeque sauce, and the fries tasted differently. Also, even though I paid with American money, I received change in Costa Rican currency. I received a pocket full of change, about eight heavy coins to be equivalent to 80 cents in us money. Me and my teammates joked about how the people’s wallets looked because things are priced like 9800 of their money etc, so they must need some really big change purses and a fat wallet that can hold all of that money.

After eating dinner at the mall we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep for our two games tomorrow and early breakfast. My first day in the beautiful Costa Rica was very fun, and eventfully, learning experience. I can’t wait till tomorrow to see what else is new and to win our first two games! GO TECH

After the Yellow Jackets’ second game on Saturday, junior Jessica Williams will recap the entire day’s events, including highlights from both games and anything else that comes to mind!

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