Monday, December 20, 2010

What we have in common with Christopher Columbus

In the spirit of the holidays and the arrival of the New Year, let's get retrospective. And by retrospective, I'm referring specifically to the year 1492. Yeah, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Remember when, in his unparalleled search for the Indies, he was credited with making the unparalleled discovery of the Americas? Historians would later remark that it was a rather serendipitous finding.

We here at Costa Rica Outward Bound support serendipity, especially when it's followed by adventures. That's why last week Serendipity Adventures was on base training our instructors, providing them with information about current best practices in the field.

In order to understand the significance of their presence, let's take a gander at their credentials, shall we?

+ Rated by National Geographic Adventure magazine as one of The Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.

+ Listed in Outside Magazine as offering one of the 30 Greatest Trips. Ever.

+ Any one of their testimonials.

Needless to say, they've established themselves as a premier private adventure tourism company. Although they offer very different types of travel adventure activities, they have received such high accolades because, quite simply, they do some amazing work - the type of work which we respect and seek to learn from. Being resourceful, as well as having prior employee connections, we brought them here to teach our guides the same survival skills that have fostered such a renowned reputation around their own adventure travel organization.

Our already strong record just did the equivalent of an entire safety workout with the Serendipity Adventures staff as our personal trainers.

If you want to flex your wilderness first aid muscles and learn about outdoor safety, be sure to check out our Leadership Course for next year - you can get all sorts of professional outdoor certifications, including the Technical Rope Rescuer Operator  (TRRO) seen here. But don't wait for too long, they're already almost full.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Holidays, Version: Tic.O

If you subscribe to our newsletter and caught our recent December issue, you likely read the blurb about Costa Rica's grandiose end-of-the-year celebration, the Festival de la Luz (links to the Costa Rican Municipal page). Although it provided a good basis for understanding the premise of the Fesitval de la Luz, you may have missed out on the event firsthand. Here, however, you will find a gringo's review complete with cultural observations (from the traditional to the outlandish) and why interpreting its meaning was about as easy as opening a baby coconut (without the skilled instructor tutorial, of course).

For those who don't regularly read our exciting newsletters, I'll briefly provide the abridged version of what was covered regarding the festival. Here are the pertinent facts:

- Christmas is a big deal in Costa Rica and consequently celebrated on a large scale. The Festival de la Luz is a huge parade intended to ignite the fire that is the national holiday spirit.
-  Much like an American parade, on display are flamboyant floats, marching bands, and of course, a strong corporate presence. Roughly a million Ticos line the streets to partake in the festivities as they drape San Jose in glimmering tinsel.
- Marking the 15th anniversary, this year's theme was "Toys and Games of Yesteryear," which was moderately followed at best. Maybe you'll see what we mean.

With routes altered to accommodate the redirected flow of traffic, we stepped down from the bus which was brimming with animated Ticos. After finding a steady wireless connection from which to send live tweets (if you follow @CROutwardBound on Twitter, you could have been there with us!), we were greeted by the smell of delicious street foods, the sight of every imaginable variation of blinking light-up toy, and the entrepreneurial Costa Rican selling footstools for a better view. Sometimes they just seem to know exactly how to satisfy demand, because those things were selling like our Girl Scout Courses before high season. Some of the children were a little more resourceful with their arrangements, as they preferred the seemingly cozy rod iron window frame.

Upon settling in amongst the many young and publicly affectionate couples, we readied our cameras and waited for the fiesta to really begin. The first float wasn't really a float at all so much as a glorified Toyota advertisement. Five Yaris's later, a horde of Honda motorcycles rumbled down Avenida Dos, revving the commercial engines of the parade. Eventually, the festival lived up to it's name as big, light-adorned floats crawled along brightly announcing their arrival. Most were accompanied by local marching bands, whose repertoire, we should mention, had no shortage of Lady Gaga renditions. P-p-p-poker faces removed, here are a couple of our favorite floats:

 And true to Costa Rican fashion:

All in all, the Festival de la Luz was a great time, despite its lack of proper theme representation - based on the floats, we thought "Latin Disneyland on Wheels" would have been slightly more accurate. If you happen to be in San Jose this time next year, though, it is definitely worth checking out and a lot of fun.

From Costa Rica, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself

As the new Social Media Coordinator for Costa Rica Outward Bound, I wanted to properly introduce myself since I'll be managing our social networking platforms, including Your Hanashita. Having just graduated from the University of Washington with a marketing degree and an emphasis on international business, I'm excited to bring our followers updates about what's going on here in Costa Rica and to strengthen our interactive online communities.

Although I've already traveled a bit throughout Central America, my journeys were far too short-lived and I definitely plan on exploring as much of Costa Rica as possible. What's great about working here is that visiting other parts of the country is actually encouraged! So while I'm off surfing for the weekend and improving my Spanish, I'll also be constantly trying to create content that is valuable to you as a reader.

As a unique experiential learning organization nestled in the cloud forest, we've got plenty to report and even more to share so if there is anything you would specifically be interested in reading or learning about, please don't hesitate to mention it - I'm here to learn as well, so why not do it together? I hope to be pulling together as many resources as possible in order make this space a worthwhile stop and a regular part of your browsing. 

That being said, muchas gracias for the visit and feel free to contact me anytime with questions at While this blog will be reserved for more in-depth posts, please don't forget to check us out on Twitter (username: @CROutwardBound) and Facebook ( for more regular updates. We're all about making new friends.

My name is Britten. Nice to meet you.