Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nicoya Peninsula Adventures!

One of the great things about living at the Costa Rica Outward Bound base in Tres Rios is being in a central location that is convenient to public transit and conducive to travelling. Recently, some of the marketing staff went to Montezuma to explore the Nicoya Peninsula on a three-day whirlwind weekend. External Relations Manager, Courtney and her friend Kristen took off to embark on what became nothing short of an awesome adventure. After five hours of traveling, the duo landed at Puntarenas, where they caught the ferry to Paquera and headed down to Montezuma.

The next morning, they headed off to the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, which is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Montezuma. There is one major hike there and several smaller loops. The girls opted for the longest of the hikes and took the trail that led to the beach. It was about a five hour hike and a very humid one at that! Jumping over creeks, surveying the wildlife, weaving through palm trees and taking foot bridges, the girls were led through about three miles of dense rainforest. On their way, they saw white-faced monkeys, butterflies, leaf-cutter ants and sleeping bats in a hollowed out tree. Once at the beach, they were stunned by the white sand and clear, blue water. Due to the remote nature of the beach, it was shared with only two other people. Unfortunately, the couple reported jellyfish stings, so instead of swimming, Kristen and Courtney opted for sun tanning and mango eating. Despite not being able to enjoy the ocean, it was well worth the effort. 

One of the many river crossings

Private beaches are always a plus

Fresh mango always makes the day!

That afternoon, while Kristen and Courtney were still hiking, additional Costa Rica Outward Bound Staff Kirsten and Theresa came to join the fun. They wisely took a combination of buses to Montezuma and made excellent time, spending the afternoon exploring the beautiful beaches, walking around the downtown area and taking in the sights. That evening, the group re-connected and went to a nearby restaurant for a family-style candlelit dinner on the beach followed up by an early night with goals of visiting the famous Montezuma waterfalls the next morning.

All in all, a fun, busy, and unforgettable weekend!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hope for the Urban Culture in San Jose: ChepeCletas

Change is always a difficult thing to be a part of, especially when it means a complete alteration of how a city approaches transportation. This change, however, is one that the local San Jose organization ChepeCletas intends to make – it’s also one that we here at Costa Rica Outward Bound are excited about. ChepeCletas, a hodgepodge of local slang terms Chepe (a San Jose native) and Cleta (bike), looks to simultaneously revitalize the urban culture of San Jose while creating initiatives that support low-emission transportation. What started as a small unknown grassroots organization, whose wheels are being turned by a handful of optimistic university students, has evolved into a much-needed movement that is gaining a lot of traction. Not only have they partnered with local restaurants that now offer significant discounts for arriving on bike, but their real bread and butter is a night tour dubbed “Nocturbano”.

The Nocturbano is a pretty simple idea, yet in many ways, foreign to locals. ChepeCletas leaders Ayal, Roberto and Mauricio stroll through parts of the downtown area highlighting interesting historical landmarks as a part of what they jokingly refer to as “wiki-tours” where audience knowledge in encouraged to be shared. Aside from giving two thumbs up to their overall philosophy, Costa Rica Outward Bounders Britten and Ryan were treated to a fun and informative look into the history of downtown San Jose. The objective of the evening is to inform the public of the rich cultural history of San Jose and thus spark an interest in rejuvenating the city by proving how it can be enjoyed safely at night (police chaperons on bicycles definitely help by adding security). Each tour ends at a different nearby café or restaurant as a way to promote conversation as well as local business. This time, Casa 927, a neo-classic house that doubles as an art gallery and café served as a great place to wrap things up.

After experiencing all the activities of the night, a quick look around at the attendees makes one realize that ChepeCletas is clearly turning some heads. This gentleman is Manuel Obregon Fans, the Minister of Culture and Youth here in Costa Rica.

And this woman is none other than Laura Chinchilla, the president of Costa Rica. Yeah, la presidente.

ChepeCletas is doing enormous work to illuminate ways that cities can be improved in positive and sustainable ways, which is always something to be admired. Now we just might have to figure out a way to incorporate them into our course itineraries.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Recipes from Costa Rica Outward Bound!

One of the best parts of Costa Rica Outward Bound is learning more about the fantastic people that are a part of our organization. One such member is programming intern, Monica Chen, a passionate runner and health food aficionado. Monica hails from Berkeley, California and brings with her a love for cooking quinoa, a staple of South American Andean diets. Not too long ago, Monica took the time to cook staff a quinoa feast and, needless to say, we are all hooked!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), originating from Peru, is used as a grain (similar to rice or couscous) because of its cooking characteristics. Cultivated varieties of white, black and red quinoa are protein-packed and excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. With an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, quinoa is a favorite staple item for many people, particularly those following vegetarian and gluten-free diets.  

Monica has worked as a kitchen manager for the Berkeley Student Cooperative and regularly cooked quinoa for hundreds of people every week. Thus we are lucky to have her share some of her favorite quinoa recipes with us!

Quinoa Salad

    3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
    1 1/2 cups water
    1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
    1 carrot, diced
    6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
    1 scallion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 small cucumber, sliced
    juice from 1/2 lemon
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    dash cayenne pepper
    dash cumin
    salt and pepper, to taste


1. Boil quinoa in a rice cooker or saucepan with water until all water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Set aside to cool.

2. Combine all chopped veggies and drained beans with lemon juice, oil, vinegar and spices.

3. Toss with quinoa, add salt and pepper, to taste and serve. This salad tastes great with hot sauce!

Makes: About 2 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bike riding in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a country of many adventures that always challenge the body and mind.  A very popular method of challenging oneself in Costa Rica is by taking up mountain biking, one of the most popular sports in the country.  Building off of the popularity from the famed La Ruta de Los Conquistadores, bike races and bike rides have are occurring nearly every weekend.  These long distance and challenging rides force participants to push their bodies to limits most wouldn’t imagine, and require a rock solid mindset many Outward Bound alum know very well!

Not to be left out of this fantastic adventure, base staffers Britten and Ryan hopped on a bus to Monteverde for the 2011 edition of Eco Bike.  This organized ride and race gathers more than 1,000 of Costa Rica’s most passionate mountain bikers for a full day of climbing, descending, beautiful trails and unforgettable memories.  Britten and Ryan both participated in the race, and then finished up their day with the recreational route, which saw more than 1,000 participants riding through the Costa Rican country side.  Although both starting with great position in the race, both riders suffered from untimely flat tires.  Even with a speedy repair for both, many positions were lost and glory slipped away.  Steep climbs, harrowing descents and nothing resembling a flat section of trail pushed everyone to the limits on a beautiful sunny day in Monteverde.  Base staffer Britten said, “After a full day of riding the famous Monteverde hillside, it’s clear why so many people see this as a go to destination”!  Logging more than 45 Km of mountain biking was just what the doctor ordered for these two, and certainly helped them to fall asleep for the 6 hour bus ride back to base.  Next up for the two bikers, is a lovely trip to the Orosi Valley for another fantastic weekend!

Britten and Ryan ready to start their day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recipes from Costa Rica Outward Bound!

Here at Costa Rica Outward Bound headquarters lunch is often a time for the staff to share stories of their time on course over a nice group meal. On certain days, that group meal is good enough to really get the group talking, and today was no exception! A recipe for fried chicken by instructor Josh Mason made the day’s lunch extra special and is as simple and delicious in the kitchen as it is at the campsite. Check it out!

4 Chicken Breasts
4 Eggs
3 Cups of Flour
Garlic Salt
Chili or Cayenne Pepper
Additional Seasoning
Vegetable Oil

To Prepare:
• Wisk eggs and mix with equal parts water in a bowl
• Mix flour and garlic salt, chili/cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and any additional seasoning (use each seasoning to taste) in separate bowl
• Heat vegetable oil in frying pan at high setting (enough oil to submerge chicken strip)
• Cut chicken breasts into 3 inch strips
• Dip chicken strips into egg/water mixture and then coat in flour/seasoning
• Fry in oil until golden brown and cooked fully

Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The sights and sounds of Costa Rica

Costa Rica is certainly home to a very rich environment!  Take a look at a video recently put together showing the sites and sounds around the rich coast, which turn any trip into an adventure!