Latymerians rise to the World Challenge 2018

Our World Challenge trip to Costa Rica will without a doubt stay with us as one of the best experiences of our school years. The stark contrast between ourselves at the beginning of the trip and at the end, following a long month of many adventures, is remarkable to see. Over the course of four weeks, we shared many laughs and complaints of aches, home-pangs, and cold showers. When we began our journey, even the hostel sheets seemed a tall task, but by the end of the trip, our west London apprehensions had long since vanished and we were suddenly happy just to see a bed! We all grew as individuals, organising our trip and catering for a large group of trek-tired teenagers. Even the mountains became easier and we were always shocked to see what we had climbed on our way back down.

We were so fortunate to have many capable and hard-working members of our group who sometimes single-handedly managed to get a band of 17 people across an entire country with a bed to sleep in on the other side. The failsafe management of the budget meant that we were never preoccupied with costs and we even managed to have a few dinners out on the way. Getting to know, in a wholly different environment, the amazing teachers who helped to run this trip has absolutely been one of the highlights. Similarly meeting the wonderful guides whose passion, generosity and immense knowledge about their work was inspiring.

Our journey took us all over the country, through valleys and over mountains, across rivers and up into the cloud-forests. And of course, we were followed by the rain wherever we went, be it in more expected places like the rainforest, reading in our tents, or even on the black sand beaches. However, the weather did go our way when we caught the magical sunrise at the Peak of Cerro Ena Mountain. Although the group all got on so well, we sometimes managed to stop giggling and singing enough to catch some amazing wildlife, ranging from toucans to humpback whales and even three sloths on our very last day! Our time spent in the Osa peninsula saw a dramatic night patrol of the beaches, as we desperately searched for turtle nests whilst the poachers’ torches drew nearer.

Following our final trek, we spent a morning on boats in the cove where we snorkeled in coral reef and even catching a glimpse of a pod of dolphins that raced our boat on the return journey whilst we ate fresh watermelon. We headed across country towards Tortuguero national park, taking a boat tour through the mangroves on the way. On our last night at the park, we had our final opportunity to see a turtle. Some of us had already seen a nesting turtle during our environmental project and so testament to our group bond and support, we agreed that those who hadn’t seen a turtle would be allowed to go, despite the limits of our remaining budget as we all wanted to make sure everyone got such an amazing opportunity.

During our last meal together, we all thought of the three top moments of the trip and I must admit it was very hard to limit it to only three. Our adventures continued right until the end where, in a nail-biting climax, we sprinted through US airport security as the last boarding call rang out for London Heathrow. We just managed to make it onto the plane thanks to the efforts of our group leader, who took all our luggage as we ran off and made sure we were reunited with it back in London. A final celebration was in order as we buckled our seats for home, sad to be leaving, but excited to be on our way back to see our families.

Review by Edward Esiri-Bloom (Sixth Form)

Author: carolineroberts

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