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Costa Rica, Oh Costa Rica!

 Welcome to Costa Rica! That's how the Taylor Swift song would go if she went to Costa Rica instead of New York. But it wasn't Taylor Swift who arrived in Costa Rica on Sunday-- it was 20 brave and adventurous high school students, who were now taking their first steps as Global Navigators, ready to explore a new land and learn all it had to teach them.

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The Navigators enjoy some rest in their new temporary home at the Autentico Hotel in San Jose. 

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 The Navigators get ready to prove how well they know each other in this get-to-know-you game.

The Navigators spent their first day in the city of San Jose. To prepare them for their studies in Biodiversity, Sustainability, and Conservation, their instructors first provided them with a lesson on Urbanization-- the growth of cities-- and its pros and cons. To see the effects of Urbanization in action, the Navigators set out into the wilds of San Jose. They examined a varying range of neighborhoods, comparing a suburban city park to the constrictive streets of La Carpio, located directly adjacent a city dump. Here, the Navigators learned that every beneficial element of Urbanization comes with a corresponding cost. 

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Instructor Gisella discusses with the Navigators their observations of the suburban area.  

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 All business all day keeps Chris up a level.

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 Note-taking in nature's classroom.

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The rumble of dump-trucks fills the air. Every day, the overflowing dump encroaches further upon the town.

 In their visit to La Carpio, the Navigators also had a chance to practice their Spanish with local children, and help them practice their English. Here, they learned about the lives of those who were born here, and who would grow up among the dump trucks.

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Taylor made a friend already. 

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 Wisdom comes in many forms.

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 Who's helping who with her homework here?

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 These girls are asking Terra if they can borrow her sunglasses.

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Terra said yes. 

After La Carpio, the Navigators continued their exploration of the city, traveling now to the Jade Museum to learn how Costa Rica grew from small villages to the city in which they now stood.

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Outside the national museum, the Navigators learn about the city's past.

Whew... all that history makes a Navigator hungry! To refuel the Navigators after their city tour, their instructors provided a native fruit sampling! Almost all of these fruits were new to the Navigators, which made for some interesting experiences, for those brave enough to try.

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 Gisella asked the Navigators if they wanted some fruit, and they said "Abso-fruitly!"

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 Zeya wasn't so sure about this one.

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 Taylor actually liked this fruit a lot, she just thought it would be funny to pretend she didn't.

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This is the face Corey makes when he eats anything, whether it's weird fruit or not. He's just naturally suspicious. 

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 Daniel wasn't actually eating fruit-- he was trying to read some really really small print.

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 Naija watched everyone else try this fruit, and said "it can't be that bad!" She was wrong.

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It was almost more fun to watch people eat the fruit than it was to eat it.

With bellies full of fruit, the Navigators were now prepared for what was coming next-- a journey into the wild lands of Corcovado on the shores of the the Pacific. A national park in the tropical lowlands, Corcovado will be the perfect place for the Navigators to begin their hands-on study of Costa Rican biodiversity.

The Navigators will be out of touch until Sunday, but will be back soon to share stories of their adventures among the rainforest!

More soon!

XOXO.

Words by Kyle Ritland

Photos by Trevor Ritland

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