St. Joseph’s College

Community Service Project in Costa Rica

January 11-17, 2015


Experience the beauty and spirituality of this natural wonderland!

Costa Rica offers you one of the world’s greatest collections of rain forests, wild rivers, historic culture, mountains and volcanoes. With its unique combination of beauty and spirituality, it’s the ultimate refreshment for your body, mind and soul.

Enjoy this unique “Vacation with a Reward!”
Most of us look forward to our vacations and take a traditional holiday. But how much better would it be if you could visit a great destination, do sightseeing,

Enjoy local cuisine and a unique atmosphere with an opportunity to “give back.”

We are privileged to partner with a Volunteer Project at La Carpio, one of the poorest areas of Costa Rica. The program is called “Carpio Clean … Carpio Green … Carpio Healthy … Carpio Happy.” This trip combines traditional touring with participation in a volunteering program that assists children and their families who live in poverty in Costa Rica. What a great way to spend your Spring Break holiday.


Day 1 – Sunday, January 11: To San Jose (D)
indigenous_peopleDepart JFK for Costa Rica. After Immigration and Customs, transfer to reserved accommodations. In the afternoon, meet with Gail Nystrom for discussion on the Volunteer Project at La Carpio called “Carpio Clean … Carpio Green … Carpio Healthy … Carpio Happy.” La Carpio is a shantytown of 34,000 residents that sits between a trash dump and the Tobias Bolaños International Airport northwest of San José, where a splash of paint, a small toy and something green can go a long way. La Carpio is one of the poorest areas of Costa Rica, inhabited largely by Ticos from other parts of Costa Rica and Nicaraguans who fled a bloody revolution in their home country, and later, a collapse of their economy, began settling in La Carpio in the 1980s. So here on your Costa Rica journeys, you will truly have an opportunity to “give back” and make La Carpio a better place. Meet for your welcome dinner.

Day 2 – Monday, January 12: In San Jose- Volunteer Program (B/L/D)
school-kids1After breakfast it’s off to La Carpio. Upon arrival, today’s volunteer program will be “Carpio Clean.” Painting the front of houses. Picking up trash and promoting recycling through talking with people and showing how to sort trash. It will be an opportunity to show how pleasant it is to have something to look at that’s not trash, not gray dirt, but clean. Working with the local youth of the community through the painting of a mural with this theme. An example is a mural painted over a flap of corrugated tin shows a tree reaching into a night sky. Lunch (Box lunch will be prepared at the hotel & taken with you on your way to La Carpiuo). After lunch, continue today’s volunteer program. Pick-up at La Carpio back to hotel to relax and some R & R. Dinner at our hotel.

Day 3 – Tuesday, January 13: In San Jose – Volunteer Program (B/L/D)
voluntourism-costa-ricaOne more time to La Carpio for Volunteer program for “Carpio Healthy and Happy.” We start by pairing up with local children and youth of the community as they create their own “Dream Mat” program, which will be an opportunity to teach the children the value of dreaming: how important it is to have dreams, to wish for things, to have goals in our their hearts as they put their names on cloth (in Spanish of course). Each child will leave with two mats as a decoration that they can hang in their homes. So, bring your loving and creative self and give these children an experience that can affect them very positively for years to come. This will be followed by passing out the hygiene kits you have put together and as they are given to the children, you will be interacting with them to practice hand washing, hair care, nail care.
Local lunch at Carpio, followed by a local handicrafts program and exhibit (also for purchasing items). Depart Carpio back to the hotel in the afternoon for some “R & R” by the pool. Meet for dinner.

Day 4 – Wednesday, January 14: In San Jose- Volunteer Program & Sightseeing Tour of San Jose (B/L/D)
After breakfast, it’s back to La Carpio. Upon arrival, today’s volunteer program will be “Carpio Green,” an initiative to improve the crude caliches roads and haphazard constructions that visually define La Carpio and to make it into something prettier to look at. Building a sense of self-worth in a community requires it to look presentable. We will create and pass out bottles to start Bottle Gardens to all the bottle gardenhouse for plants potted in modified plastic bottles, for residents who want to decorate their spaces with something green and sometimes edible. A chance to grow herbs like thyme, basil, spearmint, parsley and coriander, as well as potted cherry tomatoes, carrots and potato plants. Some plants you may be giving out are butterfly plants, the ones that attract butterflies.  Lunch (Box lunch will be prepared at the hotel & taken with you on your way to La Carpio. After lunch, depart Carpio for San Jose as we immerse ourselves in Costa Rica’s rich culture and history as we follow our local guide to San Jose’s best sites on this sightseeing tour. Visit the magnificent Opera House — the pride and joy of Costa Rica. Learn how this century-old cultural symbol represents an important era in history. Visit the University of Costa Rica and the beautiful Sabana Park. This is followed by an informative tour of the national Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Transformed from an old military fort to display the country’s peaceful tradition, this museum will give you a unique insight into the cultural heritage of Costa Rica. Weave your way through the museum with your guide and admire the stunning gold, jade, stone and pottery collection. Next, visit the historic National Theater, completed in 1897 and recognized as a masterpiece of architecture. A little time for shopping, local craft items and inexpensive  souvenirs, head to the Mercado Central, or the open-air market on the Plaza de la Democracia. Be sure to check out the extensive and impressive collection of indigenous art and craftworks on offer at Galería Namu.  Back to the hotel in the afternoon. Meet for dinner.

Day 5 – Wednesday, January 15: In San Jose – Tour to the Poas Volcano, the Daka Coffee Estate & Plantation plus the arts and crafts town of Sarchi (B/L/D)
volcanoSituated in the middle of Poas Volcano National Park (Parque Nacional Volcán Poás) is the still-smoking and gurgling Poas Volcano. This majestic and imposing crater, which stands at an elevation of 8,900 feet allows you to enjoy a magnificent view of the park’s 16,000 acres and the central valley beyond.  Our guide will take us to a lookout platform near the edge of the 950-foot-deep main volcanic crater, which remains active with small geyser and lava eruptions. After watching the fumarole activity, head to Botos Lake to see the beautiful green lake that now fills the inactive Botos crater.
After the steamy sights of Poas Volcano National Park, we visit the Doka Plantation and Estate, located in the coffee capital of Costa Rica. We’ll be guided through all the stages of making some of Costa Rica’s best quality coffee at this estate where coffee production has been passed down in the Vargas Ruiz family for more than 70 years. As we tour the roasting plant, we learn about the ideal climate and rich soil of the fertile volcanic slopes that cultivate the grains. We will have the opportunity to closely observe and understand how a first-choice bean turns into a fabulous cup of coffee.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue to the town of Sarchi, the artisan center of Costa Rica. The charming town boasts more than 200 shops and family-operated factories that produce a variety of wooden goods. Don’t miss out on the construction and elaborate painting of the carretas, oxcarts traditionally used to carry coffee down from the highlands, before we return to our hotel for dinner and our overnight.

Day 6 – Friday, January 16: White Water Rafting and Sarapiqui River Cruise (B/L/D)
raftingAfter breakfast it’s off for an exciting day as we depart for the Sarapiquí River rapids that are moderate class II-III (the picture is more dramatic than the rapids) and is the perfect adventure to satisfy your daily dosage for adrenaline and water splash! In addition, the clear, warm water is perfect for enjoying a swim between rapids. The crafts used are very stable, easy to maneuver and really fun! The run takes two and a half hours combining spectacular rainforest with colorful farmlands.

sarapiqui-river-boatsIn the afternoon, we will continue our tour as we navigate the Sarapiqui River on a small cruise boat past beautiful scenery river surrounded by lowlands of tropical rain forest with lush vegetation and a large variety of plants, animals and birds. Lunch will be served at a Hacienda style house at the end of the tour, and some time will be given to enjoy some of the other activities offered. Return to our hotel about 5:30 pm.

Note: Bring: Hiking shoes or sneakers, light jacket, insect repellent, swimsuit, binoculars, sun block and camera.  Meet in the lobby for dinner.

Day 7 – Saturday, January 17: To New York (JFK) (B)
Breakfast on own time. Time to relax by the pool. Meet in lobby for a late afternoon transfer to Airport for our flight back to JFK.

Note: Itinerary is correct at time of printing and subject to conditions and changes beyond our control.

YOUR HOTEL – The Best Western Irazu
hotel poolThe 325 room Best Western Irazu is located only 10 minutes from Downtown San Jose. “The prestige of a great name and the experience of a hotel… to those who deserve nothing less than the very best” is the promise of quality, friendly service and value in lodging accommodations to all its visitors. All air-conditioned rooms offer a 25″ color TV, in-room ironing board, hair dryer and full-length mirror. Guests can enjoy complimentary coffee served 24-hours a day in the lobby. Happy Hour from 5 pm to 6 pm at the “La Cantina Bar,” free local calls and Internet access. The hotels facilities include: Denny’s Restaurant, La Cantina Bar, Pizza Hut, and Burger King “touch button” for delivery service, lit tennis courts, outdoor swimming pool, laundry service, room service, exercise room, landscaped gardens. A shopping center is located next door to the hotel with souvenir shops, bank, grocery store, pharmacy and much more. All this and more from the most comfortable atmosphere of the happiest and entertaining hotel in San Jose.

• Roundtrip air transportation from JFK to San Jose
• Roundtrip Airport/Hotel transfers
• 6 Nights accommodations at the 1st Class BW Irazu Hotel in San Jose
• Hotel taxes
• Continental Breakfast throughout
• 5 lunches (including a special lunch at a local farm in the rain forest)
• 6 dinners
• Local transportation for Community Service programs
• Cultural sightseeing tour of San Jose
• Tour to the Poas Volcano, the Daka Coffee Estate & Plantation plus the arts and crafts town of Sarchi
• White Water Rafting tour & Sarapiqui Cruise tour
• Some Free time for independent exploration in San Jose

Not included in the above are:
• Any beverages including mineral water, soft drinks, alcoholic drinks etc. unless otherwise specified
• Any items of a personal nature such as baggage handling at hotels or airports
• Any changes in the program due to conditions beyond our control

Price Per Person:
$xxxx in double room ($xxxx via credit card] plus $60 prepaid gratuities for guides & escorts
$xxxx in triple room ($xxxx via credit card) plus $60 prepaid gratuities for guides & escorts

Single room price on request



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Travel Insurance

RMC highly recommends the purchase of Trip Cancellation/Interruption Travel Insurance, and we therefore provide you with an easy way to contact RMC’s preferred insurance provider, Allianz Global Assistance. If you need additional information or have questions, please call Allianz directly at 1-800-284-8300, and refer to code F025323.