By Paul Blanchette
As I report to you from the San Jose airport, I look back at the days activities. It all started with a long, early morning as we boarded the bus once again for an experience of a life time. Today we visited a daycare for children that are in families that lie below the poverty line and they were all six years old or younger. These children were amazing and filled with energy, loving life. One of the girls even said "this is the best day of my life". After the visit to the daycare we had a walking tour of down town San Jose. Concluding our day of activities we were given some time to shop at a flee market, where there were all sorts of goodies to choses from. This lead to the long track to the airport and painful goodbyes. From LMU men's soccer we sign off for the last time in Costa Rica. Pura Vida
By Sean Sears
Today was our last full day in Costa Rica. We spent most of the time travelling from San Carlos to San Jose. While a four hour drive might sound boring it was far from that. For those who do not know, our soccer team is obsessed with napping and will use any break period as an excuse to lay down and get some shut eye, even if only for minute. This was the only ride where almost our whole team stayed awake to enjoy the view of the valleys and the mountains as we winded our way through to San Jose. The view from the curvy rode was something that none of us wanted to sleep through.
We arrived in San Jose with only a couple hours to spare before the game against Saprissa. We got our legs up and prepared for what we expected to be our most competitive game. Our expectations of Saprissa were spot on because for most of the first half they dominated possession and scoring opportunities. We were able to score a goal on a set piece and went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. We ended up conceding 3 goals in the second half and lost the game to a team that was better than us. While were all disappointed in the loss, it was very unreal to play in an actual stadium and we all appreciated the experience. The Saprissa players were all very fun and nice kids and I think they appreciated the experience of playing against us as much as we did playing against them.
By Vince Paldino
Day eleven. After zip lining, today was a much more relaxed day. First we woke up and had breakfast before leaving San Carlos. Our next destination was the country's capital, San Jose. Throughout the entire trip I have been waiting to travel to San Jose because it is the country's capital and is much more crowded than the previous cities we have stayed in. However, we had to take a long bus ride which turned out not to be to bad because almost everyone fell asleep on the bus. When we arrived to our new hotel I couldn't believe how nice it was. I felt like I was traveling with a professional team because of the way everyone was treating us. After the long bus ride, my stomach was starving and lunch couldn't have came at a better time. I had salad, fish and chicken. The food hit the spot. After lunch, everyone went back to their rooms and rested for the big game. We played against the most known team from Costa Rica, Saprissa. Whenever someone thinks about Costa Rican soccer, they think about Saprissa and how good they are. We not only got to play against their team, we also got to play in their beautiful stadium. Although we ended up losing the game, I will never forget that feeling when I took my first step on to the turf field. We played very well, but towards the end of the game we became fatigued and Saprissa took advantage. Once the final whistle blew, we gathered together and took pictures with the other team. They were really nice and welcoming. Hopefully one day I playing in a stadium like theirs. When we got back to the hotel everyone was tired from the game and decided to take it easy tonight especially because we have community service tomorrow and want to save our energy for the little kids. I can't wait to hang out with the children tomorrow and put a smile on their faces. With that said, Costa Rica has been a life changing experience and something that I will talk about for the rest of my life.
By Ryan Felix
The day began early with the usual breakfast at the Tilajari Resort, consisting of rice, beans, potatoes, French toast, and an assortment of fruit. We boarded the bus around 8 A.M. and took off to go zip lining near the Arenal Volcano. Upon arriving, we hiked up to the main area and were quickly in our gear. A gondola took us up near the top of the mountain that we would soon be zip lining across. The view from the top was incredible. Looking down from the mountain we could see a huge lake which, using a hydroelectric dam, generates roughly 60 percent of the electricity in Costa Rica. We could also see the volcano, which was very steep, but the most shocking scenery for most of us was the view of the third zip line across a huge valley, over a thousand feet up in the air. Although most of us were very excited about the zip lining, there was an overlying feeling of nervousness and anxiety among the group, especially upon the viewing of this third zip line. Nevertheless, we all strapped up (everyone except Vince), and began our descent down the mountain on the zip lines. The first two were very short and helped us become accustomed to the technique of breaking when we arrived at the platform at the end of the line. Then, it was time to take on the third zip line. I was extremely excited to go and see the amazing view of the lake, the volcano, and the canopy of the rainforest below me while flying through the air. The journey across the valley was exhilarating to say the least. Flying through the air, getting whipped in the face with raindrops and getting to see such an amazing view was an unbelievable experience. We continued down a few more zip lines and eventually traveled down a zip line roughly a third of a mile long. When we all finished, we ate lunch at the main area again and then took off for La Fortuna Waterfall. Although it was not my first time zip lining, it was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
Looking Good Erush
By John McFarlin
After our adrenaline filled morning, it was time to head for our last adventure in the Costa Rican Rainforest. I, like many of my teammates, took advantage of the one hour bus ride by taking a quick nap. We eventually arrived at the foot of a trail that would lead to the La Fortuna Waterfall. It was a tricky hike as we descended countless stairs, but the pay off was well worth it. We were all amazed at the massive size of this fall and the power of the water. Everyone got in and took turns trying to swim towards the waterfall as it pushed us back, with Jack McCracken, Mark Dotseth, Craig Nitti and Dylan Seedman giving the most valiant attempts. There was also a cool river running down where I enjoyed trying to catch fish with Cameron Krumpe as Coach Paul Krumpe watched on with amusement at our numerous failures. We found the climb back up the stairs to be quite the workout after last night's game, but experiencing this natural wonder was awesome.
Paul Blanchette in front of La Fortuna Waterfall
Alex Lam and Bryce Bacic exploring the river
Vince Paldino and Peter Velazquez taking in the sights
After dinner it was time for a soccer tennis tournament on an indoor court at our hotel. As always, competition heated up right from the first game. As teams got eliminated, the crowd grew and the atmosphere became more of a factor. In the end, Mackenzie Kim, Sebastian De Rada, Cameron Krumpe and Craig Nitti were left standing as the championship team.
By Aaron Garfinkel
Today marked the ninth day of our travels in the country of Costa Rica. Our day started bright and early with a 6:30am breakfast filled with delicious fruits, eggs, kielbasa, and pancakes. By 7:00am, we embarked on our Safari adventure down the Penas Blancas River. As we floated down the river, we came into contact with different animals including birds, iguanas, and howler monkeys. The howler monkeys were by far everyone's favorite. A family of about 15 monkeys was located in trees that were about thirty feet above us so we had an awesome view of them. At the end of the safari, we enjoyed a mid-morning snack at a local home located on the river. We were served homemade juice, baked bananas, and wonderful potato bread. This was our first true experience with homemade Costa Rican food and it did not disappoint. After finishing our snack, we headed back towards our hotel for the rest of the afternoon in order to prepare for our third match later that night.
After a relaxing afternoon, we headed to the city of San Carlos to play the first division side. As we entered the stadium, it began pouring rain with thunder and lightning looming off in the distance. As a soccer player, the opportunity to play in a setting such as this is a dream come true. While we enjoyed the pregame warm-up, we knew that our opponent was going to pose the toughest challenge that we have seen thus far. While our assumptions about the team from San Carlos were correct, we wasted no time in facing the challenge. The opening whistle blew and we immediately charged down field. Our very own Ryan Felix served in a beautiful cross from the left side of the pitch which met the head of Sebastian De Rada for our first goal of the match. Moments later, we earned a corner. De Rada served in a ball to the middle of the box and Seany Sears was there to head the ball home for a 2-0 lead inside the first ten minutes. This definitely stunned our opponent. They became very aggressive and frustrated the rest of the half but we made it out alive without conceding any goals. The second half started and the LMU defense stood strong and prevented any solid opportunities. As the half progressed, the referee became whistle-happy against us, throwing out many yellow cards before finally sending off one of our players for arguing about a questionable call. We did not let this affect our play and determination. About ten minutes after the red card, De Rada unloaded a shot from about 25 yards out that slipped through the goalie's hands into the top corner. This sealed the deal with a 3-0 victory over a very solid opponent.
This game was vital for our confidence, morale, and success for next fall. We all went to bed that night feeling extremely proud to be a lion and looking forward to the last few days in this beautiful country!
By Jack McCracken
In the morning we went on a safari boat tour where we were able to see unique birds of Costa Rica and Howler monkeys. It was a great time but the real highlight of the day was our game against San Carlos. They had an awesome stadium and we took advantage of it early on. We scored a goal in the first minutes of the game. We scored another goal to take a 2-0 lead and then towards the end of the half goalkeeper Billy Thompson saved a penalty kick to give us momentum going into the second half. The game ended 3-0 and it was a great result for our team especially since the referees were clearly unfair. We look forward to bringing this intensity into our final game in Costa Rica and carrying this momentum into our fall season.
By Mackenzie Kim
Today the LMU Men's Soccer team experienced both sides of the intensity spectrum. The day started especially early, where the team was on the road at 7am, bags packed and stomachs full from the scrumptious breakfast buffet. Getting an early start to the day is a common habit that the individuals in our host country perform, so that they can get to their work promptly and efficiently. However, we had a different activity planned. The team spent the morning on safari, a safari not like the ones you probably automatically assume, but a water safari. We were split up into groups of seven, and were placed into water rafts, just like the white water rafts from earlier in the week. The reason why our dreams were interrupted particularly early was because it provided a greater chance for us to see more wildlife, as most of the organisms protruded from their dwellings early in the morning. The safari was both peaceful and stimulating. The guides shared stories and made sure to point out any animal that caught their eyes. We were able to see Howler Monkeys, lizards, cranes, iguanas, and much more. The team finished the morning with homemade juice and snacks. Since it was scheduled that we were to play later that day, the majority of the afternoon was spent resting, with our legs up, so that we would be ready to perform that evening. The team we played was San Carlos and their stadium was close to an hour away from the hotel. All of the elements were against us that night, as it thundered and poured for a majority of the game. However, the LMU squad was able to overcome the adversities and finish with a strong 3-0 win over the opposing side. The boys fought hard and played very well. After drying and getting warm, the team grabbed dinner and got into bed to be rested for the next day to come.
By Connor Hunsicker
Today the squad took off from our new hotel and started towards our newest Costa Rican adventure, white-water rafting. We were on the road for about twenty minutes before we made a quick detour to check out an iguana hotspot. Not really knowing what to expect we made our way over to where they were at. Wow, there were a lot of them. We spent about ten minutes taking pictures and watching what seemed to be like over 100 reptiles crawl and lounge in the trees and shade. Coach Krumpe called us back onto the bus and we were off to San Carlos.
About an hour and half later we had reached our destination. The town is most known for its exportation of pineapples and other fruits which have significantly increased over the last ten years. Finally, we made our way down to the river and met our tour guides and started to gear up. Dressed to impress in our helmets and life-jackets, we listened to some safety instructions from the guide. I won't name names, but it was obvious that some of the boys were a little nervous after hearing all the possible scenarios. And with that, we were off.
I jumped into a boat with Dylan, John, Jack, Bryce and Flores with our tour guide being Luis, which we changed to Louie. We started down the river after about five minutes of practicing paddling in sync together and learning the verbal commands. Soaking in all of the surroundings, we went down the first rapid and it definitely woke up anyone who was still a little groggy from their bus ride nap. The adventure had begun. At one point we all just looked at each other and no words even had to be spoken, we were in heaven. It doesn't get much better than this. Louie made the trip down the river that much more enjoyable. He was eager to answer our questions about the country and express his favorite spots along the river. His english was surprisingly good and he was quite the comedian. We took a break about thirty minutes in to enjoy some freshly sliced watermelon and pineapple. While the guides were dicing our snack, we were allowed to do some cliff jumping into the river.
Coach Mennel displayed a dominating performance in the splash competition. Krumpe looked like he was back in his prime with a well executed front flip. After everyone got there fair share of jumps in our guides were calling us back over. We scarfed down the fruit, which might have been the best we've had all trip and we were told to get back on our rafts. At first I couldn't find Louie and started to worry a little bit only to find him all the way across the river with a big smile on his face. I guess our group was going to get some extra swimming in. Everyone made their way across the current and finally got back in the raft. Once all in, we started back down the river. Louie would start us off with a "Forward boys" and count out our strokes with a deep "One, Two, One, Two". Pretty remarkable to see how everything we have done this trip requires us to work together.
Today was an excellent example of how we needed timing and execution to prevent our teammates and ourselves from falling into the water. An exhausting two hours later, we had made it to lunch and everyone was starving. Shoulders tired and worn out from the hot Costa Rican sun, we couldn't have been more happy to receive our plates of either chicken or beef, with rice and beans as our sides. Full and content, there was only one thing on my mind. Get back to the bus and take a nice nap. Once we stopped, I was woken up by my captain Seany Sears, and Coach Krumpe informed us we were going to have an inter-squad 11 vs. 11 match at practice. We had about two hours before training and apparently my nap on the bus wasn't sufficient because I was woken up about fifteen minutes before training.
Our hotel is massive and literally has everything you could every want including a full-size soccer field, which is by far the best surface we've played on. We had a very intense practice and looked very sharp. The MVP of practice would have to be go to my dear friend, Aaron Garfinkle. During our pre-training stretching, he happened to lay down straight onto an ant farm and was immediately covered in hundreds of ants. Unlucky for Aaron, but the rest of the team got a good laugh out of the situation before we began. After training we had a team stretch in the hotel pool and headed back to our rooms to shower before dinner. It is hard to believe that this trip is coming to end and we can't stay here the rest of summer. Our team is coming together more and more everyday and the anticipation for the fall is almost too much. I am just trying to enjoy every second of the day with a group of guys I would gladly do anything for. Pura Vida!
By Mark Dodseth
After a quick and final breakfast at our Punta Leona hotel we packed up and traveled north. We first made a quick stop at a bridge well known for crocodiles. While signage suggested otherwise, food was bought from locals on the bridge thrown down to the crocodiles to watch them eat.
A picture from the bridge looking down
Our afternoon destination for the day was the Baldi hot springs, which was one of the most unique places I have ever experienced. As you proceeded up the mountain the springs increased in temperature, culminating at a rock tower a few stories tall that poured water from the top. Many of the pools cascaded from one to the next. They had even created a sauna by closing off a room that looked like a cave and allowed the hot water to pour through it. On the way to the top there was a set of slides, which may have had a difficult time passing American regulations. While the most extreme of the slides was enclosed, a sharp turn and drop left you airborne and coming into the water from the side of the slide leaving a face of shock from anyone who popped out of the water after the exhilarating ride.
Photo of Baldi Springs (Taken by Sebastian DeRada)
After a short 40 minute drive we arrived at our newest home, a hotel in the jungle. At night it is difficult to see the exact nature of the hotel except that we are surrounded by trees With troublesome wifi connection in the rooms, it seemed as though a team meeting had been called as the majority of the team gathered in a wifi hotspot shortly after reaching the hotel to check up on the outside world.
By Pedro Velazquez
After a free night that turned out to be great for team bonding, we had to wake up the earliest in this trip. This was because we had to pack up for our next ride to San Carlos. About ten minutes in the bus we stopped at the crocodile bridge. There were about fifteen to twenty crocodiles in and outside the muddy water. There was a sign at the beginning of the bridge that said to not feed the crocodiles but Captain Craig thought it was a good idea to throw some meat so the crocodiles would fight for it. I don't know why he would even think about that but he did. After being at the bridge for about twenty minutes taking pictures of the crocodiles, we were suddenly back on the bus and up for another stop for lunch. We stopped at a place about 15 minutes to the hot springs. We ate and quickly scoped the town for a while. When we arrived to the hot springs, the whole team went to the slides. Everyone was having a good time and some decided to try different types of ways to go down the slides. One example was Michael Erush who went head first on the fastest slide there was. He ate it really bad and was complaining about his back for too long.
The pools went from being cold in the bottom to really hot at the top of the peak. We were at the pools for about three hours and most of us were really over it. We were hungry and dinner was not until seven. We were patiently waiting for dinner while watching the Costa Rican soccer championship game. When it was finally time for dinner the whole team went up to the buffet. After dinner we left for our hotel and received our keys. Finding out that there was no Wi-Fi or channels in our rooms was low blow!
By Leon Prikhodovskiy
Today we left Punta Leona and were headed for La fortuna. One the way we stopped by a local bridge where crocodiles hung out. Craig Nitti bought some meat to toss down there and we all watched the crocodiles devour the meat. We then went to the hot springs where we swam in different pools of increasing temperatures. Overall the day was pretty relaxing.
By Trent Clifton
After a long day of hiking and swimming yesterday, The LMU Men's Soccer players we're rewarded with a chance to sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast at 8:30 AM this morning. Although the majority of the guys were struggling to keep their eyes open at the beginning of breakfast, we were quickly alert once a family of white-faced monkeys joined us for the first meal of the day. We ate our delicious Costa Rican food while the majestic monkeys put on a show just for us. However, as the monkeys in the canopy distracted us, a few of the cheekier ones swooped down the restaurant pillars and stole the sugar packets from the dining tables. Even though we were forced to enjoy our fresh Costa Rican coffee without artificial sweetener, no one could deny the incredible experience of being outsmarted by the incredible creatures.
Connor Hunsicker enjoying breakfast with one of the white-faced monkeys.
After breakfast, Coach Krumpe suggested an optionatory trip to the bustling beach town of Playa Jaco. The majority of the players attended the trip, as no one wanted to miss exploring any part of this beautiful country. The two hour excursion found the group buying souvenirs for friends and family, enjoying local Costa Rican smoothies, and walking through the nooks and crannies of one of Costa Rica's many culturally unique beachside villages.
Craig Nitti, Mark Dotseth, Jackson Criswell, Eric Brunter and Paul Blanchette walk away from the ocean in Playa Jaco.
Upon our return to the Punta Leona Beach Club Hotel, everyone was pretty exhausted, so Coach Krumpe kindly allowed us to have a few hours to relax. However, no good deed goes unpunished, and the end of our relaxation time was met with a beach run alongside our adventurous head coach.
Connor Hunsicker and myself alongside our fearless leader Paul Krumpe.
To say we were excited about the run would be an understatement. The scenery surrounding our run turned even the laziest couch dweller (like myself) in to an avid, ambitious, Olympic caliber marathon runner (like Craig Nitti). The run began on the gorgeous Punta Leona white sand, and continued onto the rough terrain of the ocean side lava rock. The 30 players effortlessly traversed across the natural obstacle course and it was truly a sight to see. The run culminated with an uphill sprint to the top of a rainforest mountain, where not even the torrential downpour could stop our determined team from finishing our fitness regiment. Even though this was one of the quieter days of the trip, it was still packed with excitement, and carried on the awesome team bonding vibes that are turning the LMU Men's Soccer team in to brothers for life.
By Eric Brunter
We awakened from our slumber at around 8 am today. This was a much needed time to catch up on our sleep since we have been waking up around 7 am each day. After we showered and ate a delicious breakfast we got to go into the nearby town of Jaco. We went window shopping and looked around in the tourist shops for interesting items to buy for people back home. Many interesting knick knacks were found and bought. Overall it was a great experience wandering around the beachside town and talking with my teammates. We left the town and headed back to the hotel for a much needed lunch as many of the guys were starving. After eating we had a couple of hours off before a beach run. All of the team took a nap for the couple of hours before the run. The team ran along the gorgeous beach and into the rain forest while rain was tumbling on their heads. The team bonded in ways they never believed were possible. Dinner was next on the plan and we embraced it with much vigor. No food was out of reach for the starving soccer players. Everything in sight was eaten. After dinner the team hung out around the fancy pool area enjoying the company of themselves and other fine patrons of the hotel. Many new friends were made during this night and bonds were deepened between teammates. Today was a good day.
By Alex Lam
Today we awoke at 6:50am to have a gorgeous breakfast amongst the trees at 7:00am. We awoke from our two-hour nap on the bus as we arrived in one of Costa Rica's national parks. It is the second most popular park and for good reason. We lathered our skin with bug spray and split into two groups with two different tour guides. We had Carlos, who is now a great friend of mine.
The first piece of wildlife we saw was a poisonous crab. Our group crowded around the telescope to take a close look at this never before seen animal. It was like watching starving people look for food. But the excitement only got worse. As we learned about plants we could eat to survive in nature or how termites are a good source of protein, the anticipation continued to build. But then it happened! We finally saw the one we envy the most, the sloth. She was holding her baby in the canopies of the tree and looked like she was sleeping at the same time.
We swam in the warm ocean amongst a cozy beach. We saw Toucan's feed their young. We shopped in markets of handmade creations. It was a day of adventure and a day of memories. We are in Costa Rica!
By Dylan Seedman
As we departed from Punta Leona Hotel we headed to one of Costa Rica's most popular national parks known as Manuel Antonio National Park. The trip consisted of a 1 1/2 hour hike that ended up at an amazing white sand beach. Along the way our tour guide Carlos showed us tons of wild life, such as monkeys, crabs, spiders, lizards and much more.
After splashing around in the warm water we started our hike back to the town where we found many cool souvenirs and cool gifts to bring back home to our families. It was an amazing day spending time in the wild and experiencing nature that we never thought we would get the chance to see. Not only was the trip wonderful, the team bonding was even better.
By Juan De Rada
After our early start to the day we started our journey to the beautiful Punta Leona beach club. We traveled south and the resort is actually located in the middle of the jungle but it is also close to the beach. Soon after we got off the bus you can tell the weather was more humid than Guanacaste. We played Jaco Race, a second division soccer team here in Costa Rica. The team came out strong and after a great halftime speech by the coaches, we were ready to go. The second half started with two early goals, and soon after we gained confidence and scored two more goals on them. This was huge for the team, and we were happy to get our first victory of the trip.
In the picture below we have Aaron Garfinkel enjoying his stay at the Punta Leona Hotel & Club.
By Luc Brubaker
Today we moved our Costa Rican adventure to Punta Leona, four hours from the hotel in Flamingo. Although the trek over to the new hotel was long, there was a lot of beautiful scenery due to the variety of tropical plants and the amazing views from the the edge of the hill. The new hotel has not only brought new vegetation, but also new animals. We have already been exposed to monkeys, as well as other small mammals. This place is nothing short of paradise. Along with the pretty scenery came the pretty style of LMU soccer in our second game of the trip. After a very tough 0-0 tie in the first half, we came out on fire for the second. Scoring four goals in a game is a tough task, but we were able to accomplish it in a single half. Despite the rough field conditions, although the facility was beautiful, we were able to pull out a 4-0 win against a tough opposition. Many local spectators made it out to the match because if there is one thing that I learned on the trip, it's that there is nowhere else a Costa Rican would be, then a soccer field. After the solid win, the team drove back to the hotel to enjoy yet another delicious feast. Costa Rica continues to impress me, making me fall in love with the country with every step that I take.
By Cameron Krumpe
Today we had the opportunity to take a catamaran boat tour, after our training in the morning. We traveled into a small nearby town for our practice and we were the talk of the town, parents and children alike came out to watch our training because Costa Ricans really love their soccer. After training we went back to the hotel to eat, and then we were off to the catamaran. The boat tour was a blast! We traveled about five miles then anchored, and the festivities began. This boat provided snorkels and fins for the more adventurous, and it also provided floating noodles for others to relax in the water. All of the people on the boat really picked up on the Costa Rican culture which means they were very friendly. The team spent some quality time together and the trip resulted in some great bonding. Everyone had a great time and was very respectful.
By Michael Meissner
Today was a day where the entire team got closer together. We went on a boat ride called the Catamaran and it allowed everybody to get to know each other very well. Everybody was having a good time and we even had some dance competitions on the boat. Dylan Seedman was the star of the show trying to get everyone out of their seats to dance. This got everyone pumped up and the whole team was singing and dancing. Even the people who were on the boat that we didn't know started dancing with us and having a fun time. We then went snorkeling and everyone started having a mini party in the water and people were freaking out because a jellyfish stung someone. Once that was over we all got back on the boat and started doing flips off of the side. Even Coach Krumpe had some incredible backflips and Coach Erush dove off the side too. Fun Kyle opted out of the jump but everyone still loves him anyway. At the end of the day the whole team romantically watched the sun set and took some team photos and it was the perfect end to a perfect day.