And just like that I have made it to Costa Rica! It was bittersweet walking off the ship into the country because all I could think about was how the next time I walk off the ship it will be for the last time. But all of those sad emotions quickly went away when we got on our shuttle to Jaco Beach. Pretty much everyone and there mother all went to that beach and I would say about 80% of us all stayed at the Crocs Resort because we all wanted to be close to each other for the last port. On our way, our driver asked us if we wanted to find out why our hotel is called Crocs. Being the inquisitive students we are, we all said yes and he pulled over on the side of the road and told us to get out and walk to the bridge and guess what we saw? That’s right, crocodiles! Needless to say it was pretty awesome. One of the locals even tossed it some food so we got to see the go at it! As soon as we checked in, we did what we do best and that was go right to the beach and to play some good ole American football. The weather was rainy and the sand was damp- just how we like it. We played until it was time to go to dinner. We decided to go to a local sushi bar because they had 50% off and it was some of the best sushi that I have ever tasted. We spent hours there eating roll after roll until we basically rolled ourselves out of there. Our hotel had a casino in the main lobby so wave after wave of people showed up. It felt like it was a private party for all of us. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t stay out too late because I had to be up and ready by 5:45 to go deep sea fishing!
I felt like I slept walked all the way to the pier because I do not even remember getting there, I was so tired. As soon as we got on the little boat I found the most comfortable spot and went right back to sleep. I kid you not, I didn’t wake up until 1 pm. I didn’t even miss out on anything! We had about 10 lines out on the water and couldn’t catch anything. It wasn’t until we were about to head in that we finally got a bite! As soon it hooked on it flew out of the water and this marlin was HUGE. Our guides said it was minimum 400 pounds. We immediately took to the pole and started reeling as fast as we could. Between 6 of us, we went through the rotation at least 10 times and this sucker still was not tired. We even let our guide have a go at it and he got exhausted. Then, before we knew it, the line snapped!! Just like that Ole Betty was gone. We just sat there in silence because we could not believe what just happened. All of the hard work that we had put into reeling for over two and a half hours was all for nothing. As we looked up the sun was already beginning to set in the horizon, and, with our heads hung low, we had to begin our long journey back to the pier. Later on for dinner we ended up eating fish since that was our goal at the beginning of the day (even though it wasn’t our catch).
Day 3 was the first time in a while that I actually got to sleep in. We took our time getting out of bed and eating breakfast. It wasn’t until 1 o’clock that our guides picked 25 of us up to go on a zip-line and canyoning adventure! We drove out for about 30 minutes and got all geared up and took to the mountains for a 30 minute hike to start repelling down. Of course I thought I was an expert since I had just done this in Banos but boy was I wrong. These waterfalls were way steeper than I expected them to be and I definitely slipped a few times. We got to repel down 4 waterfalls and do this incredible “monkey drop” which was a 50 free fall drop and it was absolutely terrifying but so much fun. At the end of the course we got to do two zip lines and one of them was over a half a mile long! It was incredible and so liberating. I even got to go upside down for a part of it! For it being the last adventurous thing to do on this voyage it was definitely a great way to go out! The guides were awesome and the people were even better. After getting back, we were so exhausted that we passed right out.
Day 4 was really bittersweet because it was our last full day in the great country of Costa Rica. We spent the entire day just walking around the city of Jaco to do some souvenir shopping and get some food. The main strip is actually really cool. There are tons of shops everywhere and you can pretty much see the beach from anywhere. Minutes turned into hours while we were out and next thing we knew it was time for dinner. We ate at one of the best Mexican restaurants around and it was delicious. I ate some of the best tacos and quesadillas I had ever had. There were tons of us there and it was our “last supper” in port. It was exactly what we needed before out last night out as a group. Everyone who was staying in the area came to our hotel and we basically turned it to a SAS takeover. Looking around, all of the tables and machines were filled with SASers. It was great having everyone all together for one last time! The music was blaring and the tables were hot and we were dancing the night away! We definitely embodied the Pura Vida lifestyle and it was a great way to go out!
The next day we had to be back on the ship by 3:00 so we had to wake up super early to make the 2 hour van ride back to the port. There’s honestly no way to describe the feeling of walking onto the ship for the very last time. There was just a weird on the ship because no one wants this to end. As we said goodbye to Costa Rica one final time, all we had to look forward to were the last 9 days we all had together.
On our last and final trek to San Diego, there was so much that happened on board. The most important being the crew talent show. Over this voyage we have gotten so close with the crew and they are the best bunch of people that I have ever met. They are always eager to serve and always have a smile on their face, so to see them perform was a real treat. We saw bollywood dancing, singing, acting, and even a magic act! They did a wonderful job and it was so cool to see them outside of their typical job attire!
Another cool thing that happened was all of the dependent children who were on board got to walk across the stage as they graduated from the Muffin King Royal Academy. Throughout the semester I was a tutor for one of the kids so it was awesome to see how far they have come from the beginning of voyage. There was about 12 of them total, all children of the teachers, and all of us tutors got really close to them.
After their graduation, me and the rest of the students started cramming for our finals. Instead of the typical finals week that we were all accustomed to, we all basically had 4 exams spread out over the course of 2 days. Believe me when I say that the entire ship was in full study mode. The pool deck was basically empty because everyone was nestled away somewhere trying to cram. As I mentioned earlier in one of my posts, you can definitely tell whose grades transferred and who grades were pass fail (me), but fter several hours of stuDYING and reviewing I made it through and passed all of my classes!! It was a weird feeling being done with finals because I felt like this semester had gone by way too quick. Part of it has something to do with the unique schedule we had but I definitely believe that time truly flew by. It honestly feels like just the other day I was meeting everyone for the first time leaving from Germany. Our last and final hoorah before we disembarked was the SAS alumni ball! It was basically a formal where we got all dressed up and partook in the fanciest of dinners. We all felt like royalty looking so fresh and clean and being served by our favorite wait staff. Following our dinner, we had a dance on the top deck that turned out to be a lot of fun. It was almost like a middle school dance but with better music and in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Once the dance was over, no one wanted to go to bed so we decided to camp out on the 8th deck and we did so until we saw the sunrise. The next day was definitely the hardest day on the ship. Heads were hung low as tears filled our eyes because it was our last time ever being all together at the same time. You don’t really realize how close you get with people until it’s time to say the “see you laters” when you don’t know when the later is. We tried staying positive and focused on how far we all had come since September but all the way up until we heard that the ship was cleared to leave over the PA it didn’t seem real that this was ending. The next thing I know I’m off the ship and I’m greeted by cousin who lives in San Diego. She picked me up and took me to this amazing restaurant where we got to catch up on my voyage and about PwC! Afterwards I got dropped off with my close friends to celebrate our last night together before we all went our separate ways. We reminisced on the past 104 days we spent with each other and it was a great way to end the voyage. And, as an added bonus, we stopped by a Christmas party where the hosts (and their children) were all former SASers. We didn’t get to stay for long, but it was really nice to meet them especially since we had just gotten off the boat that day.
The next morning I couldn’t wait to arrive home! I got to the airport extra early and of course my flight got delayed so I spent 6 hours hanging out in the admirals club until my flight finally started boarding. Traveling home was the first time this journey that I ever had to set my clock forward and lose time so yay was a little strange landing and it being super dark outside. But nothing compared to the feeling of seeing my parents for the first time after 4 months!! I was overwhelmed with joy and the perfect ending to a wonderful journey.
All in all, this voyage was an incredible experience and I encourage anyone thinking about studying abroad to do semester at sea. Even though I’m sad that it’s over, I’m excited to stay in touch with everyone that o became friends with and hopefully do more traveling with them. Thanks to everyone who followed my journey across the world, I really hoped you enjoyed it! If you have any questions please let me know- I am happy to share anything about my experience. Merry Christmas!!