Canoeing with crocodiles

By Catherine Wendlandt

COLUMBIA, Mo. – When I was 14 years old, I canoed with crocodiles.

Now, I’m not a crazy adventurer. I don’t go running around buddying up with dangerous animals like Steve Irwin or something, but this is one of the coolest things I’ve done, so every once in a while I like to casually drop it into conversation.

I was on my eighth grade class trip to Costa Rica. My teachers made the (probably unwise) decision to take around 35 students thousands of miles to the tropics for a jam-packed four-day trip of educational fun. We drove all over the country; salsa danced in San Jose, hiked an active volcano and canoed in a river with crocodiles. Granted, the closest we got to one was around 30 feet away, but they were still there. My story counts.

We had a lot of fun, but despite that, I don’t remember too much of the trip. There are little bits and pieces that flash through my head, like watching the lava flow down from Mt. Arenal from my hotel window or eating a particularly fresh slice of pineapple, but looking back now, I didn’t get good look into the Costa Rican culture. I think I was too young and the trip was too short for me to truly appreciate the country.

I’m excited to go back. I am excited to explore and absorb the pura vida. I want to have adventures and I want to write about them. I want to improve my journalistic skills while expanding my horizons. I want to step out of my comfort zone. However, I don’t want to see another crocodile.

Middle School Costa Rica

This a picture from my trip. We were on a river boat tour through a rainforest and got to see a lot of monkeys. I am the girl on the left, in the middle of the wonderfully awkward experience of puberty.

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