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Costa Rica 2 • June 28-July 11, 2018

Final Update!

July 11, 2018

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered” – Nelson Mandela

This quote was shared last night at our final moon up. As we gathered to reflect on our new memories, our new friendships, and our new perspectives we felt as though we had returned to our starting point as a changed group, for the better of course!

It’s been a heck of a ride folks! Last night we celebrated our journey with some delicious steaks, fish, and pasta! We toasted our watermelon juice to the new memories and friendships. Throughout the journey, us leaders, created some final awards that we thought would best describe each member of the group:

For their never ending enthusiasm and love for adventure…

Most likely to be a moondance leader: David and Ava

For her entertaining stories and ability to get others to listen…

Most likely to have a talk show: Mercer

For her kind spirit and constant smile…

Least likely to make someone cry: Kathryn

For her perseverance and open-minded attitude through all challenges…

Most likely to successfully to climb the 7 summits: Ginny

For her bubbly personality, and as the whole group knows, her affection for this music…

Most likely to be Drakes assistant #GodsPlan: Erika

For the kid that always keeps us laughing, even without trying…

Most likely to have a reality TV show called “The Life of Meat Mike”: Mike

For her enthusiasm, energy, and of course that Texas pride…

Most likely to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader: Lili

For his strong will, determination, and endearingly goofy nature…

Most likely to be a conspiracy theorist: Luke

For his go with the flow personality, pensive comments, and newly discovered love of Chamomile…

Most likely to be a Teavana guru: Blake

For her love of children, being quick to play with all of our new friends along the trip, and those wild surfing skills…

Most likely to be the cool mom to a big family of surfer kids: Mindy

For her love of travel and exploring the world, and for keeping us leaders in the loop with all things hip and cool…

Most likely to be a travel agent for the Kardashians: Sophia

For his outgoing nature which is just destined to succeed, and for keeping us jamming all around Costa Rica….

Most likely to start a music label due to his #1 Spotify playlist: Isaac

Thank you for sharing your wonderful kids with us, it has been a trip to remember! As tradition has it, ¡PURA VIDA BABY!

Temple, Ryan, Garrett

Surf's Up!

July 11, 2018

Hey hey hey we’re back, but this time from the beach!  We have enjoyed two sweet days of surfing, commonly known as “shredding the gnar”, in the awesome town of Cahuita.  Our first stop on the Caribbean Coast was the famous Sloth Sanctuary where we took a tour of the place and got up close and personal with the majestic mammals. Mindy loved the information that was shared and she was sure to ask some great questions along the way.  After the stop we headed to the black sand beaches for lunch and some fun in the sun!  At the beach, Blake and Isaac loved playing in the waves while Mike and Luke enjoyed walking down the coastline with Garrett.  For dinner, we popped in a delicious local restaurant that was enjoyed by all.

The next morning we awoke to some wet weather, however the wretched clouds were soon to make way for the wickedly powerful sun and we made our way to Cahuita National Park.  At the park, we enjoyed a nature walk and time in the water.  Everyone that got in enjoyed their time in the tranquil water while some built sand castles in the sand with David and Temple.  After a scrumptious lunch prepared by our wonderful guide, Juan Carlos, we hit the town for some souvenir shopping.  The vendors were no match for Erika, and they should fear her persuasion skills as she bartered her way through the streets snagging all sorts of t shirts and fun knick knacks at discounted prices.  After time in town, we jumped on the surfboard and hit the waves.  Mercer and Ava were quick to impress everyone, including the surfing teachers, with their natural ability as they were the first to be able to stand up.  We found another local restaurant for dinner.  Wanting to soak up the beachy Pura Vida lifestyle that we’ve all been enjoying, Lili tried the fish and declared it to be fit for a king.  After stuffing our stomachs, Mike and Sophia led us as LOD’s (leaders of the day) through a memorable Moonup reflecting on our time in Costa Rica before we go on our separate ways.

Day two of surfing brought us rain, however the rain was accompanied by even bigger waves which everyone enjoyed.  Ginny was one of the first to get in the water to test out her skills and was one of the last to get out as she continuously shredded the waves in the rain.  After the lesson, our gracious guides set out fresh fruit for us.  The mango, watermelon, and papaya was devoured by all, especially Kathryn.  After saying goodbye to our surfing instructors we set off for San Jose, where preparations for banquet dinner are well under way!

-Temple, Ryan, and Garrett

Riveting Rafting!

July 8, 2018

¡Buenos Dias from the Pacuare River!  We have spent the last two days floating on the famous river and one of the top 5 rivers to raft in the world! After hiking right up to our drop in spot and listening to an important safety presentation from our guides, we jumped in the rafts for a new adventure and new memories. After some crazy class 2 and 3 rapids, we were quick to make a stop off to the side enjoy one of the river’s hidden splendors, an incredible swimming hole which even had a natural water slide through the rocks – everyone loved it! The views of the Costa Rican jungle surrounding us all along the way were tremendous.  To top it all off, our knowledgeable guides often pointed out exotic birds and other impressive features of the landscape, making our experience even more special.

After that first day on the water, we pulled up to our incredible riverside campsite ready to relax after such a big day of hiking and rafting. This place was absolute paradise! Fun games, comfy bungalow hammocks, and of course, that phenomenal post-rafting meal.

Day two on the Pacuare brought about all new challenges. Not only were we taking on bigger class 4 rapids, but we were doing it rain or shine. The rain fell as we suited up in our life jackets, paddles, and helmets, but this definitely did not deter this adventurous crew! We all had a blast winding through the river’s wild waters, splashing through all sorts of refreshing waterfalls along the way.

Though our time on the river eventually came to an end, the fun definitely did not stop there. The day’s final challenge: dance off!! Splitting into two groups, the kids came up with some very entertaining dance routines to “Stacy’s Mom” and “I Want It That Way.” After some tough deliberation from the judges, wiping away tears of laughter, Team 1 took the gold for their Stacy’s Mom/Hip Hop/Ballet mashup… a truly unforgettable performance!

In the midst of all these crazy adventures, we wanted to give a quick shoutout to everyone back at home…

Luke- Hola muchachos. Having fun. Can’t wait to meet the unnamed mammal that is hopefully not tearing up the house.

David- Hey Mom and Dad I miss you! We met a dog during hiking and I miss him.

Mike – I’m having tons of fun. I have a new nickname (Meat Mike). I have been feasting. Can’t wait to see y’all and the dogs soon. Adios amigos.

Blake- Having a fun time

Lili- Hey family! Miss y’all so much but am having so much fun! See y’all soon! Love y’all!

Ava- Hey Mom and fam! Miss you so much and can’t wait to see you but I’m also I’m having so much fun! Give the puppies a hug for me. Love you!  Also bring cookies and ice cream to the airport!

Kathryn – Having the time of my life. I don’t want this trip to end! Miss you. (Bring me and Sophia cold stone ice cream sandwiches when you pick us up)

Sophia- I’m having a lot of fun. We did a lot of hiking. Tomorrow we’re gonna surf. We rafted and I had fun. The food is really really really really really good. Kathryn and I want runway when we come home. Thanks.

Mercer- Hey fam! I am having a blast in Costa Rica! I love every single person on my trip and can’t wait to tell you all about them. I miss y’all and am excited to tell you all my stories when I get home! Xoxoxo, Mercer

Issac – Hey Mom and Dad I’m having a lot of fun and I will tell you about it when I get home. Love y’all

Erika- Having a blast. Love y’all!

Mindy- Hey mom and dad, I am missing y’all but having a blast!! I have met so many amazing girls and guys on this trip and can’t wait to tell you about it. Also please decide where we go to dinner that night because I probably won’t be able to decide! LOVE YALL

Ginny- Hi. Miss you. Say hi to Maggie for me. Can’t wait to come home but I am having a great time. Love you!


Trekkin' while reppin'!

July 6, 2018

Wow! What a journey we have had since we last talked. The group has walked miles and miles over the past three days and it has been a blast! After leaving El Humo, we jammed to some tunes with the windows down as we journeyed around the volcano “Turrialba” and through the vibrant mountains. Day 1 of the Costa Rican trek was filled with a little sweat, a lot of smiles and snacks! With an early start, we hiked up, down and all around the rolling hills, ending up at one of the sickest campsites above the clouds. The afternoon was spent with games, relaxation and a delicious dinner of pork chops and mashed potatoes. Mike and Luke were all over these pork chops and claim that this delicious meal carried them through the whole three days of trekking. A meal of champions for sure.

Since the kids have been embracing the “living in the moment” philosophy, they were slight confused when the morning wake up song was to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” with American flags and beads decorating their sleeping bags! Who could forget the 4th of July!? While reppin’ our country (but also keeping a respectable “Low American Profile” otherwise known as “LAP”), we continued our journey in patriotic style. Led by our LOD’s, Erika and Mike, in American flag top hats, we slipped and slid down the muddy jungle hills. We laughed and smiled as we embraced our red, white and muddy look! Lunch was spent as a beautiful river spot were we were able to wash off and enjoy a delicious American meal of PB & J’s. Sophia was the first to cannon ball off a rock into the refreshing water followed by a wild belly flop by Luke. The final miles were completed with Kathryn and David leading the crew into another fabulous campsite, exploring yet another beautiful Costa Rican village in the valley of the mountains. After walking all day, Isaac hadn’t had enough and was eager to get a crew on the nearby soccer field. The day was finished with a delicious dinner of rice, chicken and veggies made by Blake and Ginny. And, to top off one of the best 4th of July’s yet, we all had major sugar rushes from ice cream and Nutella crepes. Yum!

Day 3 was one for the books! The group woke up eager and ready to make the final push in our trek. Luke and Mindy got the crew up and started some morning games to get those legs going again. The trek started off like a nice morning stroll ending at another gorgeous lunch spot on the river. Little did they know that the chicken empanadas, crackers and fruit were the exact fuel they needed for the final uphill challenge. Man, this last part was incredible for us leaders to see. The entire group nearly raced up the mountains for the last couple of miles. Al one point, Lili and Blake were literally printing uphill. It was crazy! Before we knew it, we had reached yet another home for the night above the clouds. When arriving, the group kicked off their shoes and took some much needed showers. Our night was spent enjoying a traditional meal of rice, beans and delicious fish cooked by the locals. The yummy meal was followed by a spectacular dance performed by local girls who attended the school where we were staying. Finally, the night ended with games! Mercer and Ava had a chance to toss on the salsa skirts and bandanas while learning the Costa Rican dance themselves. It was one of the most special experiences where all the kids had a blast despite the language barrier and age differences. It was definitely a night to remember! Tomorrow we will begin our trek out of the beautiful Costa Rican jungle. Man, have we had a time! We have learned for more than we ever imagined about ourselves, our abilities and about a brand new, incredible culture. As you can imagine, after all our hard work the kids are eager to hit the Pacuare River and tomorrow is the time! We cannot wait to see what the rapids have in store. The journey has just begun! PURA VIDA BABY!

Temple, Ryan and Garrett

Hola from El Humo!

July 3, 2018

Hola from our favorite village of Humo de Turrialba (commonly referred to as “El Humo”)!  We have spent the past four days exploring our first Costa Rican village, but most importantly, helping local families with home renovations for our service project.


Day 1 of this new adventure started off with all sorts of excitement… Isaac’s birthday! That first night we celebrated with pizzas and chocolate cake, quickly getting to know all of the new friends we had just met in the airport. After enjoying some awesome pancakes the next morning, we then made the journey from San Jose to El Humo and my oh my were the views from the bus windows spectacular.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by a delicious Costa Rican lunch made by some folks of the local community.  After lunch we played some games then began honing our construction skills that we would be using over the next three days.  Francisco, our fearless construction leader, taught the students how to properly use a saw, as well as a hammer and nails.  Mercer was quick to impress everyone with the intensity in her eyes when she had that hammer in her hand.  Isaac certainly rose to the occasion too, practicing both his sawing and hammering, even with a cast on his hand!


The next day at the houses we really put these skills to the test, jumping right into our renovation projects bright and early. David was eager to get to work as he did very solid work hammering nails in on the side of one of the houses.  Beast Mike tackled the outside of the house, re-cementing the walls, and even teaching Lili and Mindy his new skills as they joined in to help get the job done. Kathryn and Ava made the house shine, giving it a new green paint job.  Blake and Sophia crushed the tough task of scrubbing the bottom of the walls in order to prepare them for a new paint job.


What we’ve really loved is being able to play with Davíd (the 8 year old boy living in one of the houses) in between our different service jobs. In addition to the incredible work these guys have put into the two houses, as our service section came to a close the kids decided they also wanted to give Davíd gifts of legos, jerseys, and a frisbee as their final goodbye… we are definitely going to miss him!


These days have consisted of some tough construction work in the mornings, but the excitement doesn’t stop there! We’ve packed all sorts of fun activities into these short few days. After lunch one afternoon, we all ran down to the field for a wild soccer game in the pouring rain – people slipping and sliding everywhere! That mud didn’t stop Ginny though, she crushed 3 goals in a row for her team! We’ve also loved staying so close to a beautiful, refreshing river… the perfect spot for a post-work swim. Luke was sure to bring the frisbee to the river and had a ton of fun throwing it around with some of the other students.  Erika even found a fun water slide, riding the current down through the river rocks. On our final afternoon, we even got to explore the local sugar cane factory (“trapiche”), learning more about one of Costa Rica’s finest treasures and trying fresh sugar cane right there on the spot!


Crazy how fast time has flown by here in El Humo… and so many more adventures to come! We’re off now to kick off an awesome hike through the Costa Rican mountains and jungles. Really hoping to see a jaguar (how cool would that be??), we’ll let ya know what we find!



Introducing the Pura Vida Lifestyle!

June 28, 2018

Hello Costa Rica Families!

We just got word from the leaders that all students have arrived and the trip is now underway! We can’t wait to hear from them soon.

-Moondance HQ


  • Erika
  • Michael
  • Blake
  • David
  • Luke
  • Sophia
  • Mercer
  • Lili
  • Ginny
  • Isaac
  • Ava
  • Mindy
  • Kathyrn Zimmerman