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Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Hot Springs, and the Sensation of flight...What more could I ask for?

  Every time I try to find the words to describe my experiences, I find the word beauty. Life is far more beautiful than we give it credit.

This beauty commonly expresses itself during my weekends here in San Jose, Costa Rica, but in particular the weekend I visited Arenal - an active volcano. The first activity I experienced upon arriving at the Arenal Volcano National Park was a jungle canopy tour, where I zip-lined through the trees. The fact that the rope acted as my only sense of security between my harness and the zip-line was the coolest part of the experience. Eventually, I was pushed out into the jungle just to fly by the rope of the zip-line. It was absolutely incredible. I swung over the trees quietly, amazed at the beauty I was flying over. I couldn't help but be jealous of the birds, as they had the best view in the world. The last leg of the zip-line journey was pretty cool too. It was a 600 meter leg that I did superman style. Again, I felt like I was flying, and I loved it!

After zip-lining, I headed to the waterfall at La Fortuna. I loved standing in front of one of nature's beasts, feeling the mist on my body and its strength on my feet and in my ears. I wanted so badly to swim behind the falls but a security guard politely informed me that my wish was not an option. So instead, I swam in the river and dipped myself in the water in front of the falls.

As if that day hadn't been amazing enough, when I arrived at the hotel later that day I was stunned yet again. In one day I had traveled from beautiful nature to magnificent human creation. The hotel was probably the nicest place I will ever stay in my entire life. It had nearly 30 hot tubs/pools, some with bar islands, all that were filled by natural hot springs. My room had a balcony with a clear view of jungle and volcano. Around two or three in the morning, as I sat admiring the view and fresh air, I was able to see the volcano's rocks light up bright red and orange due to the heat of the lava. Needless to say, this was just beyond cool. I couldn't help but think about how vast the beauty of the world is and how incredibly powerful nature can be.

Shortly after, I fell asleep and slept like a rock until nearly 10 a.m. All I can say from this experience is that life is beautiful, and if you disagree, I challenge you to take another look because odds are there's something beautiful right before your eyes.

Sydney Spain is a CEA student currently studying abroad this Fall 2011 semester in San Jose, Costa Rica.
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