Spring break or reading week as it is called in Canada already has begun, and students at various colleges and universities are off for fun and perhaps sun through late April.
The college vacations usually give a little boost to Costa Rican tourism, although Florida and Texas beaches as well as Cancún. Mexico, usually get the lion’s share.
The week is not all drinking and dancing. Students from some schools are here for a week of academics. Other students are here to help the poor or even the sloths.
Perhaps the best promotion for the country comes from Costa Rica Exotic Travel. The firm says on its Web site: “Everyone’s been to Cancun. Cabo and Panama City are overplayed. We’ve been there, we know. That’s why we decided to reinvent Spring Break and Reading Week: Costa Rica Style. No other destination comes close to what Costa Rica offers for Spring Break Travelers.”
“Go where there’s more to do than just sit on the beach and drink till you pass out,” the firm advises.
The promotion is true in that the country offers volcanos, zip lines, kayaking and a host of other recreational possibilities.
Spring Break has come a long way since the 1960 movie “Where the Boys Are.” That movie was a depiction of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, flooded by students. Today students appear to have more money. They will have to because some of the Costa Rican trips approach $2,000 a person, travel included.
Today the destinations are frequently more distant. There are spring break activities in Spain for U.S. students. Bermuda also promotes itself as a destination.
Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio, Jacó and the southern Caribbean coast always have been big draws. The visit sometimes was tragic. An Australian exchange student from a Florida school went missing in March 2005. No one knows what happened, but bones identified as his turned up several months later just off the Tamarindo beach.
Then, too, there have been the usual run of police encounters, crimes, vehicle mishaps and alcoholic excesses.
Recognizing this, the U.S. State Department put out a cautionary message Wednesday. Basically the summary says students should learn about where they are going, obey the local laws, go easy on the alcohol and keep in touch with parents.
“We receive many calls from parents who fear the worst when they have not heard from their children. In most cases, their child is fine, but has been too busy to check in,” said the State Department.
Among the visitors will be students from Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts who will be studying non-profit management and intercultural communications from March 6 to 16.
Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina, has a mission trip from March 9 to 16.
And students from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, will be helping out at a sloth sanctuary.
Projects Abroad, Inc. in Toronto, Canada, has a program where students work in a child care center in Heredia from either March 9 to 15 or March 16 to 22.