Xperitas has long-standing relationships with its partners. We want you to get to know the amazing people that we work with. Meet Rocio Madrigal, a guide for us in Costa Rica. Rocio has a passion for sharing the culture and history of her country, and is always there there to help with the nuances of Spanish language dialects spoken in this beautiful Latin American country.
Rocio, tell us a bit about yourself!
Rocio: I learned to love and appreciate nature at a very young age while traveling with my family on vacation, exploring untouched forests and deserted beaches of my country. I came to understand that these would be my favourite places and that I must make interaction with nature a big part of my life.
How long have you been a certified naturalist guide in Costa Rica?
Rocio: While working full time as a Tour Director for a tour company, I became more and more interested in nature. Sixteen years ago, I decided to pursue my passion and deepen my relationship with nature. I attended and graduated the Institute of Biodiversity of Costa Rica (INBIO) as a Naturalist Tour Guide.
What made you decide to become a guide?
Rocio: All my life I have been very social. I like people! The combination of many factors, including my love of nature and the opportunity to communicate and share knowledge about my country, motivated me to become a Tour Guide.
Around how many Xperitas groups have you guided?
Rocio: I have worked with Xperitas for the last eight years.
What is your favorite part about guiding Xperitas groups?
Rocio: My favorite part is to see the excitement on the faces of the students that grows when they see that every day is a new adventure.
What is your favorite activity to do with groups?
Rocio: The day we send the students to their Costa Rican families is a very special day!! They meet each other by email and by sharing in social media, but the moment they see each other is magic!! I also enjoy leading the tour in Spanish because the students really like that a lot.
What is your favorite spot in Costa Rica to bring groups to?
Rocio: Arenal to see the volcano and Manuel Antonio National Park to see wildlife and the beach.
What is your favorite part about staying in the family stay community with a group (i.e. Trinidad de Dota, El Roble, etc.)?
Rocio: I like the fact that I can help the teachers, the families, or the students at any time if they need it. I also get to see how they are having an incredible time, taking in the culture and experiences, taking lots of pictures, and building unforgettable memories.
Can you share a rewarding moment during a time you were guiding an Xperitas group?
Rocio: Saying goodbye to host families is the most touching time of the program. The connection and bonding are the result of all the effort put in before they arrive in Costa Rica. When they say goodbye, there is a real feeling of gratitude among the students and families. I always cry when they are saying goodbye, it is so beautiful.
What are some recommendations you have for teachers or students before they come to Costa Rica?
- The use of mosquito repellent and sun block is a must!
- Bring clothes for tropical weather.
- No flip flops - they break easily. Bring Tevas or something similar.
- Bring clothes to dress in layers. Costa Rica has areas where the weather can be a little chilly.
What is your favorite Costa Rican word or phrase to teach students?
Rocio: Definitely PURA VIDA !
PURA VIDA is a saying, a phrase ...two very simple words, but each one of them is very strong and powerful.
They say that during a very difficult time in our country there was a comedic-like film that marked us for the rest of our generations. The moral, or lesson, of the film said to believe the good even in the hard times. The character got tired of saying that everything was going wrong in his life so he made a decision to never say that things were going wrong, but rather to say PURA VIDA.
So people would ask him: “Hi, how are you?” He decided to say “PURE LIFE”- PURA VIDA!!
“How is your health?” PURA VIDA!!
“How is your job going?” ...PURA VIDA
In a short time, his life started to change, improve, and good things began to happen without him realizing his troubled world had disappeared.
Let's not let these uncertain times take away our will to live.
Today more than ever, let's say PURA VIDA!!
Let's live out PURA VIDA !!!
Let's continue to be PURA VIDA!!!
Have a PURA VIDA life!!!
What do you like to do when you are not guiding?
Rocio: I do many other things! I am involved in the community. I help my mother with the music school that she has. I love gardening so I have a tropical garden with my mother. I continue studying and learning about nature, biodiversity, sustainability, and climate change. I love reading, cooking, taking nature hikes, and dancing. Last, but definitely not least, I am a mother of three young independent adults.
"This trip was life-changing and it really changed my perspective on life. Our guides, Nancy and Rocio, also did a phenomenal job of guiding us and educating us about the history of Costa Rica."
- Teacher from an Xperitas Costa Rican Trip
Manuel Antonio National Park