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Flying high in Costa Rica

Gjoa Haven's Gibson Porter has many wonderful memories of his summer travel to Costa Rica, and zip-lining is chief among them.

"Oh my God, I was so scared," he said of the first time he stood on a platform among the treetops, about to put his trust in a length of cable suspended in the air that would support him while he slid along at high speed. "But I managed to conquer my fears."
He wound up enjoying the experience so much that he went zip-lining in two other locations while touring the Central American country with Northern Youth Abroad.
His several weeks in Costa Rica in July and August consisted of a wealth of activities, including horseback riding, snorkeling, salsa dancing lessons, learning about the local ecology and food-crop planting techniques, volunteering with a humanitarian organization known as Lifting Hands International that aids refugees, travelling to a volcano, and sanding and staining a wildlife refuge building. Porter, 20, saw plenty of animals while in Costa Rica, including four types of monkeys, sloths, a wide variety of exotic birds, as well as all kinds of farm livestock.
He also attended several workshops, some of them educating him on eight different Costa Rican Indigenous tribes. He said the Cabécar people are most similar to Inuit.
"They always hunt and they mainly live off the land," he said. "Everyone listens to their elders and they still have their (native) language as their first language."
The Indigenous people there aren't accustomed to ice and snow, however. The temperatures in Costa Rica routinely climbed into the mid- to upper-20C range during Porter's stay and there was noticeably more humidity than in Gjoa Haven, Porter noted. However, he adapted quickly.
"I was comfortable after that (first) week with the heat," he said. "When we got to the volcano it was 5C and I couldn't even handle the coldness anymore."
Porter spent part of his time with a host family, whom he described affectionately. He ate his share of rice and beans, a common dish there, and he made a number of friends with whom he intends to stay in touch.
Entering Grade 12, he has plans to study politics or history at a post-secondary level after graduating high school. He's also eager to make his return to Central America someday.
"I want to go back to Costa Rica and try (going) solo," he said. "It's a really nice place."