It was the last full day of the expedition as the group made their way back to San Jose. The students were overwhelmed with the incredible experiences they had behind them and the emotions to come as they geared up to leave Costa Rica. The bus ride was unusually quite for this group as they silently reflected on their favorite moments. Small bursts of laughter interrupted the silence as one student began to reminisce on a funny moment at the hot springs just several nights back. As conversation began to pick up, the group heard a distant pop as the bus moved off the road. There was some discussion between the driver and guide that some of the students could understand and quickly translated to their peers that a tire had popped.
The group stepped off of the bus into the still heat. The driver scrambled to the wounded tire as whispers of complaints began among the students. The driver returned to announce that the group had to move the luggage out of the bus and off the roof to release weight and retrieve the new tire. Gasps and sighs from the students drowned out the highway immediately. The guides, teachers, and driver took action, while the students stood by complaining about the heat, the amount to time this was going to take, and their sudden starvation. As the complaints continued, one student slipped away from the group. He peaked his head through the bus window and yelled to another student to grab the bag he had in his hands. From there, he gathered the other students around and told them they were going to play a game. Each student stood in an assembly line as they passed every bag off the bus. Working together, the students began to tell stories from the trip, gradually forgetting about the tire and the heat. Hive-fives were exchanged as the ‘ringleader’ stepped of the bus. Later that night he was awarded the final bandana for showing leadership and motivating the group.
Expedition mentality is a key component to a Chill Expedition. Regardless of our detailed planning, situations like this are to be expected in experiential travel. Expedition mentality shows the ability to adapt, to motivate, to change a group mentality, and to always have fun. The bandana is rewarded each night to the student that exemplified expedition mentality throughout the day. At the end of the expedition the bandana is cut into pieces for every group member with the idea that this mentality, flexibility, and positive attitude will stick with them upon their return home.