Detailed Itinerary


Dental Health Journey to Costa Rica & Nicaragua led by Dr. Paula Jones

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Our Dental Health Journey will take us to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a 9 day career enrichment experience! You will delve into the delivery of dental care for the general population, current dental and medical training, and public health policies in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Engage with higher education professionals at a local dental school such as the Autonomous School of Dental Sciences in Costa Rica and the University of Managua in Nicaragua. Learn about access to care issues as well as the role of non-profit organizations such as Operation Smile in Nicaragua. Meet with the Health Foundation FUSADI in Costa Rica to learn about their programs to assist patients in a holistic manner in their clinic. Give back to the local community while providing free oral health exams and education on the importance of dental care to the community. Explore the wonders of the rainforest as you glide above and through the tree-tops on a zip-line adventure; relax and soak up the thermal waters of a Costa Rican hot-spring; ​explore the historical city of Managua in Nicaragua and see how the town is still rebuilding after the earthquake that devastated the city in 1972.

​What's Included

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Costa Rica & Nicaragua | 9 days | October 1-9, 2016

​​​Dates:   Oct 1 - Oct 9, 2016

Cost:      USD $4,299 per person

Days: ​    9

Leader Spotlight:  Dr. Paula Jones, DDS

Paula has been involved with the Academy of General Dentistry since 1993. She has served the AGD in many capacities including:-

  • Council Chair for membership for five years
  • Regional Director for Illinois
  • National AGD Board of Trustees representative for Illinois
  • Member of the AGD’s Foundation Board of Directors

She has been a SmileLine Online volunteer since its inception and has been a spokesperson for the organization since 1994.

Awarded the AGD Distinguished Service Award for her work with new dentists

Day 01: Depart for Costa Rica
Depart from Houston and arrive in San José, Costa Rica. The stunning beauty and friendly people alone are worth a visit! Upon arrival the group will be met and transferred to your local hotel for check in. Relax this evening and settle into your lovely five star hotel located in the heart of Escazú, the most prestigious area of San José. Ideally located for business or leisure, the hotel is within Multiplaza, the city’s most important mall, where you can find a variety of stores, bars and restaurants. Time permitting you might make use of the four unique restaurants and lounges, interior and exterior Spa facilities, and beautiful pool area surrounded by tropical gardens. Depending on flight arrival time, dinner is on your own tonight (if not provided in flight)
OvernightReal Intercontinental

Day 02: San Jose City Exploration
Start your morning with a group meeting and welcome orientation session at the hotel. Your local guide will go through your schedule, answer questions and provide some tips for travel in Costa Rica before you get started! Make your way to lunch and then off to explore Costa Rica’s capital city, San José. Visit some of its historic residential areas, La Sabana Metropolitan Park, and the National Theater, an icon of the San José of the late 19th century. You will also visit the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum, one of the few that exists worldwide. The exhibition consists of 1,000 original pieces that date from 300 to 1500 A.C. The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum has an extraordinary collection of gold objects that reflect the gold working techniques of the Pre-Columbian people of Costa Rica. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight:  Real Intercontinental
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 03: San Jose – ​Introduction to dental healthcare in Costa Rica

Today‘s activities will focus on interaction with the team at the Autonomous School of Dental Services. Learn about the traditional strengths of scientific knowledge, technological advances and modern preventive approaches while you interact with the staff and students. The school is part of Veritas University and specializes in dental sciences. They are focused on the application of preventive odontology according to guidelines of the world's leading organizations in the field of health.

Lunch will be provided this afternoon with dinner by individual arrangement (own expense).

This afternoon meet with FUSADI staff (roughly translated to Health Foundation and Integral Development). Their clinic provides patient care with a holistic focus, covering all areas of care as needed. Their dental care program has an emphasis on education and prevention in Costa Rica’s local schools in marginal areas of the metropolitan area, including communities in different parts of the country with little or no access to dental service.

Guest program:
Today, guests will visit a working coffee plantation. Costa Rica produces outstanding coffee and guests can learn about the roasting process as well as the history of this famous export, dating back to 1779. Of course the visit wouldn’t be complete without sampling some coffee! After lunch, spend time shopping alongside locals at a bustling marketplace.

Overnight:  Real Intercontinental
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 04: Community Service 
This morning the group will participate in a social service project to benefit a local organization (this could be a local school, orphanage or NGO). We are working with Obras del Espiritu Santo, a project lead by a Catholic priest who is in working on funds to build a huge shelter for abandoned children and teenagers, to arrange a project for the group.

Depart later today for Arenal. En route, see La Fortuna Town—a charming town located in the valley of the Arenal Volcano and nestled among lush vegetation and waterfalls.

This afternoon, relax and reflect in the mineral-rich waters of a local hot springs. Volcanic hot springs result when rainwater heated by magma in the Earth’s interior rises to surface, bringing important minerals found in the earth’s rocky crust with it.
Lunch and dinner will be provided today.

Overnight: Hotel Royal Corin
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 05: Rainforest Adventure
After breakfast, visit Arenal Natura Ecological Park. A local expert will guide the group to discover exotic frogs, birds, and reptiles living in a magnificent tropical rainforest at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano. During this guided exploration, learn about the more than 30 species of Costa Rican diurnal and nocturnal frogs; see a reptile lagoon; and witness a snake exhibit.

Later, enjoy local wildlife living in the trees during a gondola ride rich with fantastic views of Arenal Volcano, a nearby lake, and the Tilarán mountain range. Next, fly across the forest on zip lines for a thrilling look at even more tree-dwelling creatures—or return to the bus via the slower-moving gondola!

Overnight: Hotel Royal Corin
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 06: Nicaragua
After an early breakfast, make your way by motor coach to the border (approximate 5 hour drive). After border procedures and payment of the visa fees (less than $20 currently), enter Nicaragua and make your way to Granada. Lunch will be provided in route today.

Check-in to your hotel, Real La Merced in a renovated mansion and has 18 rooms that are fully equipped for the comfort of any business or leisure traveler. The hotel has a private pool, gym, and onsite restaurant. 
Overnight: Real la Merced Granada
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 07: Dental healthcare overview Nicaragua

This morning you will visit a local medical school to gain an overview of the oral healthcare system in Nicaragua and to learn about their dental education programs.

Later this morning visit with the staff at Operation Smile to learn about their projects in the area.

Guest Program:
This morning guests will explore Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Stops will include the old city center which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1972, and the new downtown area where the city is continuously rebuilding and investing for the future. Get to know the story behind their national hero Augusto Cesar Sandino and the Somoza dictatorship. See the ruins of the old presidential palace, also destroyed by the earthquake that leveled the city. Continue your drive down to the old city center to visit the “Park of Peace”, a very important symbol of the peace Nicaraguans now enjoy.

After lunch the entire group will visit Masaya Volcano National Park to learn about the influence the volcanic activity in the region had in shaping the local area.

Dinner is by individual arrangement this evening (own expense).
Overnight:  Real la Merced Granada
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 08: Community project and Granda exploration
This morning visit a local school in Granada for a unique medical mission. Give back to the local community while providing free oral health exams and education on the importance of dental care to the community.
Note: You will need to bring some basic supplies to provide these exams, including gloves and dental tools.

Guest Program:
This morning guests will visit the Cacao Museum where you will learn about the process to make chocolate fromfermented organic cacao beans. You will also learn about how to roast, winnow, grind, mix, conch, refine and mold the chocolate. At the end of your workshop you will leave with a sample of your very own handmade Nicaraguan chocolate.

After lunch the group will explore the Colonial Town of Granada and their Islets. Founded by Captain Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba in the year 1524, it was built next to the Mombacho Volcano and the great lake of Nicaragua. Named after the city of Granada in Spain, this city has
plenty of colonial churches, narrow streets and large homes with beautiful indoor patios, tiled roofs and pretty colonial colors. Explorations will include the main plaza for a walking tour of the surrounding area. You will see “La Merced” church, the famous “Casa de Los Tres Mundos” and the San Francisco convent. You will have the opportunity to take pictures of mysterious idols made by their ancestors, an impressive collection of genuine pre-Columbian sculptures in human
and animal shapes. During the tour we will learn about the history of the city, and the adventures of filibuster William Walker, who invaded the city in the year 1855. Learn about the civil wars that basically destroyed the city in the past.
Overnight:  Real la Merced Granada
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 09: Time to say goodbye
Say goodbye to Costa Rica and all of your new friends! Your guide will accompany you to the local airport for your flight back to Houston.
Meals: Breakfast

Please note: All itineraries are subject to change based on availability of hotels, flights and hosting organizations at the time of finalization of booking. Comparable meetings and activities will be arranged should an itinerary change be necessary. 30 days before departure, a finalized itinerary will be available and reflect final details.