From Cartago to the Caribbean Coast and from coffee to bananas, Costa Rica will be the next armchair adventure for the University Travel Club viewers when Sherilyn Mentes unspools her full-length, full-color film on Monday, March 18, at the Highland Park Elementary School auditorium, 1738 E. 2700 South.

Long recognized for its tradition of adherence to democratic principals and for its political stability, Costa Rica is becoming a prime tourist destination for Americans.Smaller than West Virginia, with a population of only 21/2 million, Costa Rica contains a wide range of topographical and cultural diversity. It is the most ecologically diverse of the Central American countries with its unique and abundant wildlife. Three-fourths of the country is covered with forests and eight percent is national parks. Its four mountain ranges include several active volcanos and the country also has its share of beautiful beaches and resorts.

Historically, its location has made the country a melting pot of many cultures. It has fascinating archaeological sites because it was a meeting point for the great pre-Columbian cultures of the Incas, Mayans, Toltecs and Olmecs.

Its folklore is based on a mixture of the cultures of Central and South America as well as Europe.

Today the economy is based primarily on coffee, bananas, beef and sugar. The problems of unemployment, drugs and violent crime that plague most of Central and South America are almost unknown in Costa Rica. Education is compulsory and the literacy rate is above 90 percent.

In addition to the increasing numbers of tourists from the United States and Canada, the large colony of permanent residents from North America is growing rapidly. As the word spreads, more and more retirees are attracted by the high standard of living at a reasonable cost.

The film shows Guayabo National Monument where there are remains of a 3,000-year-old city; the harvesting of bananas; a boat trip through Los Canales; the tropical vegetation in Tortuguero National Park; sea turtles making their nests; Indian artifacts; and coffee cultivation.

Mentes has produced travelogs and short films in 10 countries. She researched, wrote, directed and edited 12 feature-length 16-mm films for the illustrated lecture field.

She has appeared at the National Geographic Lecture Series at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., and has received numerous awards for her work.

She received the Nora Collins Award of Excellence for work in the video and film-lecture field. And she was named "The Speaker of the Year" by the Professional Travelogue Presenters' Association.

Tickets for her travelog are on sale at all Smith's Tix outlets and beginning at 6 p.m. at the elementary school Monday.