We stepped off of Flight DL1388 to unfamiliar Costa Rican air. The green mountains in the distance were heavenly compared to the polluted San Francisco streets we had just left. As I walked through the terminal, my heart was filled with excitement, but also fear and anxiousness. Would I survive the next 21 days? Are the other kids going to like me?
Questions flooded my mind, but as I exited the doors of the airport, I saw a group of smiling faces holding a GLA sign waiting for me. Despite jet lag and lack of food, these strangers were ecstatic to meet me! I can’t wait to see what the next three weeks will hold. We wandered the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, picking up some last minute supplies to bring back to our future home. At lunch we discussed how we felt like a family walking the streets and we’d barely been together for five hours! I then realized that these people were hoping I would let them in with open arms, when the whole time I was worried that they wouldn’t let me in. I think I’m going to have a great time here.
I opened up my tent to the fresh, Costa Rican air and walked through the Home Base, waking up all of the other hardworking volunteers because I was assigned “Leader of the Day.” We devoured some delicious omelets, which were well needed due to the array of activities we had lined up for the day ahead. We headed down to the organic coffee farm and fertilized the trees with our own, homemade, 100% natural fertilizer, made of manure and coffee skins. After four hours of sweating, we took a short hike to the waterfall where we got our well-deserved swim. We soaked up the sun and then ate some lunch, while everyone rushed to finish the homework our Spanish teachers had assigned us in class the day before.
Class went on as planned, and then we had some free time before dinner. Once everyone was stuffed from our amazing meal, our mentors helped us work off dinner by teaching us how to do the native dances of Costa Rica and many other Hispanic countries, such as the merengue and salsa. After a few shorts lessons, we got the hang of it and danced the night away until it was time for bed.
I woke up today refreshed as usual (we sleep great because the beds are so comfortable) and ready for the day. We ate a delicious casado breakfast, which is the traditional rice and beans with plantains. Then we headed to Tamí to build ditches to collect rainwater. I thought this was inspiring because we were working on the Home Base where we live and where volunteers for many years will be staying. Everyday we are leaving our imprint here in Providencia, also literally because we got to put our handprints in the cement ditches and write our initials. I love being here because I feel like I’m reinventing myself. Life at home is so repetitive and here it’s like I’m actually being useful and making a difference.
When I get back to California I want/need to be more productive. There is just so much to be done. We had dinner and then our leader, Jonathan, gave us a lesson on community development. I have learned more here than my entire year of school and this makes me gain more and more respect for my mentors everyday. During class we enjoyed the second most favored drink in Costa Rica called Agua Dulce and watched a video about tourism and its negative affect on the environment. This trip is changing my mind every second of the day.
Contributed by Amanda Dwinell