Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them after activities are completed to have with them through the night. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location and time zones. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 18
Hello Parents! This is the first of two announcements: The majority of our students have arrived and some are in transit!
Emma, Daisy, Daniel, Gabrielle C., Kailey, Jaya, Ruby, Hayden, Jett, Jackie, Zoe, Ella and Esme arrived safely.
Avery, Amelia, Elisa, Gabrielle W., Yuet T., and Cole are in transit. We will have a full update and group picture for you by tomorrow evening once we arrive at our Home Base #2 in Montezuma.
Good night for now!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 19
We are in Montezuma!
Hi everyone! Our first official group photo is here! We made it to Montezuma after a stunning bus ride through mountains, farmland and the coastline road. We hopped on a ferry for a short navigation and enjoyed views of the Gulf of Nicoya.
Hotel La Cascada will be our Home Base for the next five days, where will be working with our sea turtle conservation partner, going kayaking and surfing.
Coming up in the next blog…
You’ll know more about what has the group been up to, including first impressions, Costa Rican food and phrases, and our very first student-original blog!
Lots of exciting things coming your way.
P.S.: Send your well wishes and any questions about food, flora, fauna, or geography.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 20 & 21
A student’s update on day 3 and 4 – Written by Cole
Hello and welcome back. I know it has been some time so let me fill you in.
The last few days have been fairly eventful. Days filled with personal growth, new adventures, new experiences, and the emergence of budding friendships. So, let me take you back to the beginning.
But first, I want to take a few lines to explain this blog.
This space is intended not only to allow you, the parents and the community back home, to stay updated on the outings of your kids. It is a blog made for and by all of us kids to express the things that make us laugh, smile, think, and it will be a collection of the things that made this adventure worth having. This is a blog written by the very people who experienced the daily struggles and triumphs expressed, the kids who are growing and learning by the day. This blog is written from the perspective of everyone, with our voice. It will be a new voice and a new perspective each day. This will be a blog that allows the voice of each and every person to shine through.
Now that that’s said let me actually go to the beginning. To be more precise, to yesterday, Tuesday, June 20th.
After awakening and getting ready for the day we met for our first breakfast. It consisted of ‘gallopinto’ (mixed black beans and rice) and scrambled eggs, toast and fruits. After we filled up the adventures soon began.
The first one up on the docket? Surfing. Following a beautiful short hike (to the dismay of a few…) we soon found ourselves on a sprawling beach buttressed by the mighty and singsong sea. All in all, the surfing went spectacularly. Some were able to get up every time, some were able to get up for their first time ever, but everyone was able to grow and improve.
Along the return hike, the emergence of friendships was fully stepping into the light. After a well-deserved lunch, we stopped by ASVO’s offices (Asociación de Voluntarios para el Servicio en las Áreas Protegidas). ASVO is our local marine conservation and turtle protection partner. There we had a brief introduction to the organization and our ensuing work. Finally, the day was closed out with a short debate on proposed marine conservation policies and free time.
And that brings me to today, June 21st. Today opened with a slightly earlier (but not that early) breakfast at 8 am. This time it consisted of delicious omelettes prepared by the wonderful staff at our hotel (Hotel la Cascada).
Breakfast was swiftly followed by the beginning of our community service work. Today we helped the local turtle hatchery move sand from the beach into the protected hatchery. We worked diligently and swiftly: filling, carrying, and emptying sandbags in the hatchery. All said and done the project was fun, fulfilling, and so very sandy. We emerged happy to be done, covered in sand, and pleading to go into town. A plea I will add, that was granted. After a minor schedule change, we were allowed to venture into town for a short expedition.
During that minor detour, just a smidge of money may have been spent. Spent of course, on the important things: bracelets, rings, necklaces for family, snacks to chew on during the daily hammock conversations (in ‘hammock town’), and most importantly, ice cream. Oh, the wonderful gift of a cold refreshing treat never goes overlooked after a few days of heat I guess.
After returning from our exploration of Montezuma (the local town) we finally prepared for our big adventure, bioluminescence kayaking. The bus ride was filled with conversation, naps, and (not so successful) rounds of telephone (game). Upon arriving, however, things started to change, namely, the weather. It wasn’t long after our arrival at the kayaking spot when rolling rainstorms and thunderstorms soon set in.
In response, we ate our dinner of pasta and refried beans with ‘totopos’ (tortilla chips) under the dry roof of the kayaking shop. Our waiting period was filled with good food, plentiful laughs, and (amongst other things) very in-depth conversations about mac and cheese preferences. Sometimes you must make the best of a bad situation, you must find the silver lining. In our case, while the dinner was still fun, the true silver lining was on the bus ride back.
Maybe it was rainy and stormy, maybe people were tired from a long day, maybe the road was blocked by a tree, but the party bus will always survive. The trip back was filled with insightful conversations, but mostly loud music, rave-like lights, and countless attempts at sing-alongs to 2000’s classics.
Through the bus ride back everyone became closer, everyone opened up a little, and everyone became more free to express themselves.
All said and done, it may have only been two days, but the last two days have been eventful; full of new adventures, full of new friendships, and full of personal growth. We can’t wait to see what the next few weeks will bring.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 22
Written by Elisa <3
Hi everyone 🙂
Today we had our second day of service, helping rid the beach of any debris or plastic. We did this to help provide a safe environment for turtles to lay their eggs – if they were met with debris they would return and find another beach (one that is not watched and protected like Montezuma). Having a clean beach also ensures a safe environment for baby turtles to hatch.
Work included a lot of heavy lifting and cleaning smaller pieces of debris. Everybody worked together to help lift big logs using a technique taught by ASVO (our local conservation partner) coordinators and collecting as much trash as possible. The team did an amazing job and we are so proud of everyone’s work.
Later in the day, we had the opportunity to go to the beach and some of us went hiking. There was also a volleyball game and sea shell hunting, everybody was having a good time and bonding.
We got back and spent the rest of our time discussing topics relating to volunteering and our service work here. We learned a lot today and some people even got to be clients in our little hair salon run by Elisa.
Later tonight, we will be waiting for a very special call: to hopefully see turtles lay their eggs!
This was a great day for our team and everybody is having a great time bonding and having fun.
Until next time!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 23
Written by Ella
Title: Nature, Volleyball and Dancing
Today was our last full day in Montezuma and we are all going to miss the staff at La Hotel Cascada so much.
We had an early start today to see Cabo Blanco National Park. Cabo Blanco was the first national park established in Costa Rica and it is home to over 249 species of plants and 137 species of birds. The tour was led by JJ (Juan Jorge) and JC (Juan Carlos) who spotted unique birds and even grabbed us some termites to taste (it wasn’t bad at all!)
From there we returned to the hotel and dove straight into a leadership activity. We walked through scenarios where we had felt a victim to assumptions and discussed the harmful consequences that come from these judgements on a wider level.
Then, we split off into our mentor groups where we built trust and community while leading our partners along part of a trail. The walk was filled with minimal stumbles and lots of laughter.
Next, we packed up and went down to the beach. At the beach, we all enjoyed a nice deep in the water and then resumed our very competitive volleyball games. We wrapped up our free time by grabbing something cold from the local grocery stores and made our way back to the hotel.
At dinner, we had a BBQ to celebrate Itza’s birthday (chef and painter), and we were surprised by a local musician setting up to play for us. Once we finished eating, we pushed the tables to the side and made space for dancing. Without a whole lot of coordination, we moved to the lovely rhythms played for us. Everyone had a great time unwinding and we all ended the night with phone calls home.
We are going to miss the hammocks and views of Montezuma but we are all super eager to get to our next location.
All the best!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 24
Written by Gabrielle W.
Hello to our wonderful families, who we miss dearly. Here’s the group update from June 24th!
We started the morning rushing with last-minute packing in Montezuma. As we shoved the last of our items into our already-stuffed bags, we said our final goodbyes to ‘Hammock Town’, and our amazing staff at Hotel La Cascada.
Sad to say adios to our first home in Costa Rica, the place where all our friendships had begun. Most of us have found it hard to move on from our first home. Leaving is never an easy task, but one we all must complete dozens of times throughout our lives.
Our departure started off with an hour-long bumpy bus ride back to the port. The vast majority of us decided the time could be best used to catch up on some much-needed sleep from the night before. While others took this opportunity to listen to music, play Minecraft on their phones, or search through the depths of their bags for Dramamine. This, however, was only the very short beginning of our long journey to Parrita.
Next up: the ferry. We, being wonderful with our time management skills, arrived early to the dock, getting a bonus 45 minutes before departing. The ocean breeze was a nice combat for the humidity surrounding us. While waiting for the ferry to get moving we took advantage of the bountiful amount of beverages and snacks to buy. The trip itself was scenic, getting to gaze upon the mountains in the distance. Once docked we loaded onto the bus, for another hour-long trip to the restaurant where we would have lunch.
As we headed inside to find it to be just like your classic lunchroom. We got to go through a lunch line choosing what items we wanted to munch on for the meal. After eating we went outside to be greeted by, the all-welcomed, rain. Running out to dance and play to get a quick cool down, before jumping onto the bus. Due to the rain, we took, what ended up being, a unanimous vote to walk on the famous Tarcoles Bridge to view the crocodiles playing below. One person, in particular, wanted to run down and pet the “cute Crocs”. Don’t worry, we stopped him.
Lastly, we finished off our excruciating journey with a 2-hour drive to our new home Hotel La Isla in Parrita. Yet again, we listened to music, played games, and took a picture or two of our friends sleeping the day away. Towards the end, everyone perked up ready to be welcomed into our new home.
Upon arrival we got new roommates, well all of us except the boys. We eagerly unloaded our gear, on the run to grab the best bed and settle in. Most of us, however, got slowed down by the learning curve of the locks and had to grab assistance. At 6 pm we got to have a tour of the grounds, searching for hide-and-seek spots for later. Then with a vote we got into mentor groups, the goal of today’s exercise was to work as a team moving swiftly and efficiently to beat the other group in challenges.
Dinner time then arrived, and to make sure we were all together we pushed all the tables into an… odd formation, so we could eat as a family. We ended our night in our new home within our newly founded ‘Hammock Town’, happy to have been welcomed into this beautiful space and excited for what is to come during our time in Parrita.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 25
It’s been a while since we last saw each other…. just kidding:)
My name is Gabby Choe and it is lovely to meet you all.
Today was our first full day in Parrita. We took on the day with a pair of fresh eyes. We started bright and early to head out to community service. The whole group worked collaboratively and efficiently throughout, and we went above and beyond our local partner’s expectations! After concluding our first service activity, we were treated to fresh coconuts, and let me tell you, they were amazing. After drinking coconut water and eating their meat, we headed back to Home Base to do a beach cleanup. When we were done with service, we quickly changed into our bathing suits and jumped into the pool for a light swim.
I’m not going to lie; I did forget to apply sunscreen and got my arms a little burned (Mom, please don’t get mad).
When lunch was over, we had the chance to listen to a special guest speaker, Mau. He had a presentation about all the sea turtle species in Costa Rica, and we had the opportunity to see their travel patterns through an online tracking system. It was astonishing watching where each turtle went and the updates of where they were last. Viewing the turtle’s journey to new areas reminded me of our small group.
Being able to travel and explore all around Costa Rica has been a blast so far. I am reminded of how lucky I am to experience and take in this wonderful place. Just like the turtles discovering new paths, I am too venturing out of my comfort zone, going slow and steady, and enjoying my time here.
First day in Parrita: check!
Watch out for new and exciting posts:)
We also added some pics of our hotel on the June 24th post. Scroll up to check them out 🙂
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 26
Written by Ruby
Today was our second day working with our conservation partner in Parrita. We woke up early to clean up a nearby beach and we managed to fill 4 large bags with plastics and other non-biodegradable materials.
After, we spent time creating a trail from the road to the beach, which was the first time a GLA group has participated in this sort of project. We planted trees in two rows leading to the beach, coming to a total of almost 40 trees planted around the perimeter of the trail!
This walkway will encourage beach-goers to walk the stretch between the road and the beach, rather than drive through an area where turtles are inclined to create their nests. Since this trail was created solely by our group we were able to choose a name for it. We were a bit divided between two options: naming it ‘Jett’, after our hard-working group member who was very dedicated to today’s service work, or ‘esperanza’ which means hope in Spanish.
After some debate, we decided the trail would go by both names, though this decision was heavily influenced by how badly we wanted to swim after working in the heat.
After some free time and a really good lunch, we met to start today’s activity: dance lessons! As a rhythmically-challenged person myself, I was a bit nervous to hear we were learning to dance salsa, bachata merengue and ‘swing criollo’. However, it ended up being really fun for us all, regardless of our skill levels.
It is really cool to have the opportunity to learn more about Costa Rica and its many cultural aspects, such as dancing, music, food, and phrases like ‘pura vida’ (full of life, used for “I’m doing well”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome” and “it’s all good”) important in the day-to-day lives of the locals.
After dinner we met for an activity with our mentor groups, I now have time as leader of the day to work on this blog. Each day, one of us takes on this role and hones the leadership skills we have been learning and developing during the trip. Now I need to call my parents (sorry parents I didn’t call last night), so goodnight!
I am very excited to see what we will do tomorrow, stay tuned.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 29
Written by Kailey and Avery
It has been a couple of days since the last post so we are going to catch you up! Unlike most of the other days, today there were two leaders of the day. Our names are Kailey Waxman and Avery Dahl and we are so excited to fill you in on the latest.
While most of our days are filled with service activities, today we spent our time hiking through Manual Antonio National Park. This park is known for the most wildlife, from monkeys to butterflies, you name it, it is probably there.
Not only was the wildlife magnificent, but the lush trees and plants were also a great addition to our day. The hike led us to a beautiful beach with calm waters and amazing views. We hung out there for about an hour, laying on the beach and swimming in the warm ocean. Then, we hiked back through the jungle to eat lunch and rejuvenate for the rest of the day.
After some yummy chicken sandwiches, we walked around a nearby town to look for some cool souvenirs. For us, that meant tons of bracelets and necklaces. We also saw the cutest little perrito in one of the shops. Everyone was holding it, it was adorable and its name was either Bobby or Rocky, I guess we’ll never know.
When we arrived back at the hotel, we had lots of free time so everybody decided to get in the pool and play some volleyball. Thanks to Kailey for her waterproof speaker, which kept everybody in a fun positive mood.
Next, it was dinner time and everybody was chowing in their food and filling up their bellies. During dinner, we had the chow circle where everybody shares love with each other or shouts somebody else out for something they were proud of.
After dinner, we got some more free time to hang out with our friends and tonight we got a special movie night where we got to watch the road to el dorado!
Thanks for reading and catching up, more to come soon!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 30
Written by Emma
Today we worked on a new service project! We journeyed to a new beach in order to clean up trash and debris for turtles to have a clean and safe area to lay their eggs. We also cleaned around an area where a local holds meetings regarding his volunteer work with the turtles. After our service work, we toured the turtle hatchery he built in his backyard. While we were there, Victor, our service partner explained how much he appreciated our help because he ran the whole hatchery on his own.
It is so easy to get caught up in the trips to the beach and ziplining to the point where we forget the reason that we have left our homes and flown to another country. We may feel that our small contribution of picking up trash and sticks may be insignificant. However, in the eyes of someone who has dedicated the latter part of his life trying to make a difference in the world, our support for that mission is significant, and it is one less thing on his to-do list.
Victor also reminded me that it is never too late in your life to make a positive change. He admitted that he used to eat turtle eggs and supported the business of poachers until he realized the problems that were forming. He learned that turtles were dying and facing the risk of extinction. When he realized this problem, he searched for ways that he could help. He then discovered that the beach in his backyard was home to many Olive Ridley turtles (known colloquially as Tortugas Lora). This is the time in which turtle poachers would steal the turtle eggs, and they would eat them or sell them for profit.
So, our service partner decided to collect the eggs before the poachers could get to them. He changed a large part of his life to try and right the wrongs that he and many others created. This reminded me that any contribution to a good cause is positive. It also reminded me that we can make changes in our own lives to support a greater cause. We can make small changes, like removing our use of single-use plastics, or big changes by volunteering consistently to help causes we are passionate about, or finding jobs that give back to the world.
Every contribution that we can make to a great cause makes an impact. Even when we are on a beach vacation and we pick up trash, it is still an impact. Making a difference does not have to be everything all at once. Making a difference can be small ripples that, over a long time, create a tsunami of positive impact!
We have ventured so far from home to help make an impact, and to learn about initiatives taking place outside of our own communities. Even through the hundreds of mosquito bites (and sun fatigue) we continue to push through in order to make the change we want to see in the world.
Back at our Home Base, we are celebrating our final night in Parrita and several of our staff’s birthdays: Hector, our International Director, on June 27th, Olivia, our Mentor, was June 29th, and today is Katherine’s (our Local Director) birthday with cake and a karaoke night.
Until next time!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 2
Written by Daysi
Today, we started with a delicious breakfast of pancakes accompanied by some chocolate syrup and whipped cream! A fun, little breakfast to have us fueled for the long day filled with hard work ahead of us.
We headed for the beach where we would participate in a nice morning surf sesh led by the incredible instructors at Bodhi Surf + Yoga. We didn’t have the best waves, but I can guarantee you that we had the best time out in the waters of Playa Chaman (the Spanish word for “shaman”)! After catching some waves, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the next thing on our agenda: service.
Over the next few days, we will be helping out our service partner in Uvita, Weiner, in his journey toward creating a sea turtle hatchery. During today’s work we helped him cut bamboo trees and prepare them to become structures for the hatchery.
On our service site, just outside the town of Bahia where we are staying, we had the opportunity to tour the Costa Rica Coral Restoration lab. We got to see the work this lab is doing to conserve the coral reefs of Costa Rica. One of the lab leadets explained to us that they have been working to grow as much coral as they can over these past few months due to the impacts that will arrive with the approaching phenomenon of ‘El Nino’.
The last time Costa Rica saw El Nino, the coral restoration group surveys showed 70% of the reef died, and they expect that number to be much higher this time (with the growing impacts of global warming). This information and seeing first-hand the work that others are doing to combat this global issue made me rethink my lifestyle, and how something that may seem irrelevant can have a massive impact on the Earth’s health.
Lately, many of my fellow GLA volunteers -including myself, have been questioning whether or not the work we have been doing down here in Costa Rica will have an impact on the communities we have been helping.
Today we may have gotten the answer to that. Our local director, Katherine, recevived an image from our service guide in Montezuma, of a turtle nesting on the beach that we cleaned of driftwood, trash, and other debris.
Thanks to our hard work and efforts, that turtle was able to nest on the beach; otherwise, the turtle would have likely turned around and gone to another beach to keep the turtles protected. It was heartwarming and beautiful to see that the work we have been doing has paid off and has made an impact on the community.
That’s all, folks!!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
Written by Hayden H.
Hello everybody, welcome back to the GLA blog! We had a crazy-good day today.
First, we woke up early so we could have more time out at sea for a full day of snorkeling, which is an activity that helps you see nature in its environment. Picture yourself in the middle of the ocean, seeing all the mysteries of the sea swimming below you! It’s just amazing how the ocean works with so many species all working in harmony to give us the beauty of the sea.
However, not everything we saw today was how it should be. As we snorkeled, we could see many bleached corals besides other pieces that were slowly starting to bleach as well, and sadly this is an event happening all over the world today.
These bleaches are happening because of global warming, human interactions, and more severe storms hitting them. These occurrences have made me wonder what reefs will look like in the future. What will the ocean become when it loses one of its nurseries for fishies?
We have lost 90% of our coral in the past three years. However, that doesn’t mean the end for the coral! While we were doing service here, we got to meet an organization called Costa Rica Coral Restoration, which helps to preserve the reefs.
During my time here, I have seen many things that people do differently than what people generally do back home. This journey has been a big eye-opener for me, and I’m grateful for what I have gotten to experience during my time staying here.
Nature is so beautiful once you have seen it and been in it. This is why I think that so many people nowadays don’t realize what they are doing to it, and instead of opening their eyes to the problem, they choose to act like it doesn’t even exist.
So now, with the knowledge I have gained from this trip, I will use this to help the wildlife that shares this beautiful world of ours with us, ’cause we only have one earth.
Oh by the way, we celebrated the 4th of July with hot dogs for dinner – and I bought a cake for everyone, because what would America be without cake!
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Written by Zoe – Leader of the Day
Dear Friends and family,
We started off our morning with an 8am breakfast before walking down to Bahia Ballena which is a national marine reserve. We walked along the beach and to the whales tail. After our walk we had the opportunity to swim at the beach. Some also went into town to buy souvenirs or food. After lunch we drove a little ways to do our afternoon service. Today we were continuing to cut down bamboo and measure them to build the sea turtle hatchery. Some people were assigned to help take down the bamboo and hack off the branches. Other people measured the bamboo and sawed them into separate pieces while everyone else helped to dig the hatchery. Midway through it started pouring so we were soaked by the time we were done. Once we finished our service we had free time until dinner. Afterwards we celebrated the ending of our camp.