Monday August 6, 2018
And we’re off! It’s been a busy day here at Alajuela Hostel as students arrived from 8am to
10pm. After getting a bit of food, rest, and a shower, students unpacked and started
prepping for the trip: we taped emergency contact numbers onto water bottles, introduced
ourselves to each other, and drank a LOT of water.
Later in the afternoon, we walked around town to pick up some snacks—no one has tried
beans in a bag (yet) but a lot of people picked up some fun new Tico treats to try! Then we
got ice cream and headed back to the hostel for a few getting to know you games, including
a scavenger hunt. After a delicious vegetarian dinner of spaghetti, empanadas, rice, beans,
and salad, we started getting ready for bed. We’ve played cards, taught each other new
games, even solved a few riddles—and it’s only day one!
Tomorrow, we’ll head to orientation with VIDA and then off to Parrita where the real
See you soon!
Our last three students arrived safe and sound last night, and now our group is complete!
Wednesday August 8, 2018
On our first real day in Costa Rica, we spent time getting to know each other and the
program. We learned how throughout the program we’ll be practicing the skills of
perseverance, love, compassion, and commitment to improve global health, education, and
life below water/on land. On the technical side, our lead veterinarian from Vida, Dr. Jeli,
explained the basics of neuters and spays and how the clinic will be operated.
The next time the group spent time in Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s
most popular national parks. The park is known for its extreme biodiversity, such as sloths,
monkeys, and lizards. During our time, we split into three groups. Two of these groups
helped out with general trail maintenance, while one of the groups performed beach
maintenance. Afterwards we played on the beach. E took in the beautiful view and played
plenty of water games.
Thursday August 9, 2018
We were up at 5:45 and, as the vets would say, we were all bright, alert, and responsive (well, almost all of us). After a tasty pancake breakfast, we were off for our first day in the clinic. It was amazing to see an old gymnasium transform into a fully functioning surgery suite. Setup took about 20 minutes and then we were assigned our very own patients to follow from intake to recovery, helping and tracking vital signs, calculating medications, and even assisting in surgery.
After a long, hot, but fun morning, we rested before setting off for a trip out to town. Despite the pouring rain, we had a great time taste-testing new types of pastries, such as bread and condensed milk.
We finished off our day with a fancy restaurant dinner with a smorgasbord of delicious dishes to choose from. Then, with a dessert of ice cream, we headed home for a LONG sleep, ready for tomorrow.
On the 11th , we split up into groups, and with the help of our veterinarians, we made our
way through the beautiful village outside Liberia for home visits. Home visits are a way to
educate and inform locals about spaying and neutering services, animal welfare, animal
rights, and provide basic flea and tic care. In groups of six, we made our way around to
about five houses each and filled out a basic survey about how they take care of their pets.
We collected this data to see how we can adequately help and provide. From cute puppies
to friendly faces, all of us had an amazing time taking in local culture as well as helping dogs
and cats in need. After home visits, we traveled back in the bus and started the afternoon
with a scavenger hunt around town. We saw dancers, local markets, and ate the best gelato
in the world! We ended the day by the pool and celebrated our travels with a pizza party!
On the 12th , we woke up bright and early for our second and last day working in the clinic.
After just a short drive, we arrived and set up in record speed and started patient intake.
Due to a previous complication, there was a dog with a serious hernia in its abdominal area.
With the help of Dr. Jeli, a special group of four got to assist! The surgery lasted almost two
hours, but the group said it was worth every second. Aside from the emergency surgery,
other groups worked with numerous dogs and overall completed about 10 neuters and
spays. Since it was our last day with the vets, we had a heart to heart with all the amazing
VIDA staff after all the dogs were out of recovery and we were all packed. Eventually, we
headed back onto the bus for the hotel. We had a super relaxing afternoon with a
leadership activity, lots of swimming, and packing for our journey.
The 13th was full of driving, driving, DRIVING! After sleeping in, we all piled onto two
separate busses and started our 5 hour drive from Liberia to Orosi. With games, rest stops,
and a lot of napping, the 5 hours went by super quick! Once we arrived, after a short lunch,
we drove into town and stopped at a super cute, quirky coffee shop for antiques and lattes.
After walking around to some markets and through the beautiful town, we went back to
our hotel for soccer, basketball, and showers. Surrounded by beautiful views, after free
time we all met for a cultural leadership activity where we watched a TED talk about the
compassion and understanding associated with traveling.