Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
The GLA Animal Rescue Project session 2 has just wrapped up and has opened the eyes for many students about a unique culture, community, and environment. The students helped put on a widely successful local dog show which not only promoted awareness of how to properly take care of one’s pets but also encouraged the whole family to enjoy the friendship of an animal and each other. The GLA students worked tirelessly to design the materials, decorations, events, and tables at the show, down to the smallest details. We also completed projects at SIBU, Refuge for Wildlife, and Tortuguiones that have been a huge help to local animal rescuers. Service projects included helping local organizations in Nosara, Costa Rica to improve conservation and well-being of wildlife and domestic animals. We completed building a monkey playground for rehabilitating monkeys, took a tour of and made signs to help protect sea turtle nests, painted a beautiful mural, cleaned up the local beaches, constructed cement steps, prepared food and cages for rehabilitating monkeys, planted and transplanted trees, cleaned out a greenhouse, constructed fences and gates, and conducted a town census and hosted the dog show, among many other activities. The service activities inspired our young leaders to discover their own strengths in taking on leadership and community service roles, strengthen their teamwork and communication skills, and held interactions with local people and environments.
While our mornings were packed with these service activities, our afternoons were often filled with cultural and adventure activities. One standout activity was having cafecito with inspiring women in the community and getting to know their families. Many students remarked that this experience was life-changing even in the few hours it took. We also hitched a ride across a river on Quenco’s ox cart, kneaded dough to create delicious Costa Rican treats while learning to play marimba, strolled through a local waterfall, learned about the challenges of recycling and ecotourism in Costa Rica, and even danced our legs off with a local dance instructor. Many of these activities were highlights of the trip, because they allowed the students to interact with local leaders and ways of life. They also inspired us to enjoy the “pura vida” and laid back lifestyle in Costa Rica that also prides itself on strong family bonds.
As Global Leadership Adventures, we also made sure to emphasize the adventure part of the program. A highlight for many students was participating in Costa Rican activities such as surfing, horseback riding on the beach, zip lining, and paddle boarding. Students bonded as they zip lined over the country’s highest zip line, caught some waves at beautiful Guiones beach, galloped on Playa Pelada, and paddled down a mangrove river to a black sand beach. We also had a several day trip to gorgeous Rio Celeste, featuring a challenging but rewarding hike to see waterfalls, turquoise rivers, and stunning wildlife. We saw sloths, toucans, snakes, monkeys, and crocs! We milked a cow and drank fresh hot chocolate, produced sugar cane juice from a traditional mill, observed native Costa Rican animals at a puma rescue and river safari, and also witnessed local pottery being made. To be honest, though, every day was an adventure! From enjoying the swell at Playa Garza, to dodging crabs and dogs and cats at home base, to our lively bus rides, we always had a dose of Costa Rican flavor.
Through service, cultural and adventure activities, and leadership/team building workshops, students on this ARP session grew as individuals and as a team. Many students faced fears- whether it be swimming in the ocean for the first time, running an event, or even just dancing in front of a crowd- and all came out as stronger leaders from it. We believe that many animals and local people have been touched by our students’ work and willingness to represent America and GLA, and know that our students will never forget the experience either.
Some particular highlights include:
The dog show- we were definitely challenged by the preparations for this activity, but it really paid off. We had no idea how many people would show up, if any at all, but in fact at least 40 dogs and even more people came by, all from the local community. The GLA students ran a grooming and tick/flea care station, the entrance and information booth, a photo booth, agility course, DIY dog toys session, a information booth and game for proper nutrition, face painting, a raffle booth, and ran the best in show activity. Every student was involved in some way and could see the fruits of their labor come to fruition as the mood was quite high among both pets and owners.
Our trip to Rio Celeste was filled with many highlights as well, including the hanging bridges and waterfall hikes which featured abundant wildlife and beautiful vistas.
Among other students, Leslie, Max , and Kate mentioned learning and growing a lot from mentor group sessions. Many shared heartwarming and heart wrenching parts of themselves and all grew because of it. These included workshops on becoming better leaders and more informed young adults.
Students Vivian, Ilaria, and Kate shone in their painting skills as they helped create an outstanding mural at SIBU featuring native flora and fauna. Others including Clare L. and Lacey also shone in painting and installing signs advocating for protecting turtles.
A fun highlight was dancing at the local grocery store parking lot to an amazing local band in celebration of Guanacaste Day. All students, despite hardly knowing each other, got up to dance to the band and even groove with the locals.
A highlight was finishing our playground at SIBU- students worked together to construct, nail in, tie up materials, and put together the structure. Tay, Katie, Ilaria, and Samara were some stand out participants.
On our second to last night, Claire S. led a very positive and reflective activity in which all students had a piece of paper with their names on it and each wrote something on each other’s papers. Whether it was an inside joke, how that person impacted them, or a meaningful experience they shared, everyone recovered some positive feedback.
-Hilary, mentor, GLA ARP Costa Rica
Summer Blog Posts
July 23, 2016
All 24 students are here and ready to begin this incredible GLA journey! Animal Rescue Project: Costa Rica- here we go!
Today, our lively group’s second full day here in Nosara Costa Rica, we had an early morning wake up at 7:00 for a delicious breakfast of pancakes, quinoa, plantains, and beans. This day was centered around expanding our knowledge of the who, where, and whys of the Costa Rica Animal Rescue project we all have been so blessed to be apart of. We came to learn that we will be teaming up with organizations such as Nosara Animal Care who came to speak with us this morning about the work they do here around town and their efforts to save domesticated animals who were not taken proper care of, whether it be due to locals who perhaps were never aware of the resources they had for animal care, or children who were not taught that abuse towards an animal is immoral or wrong. After a very informative and heart warming presentation, we hopped on the bus and headed over to the Refuge for Wildlife here in town where they rehabilitate indigenous monkeys, most commonly howler monkeys, and release them back into the wild. Our group also learned about the pet trade and how it has affected the wild animals here in Nosara. The pet trade is the unadvised forced domestication of wild monkeys or other precious wildlife so they can be used as pets. Brenda Bombard, a very kind lady we met upon arrival, told us all about the animals she has had come through the Refuge for Wildlife. Unfortunately, it is very hard to let these animals back into the wild as they would not be able to fend for themselves now that they have been raised to be human dependent. Another terrible epidemic that is leaving monkeys in these refuges is the electrocution by power lines here in Costa Rica. It seems to be very common and can cause sometimes fatal injuries to the animals.
After being shown around Refuge for Wildlife, we loaded the bus again and made our way to another refuge called SIBU. We were warmly greeted by Steve who showed us the spacious grounds and all the wonderful wildlife and vegetation his Refuge had to offer. His wife Vicki further explained the dangers of Power Lines. To our dismay, it is quite expensive to equip just one power line with coverage from the electrical wires that cause massive hazards to all of the monkeys who climb them. She then discussed the pet trade as well and stressed the importance of never taking pictures of any person holding the wildlife or even coming within close vicinity of them as that may promote to Americans or other non-natives that Costa Rica allows domestication of their monkeys or any other creatures that may be dwelling in these vast rainforests.
After a long day of roaming the refuges and discussing the work we need to have done in these next three weeks, we finished the day with a taco dinner and a cultural festival in the heart of Nosara where we got to enjoy dances and plays put on by the locals. We even got to introduce ourselves to the other GLA group and hear about the work they got to do in their time here. I know our group is more than excited for the days that are yet to come.
Today was our third full day and we had so much fun! We woke up and had a delicious breakfast of pancakes, bacon, eggs and fruit. After breakfast, we departed to Guanacaste’s Annexation parade, and then followed the parade to a small festival held in local school yard. Following the festival, we had a fantastic time dancing to a live band with the locals! We then came back to our headquarters for lunch, after eating our wonderful lunch, we had a brainstorm session for our upcoming Nosara Animal Care Dog Show, coming up with tons of amazing ideas to help the local communities learn how to better care for their furry little friends! We then had a presentation on snakes, where live snakes were brought in and many brave students held some of the snakes. We then had tomato basil pasta with salad for dinner and ended the night with our new mentor groups and shout outs to our fellow students.
Today was filled with lots of hard work and fun! We were early risers as breakfast was at 6:30. After breakfast the whole crew got in the bus and headed out to our service sites. Half of the group went to SIBU and the other half went the Refuge for Wildlife. At SIBU, we helped in restoring some of the monkey cages, planting in the greenhouse, working with the compost, and began painting a mural. At Refuge for Wildlife, we had the pleasure to clean up monkey poop! As well, we cleaned up bamboo shoots and painted them, and worked on the monkey playground. After a few hours of very hard work we went back to home base for a hearty lunch. After lunch, we had some time to relax and hangout. We then headed to the beach to play some team building games and enjoy the beautiful view. We quickly dusted off the sand and got ready to head out to our cooking lesson.
At La Cocina de Lisbia we helped in making a traditional Costa Rican meal. We had Arroz con Pollo and with vegetables. It was delicious! After dinner we had lots of fun dancing to spanish music. When we came back to homebase we were delighted with crepes and nutella for dessert. Easy to say were eating great! We’re now resting up for another day of hardwork of service.
July 28, 2016
Today was Thursday, July 28 and we encountered a lot of new adventures and discoveries today. We started the day off with a hike lasting between one and two hours in the beautiful area of Boca Nosara (shoutout to Steven for being the guide). Soon after, we took our bus to the Nosara Recycling Center to learn about the recycling system set up in Nosara and the challenges they face. We had the chance to pick trash out of big piles and learn to make use of it. A few found interesting books, souvenirs, and materials that could be used for our upcoming dog show! From there we separated into groups: horseback riding, surfing, and zip-lining and paddle boarding. These experiences taught us to overcome any lasting fears we have in our lives or manage to make a dream come true (shoutout to the mentors for setting it up and the staff at each activity). In conclusion, not only are we making bonds with each other but also with the vast, beautiful landscapes and culture of Costa Rica.
July 31, 2016
The past two days were full of adventure activities including hiking, beach games, horseback riding, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, and zip lining! Today was one of our more relaxed days here in Costa Rica. We started with an early breakfast at 6:30 before leaving to return to the location of our anxiously awaited dog show. After a few hours of preparation, we reconvened at home base for lunch and poolside relaxation. At 2:30, we rounded the group back for some grocery shopping at Súper Nosara, the local super market. After snacking, we met Isa at her local bread shop called Panadería Isa. She taught us how to make delicious empanadas and bread, or “pan” en español. While we waited for our creations to cook, local marimba players taught us the history and the ins and outs of the instrument. They played a few songs for us while we ate and danced. We all appreciated the light hearted day we spent together!
Today we had the pleasure of sleeping in an extra hour, as breakfast was at 7:30 instead of 6:30. After breakfast, we headed out to our service site. We continued to work on and finish up our preparation for the dog show, which is tomorrow. Some people stayed at the site and continued to work on things such as set design and construction for the dog show, and others went walking through the community to continue to promote the dog show. Additionally, a small group did a spay/neuter census of the community. This census consisted of asking local households questions like; How many cats or dogs they had? How many of them were spayed or neutered? And if they weren’t, ask and encourage them to bring their pets to a castration clinic that will be happening later in august. After a long morning at service we headed back to home base for a delicious and well deserved lunch. The afternoon was a time to kick back and relax. We headed out to the beach, where some soaked up the sun and others participated in a great game of soccer. To cool off, we went for a dip in the ocean. Our beach afternoon was refreshing, and was a perfect way to get us ready for our big day tomorrow at the dog show. For dinner, we had burgers and fries, and cake for dessert. Safe to say we are eating well. We closed off the night with mentor groups and now are off to bed. Have to have a good night sleep for the dog show tomorrow!
Today was the day we have all been waiting for! The Dog Show came to be and it was a huge success!! Many owners came with their dogs to participate in raffle drawings, obstacle courses, competitions, games, and many more fun stations! All of us loved to see and play with all the dogs and interacting with the Nosara locals. It was a great opportunity to practice our Spanish! Some of us also had opportunities to make this Dog Show meaningful for the dog owners by informing them on proper dog care at the Nosara Animal Care organization booth. It was also meaningful to us GLA students to see a community of people (and dogs) come together to support their pets. It was a lot of hard work preparing for this fair but it was absolutely worth it! Also we got pizza, so all is good in Costa Rica!
August 10, 2016
Today is our final day here in Costa Rica! After the dog show on Sunday, we began our service work with Tortugiones. We constructed and painted beach signs that will be placed throughout popular areas of Guiones in order to shed awareness on sea turtle conservation. We also returned to Refugee for Wildlife and SIBU to finish up last minute projects including the construction of the baby monkey playground and SIBU mural. For our final cultural activity, we met with our local guide to learn about oxen and their purpose here in Costa Rican history. We then took a ride throughout town in an ox cart! This morning we are finishing up goodbyes and heading to the airport! Thanks to all the staff and students for an incredible, meaningful session that will have a lasting impact on the animals of Nosara! Chow!