Most of us have made it to Costa Rica…everyone slowly trickled in throughout the day. After lunch, we took a trip to town and walked the park with mango trees. We learned each other’s names and talked about our hobbies. Our mentors bought us delicious ice cream at “POPS”. Costa Rican’s LOVE POPS.
At dinner, we met some of our hotel staff, Indiana, Julia, and Ricardo. Our Mentor, Kelly, taught us how to say “please” and “thank you” and “pleasure to meet you”. Some students in the group speak Spanish and everyone here loves animals!
We’re pumped for tomorrow. After orientation, we are heading into San Jose for lunch and a tour, which includes a visit to the central market and a coffee house.
Can’t wait to learn about our projects with dogs…
Note: not pictured are Antonia, Audrey, Brooke, Elizabeth B, Macey.
July 6, 2017
I had a million thoughts about my first day in Costa Rica. “What would we do? What would we eat? And mostly, where all would we go?” My day began with an alarm ringing, well not mine of course, but my roommates. My other roommate and I woke up wondering who’s it could have been, until we found a phone on the floor. As we turned it off we fell back asleep in less than a minute. We all woke up by 8:25 remembering breakfast was at 8:30!!! We rushed our half asleep bodies and we made it right on time. As expected, there was delicious rice, eggs, with the world’s sweetest fruits to go with it. “Hmm, yumm!”
Soon after breakfast we all played games that helped us remember each other’s names and get to know each other well. We also played a “piggyback” game which was quite fun, as my friend and I made it to the last 6. Awhile later, the volunteers told us more about the days ahead and about the program and it’s rules. Now we’re headed to San Jose for lunch and a tour. Woohoo!!
We visited the city of San Jose for lunch, where we had a Costa Rican meal which filled our stomachs. After lunch we split into groups with our mentors and played a game that helped us speak Spanish to the locals. We visited a coffee house on our way back where we tried cold and hot coffee and learned all about it. As we returned to home base, we had our dinner as Esmeralda (from Territorio de Zaguates) spoke to us about service tomorrow.
July 7, 2017
Today was a bonding day for all.
First, we woke up at 7am and went to breakfast. We had eggs, ham, toast, hash-browns, and fruit. After breakfast we headed to our work site (a shelter with 835 dogs!). We split into 3 groups: one was building the veterinary clinic floor, another was building a fence for the cats and the third group was painting the gate. After a few hours of working, we went on a hike with a few of the dogs. The view was awesome!
After service, we went back to the hotel and had lunch. We had some yummy pasta and bread. Then we headed to the store to get snacks. Once we got home, we had a freeze dance party (we all bonded so much during this!) and then had a deep convo in one of the hotel rooms. After a few hours of talking and bonding, we headed to dinner where we had fried chicken, potatoes and some salad.
After dinner we had mentor group, where we talked about our day and how were doing. Today was definitely a great day for everyone!
July 8, 2017
Today was the fourth day we’ve been in Costa Rica. The morning began with an early wake-up of 5:30 am, and a quick breakfast on the two hour bus ride to the Barulio Carrillo National Park, where we would be learning about this particular rainforest’s ecosystem, and the obviously most fun part: zip-lining. Though we faced some traffic on our journey, we spent the time telling and solving some intriguing riddles. Once we arrived, the instructors went over rules and helped us gear up. Overall, we went on 12 different zip-lines, the last being half a mile long. After our zip-lining adventure, we split into groups and took a short hike to take a closer look at the biological background of many plants, reptiles, and insects. We explored those same topics even further on our aerial tram tour, where our guide, Moises, talked about the inhabitants of the national park. We saw many animals, ranging from toucans to sloths.
July 9, 2017
Today was a very relaxing day before a week of service begins.
We got to sleep in an extra hour today! We had a yummy breakfast: eggs, toast, rice, fruit, plantains, and some fruit juice. After breakfast we all went back and got ready for a day at the hot-springs.
After an almost 2 hour bus ride, and getting a bit lost, we arrived at a beautiful hot-spring that not only had a great view, but wifi too! We spent the whole day there doing yoga, mentor groups, laying by the pool, swimming, taking lots of pictures, using all our phone battery trying to get the WIFI to work, and eating an awesome lunch! It was one girls birthday today, so to celebrate we ate a special Costa Rican dessert and some cake.
On our way home we were all encouraged to sit by someone we haven’t sat by on the bus before. It was an awesome way to get to know new people on a long ride home. When we got back, we went straight to dinner where we got American food (cheese burgers and fries) for the first time since arriving! After dinner, one of our Mentors, Pepe, gave us a Spanish lesson. I’m pretty sure some of us learned more in that 30 minute lesson than in 2 or 3 years of Spanish!
Overall, today was a great, relaxing Sunday. We can’t wait to be back with the dogs tomorrow though!
July 10, 2017
After a long weekend of zip lining and relaxation, today we finally got back to work! We scrambled to eat a quick, but delicious breakfast of pancakes and various fruits before boarding the bus to return to the Territorio de Zaguates. On our arrival, we were greeted by around 30 adorable dogs already waiting for us at the gates. After a few minutes of playing, we got down to work. My group continued building a fence to protect the cat house from the curious dogs constantly scratching at the walls. We made a surprising amount of progress! After our 3 hours of hard work, we got to walk the dogs all around the Territorio, a task that sounds a lot easier than it was!
Later that day, after an excellent lunch of rice with marinated steak and peppers, we headed over to the Britt coffee plantation for a coffee tour. The tour guides were hilarious and taught us all sorts of things I never knew about coffee. On top of that we got to try all different roasts and flavors of coffee for completely free which was absolutely amazing.
In the evening we learned a cheer from three of our friends on the trip, ate a yummy pasta dinner, and played a game of mission impossible (which might have gotten a little more competitive than expected). Overall I had an amazing, enriching day of service and fun and I can’t wait until tomorrow!
July 11, 2017
Today after a good breakfast, we headed off to the worksite. My group, with our mentor Pepe, spent the time laying more tiles and scraping up concrete between the tiles to lay a filler in between.
Afterwards, we got to see what the other groups had been working on. We saw that our other mentor Kelly and her group had not only built a fence around the cat house, but had built another, much longer fence along the outside of the property. This fence is very important to the shelter in order to keep the dogs safe from neighbors who don’t like so many dogs living next door. We also were able to view the work done on the big red gate by our director Smara and her painting crew. They were able to create a beautiful picture capturing a Costa Rican ecosystem.
After lunch, we headed to ‘Zoo Ave’ to look at some rescued wild animals including birds, monkeys, sloths, and turtles. This was very interesting as I had not seen many of these animals in person before.
After dinner, Pepe gave a presentation on his experience in the wild with many types of birds and their habitats.
We finished the night with mentor groups and headed back to our rooms for a good night’s sleep before another hard day at work tomorrow.
July 12, 2017
Today was a rewarding hard working day at the animal shelter. We woke up around 7 and had a healthy breakfast. After breakfast we all got ready for a day of service work.
We arrived at the dog shelter around 8:30 and got straight to work. We spilt into our typical 3 groups: painting, building a fence, and building a vet clinic. On top of our service work, we learned that multiple people will be adopting dogs! After service, we had some down time to relax and shower before lunch. After lunch we stayed at the home-base and had mentor groups, cooking lessons, watched Hotel for Dogs, and got to try a bunch of new fruits!
Overall, today was a great day. We got a lot done at the shelter and can’t wait to finish up some more projects tomorrow!
July 13, 2017
Today was day 9 and it was an eventful day. We started our day with yummy sandwiches at 7:30, then went to see our furry friends. My group continued working on building the clinic and later we helped build the fence for the cat house…and a lot of people are going to adopt dogs now!
Everyone was tired from working so we chilled and ate lunch when we got back. At 3 we went to a dance class which was incredible. We learned the salsa, bachata, and Costa Rican swing. After we found out that we were going to the grocery store and we were all so excited. Later we had another delicious dinner.
Today was a great day overall and can’t wait to see the dogs again!
July 14, 2017
Today we went to Territorio de Zaguates for our service, just like usual. But as we entered the freshly painted gate and drove up the hill we were instructed to separate into two groups. One to finish painting and the other to wash dogs. Little did we know the first dogs we were going to wash were teeny tiny puppies from all different breeds and mothers. All our faces brightened up as the Territorio staff handed bunches of puppies over to us. Their fur was so soft and paws so small and after washing and drying we sat in a circle with all the fresh and clean babies and let them try to stumble around. My black pup was about the size of my hand and shivering very hard, so I wrapped him up in a towel and my shirt and he snuggled up against me. The day was a success and soon I learned I could adopt a dog pf my own. I have never been happier!
Today was an adventurous, relaxing Sunday at the beach.
We all got to sleep in an extra hour and had some yummy pancakes for breakfast! We then hopped on the bus and off we went on our two hour bus ride to Jaco. We swam for a bit in the warm Pacific Ocean, while also enjoying the black sand. After some swimming, we went to a touristy restaurant that had the best burritos ever, with swinging chairs! Then we went back to the beach where we continued to swim, play games on the beach, and take surfing lessons. It was quite the adventure trying to learn to surf and watching all our friends take hilarious falls. When we got out of the water they had fresh fruit and cold water waiting for us, it was so refreshing!
Once we were done, we packed up and headed back to the home-base where we got a special treat for dinner: PIZZA! We were all so excited and hungry. Today was so fun!
When we got back to home base, we had lunch and our last mentor groups. We reflected on our trip and shared some fun memories. After packing and relaxing a bit, we identified needs in our hometowns and brainstormed ways we can help our communities once we’re back home. Also, since it’s international ice cream day, we enjoyed ice cream after lunch before getting caught in a thunderstorm.
When the rain subsided we got on the bus to head out for our last dinner. Everyone dressed up and looked so nice! We shared a delicious meal (and brownies for dessert!) and took lots of photos together.
After dinner, the staff surprised us with custom t shirts and said some kind things about each student.
Our last day was an awesome one. We are sad to leave but inspired to continue to “be the change” and we will all remember this trip forever.