Monday June 17, 2019
On Monday, after a long awaited arrival, 17 fantastic students touched in San Jose, CR. Arrival day was full of delays, but once students arrived to home base, they had a taste of local cuisine and hit the bunks promptly thereafter.
The following morning, students tried “gallo pinto”, platanos, y huevos accompanied with a fresco for breakfast. Students took a tour of Orosí, where they will be staying for the next week. Throughout the day, students got to know each other through ice breakers led by mentors and the International Director.
After lunch, all 17 went through orientation and a official welcome to the GLA Animal Rescue Project Service Program. In the evening, they drafted their hopes, fears, and dreams, which will be discussed in more detail today.
Wednesday June 19, 2019
Hello, my name is Zurayah, and I’m making the blog about the first day at GLA. From all the stories I’ve heard, travel was very easy and comfortable and I know that mine was too. The morning after arrival, we ate breakfast at the hotel (it was Gallo pinto, eggs and potatoes). After that we went back up to the hotel to get to know each other even more by getting partners and interviewing them. After interviewing, we got into groups of four and introduced each other. Then, we got into one big group and introduced one another again. Then ,we all went to the soccer field to play “Big Wind Blows,” a very fun game that helped get to know one another. When we were done with that we played hot seat which was a nice game for everyone to get to know each other a little more. We each had one minute to be asked questions rapid fire style!
We then had our first “siesta,” which is just a little break. After that, we went to town for a walking tour it was very cool to interact with the local community and get to see how everything worked. When we were on the tour, we went to the amazing green bridge, and it was breath taking. After that, we walked to the bank to exchange money then walked home. When we all arrived home it was lunch time, and I’m pretty sure everyone was hungry. After lunch, we had another siesta and then went into orientation. Then we had dinner. After dinner we got into our “Mentor Groups” and wrote our hopes, fears, and dreams for GLA. After that, we played a couple rounds of Uno then went to bed. That was the first day at GLA and it was so fun, and I want to thank the GLA staff for being here and being a part of our lives.
Thursday June 20, 2019
Today was our first day of service at Antonio’s (our local director) mother’s animal rescue. Alejandra and Antonio have created a safe home for 32 stray dogs from the streets of Orosi. We got the privilege to go and help out where we were needed. Our first station was sanding all the rust off of the cages (Sid and Jocelyn were the champions at this). Our next rotation was dog walking (our favorite and most entertaining rotation). For some this “walk” was more of a run. For example Carly had Spanky- a sweet but hyper dog – although she gave a good effort to keep up.
After lunch, we were off to the beautiful hot springs that gave stunning views of the mountains and valley of Orosi. On the bus ride over we discovered Champu’s love for the song Despacito. While in the warm springs, we spent an hour trying to take one underwater picture (which we never actually got). The remainder of the time was spent sitting in a circle playing games, answering riddles, and of course the beloved game of mafia.
After dinner, we gathered into our mentor groups to speak about our hopes, dreams, and fears. After this powerful exercise, we all reconvened to share our findings with each other.
-Abigail Schrock 😉
More pictures from Thursday!
Sunday June 23, 2019
Welcome to day 6! We started off the day with a superb breakfast, as usual. (It was eggs, gallo pinto, toast, and papaya.) Then we headed over to the shelter and got straight to work! We repainted the walls a beautiful turquoise blue, and made sure the dogs got a good walk and lots of love. Back at home base we spent our siesta time playing some intense games of Uno and shared lots of snacks. After lunch we all walked down to the soccer field for some group activities. We played capture the flag and had a big competition of sloth, gecko, mosquito, (which is basically Rock, Paper, Scissors).
After that we were off to dance class! We leaned to salsa, merengue, swing dance and hip hop. Next we had our second siesta. We spent the majority of it hanging out and putting face masks on each other, even the mentors! After dinner we all got together for an activity called the “affirmation circle”: We sat in a circle and everyone in the room complemented one person at a time. I think all of us can agree it was pretty emotional and fulfilling. Our final activity of the day was mentor groups. We talked a little bit about writing our life story and played some games. It was a good way to end the day.
-written by Karson Forslund
Monday June 24, 2019
On our last day in Orosí before traveling to Liberia, the group started off their day with a Costa Rican classic- gallo pinto and eggs- unless you were a part of the exercise group, which got up bright and early at 6:30 to do Hannah’s killer boot camp exercises and yoga led by Abigail. We continued on to our last day of service at Antonio’s dog shelter where we bathed, brushed, walked and said our reluctant goodbyes to the furry friends we had made. Our original plans to hike to Montesky-the waterfall- were rained out, so instead we changed around the schedule.
First we completed an anchor activity which allowed us to delve into the economic side of the banana planting and manufacturing industry. And then afterwards we went on two field trips. First sightseeing the valley from high up in the mountains, and then to the ruins of a 16th century chapel, where we also got to play on a playground way to small for us and see parrots in the trees overhead. Before returning to home base we stopped by a little market where we picked up snacks and practiced our Spanish.
After having our last dinner at the hotel Tapanti before switching home bases in Liberia we ended the night with a big game of intensive charades led by Hannah and Kaisa which ultimately led to a win for Kaisa team during a hardcore final tie breaking round between the two mentors. Afterwards, we finished up our packing and went to bed early to prepare for the early and long journey ahead of us the next day.
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Today we woke up bright and early to leave for Liberia and we ate breakfast that was served on lilac leaves. We had to wait a few hours for a different bus to come because the champú bus had technical difficulties. Once the new bus arrived, we all piled in and drove to San Jose for Vida orientation, a swim test, and lunch.
After we finished lunch, we switched to a bigger bus and drove a few hours until we stopped for a break. After buying food and souvenirs at a pit stop where there were many parrots, we drove to Liberia and stopped at a supermarket for a few minutes. Finally, we drove to our new hotel where we got settled in our rooms, ate dinner, and had free time until 9:00 when it was time for lights out. Everyone was exhausted at the end of the day and just wanted to rest up for the next day!
Wednesday June 26, 2019
Today we woke up bright and early at 6:30 AM. Breakfast consists of Gallo Pinto, eggs, ham, and coffee and/or juice. After our yummy breakfast, we boarded our luxurious bus and headed for the first day of service.
Our initial reaction was mixed. We were overwhelmed by our surroundings and had an urge to help. The vets introduced themselves to us and we voiced our expectations for our service. We then split into groups lead by Dr. Jelly and began our day. The different groups visited houses to perform wellness checks and survey the families on the wellbeing and care of their pets. Some of the students, like Sam, were able to exercise their Spanish speaking skills.
We asked the families simple questions to get an understanding about the wellbeing of animals within the community. Because of the home visits, we were able to complete surveys and deworm many animals. Out of the four groups, around twenty houses were visited and many more animals were treated. At the end of the service, we gathered in a circle to discuss our feelings about the day and what we were thankful for. It was a very reflective day for us and we learned a lot about our selves.
After service was over, we went back to home base for lunch. For lunch, we had refried beans, chicken, and salad. Everyone was thankful for this meal.
After lunch, we had a quiet siesta time. After siesta time we had decided to go to the pool. We spent about two hours at the pool and had a very good time. We bonded at the pool and had a very good time with one another. After the pool we had dinner. Dinner consisted of rice with chicken, beans, and salad. After dinner was a longer siesta time filled with reflection and quiet time for students. It was a very interesting day overall full of learning experiences and memorable times.
-Rebecca Brown and Gianna Marino
Thursday June 27, 2019
Our day started way too early for most: Breakfast started at 7:00. (But a couple people and I woke up at 6:00 to work out and do yoga.) By 8:00, we were dressed in scrubs (we felt super cool) and on the way to the small community of Pijije. When we arrived, we set up everything in a tiny 2-room shelter under the guidance of the four Vida veterinarians: Dr. Mari, Dr. Carolina, Dr. Erika, and the lead vet, Dr. “Jelly.” We taped trash bags over folding tables and distributed materials to the designated intake, surgery, and recovery areas. After about 30 minutes, we had a clinic!
We were divided into groups of four student vets per official vet. One student would be the assistant surgeon, and the other three would administer anesthesia, check vitals, and hand tools to the surgeon. Soon, the clinic was officially open, and each group got their patient, which they were responsible for from the moment they entered the room to the moment they were back in their owner’s arms. The energy in the clinic was incredible. Everyone had an essential role. There was never a moment of standing still; we always had something to check on, something to do. Words won’t do justice to this experience, but I’ll just say this: We didn’t understand how taxing and rewarding being a vet is until we became one for a day.
In total, we completed 5 surgeries today— four dogs and one cat, all castrations. (Plus we treated a sick puppy.) This may seem like a small impact, but the underlying impact was much greater. We taught many families and young kids about animal welfare, and prevented perhaps 50 offspring being born that wouldn’t be cared for. These people who love their pets no longer feel helpless. We made our mark on the small community of Pijije, and the Pijije’s openness and gratitude made a mark on us. That’s all we could’ve asked for.
By the time we got back to the hotel, our adrenaline had worn off and we were physically and mentally drained. We ate an amazing lunch (rice, meat, pasta, salad), and had a long siesta time.
Then, we went to a 2-hour Zumba class, which was tiring but fun. It was dark by the time we arrived back at the hotel. We took showers, ate dinner (what was for dinner), had more siesta/bonding time, and finally went to bed, feeling exhausted but completely fulfilled.
Friday June 28, 2019
Today, Friday the 28th has been a great day even though and partly because it fluctuated to a great degree. Most of the fluctuation began the night before as plans were changed for breakfast to be at 8:00 instead of at 7:30 and deciding to go and do ziplining and horse back riding. When we came down to breakfast, we were delighted to find that a food that many of us had been longing for had been prepared and was about to be put on our plates. This food was pancakes. They were very good and students tried their hardest to enjoy them and as many of them as possible. This food had been greatly anticipated, for we had thought that we were going to get these for nearly three days.
After breakfast we all grabbed our stuff and piled into our very luxurious bus. When the bus finally stopped, we got off to find a cabana style building in which we checked in and got wrist bands. We proceeded into a wooded area where we were given demonstration on how we were to be ziplining. We went through a series of zip lines one by one, sometimes having to wait for the trees to stop blowing so violently against the line. Eventually we got to a point in the course where you stepped off of a ledge and dropped straight down to another platform, from which you had to rock climb back to the previous platform. Continuing the course, our group was partially split up by the rock climbing and ziplining. Many more unique attractions came further along, as we found a slide that dropped you down into the canyon until the zipline caught you from falling into the trees, a Tarzan swing as well as wire and wood staircase.
After finalizing our time on the zipline we sat near the bus and got food and drinks for a short while. Succeeding that, we followed a downhill silvan path to a large barn where we all mounted beautiful, medium sized horses. After a 20-minute ride, thrilling for some and terrifying for others the group stopped and dismounted, walking over to a waterfall, river and small natural pool. Those who wanted too got ready and took a swim in the nice water, discovering a nearly fantastical tunnel of trees heading up the river. Those who did not go into the water watched from above, relaxing and tanning. Getting back on the horses another 20 minute trip was taken back to the stables. Everyone got safely back on the bus, hungry and tired realizing that it was already 2:30.
Riding back there was a lot of traffic due to the protests that were happening in the street. On the way back we stopped at a grocery store so that everyone could fill their snack stashes. That grocery trip is the epitome of the wisdom, “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.” Arriving back to home base in Liberia we all sat down, ate a long-awaited lunch and socialized in rooms with each other for a solid hour. After this time to relax we organized ourselves and walked over to the soccer field, forked over the money to rent it for an hour and played a spirited game out on the slippery AstroTurf field. Those who were not participating in the game were sitting on the sidelines cheering others on with pre-made signs and small cheer songs made up for players on the spot.
After finishing the game and petting to very cute dogs that we meet at the field, the group walked back to home base and had a 45 minute siesta before dinner to relax and hang out with friends. Dinner immediately proceeded the siesta with rice meat patties, chicken, refried black beans, mashed potatoes, green beans, and fruit juice. With the conclusion of diner, we all had another short siesta and then sat in a large circle and listened to Kasia’s touching story of self. Once she had shared the mentor groups split off and went to their separate locations and one person shared in Hannah’s group and others shared in Kasia’s group. After mentor groups we had a siesta for another 45 minutes before going to our rooms and having lights out at 9:00 p.m.
Monday July 1, 2019
Today we started off the day going to our first beach at 6:30 am. We went to the black beach where we went paddle boarding, banana boating, and went looking for shells and rocks. We spent about a hour and a half looking through the tide pools and looking for monkeys before our paddle boarding instructor got to the beach. We tried surfing with the paddle boards until we left that beach to go to La Playa Grande. On the hour bus ride there, everyone realized that they were super sunburnt and very tired.
Once we got to the second beach we got surfing lessons. It was really cloudy, but everyone still loaded up on sun screen. We spent about 2 hours surfing and getting smacked by the huge waves coming in. Once we got back to the bus, the mentors realized that everyone was burnt, so we made a pit stop at a Walmart on our way home to get aloe. We got home around 9 pm, and everyone went right to bed.
More photos coming soon!
Thursday July 4, 2019
Today started off with our last day of service. We said goodbye to all our favorite dogs and put our handprints and names on one of the walls. After that we went to the Montesky hike where just about every kid felt like they were going to pass out (but not actually!). We saw 2 beautiful waterfalls and some of us got a little wet. We also stopped on the way back down to drink some coffee and make some cheese tortillas with the infamous Pedro. After the rest of our hike back down, we came back to the hostel to eat lunch which was yummy quesadillas.
After our hike to Montesky, we had a cooking class with Javier. We were making our own individual bowls of chifrijo. From the very beginning we were chopping tomatoes, onions, and cilantro that we would be putting in our own servings. When the chopping had slowed, we sang “Star Spangled Banner” while using plastic bowls and spoons for percussion. Soon we had each made our own bowls of chifrijo and none of them were the same.
Once we had eaten our fill, dance classes started. Sebastián moved quickly through warm-ups, and soon we were jumping and kicking in unison. The dances were fast and we often got lost. By the end of the session we had performed each dance in small groups and cheered each other on. When the music kept playing, we formed a circle and individually stepped into the center to show off our moves.
Today we woke up bright and early to go whitewater rafting! There were about four- six people in a boat plus a rafting guide. The guides taught us how to front paddle, back paddle, and do a paddle high five. We made sure to wear suns shirts and plenty of sunscreen! The rapids ranged from classes 1, 2, and 3 and were very exhilarating! Halfway down the river, we took a break where we were able to jump and slide off the rafts into the water. Everyone joined in on the fun as the raft guides tossed us into the chilly water. At the end of the ride, we noticed that we had crossed under a walking bridge that we had passed over on the very first day of the trip! Everything had come full circle.
After rafting, we visited a ghost town up in the mountains. There, we saw an abandoned hospital that we could walk through and explore. At the entrance of the town, there were vendors selling strawberries with chocolate sauce that were were very popular amongst the students!
When we arrived back at home base, everyone began to prepare for the farewell dinner. During this time we also wrote affirmation notes for each person on the trip. We ended the night with a lovely dinner, cake, some toasts, and an affirmation circle.
– Rebecca Brown