All students have arrived, with the exception of a few due to delays. They will arrive today!
Session 6 is underway! We had a little problem with the airplane arriving from Boston, but we are all here safe and sound! We had relaxing day filled with getting to know each other, a bit of free time and also heading to the local town called La Cruz. We “cruised around” there and bought some snacks at the grocery store, tried some exotic fruit, and got some delicious fruit smoothies. Everyone is now having a language exchange with some locals to enhance our Spanish skills and also to help them improve their English. This is going to be a great session!!!!!
What an adventure day it has been! We enjoyed a nice hike through the forest to see a beautiful waterfall and also to experience some volcanic activity including steaming pools of water and mud. After the hike, we were tired, but not too tired to go to the hot springs where we soaked in the hot pools and then painted volcanic mud on ourselves. Once the mud dried, we wasted ourselves off in the refreshing river. If you can believe it, we then went souvenir shopping in a town called El Coco. We were able to buy gifts for our loves ones, eat gelato and so slurp up some delicious fruit smoothies. On our ride home we stopped at a cool beach and found some hermit crabs. All in all, it was a tiring, but awesome day. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for tomorrow!!!!
Wow!!! What a fantastic day adventuring!!! River tubing, horseback riding, and zip lining have been a definite highlight of our program so far! It ended on a wonderful note watching the sunset on the beach with a surprise rainbow!! We are all excited for service tomorrow!
First day of service: August 17, 2015
Service is an important word commonly used to express people helping others in need.
Today, Lisa’s service group jumped onto the bus and made their way to one of La Cruz’s primary schools. This adorable little school has many creative decorations made out of reusable material. Today was picture day for the kids so all of them were dressed in their nice uniforms. Most of the little children were very energetic, friendly, and excited to play with the “gringos”. After recess, while the kids were back in their classrooms, Lenin, Juan Carlos, Lisa, and her service group were working on evening the ground to continue building the sidewalk around the school. This process included shoveling the rocky dirt into the wheel barrows and bringing the wheelbarrows to the sidewalk. At the sidewalk site, various people worked on evening out the dirt that the people brought with the wheelbarrows. This process was tiring and it was very warm, but it is satisfying knowing you are helping others in need. Around 11:30, all the service groups started to head back to home base for a delicious lunch. As the afternoon began all the kids and mentors hopped onto the buses and drove a couple minutes to reach a calm, beautiful beach in El Jobo. At the beach, the kids and mentors played volleyball, explored the sealife, and swam through the water. As we head home we’ll be expecting some mentor time, a fulfilling dinner, and a music fiesta to finish off the day.
Selin Dogan (Leader of the Day)
Today the GLA family enjoyed a nice breakfast featuring cheese that everyone thought was french toast. We then loaded onto the busses and went off to service groups. Alex’s group helped high school students practice their English by playing games and having some conversations. Once back at the base we had lucy, then set off again for the beach. Everyone had a blast with some tackles in the water and tossing some balls back and forth.
Delana Husby (Leader of the Day)
Today I was challenged with leading the team through our first day of service. Though taking directions myself, along with the others we dedicated roles to each person to make the job more efficient. I tried to keep our morals up with music and games. We got to play with kids from a local elementary school and practice our Spanish. I learned about the Costa Rican school system, how to keep people motivated and the first step of building a side walk.
Malick Boly (Leader of the Day)
At first when we started to work we had no idea what we were doing, but soon found out how to work it out. When we first started to talk to the locals in La Cruz we realized how extremely friendly they are, even when you don’t even speak their language. By the end of the amazing experience we were exchanging social media and taking pictures with each other.
Steven-Michael Richmond (Leader of the Day)
Today our GLA service group visted a bilingual highschool in Costa Rica. It was such a great experience and so great to see other students our age!
This is a group photo of the GLA students and an eleventh grade english class. We helped them with the plot seqence from a short story and got to ask eachother questions.
The school is has a lot of outdoor greenery surrounding the classrooms and it is quite beautiful!
We also went to a ninth grade english class and interacted with all of the students. There was LOTS of laughter and great conversations.
The students loveeee to play soccer and they have a wonderful stadium at there school.
Finally we came back to a wonderful lunch and we could feel the love from the kitchen staff.
Following lunch, we all took a boat to the island across the water from the beach. A few adventurous ones decided to hike up the steep mountain on the island. I was one if them and it was one of the craziest experiences. The journey was very difficult and it felt like we were people living in the wild. The view from the top was absolutely amazing and definitley worth the struggle.
Overall, today was quite an adventurous and fun filled day!
– Justine Pavia (Leader of the Day)
This morning we were originally set to continue working on the benches at one of the high schools in La Cruz, but our plans changed and we ended up at an elementary school. Once we were there we began work on a sidewalk. First we had to shovel rocks and sand into the cement machine and then we added cement powder and water. From there we used wheelbarrows to transport the cement from the machine out into the road where the sidewalk was beginning to take shape. Albeit heavy, the large amounts of cement made it to the sidewalk where one of our drivers, Lenin, was helping us spread it onto the ground. The job was messy at times with wet cement splattering onto our clothes and faces, but knowing that we were helping create a safe place for the young students to walk really made it worth it.
After we got back to home base we ate lunch and had siesta and you-do-you time. Once that was over we all took a boat ride over to a nearby island. It was really nice to hang out somewhere where we were the only people and the views were amazing! We hung out on the beach and had the option to do a hike up to the top of the island. Most of us hiked and were scared out of our minds (we weren’t expecting to be on our hands and knees!), but the view was definitely worth it. Another highlight was finding some really beautiful shells on the beach and the water was really clear by the shore! We also had the chance to snorkel and saw several pufferfish, grouper, and a bunch of other animals.
– Halie Mariano and Lilli O’Riordan (Leaders of the Day)
Today, Jake took over for Alex’s group and we went to Playa Coyotera in El Jobo to complete unfinished work from previous sessions. There, we sawed, painted signs and fences and also hung signs regarding rules to the playground including “Protect the Nature”, “Adults Keep Off” and signs that will be hung to direct the public to the playground (it’s a little difficult to paint when a perro is stepping all over your sign). Once the majority of the work was done we all picked up trash and played with some local kids. We bought them soda and also shared a bag of Cheetos together! Before we said our goodbye’s we took a group photo and removed any paint spillage from the concrete steps. Once we all loaded the bus Jake told us that one of the mother’s of the children we played with makes bracelets and wanted to know if we’d like to buy some. How can you turn down anything homemade?
Once our wrists were decorated we headed over to Tempetal, the location where we would be doing service work for the remainder of the week. Since we arrived early we were able to jump rope and play tag with the kids who definitely have more energy than all of us combined. After the bell rang and the little ones headed back to their classes we dug holes that would hold support structures for the fence encircling the school. Wielding pick axes, shovels and hoes we got a feel for the work we’d be taking on. After that we headed down the road to a house donated by a family that housed equipment we’d be painting. The home included two dogs, two pigs, a cat, and a parrot! After giving the animals an abundance of attention we headed back to Hotel EcoPlaya for some delicious lunch and free time. Everyone needs a little siesta when you’re working this hard!
When everyone was rested and bright eye’d we made our way to an island across from the beach where we would take a boat. The ride was rough and everyone got very wet which made it all the more fun. The island was breathtaking and very remote. We also had the option to go on a hike, which the mentors warned us was very difficult (scariest experience in my life and I speak for most). The struggle to get to the top was well worth it to see the breathtaking view. After a few hours on the beach we came back and ate dinner. Today was filled with hard work and topped off with paint in our hair and blisters on our hands. Tomorrow is bound to be even more exciting!
– Yours truly, Gabby Darling (Leader of the Day)
The day started off regularly, and after an early breakfast, we set off on the buses. Making a quick snack/sunglasses stop, we got to the service sites on time, splitting up into 2 groups of 5. One group went to the primary school, to make a sidewalk.
We were super messy but had a ton of fun. The other went to a high school close by, and made benches for the students. When heading to the high school, they saw the marching band from the school, who were amazing!
The morning was full of hard work from both groups, so when we were on the way home, we were so tired that we forgot to pick up the other group! After a delicious lunch, we had a couple hours of free time, where some took naps, went for a swim, cleaned up the beach, or went on a hike. At around 4 the whole group made its way to a community soccer game!
There was a LOT of sweat in this game, and the whole team was awesome and full of energy, but sadly, we lost to the amazing local team. All in all, we had a great time being the leaders of the day for this awesome group, and look forward to the rest of this trip!
Julia Herrero and Isabelle Towle (Leaders of the Day)
Today we visited a bilingual high school in La Cruz. We went into an eleventh and ninth grade classroom to help the students practice English. We learned there was many differences, but also many similarities between their everyday lives and ours. We joined them for a friendly game of soccer. We shared smiles and laughs, making it a great day.
Later on in the day, we went on a hike to a beautiful view. Despite all the obstacles such as barbed wire and cactus, it was worth it.
After our hike we played a soccer game against the townspeople. Even though we lost by far, it was so much fun!
Alessia Gorostiaga and Leah Horan (Leaders of the Day)
This morning we took a trip to the local elementary school. The children were all very excited to see us and we played together for an hour. After all the girls had their hair braided and the boys were exhausted from tag, we moved on to the community house. There, we sanded down pieces of wood which we then turned into signs. It was tiring and repetitive work but everyone was having a lot of fun. Then we painted them and, as they are going to be on the beach wrote things like ‘Pick up your trash’ and ‘protect the nature’ all in Spanish. After a few hours, we headed back to home base and had lunch, followed by a you do you time and seista. During this time most people slept, getting ready for the soccer game. Others took a personality quiz which showed you what colour you would be. It was strange as some of them were scarcely accurate. At 4, everyone headed down to the vans, dressed in gla blue ready for the soccer game against the local community. It was a lot of fun, and everyone got hot and sweaty. Although we had a great team spirit, on the field and the sidelines, unfortunately the Costa Ricans beat us. However we all had a great time.
Olivia von Stauffenberg (Leader of the Day)
Today we were planning on working on the sidewalk but when we arrived on site we found out the power was out and we weren’t able to mix the concrete. Instead we collected rocks to level the site for the rest of the sidewalk and played with the local kids. After we got back we had you-do-you time and we made recycled trash jewelry, we made empanadas, we played soccer, and we had various talks from the mentors. The talks included traveling on a budget, the peace corps, and taking a gap year. Tonight we will be having a dance class and learning dances such as the salsa.
Kaitlyn Wilson (Leader of the Day)
Today in Alex’s service group we went to Tempetal and dug about ten, 50 cm deep, holes through hard clay for the fence supports. Also, we de-barked and sanded wood, and painted signs for the community. Upon arriving back at Home Base we enjoyed you-do-time with making recycled bracelets, cooking lessons, and talks about the peace corps, gap years, and traveling on a budget with the mentors. Also a game of soccer went on, gla against the employees of the hotel. Even after a lot of effort from both sides the Costa Ricans were again victorious. To end another great day we will be having mentor time, dinner, and some Latin Dance lessons before bed.
Amanda Engeman (Leader of the Day)
A cool breeze flowed through the air in relaxed waves early in the morning, foreshadowing the low-key day by GLA standards to follow. First and most important was community service; we went to different high schools and contributed to improving the lives of the student by doing everything from constructing benches to playing soccer with the students. After returning to the GLA campus, there were multiple different seminars conducted by the mentors and hotel staff based off their personal experience’s like taking a gap year and the art of producing Costa Rican coffee. All the meanwhile, the hotel staff vs GLA soccer game took place. Let’s just say the effort was definitely there from Team GLA. Today featured lots of choice for everyone but also lots of fun and excitement for all the kids to enjoy.
Eric Trachtenberg (Leader of the Day)
All students have departed and are on their way home!