Monday July 23, 2018
Welcome students and families of Session IV to GLA’s Beachside Service Adventure in Costa Rica! From all of the staff here, we are so enthused at the opportunity to show you the beautiful country of Costa Rica – where we’ve already spent a month and a half living!
Yesterday, we settled in to our new home here in Junquillal. It is always a pleasure to watch students’ faces light up when we walk them down to the beach for the first time. The sunsets here at the Eco Resort are second to none, and walks on the beach with students makes the long flight worth it from the get go! Students settled in to their cabins and later got their first taste of Costa Rica… Casado! This traditional dish is comprised of rice, beans, salad, a protein, and fried plantains. It literally means “marriage” in English, regarding how rice and beans are always together to have a proper Casado. After, we played games and were in bed at 10 pm for lights out to start today – Orientation!
Today students had the opportunity to participate in team building activities and leadership seminars to set the stage for the next nine days here. Mentors and directors introduced themselves and presented to students for the first part of the day. We went over safety policies, service projects, and learned about Costa Rica culture.
It’s always a treat to see just how eager students are to meet one another and participate in activities such as the classic “Gecko, Sloth, Mosquito” – a take on Rock Paper Scissors. See the following pictures for the unique gestures that represent each animal from Costa Rica. Our reigning champ today was Andrew! Other activities followed such as Bucket of Dreams and our “What Is Leadership” seminar.
From all of the staff here we’d like to thank you all for another fantastic day of orientation! We can’t wait to see you grow and learn on the upcoming days of service and adventure.
Tuesday July 24, 2018
Today in Costa Rica the students all started their first day of service and took a quick but rewarding trip to the beach. We started off the day with a pancake breakfast and then each group went to their service sites. Marbella reforestation group went to a beautiful hillside and planted 154 trees. Then everyone met back up for lunch before taking a drive to the beach. After we listened to a guest speaker talk about the history and culture of Costa Rica.
At 7:30 this morning we all loaded onto the bus and drove through Guanacaste to our service sites. The ROW group went to a small school to paint recycling bins and pick up trash. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day Guanacaste was annexed into Costa Rica, so all the kids were having a party in the yard. They were all dressed in traditional clothes, and they were listening to music and playing games with their toy horses. Marbella reforestation planted trees, and the Marbella School group spent the morning doing beach clean up to give the school a chance to prepare for their festival tomorrow. Huerta Vida y Salud worked on cleaning and painting recycled tires at a small community school in Las Delicias.
VerdiAzul worked on putting posts along the coastline so that cars won’t mess up reforestation efforts to protect the nesting ecosystem of the sea turtles. Paraiso school worked on their school garden. After working at our service site, we headed back to home base to have lunch and get ready for the beach. After spending some time in the ocean, we returned to hear a presentation on Costa Rica and the Guanacaste province. The night finished up in mentor groups where we talked about our values and how they influence our actions.
Wednesday July 25, 2018
Today was a special day in the region GLA is staying in, as July 25th is the annexation of Guanacaste. The six service groups went to their sites between 7:30 and 8:00, and many got to experience festivities for the holiday. Both Marbella groups got to try Costa Rican food and Costa Rican dances. Paraíso saw the children at school celebrate with lots of dancing and music, and after the kids left they returned to work on the playground. Huerta finished putting their tires in the ground and then celebrated with the children and their families. ROW planted saplings and separated Guanacaste seeds.
Verdi Azul made signs to mark turtle eggs in the turtle hatchery, as well as picking up and sorting litter from the beach. The students returned to lunch before driving to a festival for the holiday – they witnessed a parade and got to join in on a celebratory dance. Everybody was surprised by the acceptance and friendliness of the locals. There were a few quick games of soccer with local kids, a visit to the ecomuseum with a presentation on pottery, and then everybody returned to Homebase for dinner and mentor groups. At the dinner circle students had the opportunity to shoutout others who lived their values throughout the day.
Thursday July 26, 2018
Greetings from Costa Rica on day 5 of our trip! This is Emma Pelz and Hannah Johnson.
Earlier this morning we split in two groups for an adventure. One group went zip lining while the other went to the catamaran ride and snorkeled.
The Marbella Beautification group went to the school for the second time today to finish painting. We painted the rest of the walls on the inside and outside of the school while other added flowers to the fence around the nursery. Even though the heat was wearing us down we were able to finish a large portion of the painting. My group worked very well together today and learned a lot about teamwork.
The Huerta vida y salud group went to the organic farm for the first time today. We raked the soil and dug holes for the water to fill up. Me and my peers learned about organic farming and what it is like in Costa Rica. the most surprising thing was learning about the time it takes for the plants and fertilizers to be made. I am proud of my group for pushing through the heat and working hard to get the job done at the farm. An inspiring person today was our mentor Bridget, she was so supportive during the farming and helped us all when we needed it. I learned that it’s always good to try new things because today at the farm I did and it was so fun.
The Marbella Reforestation group made signs, painted them, nailed them to stakes so that they can later be put on the beach to encourage people not to litter.
ROW group planted trees and cleaned up garbage at a community center.
Verdi Azul walked along the beach and cleaned up trash. Later that day, they invited the rest of the group to see sea turtles being released into the ocean.
Finally, The Paraíso School group finished painting tires for a minion themed planter and set it up out front – it’ll be ready to greet the kids and parents tomorrow morning! We also had a group working on a tire tunnel for the play area. Despite rocks and the humidity, we were able to finish the majority of the project!
Overall it was a very fun day!
Photos coming soon!
Friday July 27, 2018
The day started off by the students breaking off into their service groups. The Marbella Reforestation group painted the signs they previously put together in order to promote keeping the beaches clean. The Paraiso school project first began by painting tires in order to create a butterfly. They then dug up holes in order to place tires to create a tunnel. Also, students drilled holes into tires in order to place poles to build a well. ROW planted trees by digging up many holes. Vida y Salud Organic Farm aerated the soil by hand and prepared the soil by fertilizing it. Marbella School painted structures outside of the school such as tires, chairs, tables, etc. Lastly, Verde Azul dug up 37 holes, which would later be used for a fence to prevent people from entering into the baby sea turtle hatchery zone. After service groups and lunch the students participated in a rally day where they played in a community soccer game, took a cooking class, etc. At the end of the day everyone gathered to discuss our overall role in the community, our effect, and the different perspectives that can be interpreted from different activities.
Saturday July 28, 2018
Simply put, today was a banger of a day. ROW and VerdiAzul played games with local young children. Examples were a trash accumulation game, sharks and Minos, soccer, and piggyback racing. Meanwhile, Paraiso beautified the community with multiple rebuilding tasks. Marbella Reforestation helped out the Pitahaya, Frijolar, and Cocos beaches by decorating the designated area with homemade signs providing positive and helpful messages that assist in making the ocean a place of true safety. Huerta, in turn, worked on an organic farm by preparing the soil for an exotic variety of superfoods. All groups learned to socialize with and influence the lives of locals through service and communication. We were collectively surprised about how ecstatic the locals were when we socialized with them. It was quite the sweet surprise, and made us feel mucho bueno. We are proud of the camaraderie that we were able to disperse throughout the Guanacaste community, and we hope to truly internalize the morals and hard work that came from the last day of our service.
Sunday July 29, 2018
Today was our second adventure day, half of us went zipline through a beautiful forest and the other half went to the catermeran and got to snorkel, float in the sea and explore the beach. Today we learned even through the rough parts of life you can use your experience to do something good. We also learned Costa Rican dance and had to get out of our comfort zone.
The most surprising thing today was how well everyone adjusted to something new they experienced. Today I am proud of everyone’s effort to try a new very hard uncomfortable dance. Carlitos was a very inspiring person today when he told us his life story and how he helps kids around the world. Based of off Carlitos back story it taught us that anything you put your mind to can benefit the world in a positive way.
Today, July 30th, everyone went tubing down white water rapids. We all learned to be brave and take chances. The rapids were not easy to handle, but through perseverance we overcame our fears. What surprised us the most was how fun tubing actually was. We thought it was overrated and over-hyped, but it turned out to be very exciting.
Everyone supported and inspired each other to try new things today. For example, buying interesting, hand-made artifacts at the artisan fair. Today we learned to sit back and have fun. Don’t overthink because it can be a huge disadvantage. It was the last day of our program, and we are looking forward to heading home, seeing our families, and carrying with us all the learning and friendships from this trip.