Thursday June 28, 2018
Welcome to Session 2 at Beachside Service Adventure with GLA! Students arrived yesterday, June 27th at Playa Junquillal in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. After learning the ground rules and safety measures here at Playa Junquillal Eco Resort, the students who arrived earlier in the day caught a glimpse of the breathtaking sunset down on the beach, while getting to know the face of Beachside Adventure… Pablo! (Our director’s dog!) Later, students were treated to a traditional Costa Rican meal known as casado, a dish comprised of beans, rice, plantains, salad and a protein.
After dinner, students continued to settle in to their new home for the next 10 days and even enjoyed a night walk on the beach illuminated by a full moon! Then it was lights out at 10 o’clock sharp to rest up for team building activities the following day at orientation, all except for our last group of students who arrived to homebase close to 11pm.
Today is orientation day, and we are busy getting to know each other and diving into what it means to be a leader in a global context. Stay tuned for more updates!
Friday June 29, 2018
Today marks the first service day of the second session of Costa Rica Beachside Service Adventure 2018! It has been an eventful day for all of us. Yesterday was an orientation day, where we went over rules and grounds boundaries and other important information, like emergency preparedness. Today we woke up bright and early, had breakfast, and headed off, each to their own service group, which was assigned to us yesterday. There are five: ROW, VerdiAzul, Paraiso School, Playa Avellanas, and Vida y Salud Organic Farm. Many pictures were taken today at each of the service sites, and a lot of fun and hard work was had, too! Here is what we all did today:
Today at ROW, GLA students painted signs and recycling bins at a nearby school so the kids there would more easily learn to dispose of their trash effectively and not litter. Just walking alongside the road here in Costa Rica, one can see plastic bottles and bags laying here. It’s very important here to get rid of trash the right way, and teaching that helps connect the Costa Rican students and us. The students also learned about the history of Costa Rica and water issues surrounding the country. They taught about the water cycle and the importance of preserving trees to the students in the school. As one of the students says, “The kids were so excited and they were all waving when we left. The students in the school were really excited when we got there, too.”
VerdiAzul tells a completely different story today. VerdiAzul is an organization focused on sea turtles, beachside reforestation, and cleanliness of nature, much like ROW. Today the students helped clear out an area for future turtle eggs. They passed buckets of sand down to a pile and dumped them out to let the ocean take the sand back. It was hard work under the sun and in such heat and humidity, but it was all worth it when they got to witness baby sea turtles being released into the ocean. One of the students said, “All the baby turtles were so adorable and tiny, and it was awesome to see them being released!” The students also started planning a future school lesson about the importance of nature. They said it felt great to wash off all the sand accumulated during the day back at home base after the work was over.
One portion of the GLA students worked in and around a local school named Paraiso. Students worked hard in the humidity building gardens and painting murals for the children. Because it was Paraiso’s last day of school, the children were roaming around and interacting with the GLA students. Additionally, another portion of the students worked diligently in the mangroves of Guanacaste. They walked deep into the swampy, dense trees and came across an abandoned house. The house was filled with carbon, all kinds of trash, and they cleaned every little piece out of it. The students also worked tediously to sort the waste into recyclables and mixed trash and were able to dispose of it properly. Lastly, another group working to improve the life and health of the Costa Rican’s learned to create composts. The GLA students took grains, cow poop, corn flower, water, molasses, and mixed it together to create the compost support. Students came to the home base tired yet excited for the next day to continue their services and continue in the direction to make a difference around Costa Rica.
When we got back to home base, lunch was wolfed down and we got into our bathing suits…. And then it started raining. No, not raining. Pouring! Pouring doesn’t even begin to describe it! The skies unloaded rainwater for hours, and we had to cancel a trip to the beach. We played a story game, took a few hours of break, and then listened to a native woman named Silvia speak about Costa Rican geography and important events. She had an interesting story to tell, and pictures to show. After that, we went into a “chow circle” before dinner, where we went over the schedule and gave shoutouts! We had a delicious dinner, and celebrated international director Callie’s birthday by cracking an egg filled with flour on her head and dancing. We had some cake for Callie, too! After a bunch of dancing fun, we went into our mentor groups and talked about our values and stories of self. Before the night was over, we danced some more and ate some cheesecake. Then, sleep. And boy, did we sleep 🙂
Saturday June 30, 2018
Today was a great day at GLA Costa Rica beachside service adventure. In the morning we split off into service groups in did many meaningful service projects and learned lots of interesting things about Costa Rica and culture.
In verdi azul, the group watched baby turtles hatch and they helped by hauling sand around the beach.
In the playa Avellanas group they picked up trash along the beach and sanded boards to make signs on the next service day.
In the vida y salud organic farming group, they picked up leaves for fertilizer and helped by picking up many weeds.
In the ROW group they got the chance to meet some local high school students and although the communication was tough they were able to speak to each other and have a great time.
In the Paraiso group they finished making murals and helped out in the orchard.
After service we all came back to the home base and had some tasty tacos for lunch.
After lunch we went to the beach until it started to rain. When we came back we did a banquet activity about people from different cultures. Then we learned how to dance bachata and salsa, and everyone had a great time. While we were salsa dancing there was a torrential rainstorm going on outside but that didn’t dampen our spirits.
For dinner we had some delicious noodles with vegetables and a dessert of a chocolate sundae.
After dinner we split off into our mentor groups and took a closer look at leadership in terms of interacting with people who have different values than us.
Everyone is excited to go tubing tomorrow!
Sunday July 1, 2018
Today was the halfway point for the GLA Costa Rica Beachside Service Adventure. We had our first adventure, which was river tubing about 2 hours inland. Everyone was super excited to have our first adventure after two hard days of service out in the sun. River tubing was done solo, there were calm rapids and waterfalls combined to make 3.5 miles of flying down the river. Of course to the parents concerned, we were wearing helmets & lifejackets!
Then after our relaxing free time we had a guest speaker, Matt Rosensteele, who informed us about his Peace Corps experiences in La Florida, Costa Rica. We shared laughs with Rosensteele about his horse pinto and their adventures as “Indiana Jones”. We ended the night with a great meal and a Ted Talk about assumptions. Sending love to our families from our home base!
Monday July 2, 2018
The students who were willing woke up extra early today for a 6:00am Zumba class with Michael and had so much fun!! After enjoying an early breakfast, our students loaded the buses to go to their service sights.
Today at ROW, our students learned all about Vetiver grass, which is a grass whose deep roots hold soil in place to prevent soil erosion and also hold in water. After learning about the plant, the students then worked to dig up existing Vetiver grass in order to plant even more!! In about two years, tall thriving Vetiver grass will be seen in the area all because of our students and mentors who planted the grass today! After working in the hot sun, the students rewarded themselves with refreshing lemonade at a local restaurant.
Students shoveled sand out from the contaminated area in the turtle hatchery and painted signs in the Verdi Azul site.
In the Organic farm they Picked weeds around Yuca plants.
Meanwhile, students at Playa Avenallos painted signs in order to label the recycling. Their goal was to go encourage the people to take trash off the beaches.
Across town, students working at Paraiso School began to sketch out ideas for their murals. They worked hard to pull out weeds and they also finished the garden!
After hard work under the sun, the students returned to home base to enjoy a delicious lunch of fried chicken and pasta salad! They had a bit of free time to spend with each other, and then headed out to the Ecomuseum of Pottery. At the Ecomuseum, everyone got to learn about the history and culture of the Chorotega people, indigenous inhabitants of Guanacaste before the Spanish arrived, and witness a demonstration of the pottery being made completely by hand from all natural ingredients, even the paints!
After returning from pottery, students gathered for chow circle and a delicious dinner! They then enjoyed a documentary about poverty and how to make a positive impact, and learned a lot. They then met for a quick meeting with their mentor groups, and headed to their cabins to get some sleep for our next exciting day tomorrow!!
Today was our 7th day in Costa Rica!
We started the day with yoga on the beach, and a good breakfast.
Next, the groups set out for service where they each did a variety of activities. ROW and VERDIAZUL prepared for tomorrow’s community day, setting up activities for the children in the town. Along with setup ROW planted trees and spread leaves, while VERDIAZUL dug a hole for turtles.
Playa Avelllanas picked up trash along the coast and the forest. They ended their service with a quick dip in the ocean.
The organic farm picked weeds to clean out gardens and support the environment.
Paraíso started painting an “under the sea” mural in one of the local schools.
After service, we headed into a local community where we held a community rally. The students played soccer with locals, games with instructor Lucas, and visited the house of Doña Yolanda to learn about local cuisine. After our rally, we headed back to HB and watched a beautiful sunset. After a quick dinner circle and delicious dinner, we headed to mentor groups where we talked about responsible service and the perspectives we use to tell peoples’ stories before lights out!
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Today was another adventure day at GLA Beachside Service Adventure 2018, which occurred in two groups, Guilas and Carajillos.
Guilas took a boat to a beautiful beach after breakfast where they snorkeled, kayaked and saw many species that lived in the ocean. Many students conquered their fear of being in open water. It was a great experience overall! The carajillos went ziplining across the green Costa Rican terrain. There was a delicious lunch at home base and the last day of service for everyone. All the service groups went to different sites.
Playa Avellanas continued to work on cleaning the beach and planting trees, Paraiso school saved their mural from the rain, Huerta Vida y Salud finished some last work at the farm, and Row and VerdiAzul led activities for children in a nearby community to pass along the knowledge they have been learning through their 20 hours of service.
At night, we had our dinner circle and a wonderful dinner. To end the night, we discussed our futures in our mentor groups and heard an inspiring talk by our mentor, Carlitos from Lima, Peru about following our dreams and putting what we learned about GLA into practice.
What a great time had by all and a very happy Independence Day from Costa Rica to those of our families back home who are in the U.S!