Hi mom, dad, and loved ones!
Can you believe it? 54 of us teenagers have successfully flown from all over the United States and Mexico to gather together in Parrita, Costa Rica! Some of us came as siblings, a few of us came with a friend or two, and many of us came as solo travelers. Regardless of who we were on that airplane when we left from home, part of us each know that we won’t be that exact same student when we return in just a brief 10 days from now.
Though we might not be able to predict in what ways our minds will change, how new friendships will be established, or even what fears we currently have that we might overcome, we do know that our experiences working here in this incredible Tico Community will prepare us to be a better version of ourselves in the future. Thank you for giving us this opportunity! We can’t wait to keep you updated on all that we will encounter! Goodnight for now, tomorrow’s adventure of service in jungles and schools awaits!
Your GLA students and staff from Costa Rica: Beachside Service Adventure
Friday June 30th
Introduction: On day 3 of our Costa Rica trip, our group traveled to a farm to plant trees. The reason that the trees needed to be planted is to protect the field from floods, all the roots from the trees help prevent erosion from floods. A flood recently washed away all the trees, and did lots of damage to the vegetation that many different animals call home. As a group, we planted a total of 167 trees. Now the whole border of the field with the river is protected by trees.
What was fun: The most part fun part of our experience today, was seeing the Costa Rican locals faces when we were planting all the trees. Even though for me at least I didn’t know what they were saying, I could tell that they were very happy that we came out today. Also seeing everyone try to come up with different ideas to plant the trees efficiently was really cool.
What was challenging: The most challenging part of the day was the manual labor. Digging for more than a few hours with shovels is no easy task, especially in the climate of Costa Rica. Also making sure you drank lots of water was essential.
What we took away: For me at least, I gained an appreciation for what a lot of the manual labor people do in Costa Rica. I thought it was really cool to interact with locals that deeply appreciated the work that we doing. Also it made me and others I’m sure, how fortunate we are to live in countries that we don’t have to work outside in very hot conditions. But overall our favorite part was interacting with the locals, I find it really interesting to learn about how different cultures live their lives.
July 2, 2017
Waking up in Costa Rica is a surreal experience. Birds are chirping, iguanas are sunbathing, monkeys are climbing the trees: everything is serene and peaceful and lovely. The insects are also out to play constantly, but being in Costa Rica is well worth the occasional bite from a mosquito or ant.
The session is quite large, about 60 students, but we are getting to know one another well. We divide into several different groups so we can meet lots of new friends: roommates, mentor groups, adventure groups, and more. Learning about the cultural differences across our country, with its vastness and diversity, is fascinating. Last night, my roommates and I spent almost an hour comparing the regional pronunciations of different English words. Eager to make new friends, everyone is kind and outgoing, or at least trying to be. Being in a foreign country and knowing no one is a real test to our ability to make fast friends. Luckily, many of us are succeeding, forming bonds we will carry back home and making friends we will stay in touch with for years to come.
As a part of Kati’s mentor group, my service project involves the ground zero startup of a plant nursery. The eventual goal is to help stop beach erosion by planting coconut, almond, and other trees along the coastline of the country. Nicolas, our native guide, shared his plethora of knowledge on organic farming and the deforestation and environmental issues in Costa Rica.
Being part of the beginning of an environmental conservation project is HARD WORK. It has been a unique opportunity to see the amount of elbow grease that goes into clearing jungle ground for a nursery. Lots of digging, macheting, and raking the ground to produce a clear and fertile area to work in. After hacking and pulling at seemingly endless amounts of vegetation yesterday, the group began to make compost for the soil that seedlings will grow in. Like I said, hard work. However, the morale is bright even as we are covered in dirt and sweat and drenched in rainwater. Helping feels good, it feels right.
Nicolas told us that back in the states we can think about this project, and how the trees and shorelines in Costa Rica help the whole world, including us in the United States. The more trees we plant in this luscious and vibrant country, the more oxygen goes into the atmosphere, and the more pollution comes out. Even though we’re just the flagship of a project that will take many weeks and even years to complete, the impact we have is astonishing to think about. And besides, we get to play with machetes and dig around in the dirt. It’s every eight-year-old’s dream.
Exhausted and excited,
Although we were not in the United States to celebrate the fourth of July, it was still felt like home on a boat in Costa Rica. Today we took a beautiful drive to Quepos and boarded a Catamaran to explore the coast of Costa Rica. The boat offered two water slides, snorkeling, and a great place to get tan (or in many cases sunburnt.) We had a wonderful lunch out on the water and enjoyed some flan for desert. No one was ready to leave the relaxing ride on the Catamaran, but it was time to head out to the national park.
At Manuel Antonio National Park, we walked to the beach and on the trail we saw sloths and monkeys. At the beach, we swam in the gentle waves and enjoyed beautiful views of the ocean. After an already exciting day, we had the opportunity to buy souvenirs in a local market. Overall, it was an amazing day which highlighted the natural beauty Costa Rica has to offer. We had a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. This will be a fourth of July we will never forget!
July 5, 2017
Today was another one of our adventure days. we started with a sunset walk on the beach which 40 of us attended. After breakfast the groups split off to whatever adventure awaited them today whether it consisted of ziplining, tubing, horseback riding, or simply doing activities at home base.