Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
As Ric would say, “Hola chicos!”. Or, in Wale’s words: “Hey fam!”
How are things going back in the United States? Your International Director and Mentors miss you, and talk about memories from our time together often. From day one we knew you were a lively group with lots of personality, and that energy kept us going throughout our time together. Each of you was a special part of our GLA family and brought something unique to our experience here in Costa Rica. Because of you, I learned so much about what it means to be a leader, and to live life to the fullest!
It seems like our time together was only yesterday. Remember when we organized the nursery like bosses, passing baby trees down the assembly line? I’m glad nobody was stung by the huge scorpions we found. Rosbin talked about how grateful he was for your hard work two weeks later when we were back at Horizontes. The nursery still looks stellar, and will be filled with more little trees that will grow for hundreds of years! One of my best memories from Horizontes will always be our guide, Freddy, emerging from the darkness in his oversized rain poncho, machete in hand, ready to take us on our night hike in the pouring rain. Speaking of rain, who could forget our day at Coco Beach, when our peaceful ocean swim was interrupted by torrential downpour? At first we stayed in the water, but then darted back to shore when we realized our things were getting soaked (RIP Abbey’s sunglasses). Even though our plans for the day completely changed, your laughter and smiles made this one of my favorite memories of the summer. What about macheteing to save the Guaycan Trees? The tractor ride to the plantation was half the adventure. These trees will continue to grow, and who knows? Maybe one day one of you will bring your grandchildren to Costa Rica and show them the trees you helped protect!
I will always remember exploring hidden beaches, collecting seashells, and riding the rapids where the river fed into the ocean at Playa Iguanita. And then of course, watching the sun set while eating the world’s best BBQ, complete with roasted pineapple and plantains. After our hard work in the dry forest, camping at the beach was the perfect transition into our next week in the rainforest.
I loved seeing your faces when we arrived at Bromelias. I miss cooling off in the mineral pools at our beautiful Rainforest home base, watching the rain pour down from the safety of the comedor, and all of the beautiful plants that surrounded us there. Freja, how is your bullet ant bite doing? I hope you are telling all of your friends you survived the most painful insect bite of the rainforest! I checked in on the garden that some of you built at Buenos Aires, and sure enough, little green sprouts are popping up in rows! Soon the garden will be producing bunches of tomatoes, radishes, and chiles. The school has even begun clearing more land for garden plots to produce an abundance of healthy food for the students. It was our group that inspired this project! At Gavilan, the last GLA group of the summer worked to complete the tables and chairs that you began. This community space that you made out of tires and cement will bring a splash of color to the town, and will provide seating for all the soccer games to come!
We hope that with the new school year in swing, (some of you in college now!) you don’t forget the lessons you learned while here in Costa Rica. Each of you is a leader in a different way, and I cannot wait to see where your lives take you! You pushed yourselves out of your comfort zones, worked hard in the communities, asked many questions about yourselves and the world, and developed new friendships that we hope you don’t leave behind! Remember to keep in touch with your mentors and fellow GLA family members in the coming months (and years!).
Your Mentor Allie
Summer Blog Posts
After an array of flights and layovers and car rides, it was unbelievably relieving to arrive at our destination! It is obvious that Costa Rica is incredibly ecologically and geographically diverse. The prominent greenery is so beautiful and pure, as we saw today in our first walk around Estación Experimental Forestall Horizontes (the dry forest). Due to late arrivals by Aurora A., Isabel A., Mayenga F., Merari R., and Raquel C., they are not in the picture below. I speak on behalf of the group when I say that we are all so exited to explore, learn, and achieve the sense of attainment when completing our projects. After a rather relaxed first day, there is so much in store for the next two weeks, and it is going to be great!
We are excited to meet the rest of our teammates tonight and tomorrow!
Written by Freja W.
It’s day two, and our final members of the group have thankfully finally arrived! Today we started our first community project. We began our reforestation project, working at the tree nursery and organizing the trees. It was super hot and sweaty but we’re all getting used to the heat. Everything here is beautiful and we’re all getting pretty comfortable with each other. So far the trip is amazing!
July 20, 2016
Today, we woke up on the beach after camping there in tents. The day before we took a huge army truck on an hour ride to Playa del Iguanita. Upon arrival, most of us went swimming after putting down our stuff. Some people went and split up to go kayaking and paddle boarding, and others went to explore the beach. When walking down to the end of the beach on high tide, there is a huge stream where a river flows into the ocean. Some of us went in the stream and it was like a natural water slide, it was so fun! After that, people kept swimming and relaxing until dinner was ready. We had a barbecue, which was delicious! We also had s’mores over a fire after dinner. Soon after, the tents were ready and people went to bed. The next day, day six, we woke up on the beach and had a quick breakfast. Some people went swimming or kayaking, while others sat by a small fire. We then went back to Horizontes on the same army truck, and when we got back we basically had all free time. Overall today was really calm and fun!
UPDATE: The trip will have limited WIFI and DATA, posts may become less frequent.
It’s been tough trying to get the blogs written and up without wifi or service, but it’s still possible! This is going to be a very long update! We apologize for the wait, we haven’t been able to write anything without service. The trip was absolutely amazing! It’s been a few days, and within that time everyone has become so close. We’ve done so many things together, and everyone’s had a great time! The difference between the dry forest base called Horizontes and the rain forest base called Bromelias was crazy! The rainforest is so much cooler temperature wise, and also a lot more humid. The amount of rain there was also incredible! We woke up everyday to massive showers. It rained every couple of hours, no matter what. Whenever we went on hikes, the mud was crazy! It was pretty hard for a lot of us to keep our balance when hiking since it was so slippery. Personally, I fell about 4 times in only one hike! However, those falls were worth the sights we got to see. On one hike, we got to the top and watched a beautiful waterfall under the canopy of trees. On the way back from that same hike, we stopped at a hot spring type body of water and some of us went for a quick swim before continuing back down. Another day, we took a smaller hike to another waterfall, and this one we could swim in! We walked up to the top of the waterfall to see the view, and along the way we witnessed some bullet ants! They’re absolutely massive, and they get their name from the amount of pain people feel from their bites; they’re the most painful bug bites out there! In fact back at the base, one of us got bit by one; but she’s ok now. The pain only lasts a couple hours. On some days we had classes, including a dancing class, a cooking class, and a painting class. All three were super fun! We also began our service at the Buenos Aires and Gavilan sites. We were allowed to choose between building a greenhouse at Buenos Aires, or creating cement and making tables at Gavilan. Both groups split up and did their work for a couple of hours each day, and both projects went by smoothly and we were able to finish our work in the communities! We made very good friends with the kids there. Even with a language barrier, it was still so easy to communicate and make friends! One of the days, we had a big soccer game with the community in Buenos Aires and some Gavilan kids, and it was so fun! They’re all so good at soccer! The next day was the longest, and it was our last full day together ever. We went to Guachipalin’s Adventure Park, and did so many things! We started off rafting in solo tubes on a river for about 45 minutes, which was so fun! The fast parts of the river were the best, and at some points we were in a sort of lazy river area when the river slowed down and lacked rapids. The next thing we did was zip lining! There were multiple concourses, and at some points we were allowed to hang upside down like a monkey; it was super fun! The view from the zip lining was absolutely gorgeous as well. After that was horseback riding to another waterfall that we could jump off of. The horses were so fun to ride! At the end of the day was hot springs, where we rubbed volcanic mud all over ourselves. It was so relaxing and fun! When we were done, we had our final dinner together at a restaurant, then we headed back to the base in the dry forest, which was Horizontes. The next day, today, was the saddest of them all. It was time to leave! The night before, we all said our goodbyes. One group left early in the morning at 4 am, and some of us got up with them in order to say goodbye. The next group left at 9:15, and we all said our goodbyes at the airport. It was very difficult to say bye to the people who we’ve been in such close quarters with over the past two weeks, and most of us cried. We had all become such close friends, and most of us knew that we were probably never going to see each other again, at least not for a long time. We all agreed to keep in contact! The trip was great, and the people were greater. The departure was hard, but the experience and the people are some things we will all never forget. Pura vida!