Hot and happy to be in Costa Rica; everyone has arrived and ready to start their 2 week experience in the dry forest, on the beach and in the rainforest.
Today was a day of lots of fun and hard work.
Service this morning around home base consisted of using machetes and other tools to clean up around buildings and walkways. After just a few hours of work, things were looking fresh and clean!
The morning of hard work ended with a delicious lunch and then we headed to the beach! The water was warm and clear, the view was amazing and the experience was incredible.
After the beach, we headed to a small community to play soccer with the locals.
It was a tiring day but we still had energy for a Spanish 101 class with our mentor Arturo.
All in all, today was amazing and lots of great memories were made.
After a breakfast of beans and rice, we headed to service in a couple of trucks. Service today consisted of clearing the grasses and vines away from an endangered tree species. The work was hot and exhausting but the casual conversation and everyone’s positive attitudes made it fun.
After service and lunch, we had relaxing “selfie time” and free time to read and do yoga. Some also played cards and tried to take pictures of the monkeys and iguanas.
The afternoon adventure was a hike to a waterfall. Because of the lack of rain, it was dry but still a very beautiful scene.
The evening finished with watching a TED Talk video about leadership. The entire activity was very eye opening in terms of the meaning behind being a leader and how simple it can be.
-Anthony Magistrelli and Yasmine Zein
Zach Witham and Crystal Young
We started off the day with a delicious breakfast and then had service until 11:30. Service included painting rocks to beautify the home base and pruning shrubs. Then we packed and headed to the beach in the “green machine” (a huge green army truck).
Upon reaching the beast, we were surprised by Howler monkeys! We spent the afternoon swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking. In the evening we took a night walk on the beach and played a bunch of games until going to bed. We fell asleep listening to the sound of the waves; it was a great day.
Valerie Torres and Avi Kate
Best day yet. We awoke to the sound of crashing waves and howling monkeys. We ate breakfast on the beach and then went on a hike with our friend Freddy to learn about the mangroves. We picked shells and then spent time floating in the lagoon before we headed back to home base.
After lunch and much needed showers, our energy was renewed and we began, what turned out to be, an evening of surprises. First, we heard a presentation from a local firefighter about some of the issues affecting the forests. Yasmine got to dress up as a firefighter and we got to meet the forest fire mascot Toño Pizote.
Then, the cooks spoiled us with an amazing barbecued meal. We also had a birthday cake to help celebrate Elana’s birthday. Just when we thought the night was over, a live band appeared and we danced the night away.
We eagerly await the next part of our journey in the rainforest.
By Patrick Brennan, Diana Trinh
We are exactly halfway through the trip; today was filled with bitter sweet adventures. We had mentor groups where we reflected on our trip so far and played a fun leadership activity called Jewel. During the activity we had to work as a team to “reach our goals.” Our team did an amazing job using our communication skills, trusting each other, pushing our leadership skills and stepping outside of our comfort zones. Afterwards, we got in touch with the internet world and reconnected with friends and family. Some got homesick, others realized how much they appreciate being disconnected from Internet access during this trip.
We left the dry forest location of Horizontes to make our way to the rain forest for our next half of the trip! On our way, we stocked up on essentials and snacks from a local grocery store. At the souvenir shop, people bought an array of items whether for themselves or others back home.
When we arrived in our rain forest community of Bromelias we enjoyed dinner together at our new home base. We all practiced the “Whip Nae Nae” dance to perform for the local community at their welcome party. The locals all performed their dances and towards the end, our group performed our dance. It went really well! After the dancing, the local kids got the chance to swing at the piñata that we brought and everyone enjoyed refreshments to finish off the evening.
We woke up and had our first breakfast in the rainforest, it was raining. We then split up into our service groups and painted buildings at two local elementary school thus empowering our rainforest community. It rained during service as well.
Later that day, we took a hike to a bullet ant infested waterfall. It rained during our hike as well.
We then came back to home base for mentor time and dinner.
Afterwards, we learned the cultural Costa Rican dances from the locals.
It was a fun filled rainy day in the rainforest.
– Nate McKee & Elana Weingord
Fernando Pérez and Patience Burkett
Today was our second full day in the rainforest and it was exciting, exhausting and rainy. Our morning began with a lengthy hike through the rainforest in search of hot springs and waterfalls. The sights were beautiful, and hiking in the pouring rain, through mud and puddles was a thrill.
The local community threw a “thank you” party for us at a farm nearby. They showed us a beautiful river, followed by a spectacular bull riding show! After a few cringe inducing fall, the locals fixed us some decidedly delicious lamb. Once everyone finished their meals, our hosts busted out the music and we all got to dancing. Our group impressed the locals with the magnificent moves learned during the previous day’s dance lesson. Many fun times were had as everyone mingled on the dance floor, locals and students alike. After almost three hours of perpetual partying, we said our goodbyes.
We arrived back at home base just in time for Suzannah’s “beyond GLA” discussion. She led a presentation based on her experience in the Peace Corps , and educated us on our options for future programs similar to GLA.
Exhausted from our day’s activities, everyone quickly collapsed onto their luxurious swan feathered beds.
Throughout the day we interacted with the local community getting to know all of its members and about their culture. We continued working on the projects that we started on Saturday-mostly painting buildings. Everything here is so colorful-from the lush green of the rainforest to the vibrant blue and red that coat the buildings. Our service group got to play soccer with a bunch of the kids in the community after we finished our project.
In the afternoon, about half the group attended a cooking class while the other half took a painting class. Cooking is a completely different experience-you work alongside cows and chickens and and bake the food in a clay oven.
The biggest surprise here has been how welcoming and happy everyone is. Although we speak different languages, we can still share the joy from simple accomplishments like making goal during a soccer game or eating a warm empanada fresh out of the oven.
– Nathan Nagaoka and Michelle Armstrong-Spielberg
Today we started off with painting and making small improvements in the local community. After a long days work we unwinded with a small soccer game with kids from the local school. Also, we stopped by a souvenir shop and got gifts for our family members and friends.
Our afternoon consisted of a quick lunch, and a lesson in the art of milking cows. We each got a turn to milk the cow. We made cheese with the fresh milk. At the local farm we learned how to extract sugar from the cane using a trapiche. After a long day we relaxed with dinner and celebrated Dianna’s 17th birthday. Another fun and beautiful day in Bromelias.
– Sophia Barricelli and Gianna Guttilla
Great last day; adventure day and dinner out.
Everyone is sad to say goodbye to new friends and a great experience but also looking forward to returning home.
All students are on their way home!