Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
As Ric would say, “Hola chicos!”
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. Our group had a unique bond from day one. 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 planted Ron Ron Trees in the nursery our first day at Horizontes? Even though we were covered in dirt and sweat, Zach’s sweet playlist and our conversations made the time fly by. Rosbin made sure to mention that you were the best group he has ever had at planting those trees! That is an accomplishment to be proud of. I bet you all miss the beloved Rosbin, who led us in clearing the trail that will be used by researchers in the near future to explore and study the dry forest at night! One of my favorite memories of the summer was sharing our Stories of Self. Remember the crazy storm that led us to take refuge in the comedor, all of our bathroom breaks, and munching on peanut butter and guava jam in between stories? Your bravery in opening up, and the connections you discovered that you had with each other was astounding. As you go about in your “normal” lives, do not forget the connections you can find with people who may seem completely different than you, and always remember that sharing your story is powerful. I know that I will hold those three hours we shared to be one of the experiences that impacted me the most this summer.
Our time at Playa Iguanitas was the perfect transition from the dry forest to the rainforest. (Getting there was half the adventure!) The warm water, delicious food, and perfect sunset will be forever seared in my mind. I am glad that Mitch survived being stung by a sting ray (What a story to tell!). Matt, Julia, and Jessica S. were quick to rush to his rescue. I would do anything for one of those Costa Rican S’mores right about now! Though I must say, I don’t miss the vicious ankle-biting ants that surrounded camp.
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. At Buenos Aires, the community will finish the fence that we began, which will keep the animals out from the new garden that will be planted in the area we cleared on the last two days of service. At Gavilan the community members will soon finish putting together the final pieces of the trash cans you painted. Your designs will brighten up the community, and help keep the environment free of trash for years to come. Though our rainforest projects were small, they will have a lasting impact on the small communities there.
From soaking in hot springs, cacao beans falling from the sky, to good conversations and true friendships, our two weeks together will always be seared in my mind. I hope that with the new school year in swing 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 I 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
July 31, 2016
All students are safely arrived !
We finally made it to Costa Rica! After hours of travelling from all over the United States, almost everyone is at the home base, which is Estacion Experimental Forestal Horizontes! We started our day at the Home Base with a delicious lunch consisting of beef, rice, and vegetables. Following our meal we took a quick look around the area that we will call our home for the next week, until we travel to the rain forest. New arrivals soon came, interrupting an intense game of Spoons. Everyone then went to the salon for ice breakers and a scavenger hunt! The winners got the first showers of the day, sadly leaving everyone else a sweaty mess. Dinner soon followed, with lasagna and a birthday cake for dessert for the birthday girl, Jessica. A few more card games followed dinner and we then had a meeting in the salon discussing our schedule and the house rules. Now it’s time for a few more card games, hammock time, showers, and then bed. It’s been a great start to a great trip!
Note: Vladimir, Zachary, Macy, and Kelly not pictured due to late arrivals
¡Hola, friends and families!
Today is our second day here at Horizontes in Guacaste and we have already experienced so much that we can’t wait to share with you all when we return. It is hot here but the facility and area is absolutely beautiful! Everyone is getting along great; it is almost as if we’re long time friends! The food and kitchen are amazing. They’re able to suit any of our dietary preferences.
First, we learned about the culture, everyday life, and Horizontes. There was a lovely presentation given to us by one of the staff members here, Rosbin. Plus, today we got down and dirty! We walked to the plant nursery at the facility and got to work! The group bagged dirt and planted Ron-Ron tree seeds. We successfully planted approximately 300 trees. These trees will be used to replace older trees in Costa Rica to efficiently conserve the forests as much as possible. After planting, everyone cleaned up from the dirt and went to eat lunch. We had delicious fish, rice, potatoes, veggies, and salad along with a delicious juice called Cas, a juice from a local fruit. Once we ate, we got into teams and played jeopardy on our knowledge of colones (Costa Rican money), the culture, code of conduct, scenarios, safety, and more. It was a great and fun way to learn about the culture and expand our knowledge of this country! Then, we watched a TedX talk and discussed the message and who we are as leaders. Shortly after,we ate dinner and had fajitas and veggies with fresh pineapple juice. It was a great meal! It is 6:41 pm here in Costa Rica and we will be going on a night hike at 7:15 tonight. We will get to tour the lucky trail around Horizontes. After our hike, we will call it a day for our adventures today!
We can’t wait to see the adventures to come throughout the rest of our days here! We miss you all and can’t wait to share our stories!
¡Adios for now!
During water break while planting trees
Bagging the dirt for trees
Planting the Ron-Ron trees
The group after our night hike
After finishing our first service project
August 3, 2016
¡Hola friends and families!
Yesterday was another amazing day for our group! We helped make a beautiful hiking trail here at Horizontes by clearing bushes with machetes and rakes. We cleared about 2 miles of the trail in just a few hours. After, we went back for lunch and then went on another service adventure! The group travelled about 30 minutes to a local community, El Triunfo. There we painted the chain link fence around the local school to help prevent rust. Then we went to the local soccer field and played with local kids in soccer, tag, and hide and seek. It was amazing for our first experience of community interaction here. We went back to the home base and talked about our stories and connected on a more personal basis as a “family.”
Today the GLA family went on a beautiful morning hike and took a surprise trip to the beach! The hike was a couple miles but we got to see a beautiful area where normally a waterfall runs in the rainy season but, it was a bit dry today. Then, we got to go to a beach about an hour away. We swam, had muddy sand fights, and body surfed for hours. We visited small shops and got a chance to mingle with more locals at the markets and locally run stores. We’ve all become incredibly close in just these few days; it’s unbelievable that we’ve all only known each other for four days. Everyone here has been bonding through all the hard work, dedication and fun times.
From having sand-throwing wars in the ocean to translating for each other in the stores and bonding with each other more and more, it is such an amazing experience.
Well, adios for now! We miss each and everyone of you a ton but couldn’t be anymore thankful for this experience,
¡Pura vida, everyone!
These past six days have been absolutely amazing! Yesterday we finished our service project here at Horizontes. We successfully cleared more of the new hiking trail with our machetes and rakes! We came back for lunch and then headed out to a near by beach for a short camping trip. When we arrived, the tents and mattresses were set up and ready to go for us. The group headed straight to the ocean to swim, kayak, paddle board, and have tons of fun. Sadly, we had to come in for dinner but ate a delicious BBQ dinner. We ate and watched the beautiful beach sunset. Once it was dark we ate s’mores around the campfire, went and stargazed on the sand, told stories, and played many games. We couldn’t have ended the night any better. We woke up to breakfast around the campfire and then headed back out to the ocean to swim, kayak, and paddle board some more. Eventually, we headed back in to clean up camp and load up in the bus. We ate lunch when we got back and relaxed the rest of the day. Today was mostly a transition for us as we head into our second home base, Bromelias.
Just to let everyone know, we leave tomorrow for morning for the rainforest at the Bromelias home base. There will not be phone service or wifi so families will not be able to contact kids. In the case of an emergency, there will be a way to contact. Students will have phone service again next Friday night, August 12th when we arrive for our last night here in Costa Rica. We will be at our first home base on the last night.
We miss you all!
¡Hasta luego families!
August 9, 2016
¡Hola amigos y familias!
This trip has been absolutely amazing! On Saturday, the group travelled to our second home base, Bromelias, for the second half of our service project! The day consisted of traveling, stopping at the local super market, and getting settled at our new home. Plus, we learned how to make chocolate from scratch out of cacoa beans! It was delicious!
The next day, Sunday, is when our service began! The group was split into two. One group went to help in Buenos Aires to build a fence, cabinets, and shelving for the local school. The other group traveled to Gavilán to build trash cans, make tables and chairs out of recycled tires, and paint the projects they build. These two groups will be working hard on these projects from Sunday until Thursday. After a few hours of service, the groups went back for lunch and then hiked to a nearby waterfall and swam in the swimming hole. After, the group went to a dance class to learn the salsa, reggae, and many more dances. We enjoyed it and can’t wait to share some dance moves with you! It was a great first day in Bromelias!
Yesterday the groups split off again to work on their service projects in Buenos Aires and Gavilán for the morning. It rained quite a bit but the groups worked through it and still accomplished a lot with their projects today. After service, we went back to Bromelias to have lunch and enjoy some free time to relax, talk, or swim in the mineral pools. Then, we went to a local home in Gavilán to take a painting class by Herado’s wife (Herado is the community leader of Gavilán). Herado gave the group a tour of his medicinal plants and herbal garden after the painting class. It was great to learn more about the culture and medicinal side of Costa Rica! The group went back to enjoy family time, dinner, and hit the hay so they could be well rested for more great work on service projects!
Today the groups had a relaxing day off from their work. This morning, everyone took a hike to another near by waterfall to swim, climb, and adventure. We also went to swim in a hot springs on the way back to the home base on our hike. After a fun four hours, we came back for lunch and some free time to hang out. Then the group went to the Buenos Aires school to take a cooking class from a local community member. Then, the group came back for mentor groups, family time, and a movie night. It was a great, relaxing day for the group. We are ready for our last two days of service then adventure day.
We have four days left here in Costa Rica. We’re cherishing every single moment and we wish it would never end. It’s been an amazing experience and we can’t wait to share the stories and lessons we’ve learned with you guys!
Well, ¡adios y hasta pronto!