The group has all arrived! Even after a long day of travel, missed flights and lost luggage, everyone arrived safely and settled into their new home quickly. A troop of monkeys made their appearance soon after everyone arrived as well as a deer and numerous birds.
Everyone is looking forward to the next few days in the dry forest and the beach adventures before heading to the rainforest next week.
The first full day was spent on introductions, service and a rainy hike.
In the afternoon mentor groups (time for reflection and a review of the day), the group did a rain dance to summon the rain. It had been over three weeks since it last rained during a season when it should be raining daily.
Today was a very very very busy day.
We started the day off with a lovely pancake surprise for breakfast. We were excited to start our very first day of service at Horizontes, planting and fertilizing trees and building small wire fences around them (so that the Iguanas do not eat them). However that was not all; the group took a short break (NATURE ALERT) to gawk at all of the animals that Costa Rica has to offer. A sneaky Boa Constrictor had found its way into a stump, while a calf was bombarded by our loving pets and awe’s in amazement. The monkeys played in the canopy of trees as they searched for mangos.
After working hard all morning at service, the group was able to relax at Playa Del Cabuyall. Body surfing and jumping waves, we had a lot of fun playing at the beach. Back at home base, we enjoyed a lovely dinner made by Ana and Manuela. Then finsihed the day with an activity on leadership and group games.
-Donna Wesslen & Jesus Blanco
Empowering Rainforest Communities
Today after breakfast we took a tractor trailer to our service project. Our job today was clearing out weeds from around the base of endangered trees so researchers could see how much they are growing.
After service we came back to base, had lunch and prepared for a hike. On the hike we saw a dry waterfall. There hasn’t been enough rain lately for it to fill but it was still impressive. After the hike we delicious, ice cold sweet tea. It was amazing!
Soon after we got back from the hike, we left to play a soccer match in a nearby town. The Pollos (Chickens) beat the Naranjas (Oranges) 3 to 2.
We were excited for our dinner of taquitos (little tacos ) and then finished our day with a Spanish lesson with Arturo, one of our mentors.
Exhausted from the day, we were all ready for bed and lights out by 10.
– Jenna Leone and Kelly Sullivan
Mika Burke, and Lorraine Singleton
We started off the day with service. We made the pathway indicators around home base more prominent by arranging and painting them white.
We then had lunch after service and packed our bags to camp at the beach, “La Playa Iguanita.” Our enormous safari vehicle, “The green beast,” arrived to take us to the beach. It was a long and bumpy ride but we enjoyed the Costa Rican landscape and observed the wildlife in their natural habitat.
As we pulled up to the beach we were greeted by howler monkeys. On our arrival, our tents were set up and we geared up for kayaking and paddle boarding. We battled the currents, and enjoyed the refreshing ocean! Dinner arrived at our campsite, and we enjoyed our burgers as we watched the sunset. We played games on the beach and told spooky stories before we went to bed.
Leah LeBlanc and Sommaya Rani
We awoke to the sound of birds, Howler monkeys and the waves crashing on the beach. Everyone slowly rolled out of bed and had breakfast. There was a choice of bread, jams and cereal.
We were then led by Freddy on our mini hike through the mangrove forest. We collected some shells and then played in the water and the beach until noon.
We road home, covered in sand, for lunch. After we cleaned up, we got to relax for a few hours before a colors personality assessment activity. I guess you could say we showed our “true colors.”
The afternoon finished with mentor groups and a presentation about the danger of forest fires in the region.
Before the evening was over, we were surprised by a live band playing traditional regional music. We danced for awhile and then headed off to bed.
Nikola Mazzarella and Savannah Nichols
Today was an exciting day; we changed home bases from the dry forest to the rainforest!
We started the day in a usual manner, breakfast and mentor groups but then challenged ourselves in a team building activity. We all had to unite to be successful.
Lunch and our first access to WiFi happened and then we piled into the buses and headed towards Bromelias (our rainforest lodging).
We stopped along the way to buy souvenirs and LOTS of goodies (snacks) to take with.
As we traveled into the mountains, we were surprised by the lushness and beauty. After a few hours, we arrived in our rainforest destination.
After a delicious dinner, we headed to a community school for a presentation to welcome us to the community. It was a fun evening of dancing and playing with the kids.
Hannah Chambers & Tamar Weir
We woke up in the morning and went to two different schools today, we split up into two groups: Buenos Aires and Gavilán. Where we helped in anyway we could. We painted new tables with children and grouted ceramic tiles in the classrooms. We had so much fun painting rainbow tires and playing with the community kids and dogs.
We returned to our home base in Bromelias and enjoyed an amazing lunch. We were able to try new Costa Rican foods in the rain forest. Even Plantains!
After selfie time and free time, we hiked up to a beautiful water fall. We were able to hike a trail to the top of the falls, and discovered humungous bullet ants along the way BUT we were dazzled by the bright and beautiful birds of paradise that surrounded us. We splashed around for some time, who knew it could get any better? We sure didn’t! However, it began to rain and pour as we hiked back to our home base.. We enjoyed the cool rain fall on our faces during our final leg of the adventure. BUT WAIT! There’s MORE! A Tucan was perched at the top of a tree, what a joy to see! Fuuunnn.
After meaningful mentor groups, and leadership/ team building activities we were warmed up and ready for our ‘clase de baile’ (dance class), led by local community members; Minor and Raquel. We learned all sorts of Latin dances like Salsa, Cumbia, Bachata and Merengue. We partnered up and danced the night away!
What a riveting day!
Mika Burke and Melissa Ige
After a late, sleepy start this morning (not many slept well because of the pounding rain on the tin roof), we broke into two groups for service. Each group went to a local school to continue work that had been started by previous groups. At Buenos Aires school, we filled tires with cement (to form benches and tables for the kids) and painted two of the school rooms pink. We also had the chance to play soccer with a few kids that showed up even though they are still on vacation.
At the Gavilan school, we helped clean the school by washing windows and mopping floors to get everything ready for the kids when they return on Monday.
In the afternoon we once again broke up into two groups and went either to a cooking class or painting class in the community.
Soon after we got back to home base, we had dinner and then a presentation on the ecology of the rainforest with a local guide. We finished the night with an activity focusing on our usage of social media
Jesus Blanco & Leah LeBlanc
We rolled out of bed for a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of Gallo Pinto, eggs, tortillas and a nice surprise of watermelon. Shortly after we got ready for a hike through the rain forest to a waterfall. We trekked through mud, fallen leaves and small plants on the forest floor. The big waterfall was a beautiful sight to see! On the way back.. most of the group sacrificed their dry shoes to walk down the stream to a smaller waterfall to swim in. We had fun taking pictures and bathing under the falls. Then, we walked further down the trail to some natural hot springs! It felt like our own natural hot tub!
We returned to home base for lunch, and then watched a presentation about Suzannah’s experience in the Peace Corps. We discussed other options of programs we can get involved in after GLA.
After mentor groups and dinner, we played “Costa Rica, Rica!!” (Jeopardy, Costa Rican style). The Pickle team won!
We are off to bed now, and excited for what tomorrow has in store!
Jenna Leone & Savannah Nuckols
Today we had a fun rainy day of service at one of the local schools, Buenos Aires. We finished painting the lunch room and bathrooms, as well as a mini garden that previous groups had built. We played a soccer match in the pouring rain with the local community members that we have been working with at Buenos Aires. Everyone was soaked and smiling!
Our second half of the day was spent at a farm where we had the opportunity to milk a cow, and grind sugar cane to make sugar cane juice. We made cheese from the fresh milk, and ate some other yummy treats that the sweet Costa Rican family provided us. We finished our day at dinner, gathered around the TV to watch the much anticipated, riveting soccer match between Costa Rica and Mexico! Who will win?!
We started off the day with a nice big bowl of cereal and then split into our two service groups.
The students had returned from their winter vacation so we got to interact with them during service.
At Buenos Aires we continued our painting project and in Gavilan, we continued the tile project and picked up trash.
After lunch and some down time, everyone returned to Gavilan for a soccer match. The Tornadoes won, 9-8, but the Aguilas (Eagles) played a great game too.
While in Gavilan, we had the chance to stop by one of the pulperias (small, community convenience store) and bought tons of snacks.
To close up the say, we had a dance going away party and packed our bags. We ended the night early in preparation for a4:30 am wake up for our adventure day.
Overall we had a great time in the rainforest Communities, making connections with the locals and seeing some amazing wildlife.
-Donna Wesslen and Kelly Sullivan
Ziplining, tubing, horse back riding, mud baths and hot springs kept everyone busy today. A final dinner and “despedida” (going away party) will close up the group experience later.
Everyone will be leaving Costa Rica with at least a handful of bug bites, some with hundreds, and a new appreciation of Costa Rican culture.
It was a great two weeks!