First morning in Costa Rica after a fun night of getting to know each other and lots of sleep. ?
We started off our day doing service, planting trees and clearing plants around them to allow them to grow more efficiently. Then we played some team building activities to help us become more cohesive. After a long morning, we enjoyed lunch at noon that consisted of rice, beans, fish, and fresh fruit juice. We took some time to relax and freshen up and then traveled to the beach, where we enjoyed the spectacular views and played in the waves. After a few hours at the beach, we went to a local community to play soccer with ticos (common name for Costa Ricans). The score was 2-1; the potatoes beat the mangoes! Coming back to home base, one bus was 30 minutes late to dinner, but that was okay… we still got mac n’ cheese. We showered and bonded for a little while, then learned about who we truly are, by comparing ourselves to animals (personality assessment activity). Then… sleep.
-Lydia Barnes and Lexi Axtell
Today we started the day off with our second service project. We slipped on our rubber gloves and mixed a big pot of some sort of anti-fungal mixture and began to paint the trees surrounding home base. After a couple of hours of “hard” work, we came back to our temporary home and were given time to jot down our thoughts, clear our minds and appreciate the beautiful masterpiece around us, also known as the dry forest. Then, it was time for lunch and we had our daily rice and beans that never tasted better!
After lunch, we put on our tall socks, running shorts and loads of sunscreen and bugspray for a hike to a waterfall. During the hike we learned a lot from the man who seems to know everything there is to know about Costa Rica, Freddy. When we finally reached the waterfall we were atonsished by how something could be formed from dried lava and an overflow of water. When we got back, it was our favorite time of the day…dinner!
After dinner, we gather together and learned what a leader really is and how we are all leaders in some kind way. Whether we are loud, quit, bold or shy, we can all make a difference in the world and someone’s life by just being yourself.
– Amy Brahler and Emi Rosales
Today, June 10, 2015, ERCA (Empowering Rainforest Communities, Group A) planted 192 trees located near home base in a short time of two and a half hours. We came up with the idea to split up into three groups: planters, diggers, and plant placers. We found that by dividing the work up, we finished the task faster than expected. We then headed “home” for lunch, Ana, the cook, prepared for us beef, rice, beans, rice pudding, and fruit juice. We then had time for ourselves to reflect on the day until we were distracted by Freddy, our nature guide, with a giant army (safari) truck. The truck was called the “beast” and it was our ride to the beach where we would stay overnight. After an hour of a “Costa Rican safari” on bumpy roads we arrived at the Iguanita Beach Reserve. We paddle boarded, kayaked, and scuba dived on the beach that we enjoyed all to ourselves. After a week of Costa Rican food, we enjoyed a classic American dinner of burgers and fries. Later we settled into our tents and listened to the waves as we fell asleep.
– Emily Axtell and Annabel Parker
The morning started off slightly bumpy as we awoke in our tents on the beach in Iguanitas feeling sticky, sandy and bug bit-ridden. We enjoyed our breakfast of cereal and watermelon on the beach and proceeded to venture on a brief hike with our favorite comrade Freddy. He enthusiastically showed us the local flora and fauna within the salt and fresh water ecosystems. It was a bittersweet moment to have our final adventure with Costa Rica’s best nature guide/encyclopedia.
We then spent a few blissful hours on the beach relaxing, paddle boarding and learning new synchronized swimming skills. We left the beach eager to take a refreshing shower to cool off our brand new sunburns. Driving home in the menacing “Green Beast” was a rocky but exhilarating drive.
After mentor circles we engaged in a calming group meditation led by Elizabeth, one of our leaders of the day.
Later in the afternoon, we watched an intriguing presentation on deforestation and forest fires from ACG. At the end we were surprised by a human-sized pizote (coati), the forest fire mascot in Costa Rica.
After the presentation, we enjoyed a cookout of grilled meats, guacamole, salsa and grilled pineapple. Soon after eating we were surprised yet again with a Cimarrona (a local Liberian band). A vibrant dance party quickly ensued with the addition of the limbo added to our groovy dance moves.
Overall, a day we expected to be relatively mellow turned into yet another fantastic, eventful Costa Rican adventure, brimming with surprises.
– Elizabeth Tipton and Kaila Neuenschwander
We started off the day by packing our stuff to go to Bromelias, the rainforest. Before we left, we played and activity for team bonding. It taught us that the goals we have in life are difficult but possible to reach.
On our drive to Bromelias, everyone was happy to finally see civilization as we went to a souvenir shop and bought many shirts and bracelets. In need of more snacks, we went to the super market and bought “healthy snacks” The trip took us through bright green fields filled with trees and wildlife which was a dramatic change in scenery compared to the dry forest.
After enjoying a great spaghetti meal, we took a trip to one of the schools that we would be helping out with in the week. They surprised us with amazing performances by the students and a big fiesta which included lots and lots of dancing. It was a great way to introduce ourselves to the community. Coming back all sweaty and tired we decided to take a nice cold shower before bed.
After an eventful day; we are looking forward to a fun service day tomorrow.
– Ari Alpert and Katie Bossert
After today, we may resemble body builders. We started the day with a nice bicep workout: mixing cement, moving cinder blocks and laying large ceramic tiles. These represent the two service work of the day at the local elementary schools. Both projects pushed our limits and defined our bulging biceps.
We continued our workout with a casual stroll through the treacherous rainforest. We battled steep hills, questionable bridges and roaring rapids. This hike to our destination, a waterfall, toned our glutes more than ever. We sacrificed our shoes and powered through the current of a small river to arrive at the beautiful waterfall. Even though it was a break meant to chill our muscles, treading water in hiking boots and wool socks, turned out to be a workout in itself. Our hike back consisted of slooshing boots and another leg workout.
Later on, we tested our voice strengths by screaming over the pouring rain on the tin roof during a discussion on how social media and technology affects our lives. Our composure was also tested when a lightning bolt that hit just yards away. It was quite exciting.
To finish strong, we completed our full body workout with a dance class from a local expert. We learned how to move our feet and sway our hips to the merengue, bachata, cumbia and salsa.
– Josie Meyer and Kylie Bossert
We started off our day with a 4 hour hike through the rainforest in the pouring rain. We observed many new plants and animals native to the Costa Rican rainforest and bonded along the way. After a long day, we had free time until dinner which we spent getting to know each other on a deeper level.
After dinner we sat together in our pjs and blankets to watch the movie Into the Wild. We ended the night early in preparation for tomorrow’s service.
– Lexi Axtell and Amy Brahler
This morning we woke up and headed to service where we saw many children with smiles on their faces. Service consisted of working on a garden at one school and at the other school, grouting tiles of the lunchroom floor. Along with service, we had wonderful time interacting with the young ticos at school.
We returned to “home” to a surprising lunch of…rice and beans.
Guess what we did after lunch? Milked some cows! Then, we used our muscles to grind sugar cane. Delicious snacks were provided as part of this community visit.
After dinner we watched an inspirational TED Talk about an 18 year old girl with a motivation to accomplish her dream.
Mighty Oscar “Mapache” (our rainforest host) lead us one dark, itchy night hike. Bugs were found in places where they should not be found.
At the end the day, we were blessed with a few second of hot water in our showers. When we walked into our rooms, we entered a war zone of bugs. We came out of the battle with many exotic bites but we survived.
– Emily Axtell and Lydia Barnes