All students have arrived safely and are ready for an amazing program! Blog updates and photos to follow.
Authors: Anna Sliverstein and Walter Conde
Today we went to Coronado beach and learned to surf and cleaned up the beach trash. Included are photos of the mangrove saplings that we collected on the beach that will be planted in a water garden and later transplanted to combat coastal erosion. Also there is a picture of Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. We had great fun today in our new community. In the afternoon we went for a walk in the village and we learned quite a lot of things about the culture and the people who call this town home. As the grand finale, we watched a soccer game of Costa Rica vs. Canada; it ended in a tie. As shown in the photo, Nicky and Walter were too busy taking calls on the banana phone to pay attention to the soccer game. Tomorrow brings new adventures!
Authors: Carolyn Saplicki and Molly Ellrodt
Today, we visited Forjando Alas, a local afterschool program. There, we learned about the community goals for the next generation. At the Forjando Alas, we split up into groups and worked on creating a vertical garden. This consisted of recycled bottles from the community, cut to make an opening for plants to grow in. We also painted the bottles with help from the local children. Next week, we will return and install the vegetable gardens at people’s homes. We also took a break and played pato pato ganzo (duck duck goose) with the local children. When we returned back to the home base, we worked with Travis and Noilyn and learned how to use GPS units for data collection. He informed and demonstrated to us the GIS system that helps to monitor trash clean up in an effort to clean the community and change littering behavior. Afterwards, we took a break at the pool and finished our free time with a friendly game of soccer and frisbee in the rain. Later, we did team-building exercises to finish the night. Below, there are photos, although not many because we were too busy having fun! Love you parents, guardians, siblings and beloved pets!
Today we went to a farm in Bahia Ballena where they were working on creating a tree nursery. The nursery will be used to grow trees that will be planted to benefit the environment and community by providing fruit, combating soil erosion, as well as keeping the natural beauty of the landscape. We worked on filling bags with dirt for the new seedlings as well as laying posts for the nursery building. It was hard work but it was rewarding. In the afternoon we went on a kayaking tour in the mangroves where we learned a lot about the trees and their importance to the ecosystem and saw bats, tree crabs, monkeys, and crocodiles. A few of us also decided to go swimming in the river, and practice getting back into the kayaks. We finished the night by discussing what we saw and learned and how these ecosystems have such an impact on both the land and the ocean. Lots of excitement and adventures are still planned!
Authors: Nicky Gavin & Lucas Stolk
Today we woke up and had a pancake breakfast at 7:30 then left at 8 to go to the beach for service and surfing. For the service we planted mangroves saplings and marked their location using gps units. Mangroves are important ecosystems for protecting coastal areas, water filtration and fish habitat. After surfing and service, we came back to home base and hung out at the pool. Then, we went to continue helping make the hanging vertical gardens with local families and our friends from Forjando Alas. When we got back to the hotel we played pictonary using Costa Rican idioms. After dinner we watched a movie called 180˚ South about a person traveling from North America to Patagonia, Chile.
Today, after breakfast, we headed down to the Bahia-Ballena beach and walked out to the “whale tail” at low tide to swim and enjoy the beach. On the way, Wayne, our guide, taught us about how the fishing industry in Bahia-Ballena has died in the last few decades with the establishment of the marine national park with the exception of one fisherman. After we swam, we returned to home base for lunch and rest. After that, we went to the farm that we visited Thursday for three hours for community service. There, we cut out of barrels and painted them to make trash cans for the community as well as making a walkway for the future visitors of the farm once it’s finished. Despite rain falling the entire time we were there, we got all our work done and then some. When we returned to home base, we rested, ate dinner, and watched a short movie about the large issue of plastic in the ocean. Following the movie was an enlightening discussion and a challenge for all of the students to use and reuse less plastic when we return home.
On a side note our author Jonah had the unique opportunity to visit a local hospital after he smashed his finger between a concrete chair and a concrete table he was trying to move near the pool. He was very strong despite the pain, and learned about how awesome the Costa Rican medical system is. He received x-rays, a doctor consultation and ibuprofen all for free! Fortunately his finger is not broken, but he did hurt some of the tendons and cartilage. He now has a healthy fear of heavy concrete items and respect for free Costa Rican health care. We are happy he is safe and do not anticipate any other students will have the opportunity to tour Costa Rican hospitals. Jonah is the (un)lucky exception. He advises that people do not re-arrange concrete furniture. Otherwise, all GLA students are healthy, safe and learning a lot from one another!
-Jonah and Janson
Today we ate breakfast in the bright light of 5:45 am, so we could be on time with the tide to start our adventure to Corcovado National Park and snorkeling. With the great tour company Bahia Adventures, the group took two bumpy boats 90 minutes to the remote Corcovado national park in the Osa Peninsula. Midway, we spotted a couple dolphins riding alongside the boats and stopped to take in their beautiful giddiness in the infinite blue water. Once at the park, we put on our hiking shoes and silenced ourselves to respect the great nature ahead of us. On the tropical walk, we saw scarlet macaws, a fine amount of playful monkeys in the leafy green trees, and a large, bustling family of coatis. In addition to witnessing such pristine natural beauty, we preserved it at the same time by filling up three bags of trash that was discovered along the beach! After a fruitful lunch at the ranger station, we loaded back up n to the boats to head to the snorkeling island. The most amazing moment happened en route- the sighting of SIX whales, mothers and calves spending quality time together near the surface of the crisp saltwater. They were such beautiful, euphoric creatures which brought both boats to a hush when they peeked their humps over the surface. We reached the island and outfitted ourselves in flippers and snorkeling masks and jumped into the turquoise water, finally getting a clear view of our sea friends beneath us. We saw amiable sharks, “nemo” fish, and various other species swimming with us. On the way back to the beach where we initially set off, a storm rolled in and the waves became choppy, water spouts formed, and we were in the splash zone on the boat, but we made it safely back to shore and to the hotel, soaking wet with both H2O and adventure! The rest of the day was spent relaxing and recovering from an exotic and exhilarating day spent in the breathtaking wild of Costa Rica.
Today, the group walked to the farm that we had worked at twice before. We began our service by sawing wood in order to make signs that say “yo no tiro basura” or “I don’t litter” to encourage trash disposal instead of littering around the community. We also painted mermaids, sea turtles, crabs, and flowers on trash cans to make them colorful and fun. Other kids also watered plants for the tree nursery. After serving the community, we walked home and were welcomed with a delicious lunch and a lovely ocean moment presentation by our mentor Emi! We learned about different whale and dolphin species and how they are endangered but also what the future holds for their safety. Then we left and walked to the local soccer field and played an awesome game with the community and, despite their amazing talent, we won! We all celebrated with a trip to the store to buy some ice cream! Afterwards, we retreated to the home base again for dinner and a relaxing, plan-free night. Below are some pictures of our adventures! Peace, love and happiness sent from your loving adventurers!
Today we woke up bright and early to go zip lining! After two bumpy car rides, we finally reached the start of the nine zip lines, where we had fun zipping through the trees upside down and right side up. The view was breathtaking as we saw monkeys and toucans with the beautiful “Rich Coast” mountain range in the background. Later on in the day came the hard work, where we continued building our mangrove nursery at the farm. We worked for three hours landscaping, making pathways, building a fence, and planting trees. Sweat, dirt, and some blood (Taylor is no longer allowed to use saws) was all worth it in the end, because we all know in the long run, the work we have done will have a significantly positive impact on the environment. After a long, fun day, we all came back to home base to eat dinner and hang out with each other until bedtime. And as Rosa Parks once boldly stated, “NO!”
-Taylor Stine and Joey King (don’tcha know eh, baud)
Today we started the day with a hike to a waterfall. It was technically a walk, not a hike, but because of the heat, it felt more strenuous. The waterfall and swimming hole where we went were especially appreciable because of this, though, and not too many complaints about the frigid temperature were heard. The waterfall area was a beautiful place for introspection or just enjoyment in a little secluded pocket of nature—although, if you prefer, there was also the thrill of cliff-jumping available, including diving off cliffs through the waterfall itself.
After the waterfall adventure, we got to enjoy icy smoothies and other snacks, and then took a taxi to some artisanal souvenir shops and an internet café. For some of us, it was the first technological connection to the outside world in almost two weeks. Kind of surreal, after being pretty thoroughly disconnected, immersed in a culture not so dominated by Apple’s latest and greatest time-saving/time-killing devices. But it was nice to check in with various persons on distant continents who might have wanted to know how things are going here.
Later, we helped out in the kitchen of Hotel Canto de Ballena, where we’re staying, and learned how much work goes into preparing the food we eat every day. Despite our dubious culinary skills, the food was still excellent.
We still have a couple days left in Costa Rica, but time is starting to bear down on us, and it’s really feeling like the end could be tomorrow. This evening we played some last-minute getting-to-know-you games, to find out a few more things we didn’t know about each other, and then we taped signs to each other’s backs and wrote anonymous compliments to one another. This trip has gone so quickly—some things are blurred and some are crystallized in our memories, but I still can’t believe that it will wind down so soon, and we will all be scattered to the far corners of the United States and Europe, hopefully with opened minds and new perspectives and determination to build on everything we have realized and learned here, and to use these experiences to keep finding ways to fight to protect this fragile, beautiful planet.
Today was our last day in Bahia Ballena, Uvita. We had a wonderful breakfast together and then walked down to the beach. We had a wonderful morning swim together and said our goodbyes to the beautiful beach where we have learned to surf, cleaned up trash and planted mangroves to combat coastal erosion and where we witnessed baby humpback whales swim with their moms, What a memorable two weeks it has been! Saying goodbye to this place and our friends will be difficult!