Friday July 19, 2019
First day of the program !! The students were met at the airport and shuttled back to Hotel Pacande in Alajuela, our temporary hang out spot. As we waited for the students to trickle in, we rested, had a casual pizza lunch, played cards, and hung out and got to know each other. In the evening we took a stroll around Alajuela and passed through the main park (Mango park as the locals refer to it), and did some icebreaker games in another park, talked about the upcoming program, and went out for a family dinner together at a restaurant called “La Tortilllera” which serves giant thick tortillas with rice, beans, cheese, plantains, and meat on top. Everyone seems (although somewhat sleepy) excited to be here and ready to head out to our home base in Bahia Ballena by the Pacific Coast tomorrow morning!
Jack, International Director
Saturday July 20, 2019
Our first full day of the program was a travel and orientation day! We had breakfast at our hotel in Alajuela and took a bus out to our home base in Bahia Ballena. We made two stops – one on Crocodile Bridge to see the crocodiles, and another at a lookout point overlooking the ocean and beautiful beaches of Jaco. Once at homebase, we had lunch, got oriented, and did the swim test (everyone passed easily!)
We had some free time in which most students hung out at the pool and before dinner the students created a “Pura Vida Pact” – an agreement on how to treat and respect each other throughout the trip. After dinner the students played Hot Seat as a group as a way to get to know each other a little bit better and greeted the late arrivals, Logan and Juan, before hedaaing to bed to prepare for a big day of surfing and community service tomorrow.
Jack, International Director
Sunday July 21, 2019
Today we hit the beach to do some service and surf! For service, we used reusable bags to pick up trash along the beach. During service, we also learned how to open a coconut using a tree. After that we witnessed a tropical storm and felt warm rain for the first time. It was a very good day and a great way to start our trip.
(Director’s note: They also played “Shark, Turtle, Jellyfish”, creatively presented posters in team on a different Ocean Health-related topic, and listened to a guest speaker present a film and discussion on the impacts of five-star tourism in Costa Rica and some sustainable alternatives).
– by Brady and Eli
Monday July 22, 2019
Today we started with a tour of the community on our way to the tree nursery (which was our service site for the day). There we prepped the trees that we would plant later along with other work. After service it rained a lot and we went to the soccer field. After lunch we planted the trees alongside the road. After dinner we had a talk about the effect our clothes have on the environment and how as a group we can refuse, reduce, and recycle.
Tuesday July 23, 2019
Today we started off surfing and making the finding Nemo signs, where we had to hammer beach trash which we had picked up on the first day into the signs. Most of us went swimming after surf and when we got back to HB we had an hour to eat before our talk, which was about how plastic is affecting our world and how we might look back at this age and think of it as the Plastic Age. at around 5pm we had a football match with the locals and everyone had lots of fun ( especially the ones that did not play and just went snack shopping ). In the evening we had our first mentor group talk about our values. Great day hopefully even better tommorrow.
Wednesday July 24, 2019
Today we painted a mural on the side of the “salon comunal” , a Community Space for events and meetings in Uvita. It took us more than six hours but it was well worth the finished product! During lunch we cooled off by swimming in a river nearby. Then we went to a dance class where we learned traditional latin american dances like Merengue, Salsa, and Bachata. We felt exhausted at the end of the day because of the long day of service and the exercise we got from dancing but we also felt very accomplished.
-Chloe and Macey
Thursday July 25, 2019
We had a big day of surfing, service, and learning today ! We went to the beach for our third and final surfing lesson – despite the crazier-than-usual waves, the students killed it and just about everyone had success standing on their boards and catching some waves. The service portion of the morning included making and painting wooden tree protectors which will be planted along with some of the trees in the community reforestation project to ensure no one steps on them or otherwise interferes with their growth.
At home base, we discussed the impact of cell phones on our personal relationships, making assumptions about others based on limited information, and how to have the most positive impact we can in other countries as we travel and volunteer in the future. We finished the night off with a round of “speed-dating” to try to encourage students to branch out and get to know better some of the students they haven’t spent much time getting to know yet.
Jack, International Director
Friday July 26, 2019
Today was an early morning boat ride to Corcovado National Park. Around 32,000 hectares of protected biodiversity. We hiked in the morning to see tiger cranes, geckos, and even a family of white nosed coati. After lunch, we hiked to a waterfall to take pictures and swim. When we got back to Home Base (after a snack run), the group spent the evening hanging out, celebrating Macey’s birthday with a cake, card, and music, and watched Jurassic Park 2 for Family Movie Night.
-Isabel and Olivia
Saturday July 27, 2019
Today we finished up some tree protectors from the previous dy of service. After that, we had a wonderful lunch made by Sonya and Dora. Then we headed to the park for a whale tail walk and one more ocean swim. We walked back with a beautiful sunset behind us to Home Base to wrap up a successful day of service and fun! Goodbye Whale Bay!
-Rose and Logan
Sunday July 28, 2019
Today we went zip-lining and it was really fun! After the ten different lines, we stopped by a balcony for fruit and a tarzan-style swing. Later that afternoon we did service. We painted 5 new murals in under two hours. Probably a new record for GLA students ! After that, for the first time we had burgers and fries, which was a nice reminder of home for most of us. Lastly, we played fishbowl: a charades-style day. It was a fun day.
-Juan and Paloma
Waterfall day ! The students hiked through the community to a pretty waterfall with turquoise water. They swam under the waterfall and also in a beautiful swimming spot by a smaller waterfall dowstream. After the waterfall visit, we stopped at a local bakery and souvenir shop that sells solely artesanal souvenirs made by local artists.
The afternoon community service was returning to the salon communal in Uvita to start the ocean-themed mural on the third and final wall of the building. The evening activity was (my personal favorite) “Song wars”, in which teams competed to out-sing each other by thinking of songs that had to contain a specific word.
Jack , International Director
Tuesday July 30, 2019
Our last community service day ! The students finished the last mural at the salon communal and left their handprints to mark and remember their amazing hard work ! Wayner, our community service leader, told the group about how fun they’ve been to work with. In the afternoon the students chose a town visit (I think the gelato place was callilng their name). We also visited a cafe which, thanks to the community plastic-free intiatives led in part by Wayner and Noilyn our local director, is a completely plastic-free cafe.
The students got on their best travel outfits and headed out to La Fogata, the towns most delicious pizza restaraunt for a final dinner. Our hotel and kitchen staff were invited along with some other community members who have joined the group to help out in our community service projects. At night we had a big mentor group and the majority stuck around for arroz con leche and karaoke and they sang their hearts out until bed time. A memorable last night in Uvita!
Jack, International Director
Wednesday July 31, 2019
A bittersweet last day and half with the students ! Yesterday we had a slightly later breakfast to the students’ approval and took some time to pack and clean our room. We made goals as a group to take what we had learned here and to try to achieve something at home – we agreed to reduce our plastic use by always having our reusable water bottles, always bringing reusable bags when going to the store, and to get a set of reusable utensils/straw (which can be ordered easily on Amazon!).
We traveled back to Alajuela and after a visit to a environmentally friendly cafe close to the hotel we had a last family dinner at La Tortilleria and did our last activity called Appreciation Circle. The students were sad to have to say bye to each other but excited to eat meals without rice and beans and to see their friends and family.
We will definitely miss all of their hilarious comments, unique insights during mentor groups and the environmental talks, and the community is very appreciative of all the improvements the students left behind in the form of new trees, new murals, anti-pollution signs, and the cleaner beaches. On behalf of the local and international staff, we thank the students for all their hard work and the smiles they brought us and we hope to see them again soon!
-Jack, International Director