Today was Day 10 of our Costa Rica GLA experience! This morning we drove about 45 minutes to get to a canopy tour base camp. Once we got there, we boarded open air trucks that drove us up a mountain to the start of a zipline course. After about a half hour getting our gear on, we started the Canopy Tour which consisted of nine ziplines, two rappels, two rope bridges and a tarzan swing. On the ziplines and rappels, some of us decided to hang upside down in midair. To get from zipline to zipline, we had to hike a little bit, but it was worth it! The views were spectacular. Some ziplines showed endless amounts of trees, and one had a beautiful view of the ocean! We finished off the course with a delicious fruit snack before heading back to home base for lunch. After lunch, we headed to the beach where we continued the community service projects that we started yesterday. At the Marino Ballena National Park, we almost finished a water filtration system similar to the biogarden we made earlier in the program. We also continued painting a beautiful eye catching mural on the changing room walls. We are looking forward to finishing these projects on Friday! We finished the day off with delicious burritos for dinner. Everyone was super excited about how good they were! The trip is going great and everyone has been experincing and learning a lot! We can´t wait to see what the next couple of days bring!
–Kylie Callan and Brittany Randles
Today was an early wake up, we awoke at 5 AM and proceeded to wake up the rest of the group. We headed off to a breakfast of fruit and pancakes. Soon after breakfast we had a twenty minute walk to Bahia Aventuras or Bahia Adventures. We walked to the beach where we got on the boats and rode an hour and a half to the Corcodado park where we took a hike through the jungle. We saw many different animals and plants such as monkeys, ants and a boa constrictor. We even had a monkey run right by us. The guides had great knowledge of every part of the forest and a great eye to spot animals that seemed almost invincible. After the hike we sat down for a wonderful lunch that consisted of sandwiches and fruits. After lunch we got back on the boats and headed to our snorkel destination. We snorkeled for a half hour and although it was only a half hour we were able to see a lot of fish in the water. The fish were many different sizes and colors, it was a great experience. After snorkeling we got back on the boats and headed home. We got home around 4:30 and after a long day everyone got a break and a wonderful dinner. After dinner everyone broke into mentor groups and shortly after we headed to bed after a long day.
Today everyone was awoken at 6:30 with a great surprise from the fantastic group leaders Nick and Charlie. We then ate either fried/scrambled eggs with rice and beans and toast for breakfast at 7:00. We then left for Marino Ballena National Park for a big day of surfing. Everyone was able to get up a few times and rode some tubular waves brahhhhh. “We’ll get ‘em when he comes back in,” (Point Break). During down time at the beach we swam in the ocean and saw exotic animals in their natural habitat. After a long few hours of surfing we went back to the hotel for an authentic Costa Rican lunch. We then left for a children center known as forjando alas, meaning forging wings. We played pato pato ganzo (duck duck goose) and freeze tag with the children. We also made rugs out of recycled cloth and sheets.
After playing and working with the children we left for the hotel and learned about whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and sloths for ocean hour part two: animals and their habitats. We then had a delicious dinner of rice and shrimp. Since today was the seventh day we had wifi for either a half an hour or an hour depending whether people did the smart phone challenge or not. The trip is already half way through and it has flown by so fast, and we can’t wait to see what’s around the corner.
-Charlie Constantino and Nick Cannone
Escuela De Uvita
Today was the 6th day of our Costa Rican adventure. After a delicious breakfast of pancakes, we made our way down to Pueblo Alegre to do some more community service. Our community service today included painting palm trees, buildings etc. in order to add even more character to the town. We decided to use bright colors to attract passing tourists and reflect the upbeat attitude of the locals. We had some music playing while we were painting and it became somewhat of a “painting party,” with lots of community members helping us out. Everyone had a great time, minus the sunburns.
After a few hours of painting we made our way to Escuela De Uvita to add some finishing touches to the biogarden that we worked on the previous day. We planted the remainder of the plants around the border of the garden and added more rocks to fill up the inside. Finally after roughly a month of hard work by many GLA students, the biogarden was completed! Although we were exhausted from a long days work, we still managed to muster up some energy to play a quick game of soccer.
All in all day 6 was a success. At the end of the day we all felt pretty fulfilled and got a great nights rest!
-Hannah Quinn and Raphaella Godoy
La Escuela de Uvita
Today, after an early wake up at six thirty, we made our way out to La Escuela de Uvita. Upon arrival, Travis gave us a quick briefing of all the previous work GLA students had started on the biogarden. Half of the group started off by the biogarden, angling the earth to direct water toward a ditch, and prepping the area for the plants that would go there later. The other half of the group started off brainstorming inspirational Spanish messages to paint on signs in order to encourage the students to be environmentally aware and kind to others. We then gave the messages life by painting them and adding attractive designs. At the half waypoint, the two groups switched tasks. New signs were made and plants were put in place.
After a nice lunch at home base, we made our way over to the heart of the community to embark on our GPS tracking trash walk. The locals explained that by tracking a piece of trash where we found it, we could better locate the source of the trash issue in the area. The group then split up again and walked along two main roads, picking up trash, separating recyclables, and recording where they were found. We finished our walk with a quick stop at a local supermarket to buy snacks for our movie night in which we watched Point Break. Today was a great way to kick off our community service in Bahía Ballena.
-Teagan Evans and Emma Ungar
A Thought Provoking Day
Today was filled with meaningful discussion about two main topics. The first, Mangroves, and the question of whether removing them from the area to make way for tourist sites such as all inclusive hotels and malls, was a plausible and economically viable option. The focus on mangroves stemmed from a discussion that we had with a local entrepreneur who has a focus on reusing and recycling garbage that is found in the community. She spoke to us about how the waste around town is detrimental to the wild life, estuaries, and other ecological systems. Once she was done sharing her knowledge, we drove twenty minutes to the kayak business that she helps run. We had the opportunity to kayak through one of the largest mangroves in Central and South America. The mangroves provided us with discussion starters about the wildlife; specifically the crocodiles, boa constrictors, fish, and birds, and how their home would be affected if major construction were to take place.
The second was about how we perceive other cultures, and people with sensibilities different from what we are accustom to. After a dinner of delicious empanadas, we watched a TED talk video that featured Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian author. She spoke about perception, stereotypes, and assumptions, and how they control the way we think about different cultures and peoples. We then had the opportunity to reflect on what she said and how we think what she spoke about appears in our everyday lives. Whether it assumptions we makes about others, or things people think about us. Overall today was a day filled with reflection about culture and how we distinguish other people.
-Kale and Boose
Marino Ballena National Park
This morning we drove down to Marino Ballena National Park to begin our community service with a touch of adventure. We split into two groups, while one group had a surfing lesson, the other picked up trash along the shore. On the surfing side, we learned from the instructors about the land and its importance; this includes the immense amount of wildlife, like whale migration. He also taught us the four phases of surfing. The least to say, most people were able to stand up on their board in the end. Community service on the other hand, was a shocker because there was quite a bit of trash to pick up for a National Park, like plastic and glass.
After a long time in Marino Ballena we headed back to grub and relax. Then Travis, who was from the morning adventures, came to take our group on a community walk through downtown Bahia (a street). He explained much of the culture, history, and environmental aspect. For example, he told us about the sphere rocks and estuaries. Our group also had the sweet (pun) opportunity to buy fresh coconuts to drink and eat for small 500 colonnes. After we got back to home-base we watched the documentary “The Goose with the Golden Egg.” It described the ups and downs of Costa Rican tourism economically, socially, and environmentally. In the end though, it pretty much made our whole group feel “disgusted,” “oblivious,” and “sad” about what we have done as a species to our home, Earth, in exchange for money. Travis left us with a mind-numbing question: Is a standing rainforest more valuable than one cut down? What do you think?
Our First Days
On day 1 we all arrived outside the exit of the airport. Each group of us looked for anyone with a red or blue GLA shirt or some type of sign. Eventually we rounded up most of the people and we all got to meet each other. Three people (Alex, Zach and Ethan) were already on a Spanish Adventure Trip in the mountains for the past three weeks. We all got to the hostel (after a random dude offered one random bus Chex Mix). Most of the group hung out and received their hostel room numbers. That group also went out to lunch in the little city and ate chicken and rice or steak and rice or fries. We returned back and as time passed smaller groups of people were added on. We fit about five girls to one room and about eight guys in one room. At one point the whole group played Cards Against Humanity. We ate pizza for dinner and then circled up to play mafia and where the wind blows. Then we went to bed shortly after (Mike greatly narrated the game *pat on the back Mike*).
On day 2 we woke up at 7:30. Awesome leader Dylan was sleeping on the couch in the hallway. We were given coffee, orange juice, pineapple, watermelon and pancakes with syrup. Everyone packed up and headed to the home base of GLA in a giant bus (not really giant buttttt fit us somehow). Most of the ride was sticky and long for most so we stopped at one point to get snacks at the mini market and look at crocodiles. About five people ate something that looked like a strawberry on steroids (fruit called leeches).
We got back on the bus and about an hour later stopped to take pictures at a beautiful scenery of the ocean. However, Laura pointed out to us how the hotels and buildings and trash littered around degraded the view. We drove for about what felt like 2 hours but was actually only one. Throughout the car ride everyone was entertained by Dylan sticking his head out the window like a dog. When we pulled up here everyone’s mouths basically dropped at how cool and magnificent the layout of the home base was. We ate lunch (rice and chicken and salad) and then got our rooms assigned. After room assignment we talked to Pilar in a circle. She spoke to us about her background and what she does. She told us the rules and the point of the trip and what they are trying to promote with GLA. One major thing I remember her saying was to take in everything and “be present”. “Be present” is one of the major components they are trying to accomplish and understand. After that there was free time where some people swam, ran, chilled in their rooms, etc. Then for dinner we had noodles with some type of awesome kick to it with a side of bread. A small group of people played Egyption rat screw and others waited until we all came together to play the sheet game. After the sheet game we played the signs game (which is many people’s favorite). The signs game was played until almost 10pm (we go hard or go home I guess). Everyone wanted to keep playing because we all finally got the hand of the game (yea we are pretty smooth you could say). And that is about it for day two! Pretty ecstatic to surf tomorrow.
-Dylan Cunningham and Casey Swezey
All students have arrived safely in country, stay tuned for blog updates!