Wednesday July 3, 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 whole group 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
Thursday July 4, 2019
Today we took a bus ride from the hotel we were staying in to home base. On the ride we stopped twice – once to go to the bathroom and see crocodiles at crocodile bridge and the second to take pictures of the coast (it was an amazing view). When we arrived at home base we ate lunch, completed orientatoin, and we took our swim test (everyone passed luckily).
Afterwards, we swam and hung out until dinnertime. The food has all been amazing so far. After dinner we came together as a group and did an activity and talked about it after. We learned about how to show others respect and we further discussed this in small groups. Overall it was a seemingly “uneventful” day, one might say. However, we learned a lot, not just about the rules but also a good life lesson that will carry on into our adulthood.
Saturday July 6, 2019
Some of us woke up early in the morning to work out with some staff, then we had a traditional Costa Rican breakfast: eggs, rice and beans, and tortillas. We quickly got ready for service, which we split up into two groups, one of which began with digging up baby trees (and eating starfruit and termites). he other group sifted the dirt and made bags for baby trees. We took a quick swim followed by lunch break and another swim in which nobody was one their phones.
We then took a walk / tour to the nursery and saw a whale made of plastic water bottles from the community. We learned about the community and its plastic use during the course of the past few years and how it has changed. On our walk we came across coconut trees and drank the coconut water and meat from them. We arrived at the nursery and learned about plantains and bananas and the difference between them. Later we organized the baby trees and trees of a different species. We took a bus back to home base, quickly jumped in the pool. Lastly, we ate a delicious pasta dinner and taught people how to hit the whoah.
– Rachel and Elizabeth
Sunday July 7, 2019
Today was Hudson’s birthday, so we woke up at 6:20 to surprise him. After, we ate breakfast and headed to the beach for surfing and service. The service today was based around trees planted by prior GLA groups. We ate lunch at the beach and we swam in the water for a while. We went back to home base and had another talk with Travis about the use of plastics in our society. Next, we had a snack and piece of cake for Hudson’s birthay. We then went to play a soccer game with the local team and had a great time. Finally we came back to home base, ate dinner, and finished the day off with peer mentor groups.
Amanda and Juliet
Monday July 8, 2019
Today we weeded trees and cleaned the vines so the trees could grow and protect the riverbank from eroding. After, everyone was hot and sweaty and so we all went for a swim in the river which was so fun. Then after that, we brainstormed ideas for signs to put around the community to reduce pollution. Then after that we went for a dip in the pool in free time and changed for dance class. The dance class was amazing and culturally immersive. Overall we had an amazing day.
-Maya and Chloe
Tuesday July 9, 2019
We started off the day with surfing and service. We started making the sign that we designed yesterday to help encourage visitors to keep their plastic out of the ocean, and also made some small signs. Then we planted some trees and hammered signs around the trees. After that we went surfing and learned how to paddle over waves. The waves were super rough and big but it was still fun.
After that we had lunch and two hours of free time. Then we did a pulse check and talked about the dangers of making assumptions based on limited information we have about someone. Than we did a cooking class and also talked about the corruption of some relief projects and voluntourism companies. Then we ate and journaled after.
Wednesday July 10, 2019
We took a day off from service today for our big excursion to Corcovado National Park! On the boat ride over we said hi to a couple different groups of dolphins. After arriving we hiked around the jungle and saw bats, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, scarlet macaws, and one little agouti. We had lunch by the beach and boated back to our community, but we got to swim and have races on the beach before going back for dinner. After a long day in the sun we listened to a talk by Chris about the psychology of adventure.
Jack, International Director
Thursday July 11, 2019
Today, we began the day by painting two water wells near to the home base camp. We were able to be productive and efficient, however we did get a little distracted and ended up painting each other almost as much as the wall. Following that we had lunch and set out on our hike and beach trip. On the hike, we saw a lot of spiders and a sloth. I really enjoyed the sunset at the beach. Today was dope, and I was really able to bond with Jafette.
Friday July 12, 2019
The students (and the mentors!) had a blast on the Osa Canopy Tour! We took ziplined over cloud forest, passed by a sloth, and took on two hanging bridges, two rappelling stations, and one Tarzan swing. The scenery was beautiful, as we had views all the way out to the Ocean and passed over rivers and waterfalls.
In the afternoon, the students worked impressively hard despite the rain to make more progress on the signs that encourage future visitors to recycle and pick up their plastic, which will be put up close to the beach and around the community. As a reward we had a pancake dinner and enjoyed a family movie night (Avatar!).
-Jack, International Director
Saturday July 13, 2019
Another day, another hour to help the environment. So we wake up for breakfast and get our shoes on to hike to this beautiful waterfall. Once we made it there, we swam around for a couple hours and took some gnarly photos. Then we drove to a bakery / snack stop / and souvenir shop for us to go shopping, then back to homebase for lunch.
Later, we were doing service when it started to rain lightly. But then it started pouring and what did we do? Of course we go out in in the rain and jump in the pool and Wayner created a slip n’ slide. That was the best moment of the day. A few hours later, we were playing charades and roasting smores. In conclusion, this was one of our funnest days.
Sunday July 14, 2019
Last full day at home base! We started the day by finishing some of the projects we’ve been working on in Community Service – painting the potable water wells and creating the signs we had designed to encourage visitors to recycle and avoid leaving plastic at the beach. Afterwards, we had a burrito lunch followed by an Activity led by community member Pilar.
The students role-played different groups of people who fought for or against a development project that would bring tourists to the region. In the evening we went out for a delicious pizza dinner at La Fogata and all the local hotel staff and their families joined us. We wrapped up the evening reflecting on the trip so far and watched a brief Ted Talk to help us recognize the “lollipop moments” in our life – small moments that change the course of our lives.
-Jack, International Director
In our final full day together as a group, we had a lot of goodbyes and preparation for going home. We had breakfast spent the morning cleaning and packing. Chris showed the group a photo slideshow of all of the best photos from the trip and we were all reminded of both how fast the trip went but also how long ago are early service and surfing days seemed. The students made and presented a note to Sonia, Dora, Karina, and Francisco, our home base cooking/cleaning/security staff.
After an early lunch we took the bus back to the city, stopping at the Crocodile Bridge rest stop to see the Crocodiles and buy any last minute presents. Once in Alajuela, we went out to dinner together in town and ended with an appreciation circle and closing ceremonies before saying our last good-byes to those with early flights in the morning.
-Jack, International Director
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Departure Day is always bittersweet! The first students to leave had to leave the hotel at 4:15 am and a group of other students woke up early just for the chance to say one last goodbye !
Overall, we had an amazing trip. The mentors all agreed that this was one of the most thoughtful, smart, energetic, and inclusive groups they had ever gotten to work with. After surfing, ziplining, hiking, painting, designing, swimming, spotting animals, learning, and challenging each other over the course of two weeks, we know that they’ll miss each other.
The local team led by Noilyn and Wayner praised the students’ hard work and impressive attitude and all they they contributed towards protecting the Ocean and making their community a healthier and more sustainable place. On behalf of the mentors, we wish the best for each student and are proud to have worked with such capable and thoughtful young adults ! The future is in good hands 🙂
-Jack , International Director