Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Summer Blog Posts
Day 1- July 10 – Arrival day!
We all arrived safely in Costa Rica! Pura Vida 🙂
¡Hola! Today was our first full day in Costa Rica with the entire group. We started the day bright and early with breakfast at 7 AM at or hotel in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. We all eagerly hopped onto the buseta and began our tour of the capital, lead by our very outgoing, native local director, Davíd. As we drove around the city, Davíd explained everything you could possibly know about Costa Rica. I learned that the country is divided into 7 provinces with 81 counties.
Something that I found incredibly interesting was that the country doesn’t have a military. “We don’t get in people’s business, so no one gets in ours.”, Davíd told us. The government decided to use the money that was originally going towards the military for free health care and education all the way through the college level.
After our very enlightening tour, we began our journey towards Cedrela lodge, our home for the next three weeks. With my best friend, Emilia, sleeping on my shoulder, I was gazing out the window, wide-eyed, as I watched the change from the bustling capital to the breathtaking countryside. This drive was the moment when I really realized that I’m in Costa Rica! As we drove along the inter-American highway, I watched as the large buildings began to fade into banana trees and vibrantly- painted houses. The amount of vegetation and wildlife is inexplainable. Locals sitting on their front porches waved at us as we drove by, while the community dogs ran along the buseta with us.
After an hour and a half of driving, we stopped at a small coffee shop called Coopadota. We all filed inside and found a seat, as the natives working there introduced themselves and took our orders. As we were enjoying the delicious, locally grown coffee, one of the women working there began to explain the corporation of Coopadota; it is a coffee processing plant and exportation business. She gave us a very interesting tour of the factory, showing us everything that needs to be done to produce coffee beans. I was blown away by the amount of little details that impact the process; it involves an insane amount of work! We even got to try cupping ourselves. Cupping is what large coffee businesses, like Starbucks, do to decide which type of beans they want. They send a representative to the coffee plantation and they smell and taste the different grounds. It was very interesting how they slurp the coffee into their mouths in such a way so that it reaches every part of their mouth, since different parts of your tongue taste different tastes more strongly, such as sweetness and bitterness.
After our very educational adventure through the coffee factory, we drove another hour to Cedrela, our home base. As the buseta pulled up to the home base, my jaw dropped. It was so incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t wait to go inside and get situated into my room. We got out of the buseta and were warmly welcomed by the lodge dog, Brutus, as we walked up the dirt hill to our cabins. Attempting to roll our suitcases down the gravel path, we finally entered our cozy cabin with a breathtaking view that we get to wake up to every morning and fall asleep to every night. We unpacked and got situated and headed back down to the main lodge, where we ate dinner and then played games.
Then, David lead a group discussion explaining what green communities is, the organization that we will be working with for the trip. He explained the challenging and insufficient process of selling coffee to corporations as a conventional plantation. The growers end up getting a very small portion of the profit and having to spend lots of money on chemicals for the plants. At that point, we were finally told what our service project is; we are working on coffee plantations with green communities to convert the conventional plantations to ecological ones.
After that, we ate dinner, played more games, and finally got to go to bed. It’s been an incredible experience so far and I can’t wait to find out what comes next!
¡Hola parents families and friends!
Today was our third day here in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. We started the day with breakfast time at 7:00. Some people including myself may consider this early but with so much to do there is not a minute to waste. We all gathered in our central eating area overlooking the beautiful green hills and ate our breakfast of eggs, pancakes and the best tasting fruit I have ever had.
After breakfast we loaded into the bus and headed out to the small community of San Pedro where we will be doing the first 4 days of community service. After a 30 minute drive we got out and walked into the coffee fields, where our community service would be taking place.
First off, there are a few bigger picture things we learned to get a deeper understanding of why we were here doing this specific service. GLA is in collaboration with a local Costa Rican program known as Green Community’s. The mission of GC is to adapt the style of coffee farming in the local area to one that is more lucrative, sustainable and better for the environment.
Coffee is the biggest export of Costa Rica responsible for 100% of the Costa Rican economy. For this reason, as any farmer would, the Costa Rican farmers attempt to maximize the coffee production in order to get more money. However, as we have learned this causes a major problem. In order to maximize the density and number of coffee plants growing, farmers use unnatural chemicals and clear cut the land to maximize production. This results in decrease in water quality, soil quality and biodiversity in the area. Over time the chemicals are essentially poisoning the plants soil and animals living in the area.
The mission of GC and the focus of our service project is to help instill a practice called ecological coffee farming. This is where natural, organic fertilizer is used and there is no clear cutting practices used. 11 separate coffee plantation owners have dedicated plots of coffee to GC to practice these new methods of farming. These farms overall have proven to be a better long term solution, not to mention much much better for the environment and our own health. Over time the conventional farms end up depleting the nutrients in the soil by using chemicals. Every year, more chemicals and more money has to be spent to keep the same plants growing. As the farmers transition to ecological they are guaranteed that each year the plans and nutrients will be restored through natural fertilizer and their ecosystem will be kept safe for growing not just in the short term, but guaranteed to prosper in the long term.
After this talk we learned what we would be doing to help this transition. On the ecological farms we helped fertilize the lots of coffee plants with natural fertilizer composed of compost and cow manure. This will help replenish the nutrients that were lost when using chemicals. Each bucket was filled with fertilizer, passed along the assembly line of volunteers and dumped at the base of the coffee plant. After 4 hours and 2 different fields of coffee we headed in for lunch at 12.
The women from San Pedro cooked spaghetti and meat sauce and we got to talk to them and get a taste of the local culture. At 1 we all piled into the bus and headed back to home base. Once there we had 45 minutes of free time, mostly spent talking and laughing as we all get to know each other more. Then it was time to head to our first Spanish class. We took a short written and oral exam to determine our Spanish skills so we can be placed in the correct level in the future. After this it was some more spanish name games and an intense game of musical chairs.
After Spanish we had a short reflection circle where we got to know each other more and reflect on ways we express ourselves. Next it was a dinner of curry chicken and rice. After dinner there was an hour or so of activities and more games until around 8:15 when we were let out for the night. This experience so far for me has been an amazing opportunity to meet knew people and hear about everyone’s different background. The service has been very educational and I am truly inspired to help Green Communities with even something small that can make such a big difference.
Thanks for reading,
July 13, 2016
Today was our third full day in beautiful Costa Rica. It started off early having breakfast at 7 and needing to be on the bus and ready to go to our service site at 7:30. Breakfast consisted of eggs, tortillas with cheese, and a variety of fruits such as pineapple, mango, and watermelon. My personal favorite was the mango. All the fruit here has been so fresh and juicy. After breakfast we all got on the bus to drive about fifteen minutes to our service site in San Pedro. Everyday we do this drive I seem to appreciate more and more the beauty of where we are. The mountains are breathtaking along with the vibrant colors on them.
Upon arriving we were told what the day had in store for us and did not waste a minute before getting to work. We walked to the first site which isn’t always the easiest thing to do considering it is very hilly and steep. Our first stop was a coffee plantation where we were all alined in a row passing buckets of fertilizer down rows from one person to the next. At the head of the row were two volunteers who had to open the massive bags of fertilizer and then had to shovel it into buckets to pass down. I was one of those volunteers. The amount of energy it takes just to do one part of the job is unbelievable. After only about 30 minutes I was exhausted. I got to thinking that it takes about 20 people to do this job and it still isn’t easy, what must it be like for only 2? We stayed at the site for about an hour and a half before getting to a break and enjoying a snack.
We walked back to the community salon and enjoyed some bananas and pineapples. My friend Mira and I also went to the small shop next to where the group was and got some awesome Costa Rican candy. Although, nothing beats the chocolate wafer called “yipy”. It tastes almost like a Kit-Kat but better. After we took a little break we got right back to work.
We went to the second site and had to unpack all of the big bags of fertilizer and carry them to unload near the coffee plants. That was the hardest part about the entire day and the most labor intensive. Although it was hard, it was one of the most satisfying things once it was finished. Once all of the fertilizer was in the area we needed to be in, we started distributing it in buckets to each plant. Similar to the first site, we assembled lines and passed the fertilizer down to the plants. This particular site was a lot bigger than the first one but when everyone came together it didn’t seem that way. Once we finished planting we returned back to eat lunch but had about 20 minutes before where we decided to play soccer on the main field in the center of town. It was so much fun and definitely one of the highlights of my day even thought I know nothing about soccer.
Lunch was chicken rice and veggies prepared by the women who live there and it was so flavorful and delicious. Once we finished lunch we came back to the home base to shower and relax for about 45 minutes. After that we were split into our Spanish groups were we had our Spanish lessons.
I have never taken a Spanish class in my life and the Spanish I know is from growing up and listening to my family. The classes were fun and informational. After Spanish we took another break and then proceeded to our yoga lessons led by the boys on our trip: Max, Jaxson, Ethan M, and Ethan Z. They were the “Leaders of the Day” which meant that they were responsible for creating group activities and discussions. It was very funny watching people try these poses.
Once we did that we put the room back together and had dinner.
Dinner consisted of steak, potatoes, fresh salad, and hummus. All the vegetables come from the fresh garden at the home base. After that we cleaned up dinner and prepared for evening activities. Our counselor Shannon started off the activity by telling us to all stand around and she would pick two things completely opposite from each other. For example, she would say chocolate or vanilla. If you liked chocolate you would go to one side of the room where as if you liked vanilla you would go to the other. That was a very basic explanation but once the questions got harder we had to think more. I actually learned a lot about myself during this activity because for most of them I didn’t know which side I would go to right away. We finished off the night with some high points of our day.
My highest point was at the second work site where my friends Max, Meg, Jaxon, Emily, and I all worked together in the assembly line at the second plantation and finished the job. I also liked how when we did this I got to talk to them more and learn about these new people considering they are mostly from California and I’m all the way on the East coast in New York. Each day here is packed with so many things I hope I could portray just a taste of what a day is like in Costa Rica!
Hailey Santiago 🙂
July 14, 2016
It’s already our third service day! As usual, we woke up at 6:30am for a 7:00ambreakfast. Today I really enjoyed the food because it was a Costa Rican rice and bean dish called gallo pinto, some grilled plantains, scrambled eggs and delicious fresh fruit.
We got to the service site, and four of us (Haley, Sho, Peaches and Melissa) volunteered to help transport all the bags of fertilizer for the day. Let me tell you that these bags were not light whatsoever. With each bag weighing about 100-120 pounds, it took two of us girls to lift them and place them in the back of the truck. Throughout the drive, the views around us were breathtaking. There were mountains covered in greenery everywhere we looked and it was a great break from the heavy lifting.
We took about 5 different trips transporting the bags to different coffee plantations and while we were driving we saw some plantation owners spraying chemicals over the coffee plants. This way of farming is considered conventional because it’s using artificial nutrients and chemicals versus ecological farming which relies on natural nutrients and microorganisms. It was honestly scary and eyeopening seeing them go though that process because they were wearing a full body suit, and hood/mask to protect themselves from the chemicals. They were creating a cloud of chemicals that were dispersing into the air. This is extremely ironic because they are trying to protect themselves from the chemicals they are using to grow crops and food which are going to be consumed by people in the future. This made me look at pesticides and chemicals in a whole new light because I’ve always been told that pesticides were bad, but seeing the way that they are applied made me really question why we as consumers allow our food to be produced in that fashion.
Haley, Sho, Peaches and I finally joined the rest of our group and helped transport the fertilizer from the bags to the plants. Once we finished our work for the day, we walked back to the community Salon in San Pedro where we had lunch. We were given delicious rice, beans, beef and a plantain like scramble.
Once we had finished lunch, we all hopped in our van and made our way to Santa Maria. Today we were given the opportunity to have our 3 hour Spanish Class in the small town of Santa Maria. Our teachers gave us questions to go ask the local Costa Ricans about and find out about how people live in the city of Santa Maria specifically.
While a group of us were walking from store to store, a cute black dog followed us around the center I asked a few people, “Qué actividades hay en Santa Maria para las turistas?” They answered telling us how they have parties in the park in the center, soccer games every Thursday, zip lining in the forest and other small activities. It was very interesting to talk to the locals and hear perspectives of these Costa Ricans who live in a small city a few hours away from San Jose. I learned that the town has changed a lot over time because lots of locals have decided to move to the United States for school and job opportunities.
We made it back to home base at around 4:15 and we got to relax until 5:30. At that time we played a few leadership games and then we had reflection circles in small groups at 6:00. In this circle, we reflect on the day and/or we just play some games and we reflect on ourselves and think about what is important to us. Finally at 6:30 we had a delicious dinner filled with salad, fish and mashed potatoes.
After dinner we had a discussion about being leaders and we watched a Ted Talk called “How to start a Movement,” which discussed how leaders need followers to be considered leaders and that most followers are leaders in their own type of way. This conversation was interesting because it is true that a leader is only a lone wolf until a few people become the first followers. As a group, we got to talking about the topic of Dreams and change we would like to see in the world. All of you reading this should check out the videos made by Prince EA, specifically “Why most people die before 25,” and think about what types of dreams or goals you have for the future. The video really gets you thinking and by watching it, you can join our conversation about what change you would like to see happen in the world.
July 15, 2016
As usual, we woke up to an unwelcome alarm, groggy but ready for the long day ahead. By 7, our heavy legs carried us to the main lodge for a welcomed breakfast. As we munched on our scrambled eggs, potatoes and various fruits, we awaited the announcement of our schedule for the day (hopefully it would be as fun and satisfying as yesterday). Soon after we learned that the house of the day was the four amigas, the leader: Megan, inspirerizerator: Mira, MOM: Emilia and sidekick: Emily; we learned that we didn’t have Spanish class (unfortunately), but had three hours of relax (or as we call it) Pura Vida time.
When we arrived at the Salon near most of the coffee plantations where we had been working; we were surprised to learn that we wouldn’t be going straight to the plantations, but were having a discussion/activity with Davíd (our local director, resident amazing person with the best laugh who works for green communities). Davíd split us up into three groups and gave us an assignment, chemical factory CEO’s, CEO’s of a chain of five star hotels and the local citizens of San Pedro. Davíd gave the chemical factory and hotel group a prompt : come up with a plan to build a factory/hotel in local San Pedro and propose it to the citizens. After a heated debate about ecological, economical, etc. aspects of the two propositions; the two proposals were turned down by the “citizens” of San Pedro. Although we were reminded that if a factory or hotel etc. wanted to build something in a community, they would just do it, with or without the blessing of the people.
As we continued our discussion, we talked about community development and sustainable development and the similarities and differences. We defined community development as any sort of development that would affect a community; and sustainable development meant a good and (as the title implies) sustainable development. I think we were all incredibly amazed on how little we knew about the differences of development and its merits and consequences.
To finish up our discussion session, Davíd provided a scenario in which the earth was dead and we could bring ten things to a crystal ball with nothing in it at all. By the end of our deliberation we realized that it was impossible to start a planet with ten things, we need everything the world has provided for us; and in fact, the human race is breaking away all of those things we need to survive. The activity and discussion was eye opening and I think we all learned something.
From there we finished putting fertilizer on one of the coffee plantations we had been working on. The large hills we knew almost too well, were less tiring and breath stealing (hopefully a sign of improvement) and felt more satisfying. We finished our work at the two plantations with a little help of excess yelling, and the silly antics of Alvaro, a local community member who helps green communities in the community of San Pedro; I will admit I did get in a water fight with him…
We carried ourselves back to the salon for a fun game of soccer and a delicious lunch of arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) and salad made by the local women in San Pedro. Before we got our food, the women and young girls from the community showed us a traditional dance they had prepared, and it was amazing, the men were screaming and we all jumped in at one point acting like Bulls.
Even though our day had been amazing up until that point, I think we were ready for those three hours of Pura Vida time.
After we had relaxed, napped and showered we waddled down to the main house, and were greeted with a new discussion topic: phones and social media addiction. It was pretty clear to most of us, that we were addicted to our phones. Not only did we have a discussion, but we watched another Prince EA video (it gave me goosebumps), and a video from a British man called Look up, which showed just how looking down at your screen can ruin your life, as so many opportunities pass you by. I was surprised that we could have two interesting and eye opening discussions in one day.
Afterwards, we enjoyed pulled pork with rice, peas and lentils. A few of us put our phones in the middle of the table to refrain from compulsively grabbing it and disconnecting.
Our leader of the day(Megan) led a talk about whether we thought lying was ever okay, do we change ourselves to fit in and to what extent does wealth relate to happiness.
Later, our fabulous leaders of the day introduced their fun, but different game: Murder in the dark. Basically, everyone picked a card that had either a C for commoner, M for murderer or J for judge. There was an obstacle course we had to crawl through in the dark and when we encountered someone else we would shake their hand, if they scratched our hand we would go off to a corner and “die”. If you were found, someone would yell “murder in the dark” and the lights would come back on as the first judge guesses who they thought the murderer was and if they were wrong we would continue the game and so on. I had a lot of fun, but was also completely terrified.
The day was long but exciting and satisfying, just what I hoped for.
July 16, 2016
Today, we started our day off later than usual, and got to sleep in an extra hour! We went down to eat breakfast at 8am, and we had eggs, pancakes, pineapple, watermelon, froot loops and water or raspberry ice tea. Breakfast was delicious; my favorite part was the pancakes!
Next, we listened to an announcement made by the “House of the Day.” During this announcement we got a brief outline of how we were going to be spending our day, and we also learned more about the LOD’s (leaders of the day) which were Megan and Hailey, and they gave detailed information on their life through a brief presentation called “story of self”
Following breakfast, we went down to the field to play a quick game of Ninja before our bus came to take us into the city of Cartago; our ride there was around an hour and a half. The ride there was nice, the scenery was beautiful and the mountains add a lot of character to the area.
Once we arrived in Cartago we got to tour around the market, buy some goodies and speak to very friendly locals. We then walked to the church, and while we were waiting for mass to end we played a group game called “human knot” in front of the beautiful church.
After that we went to the main Catholic Church in Costa Rica and learned about the religious traditions that the Costa Ricans follow, since it is a big part of their culture. After touring the church, we went to eat lunch at a restaurant nearby. Everyone had ordered either Casado (traditional plate: rice, beans, salad, picadillo (vegetables) and a meat of your choice) or a hamburger and we all loved our meals!
We then went back in the bus to go to the hotel that we spent the night at. Once we arrived at the hotel we had around 2 hours of free time. We all got wifi and caught up with family, friends, and pets. At 5pm we got into our reflection groups, in my small group, we played a game called “who am I,” and then engaged in a discussion.
For dinner, we had a mixed plate of food, consisting of rice, black beans, salad and plantain chips. We then engaged in a discussion led by our house of the day about what we wanted to bring back with us after this trip. We played jeopardy, which tested us on everything that we have learned this first week. Once the game was done we went into our rooms, packed out bags for tomorrow, and went to sleep.
July 17, 2016
July 19, 2016
Good Morning!!! How’s everybody doing? Cool times. Anyway, for my portion of the blog I’m just gonna take you through my day. I’ve never written a blog so it’ll be a learning experience for all of us 🙂 Let’s jump right into shall we?
I woke up about two (I don’t sleep much), and managed to read an entire book by the time my cabin mates woke up at six. The book was fine, but nothing to write home about- which is good because there is a definite lack of wifi at Cedrela, and no one has time for written letters anymore. At 6:20 Shannon knocked on our door and asked if we could all sing happy birthday to Ethan (Happy Birthday Ethan!!), and then we all headed down for breakfast. I had pineapple, watermelon, and eggs for breakfast, probably too much pineapple given my slight allergy, but it was totally worth it. Once all of us were thoroughly fed we headed to Zapotal to do some hard core concrete mixing and transporting.
Davíd, probably my favorite person on the planet (sorry Ma!), made the entire process look easy. Let me tell you, it was not! Making concrete consists of shoveling dirt into a wheelbarrow only to dump it out again about four feet away from the initial pile… Five times… For each pile… We made 9 piles. After a pile of dirt was compiled and flattened, a 100 pound bag of cement was placed on top and sliced open. It was then spread evenly and mixed like crazy. Have you guys ever made homemade pasta? ‘Cause that was basically the next step. We took the dry ingredients, the dirt cement mixture, and made a volcano shape, then dumped the wet ingredients, water, into the center. We then had to build up the walls of the volcano until all the water was covered. It was a precarious task. After the water was covered we proceeded to mix like crazy once more, and, tahdahh, concrete. Moving the concrete was probably the most difficult task because wheelbarrows are harder to use than they look :-). After about five piles of concrete were transported we took a break for a fruit snack (actual fruit, not the processed gummies) and then finished up the other four.
Lunch was much needed and couldn’t come quick enough. It consisted of rice and beans (as usual) salad, pork and chips. I’ve probably consumed more rice and beans on this trip than I have in my life, and that’s not a complaint. Everything was delicious! We then got back on the bus, which is where I’m writing you guys now. I’ll check back in once more has happened. Bye for now!
K, it’s about 10:25 p.m. now and it’s my first free moment to catch you guys up.
After getting back to Cedrela we had an hour to scrub the concrete off of our bodies and mentally prepare for Spanish. Spanish started at 2:30 and for the first hour and a half we practiced subjunctive verbs (I surprisingly remembered this from school so it was a refreshing review). Then for the last hour and a half we learned typical dances including bachata, salsa, and svuing criollo. It was a bunch of fun! Emily R. and I probably took the whole thing a little too serious but if anyone needs bachata lessons I’m your gal. After working up a sweat I was definitely ready for the delicious dinner. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but that didn’t make it any less tasty. It was sort of a burrito but also sort of a chimichanga. Either way it was good times.
Once people ate dinner and went back for seconds, we split up into groups and discussed the similarities of what we put in/on the human body and coffee plants. It was super fun. My group discussed how chemical fertilizer was comparable to body products like sunscreen or deodorant. We also discussed the importance of yogurt and coconut oil, but that had little pertinence to the given activity. That activity lasted about an hour and after we shared spooky stories. Some definitely got a little too real but it was a great bonding experience.
Once everyone was thoroughly creeped we lightened the mood with a piñata in honor of Ethan’s birthday. The piñata led to a party and a cup game (stretching to grab the plastic cup with your mouth) that I rocked if I do say so myself. We danced and munched on candy for a while before making our way back to our cabins. A little girl talk took place after that, and some serious bug saving. I would just like it to be known that I have saved 8 cockroaches on this trip and numerous spiders. I feel like that should at least get me a medal :-).
And that pretty much brings me up to this point. Hope I did this blog thing correctly, or at least whatever I just created was entertaining and informative. That was the goal. Sleep tight people. Don’t let the cockroaches bite.
Oh, also I have counted 268 dogs on this trip so far. You know. In case you were interested. K bye!
July 20, 2016
As we began our third day of service in Zapotal, we started our day at 6:30 with breakfast. We headed out of our beloved home at Cedrela at 7:00 and began the hour long drive to our service site. With our arrival at 8:00, the group began to head inside the community building and waited for the H.O.D (House of the Day) instructions. The leader of the day, Melissa informed us that we will begin with the introduction of Eco- bricks and then some of us will switch out to work on the cement. As we sat in a circle, David introduced us to the Eco-brick and the significance of it to the environment. Essentially the Eco-brick is made up of recycled plastic wrappers stuffed inside plastic bottles. Because the production and the reproduction of plastic is so harmful to the environment due the the high consumption of oil we live by reduce, reuse, and recycle.
With that, we each began to work on our first bottle oblivious to how long one bottle took to make. When break at 10:00 came we were informed that who’d be split between working on cement and who would continuing working on the bottles. At break we had a choice between bananas and watermelons!! After being fueled we began the second part of our service work, some of us only starting our second bottle for the Eco-bricks.
It was 11:30 and we were surprised with a game of futbol at a nearby park with some local community members. We all gathered at 12:00 for a delicious lunch prepared by the lovely ladies from the community of Zapotal. With our stomach full we headed to start the second part of the day, Spanish class in Santa Maria!! The group split into their classes and went around communicating and practicing our Spanish with locals.
After two hours we headed back to Cedrela for the last hour of our Spanish class, working with our bomba and the other class was playing a game. After dismissal we got an hour of Pura Vida time.
The group met again at the main lodge for our presentation about topics on the sun, body care, food and medicine. As each group presented their topic we quickly noted the relationship between what we as humans need and what plants need. We learned that our bodies alike to plants and chemicals, can become dependent on everyday things like medicine, junk food , and deodorant.
As we wrapped up our conversation, dinner had started and we had a scrumptious meal of fried chicken and a side potatoes!! After dinner the H.O.D separated the group for a game of first impressions, we gathered in smaller groups and discussed our impressions of one another. We followed up the discussion with a documentary called
“Cowspiracy” which narrates the lack of knowledge concerning agricultures negative effects towards the environment. Although we couldn’t finish the whole documentary since many of us were exhausted. That wraps up our tenth day here in Costa Rica!
We arrived late at the quaint village of Zapotal and took our time getting our gear together before leaving on our first hike into the dense coffee plantations. However before any of us could leave on our excursion, we were lead into a brief yoga/stretch session, led by our very own mentor Shannon (The Shan-man).
The hike was then led by a fellow community member named Jonathan (The Jon-Mon), and our very own David Ureña. On our way down we were treated by David’s silly antics, in which he confused 75% of the group by sending them down the wrong path. As the group regrouped, we began to follow the inviting and welcoming trail. Near the end of the trail we found ourselves face to face with one of the many natural springs of Costa Rica. Little do people know/understand that these springs produce one of our most important yet powerful liquids on the planet, water.
We finally headed back up to the local community center so that half the group could stuff plastic bags into water bottles with bamboo sticks (Eco-Bricks). Ethan Z had this to say on the Eco-Bricks “Today was fun and productive!!!” The other half of the group preceded to make concrete for the sidewalk, to help local children be able to get to school safe and happy.
Later we had our lunch, which consisted mostly of rice and beans, with a side of deep fried egg and green bean (it was eggcellent).
It’s lit up in this restaurant, we’re surrounded by the beach. The dinner was so banging and we are so full! But let me tell you about our rough day. We left early this morning for our two hour ride down to Manuel Antonio on the pacific coast. After driving through a crazy and strong rain storm, we make a stop to eat our tasty casados for lunch. If we could ever say that we got a taste of Costa Rica, we would surely remember this day. We were soaked! The rain became a barrier to our plans to experience the National Park and “la playa”. No worries! We will be there tomorrow morning. We arrived at our beautiful/tropical hotel and did an amazing trust activity after our Pura Vida time. We learned a lot about ourselves and how we must face challenges before we meet our goals.Hasta Luego Ticos!
Shakya signing out!
Today was action packed, exciting, and incredibly unique. The day started with an early breakfast; we needed it for our long day ahead. At 6:30, we all gathered in a little restaurant part of the place we are staying, called DiuWak, in dominical and had a breakfast of Gallo Pinto and eggs (yummmmm). The food here, if not previously mentioned, is divine and I would love to be able to take it all home with me. To say the least, the meals and unique foods we’ve had in Costa Rica have been a big highlight of the trip for me.
After our breakfast, we boarded the bus and took a short ride to “Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio” (Manuel Antonio National Park) a park known for its diverse wildlife, incredible sights, and a beach that is like nothing you’ve ever seen. The hour long hike through the park to the beach is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. Our tour guide, Luis, pointed out monkeys, sloths, unique plants, colorful crabs, and made sure to warn us about the poisonous snakes that dwelled in the park in conjecture with an order to stay on the trail (ooooooo). Although we didn’t see any snakes, there were monkeys all around us, some even within a few feet of us and others jumping over our heads. I had never been that close to a monkey before while not at a zoo and it was incredible. Also, we even got to see a baby sloth gripping tight to its mother through Luis’s telescope.
After our once-in-a-lifetime hike through the park, we reached a beach like nothing you’ve ever seen. A cove on the pacific coast, this beach had incredible bright blue water and brilliant rock formations on either side (wowwwwww). After barely stopping to put our stuff down together, we ran out into the water with an almost unnecessary enthusiasm; this was the first beach we had been to (horrayyyyy). However, by the end of the day we will have had gone swimming and two different beaches, and even surfing in one (wowwwwww)! Anyway, we got to swimming in the cove at the park. The group I was with, ended up accidentally going too far out and had to be called back to the shore by Shannon, our mentor (silly us).
Back at the shore, we decided to check out on the rock formations, so we walked nearly the full length of the each until we arrived at the far end of the cove. There, we were met by an incredible sight, countless species of wildlife, and shallower waters, which we went out into (ooooooo). After just a bit more swimming in the ocean and enjoying ourselves, we had to come back in as we had a lunch reservation and then surf lesson waiting for us.
We quickly showered off the sand and saltwater, got changed into drier clothes, and hiked back through the park and walked to the place we would have lunch. There were many options for lunch today but I had Casado Con Carne (Casado with beef) (yummmmmm). Casado is a classic Costa Rican meal and this was not the first time we had it. Also did I mention I really like the food in this country? Anyway, after lunch we got back on the bus and headed back to our hotel and surf lesson. The beach that is a two minute walk from DiuWak served as the beach for our surf lesson that day. After quickly getting our bathing suits back on and dropping our back packs off at our rooms, we headed out to the beach to go surfing.
Everyone was pretty divided up so I can’t speak for the entire group, but my experience surfing was incredible. At first, we started on the sand with the instructor teaching us basic techniques. We learned how to stand up, where to position ourselves, and which foot to lead with… or at least we thought we did (dun.dun.dun). After that we went into the water, and saying it was more difficult then the practice we had had on land is an understatement. Once again, I can’t speak for everyone, but this was my experience in the water surfing for the first but definitely not the last time (I’m making my parents take me surfing as soon as I get back haha). At first I struggled, I wasn’t able to get up on the first or second waves, it felt like when you tried to stand up it was fighting against you and trying to keep you down. However, on the third I did get up, and wow was it awesome. I popped up perfectly, got into the perfect position, and rode that wave right back in to the shore, and it felt incredible (horrayyyy). After that, my instructor said I could try to catch my own wave, so I went out a little ways away from him and tried it. It was difficult, I didn’t have the help with when to stand up anymore, but after a few tries I got it. The highlight of the surfing for me was when I got this one huge wave, jumped up, and rode it perfectly all the way back to the shore (yayyyy). However, right as I reached the shore, the fin on my board hit the sand and, mom, dad, you might want to look away for the rest of this sentence, I face-planted hard onto the board, and it hurt like crazy (oh noo). But would I ride that same wave and face-plant that same way? Without a doubt yes, that’s how fun surfing is for me.
After our lesson was over, we all regrouped on the beach and had some much needed water and fruit (yummm). It was around 3 o’clock after that, and, after being told to meet back with the group at 5:30, everyone went their separate ways. Some people went swimming, others took a shower, and lastly there were people who went shopping at the nearby stores for gifts or food. Personally, I went shopping for gifts, and was able to find a ton of cool things for my family and friends (mom, dad, be excited haha).
After that, we regrouped and did some fun trust exercises and played a game of directors cut before dinner. There were two different options for dinner tonight, Pasta Primavera or Arroz Con Pollo. I had the Casado and as usual, I finished every last bite; it was so good (yummmmm). Following dinner, I went swimming with a handful of people for a little while and then we went to the lobby of the hotel to enjoy the wifi there and catch up with friends and family and be on social media (silly teenagers). At 10 o’clock, we left the lobby and went up to our rooms and fell asleep quickly, for it was such a busy day. Having a great time in Costa Rica,
July 24, 2016
Hello parents. We started off the day at 7:30 with a breakfast, we had Gallo pinto and eggs. After around 31 minutes of eating breakfast we hopped into the van and started our long trek back to Cilantro (Cedrela) Eco-Lodge.
The drive was 3 hours and most people fell asleep. At 11:04 we arrived back at Cilantro Eco-Lodge and we had 2 hours to sleep before lunch at 1. At 1 we came back for lunch. We had a stew that was heavy on the Cedrela (Cilantro) which had plantains and beef.
After lunch no one felt fully rejuvenated so we had another 45 minutes of rest hour. When everyone met back up at 2:19, we played a game called fishbowl which is similar to charades. After playing fishbowl, we started on our story of action which is when we think about a problem and how to solve it.
At 4:30 we had Spanish for 2 hours where we played a game that involved running with a lime on a spoon and making sure it didn’t fall off. After an hour and 3 minutes of that we went back up to the main room where we worked on our Bombas which are poems that are 4 lines long.
Dinner was at 6:30 which is 2 hours after Spanish started and dinner lasted for 30 minutes (we had fish and salad). When dinner was finished, we learned how to dance in Spanish for a little under 56 minutes. At 8:00 Spanish ended and everyone went to their rooms to sleep.
Your GLA insider,
July 27, 2016
Today was day 18 on our incredible adventure in Costa Rica! After concluding our volunteer work yesterday in Zapotal, today we had the opportunity to go to an adventure park in Providencia. We woke up and headed down to breakfast at 7:00am (a half an hour later than usual!) where we ate a delicious breakfast of potatoes and eggs. We then all hopped on the bus and headed out for an hour and half ride through the beautiful green mountains of Costa Rica. Along the way, David, our local director, pointed out the oak forest surrounding us that makes up the largest oak forest in Latin America. We then descended into the valley where the small town of Zapotal was nestled in the hillside. It has a small population of 250 people who work on coffee plantations among plantations for other fruits. For them, the adventure park is another major source of income and employs many of the people in Providencia. After arriving at the adventure park we all unloaded and applied loads of bug spray before heading in to what David called a mixed tropical forest. The land there was purchased by Santos Tour as a way to save it from being clear cut and turned into a coffee plantation. Although the adventure park was constructed here, there were no trees or vegetation cut down in its making.
After arriving we all got fitted with harnesses and helmets. We then split up into two different groups and prepared to begin the adventure. The first obstacle was a climb up a 120ft tree called a ‘strangler’. This tree was hollow inside so we were able to climb inside of it until we reached a platform at the top. From that platform we were able to repel back down to the ground. Although it was slightly terrifying at the top, it was an incredibly fun and exhilarating experience. We then moved on to another obstacle that resembled a giant swing. You were first hoisted up into the air and then pulled backwards and let go. People’s screams of joy and terror could be heard throughout the forest as time was counted down and they were free falling through the air. Lastly we moved on to a zip line through the trees that ended on a platform. In order to get down from the platform you once again had to jump hooked in and swing through the air like a giant pendulum until you were lowered down to the ground (Tarzan swing). Overall it was an incredibly fun and bonding experience that gave us the opportunity to see more of the fun and beauty in Costa Rica.
After leaving the adventure park we all headed to lunch at around 1:00. We were able to eat at the Tamí lodge where the other GLA students were staying. We then boarded the bus once again to return back to Cedrela. We made one more stop on the way back at the local supermarket in Copey where everyone was able to get their daily dose of cookies and ice cream:). We arrived back at Cedrela where we all enjoyed 1.5hrs of “pura vida” time or free time. Some of us decided to go hiking in the land surrounding Cedrela while others relaxed and talked in the cabins. We then met up again and discussed our Stories of Action. Here every person had to come up with a problem they felt passionate about fixing in their community.
It was then time for dinner where we tried a new meal of tortilla soup and rice. This was followed by a series of videos shown to us by the house of the day that talked about some of the problems featured in our Stories of Action.
We ended the night with a fun game called Queen Bee that was made up by our director, Jess. As everyone had fun and got into the game …time flew by and it was soon time to head back up to our cabins for bed. After having more fun and talking to our cabin mates we all were exhausted and went to bed ready for another fun and eventful day tomorrow!
Thanks for reading,
Hello everyone so all you know that today is our last day at home base that became like a second home to us. Today we had Breakfast at 7:30 and half of the group was there some came late, like 2 min I think but as long as I get food we are ok.
Today we had a trip where we had to hike to a waterfall but we had a hour long drive but Marlo ( I think that I spelled his name wrong (Mario)) got us there safely. There were two baby cows that were in front of the bus on our way. And the place we had to go was a reserve so David said but it looked like a farm to me. He had a lot of information about it and next we had to walk like 20 minutes but Shannon said it was a hour so she kinda forgot. In our hike we walked down the walkway and the hill was a lot of muddy but nothing happen so we was chilling.
The whole group was done down the hill and ready in the water but the water was so cold that they all run out as fast as our legs can take them to get out of the water so they said that the water was so cold or it was just my imagination, but the air itself was so refreshing near the waterfall. The waterfall was so nice, we had extra time to sit and reflect by ourselves- just so you know I love to reflect on my life and see what I have to do.
But the hardest part was going up the hill back to the entrance. After we was done we all had another 45 minutes in the bus again I hate getting car sick but I got a little better when it comes to being on the bus now so that’s good. Next the whole group was going to San Marcos to have lunch at and after we all had a chance to walk around the town. Me and the girls when looking for our favorite candy and practiced our Spanish but in the end we couldn’t find it so we got some ice cream. Then we found Jessica and Shannon, who were talking about gifts for our driver and our director and we all pitched in to get them something (a reusable water bottle for Mario). We all want to get something special for David that he will remember us so we went to get a flower for him and Leo.
The whole group gave David his gifts early because he was going home early like always…and he look like he was about to cry to that mean we touch his heart and he know that we will not forget him. And then we came back to home base to have pura vida time for 2 hours and some minutes and it was good to have some free some time and then we have to work on the story of action and I was thankful that Jessica and Shannon help me. And some of the group presented their idea to us and we all like them and after we had dinner we had finally had pizza I was wishing for pizza a long time but thank you to Leo (our home base staff) and Marcial (our cook). That night after we had our discussion we have a special event that everyone want so bad and we got it thank to Jessica , Shannon and more all Leo our hero had made a fire place for us that it was inside but it was so good, we made SMORES, everyone was having a good time and some went to see the stars that night but it was a little cold out there and everyone went to bed . Finally in the end of this paragraph you have to know that I am more fun in person than in writing sorry about that. And now I have got to go!
STORY OF ACTION
Over these past few weeks we have been helping create change here in Costa Rica, by fertilizing plants on ecological coffee farms. However as we have neared our long dreaded end, we each have created a few ideas of what we could do when get back to the states, to be the change. This is in hopes to help change the problems we are facing in the states, and without further ado, I present to you our stories of action.
Emilia Andersen- I came up with the idea to create an ECO-Club at school to create a better and more environmentally sustainable school environment. As a club I would like to host a series of events such as “Carpool 2 School” that raise awareness about carpooling, recycling, and driving low emission vehicles. I would also like to fundraise and work with my school to purchase a reusable water bottle fill up station, water saving toilets, and energy efficient hand dryers. Lastly I would like to plant drought resistant plants around my school making my school more environmentally friendly and a better learning environment.
Emily Lanigan- My goal is to stop golf courses from using so much water, because the world is running out of resources and I think we need to start making a change wherever we can. I would like the golf course(s) in my community, at least, to be turf because it will require a lot less water, if any.
My problem is that too much pressure is being put on students in school because of teachers, parents and peers. My story of action is to create a program after school where students can get together and help each other with homework and tests. The club would also introduce ways of helping students with stress, such as yoga or music.
Énoa Gibson- Racial pride club
The goal of this club is to educate on different cultures, history of races and discuss current events associated with discrimination.
Ethan Matthews- childhood obesity is a large problem in America. Many kids eating habits come from their parents and the lack of education on a healthy diet. The most effective way to educate kids is to provide them with healthy school lunches using vegetables that they grew themselves.
Ethan Zarov- As YouTube is becoming more people’s jobs, smaller creators are unable to be spotlighted as larger creators are taking up exponentially larger amounts of market share and money. My goal is to spotlight smaller creators and give them a network to collaborate and grow each other’s channels and livelihood.
Floria- My issue is the corruption and ineffective control of the criminal justice system in America. I want to start a petition to lengthen the statute of limitations in America, make it harder to become a prison guard, and to set a fine against corporations that don’t respect the limit of inmates in a prison. I’m also going to send a letter and/or email to the government requesting change for the statute of limitations.
Hailey Santiago – My story of action is what my solution is for bullying in my area. I wanted to create a group within my school that allows kids a place to come and talk about issues they have and ways they can be dealt with. The group will not be big and will focus on bullying and the more recent acts of cyberbullying. I hope that my club will group and carry on into the years to follow once I graduate.
Jaxon North- Corporations are controlling everything! Through the help of a small group of people and the backing of a larger movement, we can work to end lobbying in the government, support smaller businesses, and educate people on the corruption surrounding these overly large corporations who are taking an extremely unbalanced amount of money and power for themselves.
Jia Huang- During my last year of high school I wish to start a club that targets the issues of discrimination and racial issues. In hopes that this club will be successful it will be called “Multi-Cultural” club. This club will be a space where students will be able to discuss current news, ideas for events and more. Multi-Cultural club’s main goal will be learning to embrace each individual’s culture and spreading that to combat discrimination.
Maxime Abel- My story of action is on how in the U.S. we are being brainwashed into buying new phones, new cars, new clothes, things we don’t necessarily need in order to be happy. What I’m trying to do, is spread awareness on how we spend our money, and have us question whether what we’re buying will truly make us happy.
Problem: Conflicting assignments and test dates, unfair grading curves, and not understanding material is causing stress for students.
Solution: An app or a website with 5 components….1. Teachers publish test schedules so they can avoid multiple tests on the same day. 2. Anonymous grade curves are published and monitored by the administration to make sure majority of students are passing tests. 3. A Help center that connects confused students to students who are willing to tutor. 4. A direct message to teachers and the administration to allow an easy route to communication. 5. Students submit the number of hours spent on homework each night. This again is monitored by administration to ensure that students have a healthy lifestyle and have time to carry out other passions
Melissa Galanty- The problem I have focused on is the fact that the majority of Americans lack knowledge about food choices, portions and what they put in their bodies. I want to teach people, with the help of my cooking club at school, that food can effect your body in large ways. You can use food to reverse and prevent many diseases because food can be used as a poison or a medicine depending on how you use it.
Mira Wegman: The problem that I would like to face is discrimination. To me, the main cause of discrimination is ignorance so I would like to start a club at my school that focuses and educates on current events and history with discrimination. I would eventually like to open it up to the public and have lectures/discussions featuring a guest speaker from my community that would be willing to share their personal experiences and stories about any sort of discrimination.
Peaches Boodoo- My story of action is that people abuse welfare and that people rely on the government and it go on the youth to the older. I want to help the young kids to get out off poverty and try to make it out there.
Shakya Geiger- I want to be able to give the black community their voice. I want the support from all races to come together and help us stand as one. We want to honor the life of Donnovan and many fallen angels who have passed away from police brutality, hate crimes, and many other things. I want everyone to come together and stand together.
Shoshannah – Problem- A lack of acceptance between diverse individuals. Specifically, sexual orientation and preferences.
Solution- Bringing knowledge and awareness to those who need it.