Friday June 22, 2018
Hello family and friends! Our first day is coming to an end and has felt both long and short at the same time. Students were arriving most of the morning and afternoon and settled well into our hotel in San José. Some had the chance to swim in the pool / jacuzzi before a thunder storm passed over and we headed to a buffet dinner of typical Costa Rican fare. After dinner we played a quick name game before going to our rooms to get some much needed rest. Tomorrow we will be doing a city tour in the morning and getting to know our local home base before lunch! We’ll post again in the new few days to keep you updated on the experience.
We are still waiting for two friends to join us – Nickolas and Parker Johnson. We all look forward to meeting you on Sunday!
-by Nico Couto, International Director
Sunday June 24, 2018
Hola amigos! Today was the first full day in Providencia, and we immersed ourselves in the local culture through dance, Spanish, and soccer. After a delicious breakfast of eggs, French toast and fruit, we commenced our journey through the process of learning the local language, Spanish. In the midst of practicing basic conversational skills and being introduced to the local slang, students from Providencia taught us typical Costa Rican dance while helping us improve our Spanish.
Following the eventful morning, we enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the local women. We then spent our afternoon playing soccer with locals at the communal soccer field, the Plaza. Our night concluded with a lively debate regarding small whaling communities. It was a fabulous day!
P.S. Happy birthday to Sophie Whitney! We had some yummy cake after dinner and hope it was a memorable sweet 16.
-By Jamie Malasek and Jordan Davidson
Thursday June 28, 2018
Hello! We just finished day 7 of our trip; hard to believe it´s been a week! Since last update, we´ve accomplished a lot.
The first thing we did before we even started service was have a talk about sustainable development. The leader of the organization Green Communities, Jonathan, talked to us about the modern world of consumerism and exploitation of the resources on Earth, and the impacts that our current culture will have on the world. He explained to us how to counteract this trend with ecologically friendly bio-farms. These bio-farms reduce environmental impacts without depriving the humans who depend on them for survival. We will be working on one of these bio-farms as our community service project in the coming weeks.
We had 3 days of community service this week. We worked in the Plaza, which is an area for the locals to gather in Providencia. Currently, there´s only a soccer field. We were working on building a basketball court/amphitheater right next to the field. The main jobs during the 3 days were making and mixing concrete, and digging the outline of the field. By the end of the 3 days, we had crossed the halfway point in creating the new area, and learned the arts of using a pickaxe and making cement. It was hard work, but it was rewarding to see real progress being made to help the town.
At 4:00 this morning, we all woke up for our first excursion of the program: our whitewater rafting trip in Turrialba. After a 3 hour drive, we got into groups of 5 and learned the intricacies of paddling. We started down the river on our 28 kilometer (or 17.3 miles) journey down the Pacuare River, starting with easy, Class 1 and 2 rapids. After a few warm up rapids, we got to the real action, the bunch of class 3 and 4 rapids. They threw us around, and some people out of the raft (sometimes even twice). We stopped on the side of the river and had some iguana tail burritos (tastes like chicken) and some fruit juice. We resumed the 2 hours after lunch encountering more class 3 and 4 rapids. We got to get out and swim while we were in between 2 mountains, one of the most beautiful sights we´ve ever seen; there were waterfalls, trees, and the mountains and cliffs towering above us. When we finally finished, we got back to our hotel in Turrialba. We waited in the lobby as our rooms were figured out, and they actually got changed up from our home base tents: good chance to make new friends!
We also celebrated another sweet 16 today; happy birthday to Malia Old!
That´s all for now, tomorrow we head to Cartago for a city tour by Luis Diego, our Cartago-native mentor. Adios!
-By Jared Kupersmith and Parker Johnson
Sunday July 1, 2018
I hope you guys are enjoying the blog because we GLA students are putting a lot of effort and time into keeping you posted on what we are doing!
First of all we would like to introduce ourselves, today talking here is Courtney and Henrique and we are glad to write for you!
Today we started our day at 6 in the morning, I don´t know if you are aware but some of us have been exercising before breakfast. The run took about 30 minutes for us to have time to change and pack the needed items for the day before eating. Breakfast started at 7 am where we ate Gallo Pinto (typical Costa Rican food), eggs and fruit. Right after that we went to a coffee farm to work as we did the past day. There we helped the farmer Gerardo to spread fertilizer in to the ORGANIC coffee plants, don’t be fooled, we did had a lot of music and water breaks!
Service finished at 11:30 where we had half an hour to chill (most of us showered) before lunch that started at noon. At lunch we were served chicken, vegetables, guacamole, and plantain chips by local women! Delicious! Believe me we had another break after that, GLA believes in a balance between work and time for people to reflect and relax (play cards).
If you are asking yourself yes us (Henrique and Courtney) are the best card players ever, no one cheats like us. At 2pm our Spanish class started. Henrique is in advanced where they studied about neutrino carbon emission in the world and about Franklin Chang Díaz, the first non American to go to space with NASA. Courtney is in the intermediate class where they watched part of a documentary about environmental issues and talked about it in Spanish. The lower group cooked, we think. One more free time later, we had food at 6:30. At dinner we had some amazing MEAT! Yeah we some other stuff like Pico de Gallo but is not as important. After dinner we had some group activities to get closer and have fun. And now we have a last free time before bed that we are spending here writing for you!
Friday July 6, 2018
Hi! Our names are Sophie and Henrique, and we´re writing the blog for you today to keep you guys posted on what the GLA students are up to.
So, since we haven´t been updated in days, we´ll summarize the past
Tuesday morning, we left Providencia to head towards Dominical for a
beach excursion. Once we reached Dominical, everyone
had lunch at a restaurant with a spectacular ocean view, followed by
everyone chilling around the beach, buying souvenirs from pop-up
booths. However, the highlight of the trip was the surf lesson we
took. Everyone seemed to get the hang of surfing, and several people
were able to stand up and ride the waves to the shore. The second
highlight of the excursion was visiting Manuel Antonio National Park,
where we saw lots of cool animals and bugs, including monkeys and
sloths. Also, at the park, there was a nice beach with some crazy
waves and, unfortunately, some sharp rocks (we all survived!)
Finally, we ended our excursion with watching the sunset on the
We started yesterday morning by waking up bright and early (7 am) for
a 3 hour drive back to Providencia, but an unexpected landslide closed
a crucial highway we needed to return. So, to pass the time, we
embarked on a scavenger hunt in a nearby town named Perez Zeledon.
When the landslide was cleared 2 hours later, we continued our trip
back to Providencia. With about an hour left of our ride, we stopped
for a quick meal. After getting back to Providencia, most of us went meet
different families and keep practicing our Spanish.
Today, we started 2 new service projects (our main project was delayed
due to rain): eco-bricks and biogardens. Eco-bricks are plastic
bottles filled with other “trash” that would normally accumulate in
the ocean. These “bricks” are used in Providencia to build bleachers
and walls, so we spent around an hour stuffing bottles to make
eco-bricks. After the rain cleared up, we started our biogarden
project, where we dug a meter-deep hole and collected a large amount
of rocks. Biogardens are used to filter the “gray water” to make the
river in Providencia cleaner. Recently, higher levels of soap and
sludge were detected in the river, and Green Communities plans to
reduce these levels.
We hope you enjoy reading what´s been happening here in Costa Rica, and we´ll keep you guys posted!
Hello everyone! We´ve reached the end of Day 18 already and it´s crazy to think that only two more full days lay ahead of us. Today was our last service day, with great effort and teamwork we managed to fill our giant hole with all of the rocks that we collected, put in the first pipes and collect the type of plant we need to finish the bio-garden.
We also had our last Spanish class today, with everyone participating in many different final presentations that took place in the presence of the creator of the Green Communities Spanish course. Before breakfast and after lunch we had the chance to see the beginning and end of the process of creating sweets and sugar from raw sugarcane – grinding the sugarcane, boiling it with a special tree bark, taking the solid product and putting it into mold with different herbs and spices. We also went to an adventure park where we did zip-linning, tarzan swing and even climbed inside the middle of a tree!
On a more academic note, we have had a couple more discussions: one on consumption and another on water usage. We walked down to a natural spring for the water talk which was very interesting, and we were pushed in both of them to think about alarming angles of over-consumption and water use, how this affects us at home and what we can do about it.
Tomorrow we will be hiking to a waterfall as our last outing; after that just another leadership activity and then packing, evaluations and a talent show on July 11.
-by Nico Couto (International Staff)