Friday June 22, 2018
We made it to beautiful Costa Rica! After some long flights, some delays and some arriving early, our students are safe and sound with GLA staff in San Jose!
We had a great time getting the opportunity to talk to everyone and we even got a chance to swim in the awesome hotel pool to show our staff our swimming skills! We can’t wait to use them while we try surfing in a week or so!
We had dinner in the hotel, the traditional meal of rice, beans, chicken or fish, fried plantains and veggies! Yummm! After dinner, we got a chance to hang out with our new friends. Well, we are off to bed because at 6:20am we need to be ready for breakfast. We have a very busy day ahead of us and we cannot wait to see our homebase, Cedrela EcoLodge, tomorrow afternoon! We won’t have WiFi access there so don’t worry if you don’t hear from us, we’ll be too busy moving in to our new home!
Not pictured: Jake Writer
Saturday June 23, 2018
Today we left the hotel in San Jose, and started the morning with breakfast at Dennys. We then took a tour around the city of San Jose, and learned a little about the history of Costa Rica. We learned that the majority of the buildings around are post-colonial due to the civil war in the 19th century that destroyed the older buildings. An interesting historical fact we learned about was the story behind the elimination of the army. In 1948, the president of Costa Rica, Pepe Figueres, destroyed a part of the military fort as a symbol to end the spilling of blood between brothers in Costa Rica.
After we toured around the city, we drove through winding streets up to the Los Santos region to La Pira, and had a tour around a coffee farm. Gabriel, the owner of the coffee farm business explained to us the process from picking the coffee fruit to extracting the bean and shipping the beans to coffee companies across Asia and the Americas. After the tour, we got to do “cupping,” which is the tasting of several coffees.
Getting back on the bus, we continued up the mountains to our home base. At the home base, we had a delicious lunch of chicken, potatoes, and a kale salad. Brutus is the dog here at home base, and there is also a cat, who are both adorable! We then hung out and did some orientation activities. We got to know each other better through name games, and more! As it got darker, we had a dinner of pasta, bread, and some blackberry juice. Afterwards, we got to know our mentors and played a little game of trivia which turned competitive very fast.
Again, it was pouring rain by 9pm, as well as lighting and thunder, which hopefully we’ll be able to get used to! But besides that, the view from our home base is absolutely gorgeous, and we’re looking forward to our first service project tomorrow, and having more fun!
That’s all folks!
Sunday June 24, 2018
Kyle and Erin M. here!
Today we had another early morning, and had a yummy breakfast of pineapples, mangos, bread, and eggs. All the fruits and vegetables are grown here, and we got to each them fresh! Even the bread is homemade by our dearest chef, Memo. After breakfast, we left at 7:15 to our first service project in San Pedro. We met some of the local members of the community, and talked about developed communities, and sustainable communities. In the group, we also talked about why we are here in Costa Rica, and what we are doing here to support sustainable development in the community of San Pedro. Some of the things we can do here to benefit the environment is not only through the service projects, but also the little things like taking short showers, and recycling during our stay at the lodge.
Our first service project here that we started today is to make sidewalks for the kids here in Costa Rica to be able to safely walk to school. Split into groups, we accomplished our part for the day through teamwork. Some groups created cement, others dug out and flattened the dirt for the concrete, using shovels and pickaxes! Working together was very crucial, and also communicating with the community leaders as well. This service project for us was a very good experience to be able to use our hands and bodies to create something out a few materials to create an impact on the community. We are very excited to continue tomorrow, and get to see more of our progress. Although it was hard work, and at times tiring, we pushed through and getting to eat a delicious homemade lunch was very rewarding.
After a few hours of working on our project, we walked back down to the community school to meet the mothers of San Pedro who cooked lunch for us! We had an incredible lunch of beans, mixed vegetables, rice, guacamole, meat, and fresh fruit juice. Another way we were able to create a positive impact on the community was through being able to provide an income for the mothers who cooked for us. By involving and interacting with the community members, we can also encourage them to support Green Communities! After lunch, we went out and played a quick and fun spirited game of soccer. It got a little competitive, but I’m proud to say that the ‘chicas’ won! (plus Kyle was on the team too!)
Returning to the lodge, we got to take a little break and rest a little to recover. Then, we had our first Spanish lesson, which was more of just games and activities. We also had a few competitions with Pictionary and more. Then we played sardines, and some of us also played card games. For dinner, we had beef, kale salad, and fried yucca sticks which were all tasty once again. The kale here is actually grown right on the lodge! Tomorrow we will continue with the sidewalks, and have our first official Spanish class in our designated levels. Being able to practice our Spanish with some of the community members was fun, and after getting some good rest, hopefully we are up and energized for the next day of cement mixing and more digging!
Monday June 25, 2018
It’s Anna and Grace here to fill you in on all the exciting adventures of today!
After a nutritious breakfast of eggs, bananas and cereal, we began our day and headed to San Pedro for our second day of building sidewalks for the kids here in Costa Rica. Luckily for us, we got an extra 15 minutes of sleep because of the later breakfast time and were well-rested for the busy day of service and Spanish ahead!
At San Pedro, the service leaders were designated groups and led their teams in mixing cement, smoothing sidewalks and shoveling dirt. All the activities were similar to the ones we did the day before, but we all felt much more confident and comfortable doing each of the tasks because of our previous experience from yesterday. Today was special because we were able to listen to music during the service, making the hard work a little more fun and upbeat. Through the dancing and singing, there was not one sad face at the service site.
After our work at San Pedro, we drove to Santa Maria and practiced our Spanish speaking through interviews with local Costa Ricans! After breaking into groups, we asked shopkeepers and people around the park about what leadership means to them. By conversing with them in Spanish, we were able to apply our language skills and learn more about the role of leadership in the culture of Costa Rica. It was so enjoyable to step outside of the classroom and our comfort zones!
Our Spanish classes, split into 3 sections: beginning, intermediate and advanced, took place once we returned to the Cedrela Homebase from Santa Maria. By doing a variety of activities in the classes, including singing and discussions, we were able to get to know each other and expand our knowledge of the Spanish language.
After a relaxing break which included a gorgeous sunset, we had a delicious dinner made by our chef, Memo. Once we filled our stomachs with fish and mashed potatoes, we once more had a break before winding down for bedtime and planning for tomorrow. Overall, it was a successful day of sunsets, Spanish, service and leadership (otherwise known as “liderazgo” in español)!
Friday June 29, 2018
We’re back from our “beachend” excursion from the land of Dominical and Quepos!
For the first day, we went to Manual Antonio National Park, which is in Quepos. There, the group was guided by a Tico expert on the historical preservation and knowledge of the biological ecosystems in the park. He helped us spot sloths, exotic crabs, lizards, birds, and monkeys hanging from the trees and scurrying across telephone lines!! We witnessed a National Geographic moment of a monkey indulging two eggs for its lunch. If we had a professional photographer, that moment would be worth a lot of money!
After our tiring but fascinating hike, we ended up at the beach, which is located in the Central Pacific of Costa Rica. Since the water was such the perfect temperature, Nicole and Tona had to drag us out for lunch. After a fun day of activities, we headed up to the hotel to rest up for the next adventure.
The next day in Dominical many of us experienced surfing for the first time. Through the local surf shop, we received lessons and the materials to surf. The waves were wild but we could not wait to stand on the board for the first time. After interviewing one of the surfers, Anna, she describe her experiences as so fun and exhilarating.
While some of us were surfing the rest of the group was on the avenue shopping from dynamic venders and buying locally made ice cream. Regrouping for lunch we traveled to a beautiful beachside restaurant where we enjoyed an array of dishes such as: fish tacos, hamburgers, shrimp and rice, and meat nachos. Mind you – every dish served to us in Costa Rica is accompanied with freshly squeezed fruit juice.
That night we all did our own thing by chillin’ in the pool and dancing the night away. We wrapped up the night with a family style dinner and the authors of this blog were the Head Queens of the table.
In the morning, we packed up our things and headed back up to the Eco Lodge. We are excited to get back and start service tomorrow, but we wish we had more time to relax by the water.
Lily and Nia
Saturday June 30, 2018
Today we started our second part of service. To start the day, we went to a conventional coffee farm and observed what the plants looked like when the farmers use pesticides and harmful chemicals. This farm was so dry and lifeless that one of the students referred to it as the graveyard¨.
After viewing the ¨graveyard¨, we went to Alvaro’s (the local leader of Los Santos) organic coffee farm. There was a noticeable difference in the plant soil, sun exposure, and amount of bug holes in the plants´ leaves.
Now comes the time that we have all been waiting for… to use Mother Nature’s resources to their fullest extent! By providing local revenue, jobs for Ticos, and positively contributing to the future of San Pedro and beyond, GLA students used manure, food scraps, and beneficial bacteria as our fertilizer. At the organic coffee farm in San Pedro, we helped fertilize one area of the farm by using an assembly line method. Some of us shoveled organic compost into buckets, passing them down the line to be dumped around the base of the coffee plant. By working together, we were able to complete a job, that would normally take one farmer 2-3 days, in 4 hours!
To end our day in San Pedro, we played an intense game of fútbol. In a close match the boys ended up winning 6-5. As a closing remark, we all had a blast getting back into service and spent the remaining afternoon learning Spanish and hiking around the EcoLodge.
Hazy for pictures
The sun beamed its usual rays this morning as the group took a minor detour to the organic coffee farm, where we began working on the day prior. We walked to a spring creek near the entrance of the lodge, where we discussed the importance of trees to our water supply. Planting the trees help retain water in our ecosystem so we began planting more trees around the area of the creek. These were small trees (no bigger than 3ft) but they would grow into mature trees with an important job. We also brainstormed the importance of saving water and steps we can take to preserve our water supply for when we return home.
Once we arrived at the organic coffee farm, we began spreading the compost to the small coffee bushes. This compost was locally made by the community and is used to add nutrients to their organic farm. We formed an assembly line of sorts and began passing compost buckets to the needed areas and tossing the empty buckets back to be refilled. After 45 minutes or so, rain clouds began rolling in, so we packed up our gear and headed to the community center for lunch.
At the Community center we had rice, chicken with steamed veggies and a Sugar Cane Lemon Iced Tea, followed by a lollipop for dessert. After lunch, many of us played a childhood favorite: Musical Chairs along to some popular Latin music. The room filled with cheers, laughter, music and the roars of our competitive spirits. Then, we returned to the lodge where we began working on our final Spanish projects with our Spanish classes.
Lastly, Dinner Time! After a nutritious common Costa Rican meal, we began to learn some Latin dances, taught by one of our peers, Mhelaney, which included Salsa and Bachata. We all had a blast learning and dancing with our partners!!! Truly a night one will never forget…
Until next time,