Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Summer Blog Posts
Day 1- August 3
Our team is almost complete! All who traveled today arrived safely, and we are
so excited to have these amazing individuals here in Costa Rica! We will be picking up our final student tomorrow.
We toured the city of San José, the capital of Costa Rica, before beginning our journey to our home base in the mountains!
We are now at our home for the next three weeks, a beautiful Eco-Lodge in the cloud forest! More stories and photos to come 🙂
-Your GLA insider
Hola Family and Friends!! Pura Vida!
I want to start off this blog post with one of my favorite quotes: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Over the past 3 days, everyone on this trip has completely jumped out of their comfort zones and begun their lives by flying to a new country, meeting new people, trying new foods and learning to speak Spanish. For me, it has already been the adventure of a lifetime and I plan to treasure each and everyday that I get to spend in this magnificent country.
Our day today started off at different times for different people. I woke up with a few others at 6am to go for a run through the mountains with our local director, Andrey. Waking up at the Tamí lodge is completely magical. We are literally nested into the mountain side with the most breathtaking view one could ever imagine. Providencia, the community we are staying and working in, is located in a tropical cloud forest, meaning you feel like you are almost living in the clouds. It is usually warm and sunny in the mornings, rainy at about 1pm and cool (but not freezing) in the evenings.
Breakfast was at 7am sharp this morning, however there were a few people staggering in, half asleep a few minutes late. Juan, the chef, is amazing and he prepared omelets, potatoes and tomatoes for us this morning. So delicious! 8am was orientation. All of our directors introduced themselves in depth and laid out the rules for our stay here. Andrey and Jonathan are the local directors who work for Green Communities, the service program we will be volunteering for while we’re here. Jonathan actually co-founded Green Communities with his partner, Carlos. Alison and Jessica are our international directors. All of our directors are amazing people with amazing stories that have already inspired me to want to make the world a better place.
We piled into the back of the Green Communities pick up truck around 9:30am to go and see the places that we will be working in town. Imagine 17 kids in the back of the pick up truck while Jonathan floors it up and down steep hills on gravel paths. Basically the best roller coaster ride ever! Our first stop was the futból (soccer) field. Then we walked up the hill to the primary escuela (school). There are only 33 students in 7 grades (K-6) at the school. After the children graduate from primary school, they then have to go to the high school, which is about a 2 hour car ride each way. Green Communities supports about 14 high schoolers with scholarships.
We walked through town and saw the pulperia (convenience store) and the church. We also learned what an eco brick is and how Green Communities is helping to teach the community about recycling. Before, the people would burn the plastic which is very bad for the environment.
We hopped back into the truck and sped off to visit one of the sustainable coffee plantations that we might be working in eventually. After a small hike, we found ourselves looking out over a breathtaking view and down the mountain to the terraces of coffee plants. Jonathan spoke to us for a while about the differences between community development and sustainable development and we did an exercise to help prove his point. In groups, we had to make a list of 10 things we would bring to another planet to be able to sustain life. While there was a little bit of confusion as to whether you could bring Noah’s ark with you and whether there is such thing as a pregnant chicken, we all got the message. Jonathan summed it up nicely saying something along the lines of, “those were all great ideas, but the truth is that they wouldn’t work. Why will we have to go to another planet to try to sustain life when we have everything we need on this planet? We just need to take care of this planet.”
Once we got back to Tamí, we had a delicious lunch of rice, beans and fried plantains – traditional Costa Rican food – made by the women of the community. After an hour break, we took our Spanish diagnostic tests (written and oral) and did a few fun activities with the Spanish teachers. I think by now I can name every fruit that exists in Spanish. Allison and Jessica then led us through GLA Geology, an activity where we outlined group norms and code of conduct rules for the rest of our trip.
After dinner, we got together in our cabin groups and came up with cabin names (Just to give you an example of a few tent names that groups came up with – Socks & Sandals, and Tuanis frijoles (cool beans)). Before bed, a bunch of us hung out outside of tent #3 (Socks & Sandals) with our flashlights and told scary stories until it was time for lights out at 10pm. I think it’s a general consensus among those that were there that Sam is the worst scary story teller there ever was.
Tomorrow we start our first service project and we are all super excited. We will be cementing a portion of the road so that it will be easier for cars and trucks to pass through. Jonathan is very excited because we will actually be finishing the road which has been an ongoing project for about 5 years.
Already everyone here is beginning to feel like family, especially sitting around telling ghost stories tonight. We have about 18 days left in this wonderful country and I plan to fully appreciate every second of it.
To wrap up, I wanted to say a huge thank you to all of our parents out there. Thank you for sending us on the adventure of a lifetime. We are the luckiest people in the world.
Until next time!! Pura Vida!
Today was our first day of service. After a delicious breakfast, we walked to the hill that we are paving. Volunteers have been working on it for 4 years now, and we’re going to be the group that finally finishes it. For the first half of the morning, most of us worked on paving the road while Estrella, Abrar, Adam, Mathew, Kamiliah, and I helped Johnathon move rocks from Tamì to the road where everyone else was working. The best part was definitely getting to ride in the back of the truck, especially when all the rocks are rolling around. Only one injury was obtained; I accidentally hit Mathew in the head with a rock. (But don’t worry, he’s ok.) We then had a little banana break at a little waterfall, but unfortunately the bananas made Nyles sick (but don’t worry he is also ok). After our break we went back to work, this time some of us paved the road while others worked on Eco bricks. Eco bricks are basically just a plastic bottle stuffed with trash. We make them to create a better way to use plastic. For example instead of letting a water bottle sit on the planet for 5000 years we can use the Eco bricks to make a garden wall or something useful like that. Making Eco bricks isn’t as easy as it sounds and it takes a long time. We worked on them for 2 hours and I only got about three quarters of one done. But we had lots of fun telling jokes and riddles (like Sandra’s sheep riddle that took us an hour to figure out and Nathan’s joke about the mulch). After we finished our service we had an amazing lunch made by the women of the community.
After an hour of “Pura Vida” time, we had our first official Spanish classes. We were split into two separate groups. In my class, we learned different greetings and farewells and also common Costa Rican phrases such as “Pura Vida” and “Tuanis.” We also played a hard core Spanish version of hot potato, an adjective memory game and finally a guess who game (the answer is always Michael Jackson). Before dinner we played a very intense game of Mafia and had an even more intense discussion about gun control. Finally we had dinner and our first reflection circles, where we talk and reflect on our time here in Costa Rica. All in all today was an amazing day and I can’t wait for the next 2 and half weeks.
-Kaitlyn, the Sandman of the Holla tent.
Day 5- August 7
The day started bright and early as alarms went off for a few of us at 5:45 this morning. Today was our third full day at Tami Lodge and thus our third early morning mountain run with Andrey. I’m proud to say that this was the largest and most successful turn out as new faces showed up for the run and every ran the fastest and the furthest on the tough mountain trail. After returning from nearly 2 miles of running, everyone was up and preparing for day 2 of service. The usual morning routine of packing and eating breakfast went the same as it has been and then we were off to service.
The cementing process was much more efficient today than yesterday. It was enjoyable to see everyone working as a team so that speed and productivity was at its peak. It was clearly shown as the same work as yesterday was done in less time leaving some free time to spend before lunch. This time was spent in the water at the base of a waterfall. Though the water was freezing and I as well as others could feel our body going numb from the ice cold waters, everyone was enjoying themselves. We also had the entertainment from the brave souls that jumped in the water from the height of the waterfall.
We started heading towards lunch at just the right time as the clouds and rain of Costa Rica’s wet season became present. Lunch passed and it was time for our spanish classes where everyone spent 3 hours without any english and improved their spanish speaking abilities. Quickly time passed and we had some free time to shower and prepare for the evening.
The evening began with a video on consumption in the United States which opened everyones eyes as to how wastful we as people on this planet really are. Ideas and opinions were shared and then groups were made to come up with ways to decrease unnecessary consumption in our local community. Though the conversations could have continued on much longer, it was time for the delicious meal of dinner. The evening plans went later than expected but everyone was still eager to finish off the day with the plans that were made by our leader of the day, Sam. We played a heated round of musical chairs that ended with an intense one-on-one battle between Nyles and Nathan. Finally, Sam leaded us in a deep discussion about the presidential election of the United States and what we thought should be done in the future to have 2 candidates that the people feel good about.
Boy, it was a long day here. We do so much non stop activities that every day feels like a week’s worth of events. I know I do more in a day here than I do back home sitting on the couch watching Netflix all day. It feels rewarding to look back upon your day knowing that you didn’t waste a single moment of it because it was spent making a difference in the world and your own life. After three weeks of days like these, GLA and Green Communities will shape each and every one of us into better people that strive to make a difference in the world around us.
– Adam DuBowy
August 8, 2016
Sunburn, mosquito bites, sore backs and callouses. These may sound like negatives, but to me they’re badges that I proudly show off. It’s these characteristics that show that we made a difference. Today we finished paving the road, which has been worked on for five years. When looking at the finished product, there is no doubt that it was well worth the sweat and work that we put into it. Not many people can say that they made such a unique difference in the lives of strangers.
After another long awaited lunch, selflessly made by a few women of Providencia, we were able to help our gracious chef Juan with preparing traditional Costa Rican dish for dinner called “Olla de Carne” (pot of meat). He quickly showed us how to peel yuca, chayote, and camote (sweet potato) as if he was tying his shoes. His wife also demonstrated how to make our own tortillas. I soon realized that neither jobs are as easy as tying a shoe, and that the work Juan and Joana do for us demands gratitude. The knowledge that we helped to make our dinner made it that much better because isn’t everything a little sweeter when you work for it.
Earlier I said we had the opportunity to create a difference in the lives of strangers, referring to the locals in Providencia, but after today they are far from it. “Adopt a Gringo” is where groups of three stay with a local family for tea/coffee time. This was an exceptional opportunity where we not only got to strengthen our Spanish and relationships with the townspeople, but we also got an inside look in to the culture of Providencia.
I think at first we all felt the awkwardness of a new encounter with the added bonus of a language barrier, but it didn’t take long for the genuine personalities of the families to stomp out the awkwardness. Pretty soon Nyles, Jill and I were playing monopoly and building Legos with little Josua. And I’m positive that just like us all the rest were soon hoping to spend more than just two hours with the families. On the ride back to camp we all excitedly shared our stories with each other. There was a general consensus that we would all love to have the opportunity again.
After a short dance party where I can say I saw some of the most creative dance moves of my life, we talked about tourism and how it can both help and hurt a country. We ended the discussion talking about how we can be responsible tourists. Soon we were stuffing our faces with delicious stew, and heading to sleep under the beautiful night sky in Providencia.
TUANIS FRIJOLES (cool beans)
August 9, 2016
Greetings ! Today we stared our morning with a delicious breakfast that consisted of rice and beans with eggs and sausages. We were all excited because we were finally going to reward ourselves from the hard work we have been doing over the past couple of days with relaxing yet fun adventures. We boarded the bus and prepared ourselves for the five hour bus ride to our destination. During the first 2 hours we learned and discussed what it takes to be a good tourist. For example, we learned that a good tourist prepares in advance, respects the local customs and lifestyles, and considers the impact of their presence whether positive or negative. After that we made a quick stop at a gas station and supermarket so we could buy snacks for the road. The rest of the time was spent having an interesting discussion on security versus privacy. After the long journey we ended up at a nice restaurant that was literally across from the beach. There we each had different delicious meals such as quesadillas, rice with chicken, or hamburgers.
After lunch we headed straight to the national animal park which was created to protect the land and animals living within the area. We had a tour guide that pointed out different animals or plants every couple of minutes. We all were fascinated when we saw a sloth up high in the trees or when we were learning about different plants and the many different purposes they serve. All of a sudden during the tour, rain poured down on us and we had to decide to either go straight to the beach or continue with the tour. I was with the group of people that wanted to continue the tour because I wanted to see more animals. I believe I made the best decision because I got to see monkeys moving around in the trees and saw the other side of the beach. When my group came back to join the rest at the beach we spent around an hour hanging around in the water, playing games, or in my case, learning how to float with the help of Kristine and Abarar. Thanks to them I think I have the idea of knowing how to float but I just need practice. Being in the water was amazing , the water wasn’t cold so it was enjoyable for everyone.
Once we headed back from the beach, we drove 45 minutes to our hotel. The town that were staying at has many stores that sell food, souvenirs, or clothes. Everyone had around an hour or so of free time so they could chill in their rooms or go out and adventure the town. Everything was all good and well until somebody aka myself noticed that I forgot to pack something that is crucial for a 3 day trip…underwear. Yes I packed everything from extra shirts and socks but for some reason I forgot to pack underwear. I swallowed my pride and told the rest of the girls and we went on a hunt to find me some. It was me, Kaitlyn, Abarar, Kristine, and Sandra. We searched every store and even asked some locals to help us out.
For dinner we went to a restaurant that served each of us burritos, wraps, or chicken fingers. Dinner consisted of jokes on Kristine short tongue and watching an intense arm wrestle between Thomas and Nyles. After dinner, some of us decided to hang around the pool area and learn how to dance with the help of two locals.
Today not only has taught me that one should be wary of monkeys in the beach because they tend to steal your bags, but also to NEVER forget to pack underwear. I would like to appreciate the girls for their effort and most of all patience when they were trying to teach me how to float and for going on an endless search for some calzones.
– Magali Benitez
August 10, 2016
We got to wake up at 8! This may seem a ridiculous thing to be cheering about, but after a week of waking up at 6 and long days of service it was incredible! After waking up we had a delicious breakfast at the our hotel in Dominical. After a week of very authentic Costa Rican food our stomachs were thanking us for some more American styled food. After breakfast we had some free time to explore the picturesque surf town of Dominical before our surf lessons. Our directors taught us the secret art of haggling so that we could get the best prices from the open air market by the beach.
Surfing was the highlight of the day. For the first hour our surf instructors proceeded to scare the living crap out of us with cautionary tails of riptides and other dangers. After an introduction like that, one would think you’d be crazy to consider surfing fun. But once in the water everyone quickly realized what all the hype was about. The thrill of catching a wave is truly indescribable. I have surfed a couple times before so was able to ride more advanced waves, but it was great for beginners as well.
After surfing we went to a restaurant right next to the beach for lunch. The food was great and we got to watch some of the olympics. While at the restaurant we were approached by a local man trying to sell his products. The man was deaf and mute but was still able to create a amazing bracelets and hats out of only grass!
If you thought our day couldn’t get more fun then you would be wrong. Our next stop was the waterfall 10 minutes from the town. There we met a local boy named Jose, who proceeded to make all us guys question our manhood. Swinging from the trees into the water and jumping off the waterfall he truly embodied Tarzan and had all the girls swooning.
After the waterfall we all were able to go our separate ways for a few hours. Adam wanted me to mention to his parents that he got a haircut at the local barber and it looks slick. The rest of us either went back to the beach or shopped around for cool souvenirs. These souvenirs included an intricate knife for me, clothing for my sister, and women’s pants for Nyles, Matt, Nathan, Kaitlyn, and Sandra.
For dinner we ate at the hotel again and everyone talked about what they had bought and done in the past few hours. After dinner we played a challenging team building game. All 17 of us had to stand inside a marked circle and then retrieve a water bottle (which represented each of our goals) outside of the circle for each of us. This was accomplished by lots of determination, sweat, BO, and a human chain. After we talked about how goals can only be accomplished through teamwork. We practiced dancing Bachata before the night was over.The after that we were all exhausted and headed to bed for some much needed rest.
Today we had cake for breakfast. I know that sounds exciting, but when you work hard for four hours after breakfast, cake isn’t that fun. I personally enjoyed it!
After breakfast we headed to a coffee farm to personally see the difference between ecological and conventional farming. We collected samples from each farm and it was very eye opening to see the physical difference in the soil, plant, and animal life.
We split up groups to start working on compost and our group went to mix compost with goat poop. At first I was absolutely miserable. I kept gagging from the smell, and even moving upwind didn’t help. Finally Jessica offered me a bandana to put over my face so I could keep helping. I didn’t think it’d help that much but the combination of me getting used to the smell and covering my face made it so much easier for me. Jill thought I looked like someone from Mad Max, and everyone sang a little bit of random pop songs. Nathan asked what our last meal would be if we could pick it.
We ended up mixing and refilling a ton of sacks with the new compost-manure hybrid. Everyone had literal crap on their faces, especially Adam. I think we were all really happy to go to lunch after all that! I was super excited to have mashed potatoes to be honest.
After lunch we had a break where everyone basically showered and got clean before Spanish class. Our goal for today was to speak only Spanish in our Spanish class. Apparently it was harder in the advanced class because Sandra was very liberal with her tallies. In our Spanish class we had a game where we had to identify fruits while blindfolded. Abarar fed all of us. We tried maracuya, manzana, mango, mamon chino, naranja, cas, and carambola. Mamon chino was super sweet, and I really liked it. Thomas also really liked mamon chino, and his reactions when trying the fruits were hilarious.
Then we had another break, and Abarar and a bunch of other girls were rebraiding Nyles’s hair. Some of us worked on some homework, and when the break was over we all had a discussion led by Jessica about dreaming to be the change. We discussed what our dreams were and what was stopping us and how to work towards them right now.
Lauren led us in a game called Honey if You Love Me, where basically the goal is to make someone smile. It was super funny to watch everyone’s strategies to getting other people to laugh. With Abarar and Lauren and Christine you didn’t have to do much before they burst out laughing.
Dinner was really good barbecue pork, steamed vegetables, salad, and MORE MASHED POTATOES. Kaitlyn and I were very happy about that. The pork was just like my mom makes, so it was nice to have a familiar meal. At the end of the meal Nyles and Nathan had a very interesting discussion about how flying is actually just jumping and landing somewhere else, and how birds aren’t actually flying, they’re just jumping.
We had another discussion about technology after dinner, and even though everyone was really tired, we all participated and gave our opinions. Today was really tiring, and I bet tomorrow will be too. I’m looking forward to white water rafting after this session of service!
Today marked the end of a tough but rewarding second week of service, spent both lugging heaped buckets of fertilizer through local ecological coffee farms, and filling discarded bottles with recycled plastic to create “eco bricks” used to edge roads and beautify Providencia. Working on the farms helped me better understand the hesitation we’ve learned that local farmers feel towards exchanging their “convenient” conventional methods for the taxing labor ecological farms require, and as a result of the lovely blue Powerade stains my pants have now been graced with, I’ve sworn never to trash a bottle still containing liquid ever again.
With the afternoon came one of the most anticipated activities of the trip thus far, at least for me – dance lessons taught by the ever-graceful and captivating Jonathan! After warming up–though in some cases, finding–our hips with the Cupid Shuffle and Cha Cha Slide, we jumped right into the merengue, a traditional dance from the Dominican Republic. Much to the disbelief of those who thought that upon mastering Jonathan’s three crucial moves, “twist the girl,” “twist yourself,” and “both hands up,” they’d be all set, Jonathan and Jessica proceeded to take everything we’d learned to levels we couldn’t imagine, spinning so many times that even spectators felt dizzy. Salsa, the dance we learned next, whose basic foot position proved more difficult than the hardest merengue moves, provided little to no relief for the rhythmic and non-rhythmic alike. Personally, it felt as though I was on a treadmill jogging in place, far away from any Costa Rican dance floor. Fortunately the Columbian bachata, the third and last dance we learned, had a very simple basic structure with only a couple variations, allowing participants to cool off and regain some of the dignity lost throughout the lesson.
After taking off his dancing shoes, Jonathan sat down with us again to lead an activity and subsequent discussion on the impacts of tourism, both on Costa Rica and the Third World at large. The activity allowed each and every one of us to channel our inner Donald Trump, by giving us a business proposal we then had to present to “local Ticos” (the rest of the group) using choice phrases, eye-catching visuals, and most importantly, big hands. After turning off our emotions, avoiding hard-hitting questions, and ignoring the needs of others, we broke down how everyone involved in the scenario would be impacted by the intrusion of big businesses into the lovely town hidden in the clouds that over the course of this trip we’ve begun to call our home. The well-done documentary we watched–while drinking delicious hot chocolate prepared by our wonderful chef Juan, it must be mentioned–during the second part of the discussion further strengthened our desire to protect what we’ve been given the privilege of experiencing, showing the lengths people 500 feet from those lounging at all-inclusive hotels, magazines in hand, have taken to fight for something as basic as the access to water. Watching ignorant tourists claim that having access to a privatized beach allowed their vacation to be “stress free,” and swim in a contaminated river locals warned them about, made me feel proud to be here as a volunteer, spending time helping compassionate people who live the phrase “pura vida” in everything they do instead of hours away, completely unaware of their existence.
We ended our day with a weighted but important conversation about mass incarceration in the United States, led by the well-informed leader of the day Matthew. As with every other current events discussion we’ve had so far, I was blown away by the respect with which opinions were shared, opposing arguments made, and propositions brought to the table. It does not escape us for a moment that while we bask in the beautiful Costa Rican sun, disconnected from the outside world, our country rips a little more at the seams every day. It is in these conversations, however, that we find comfort and hope in the knowledge that we will stop at nothing until these problems are resolved, dedicating our lives to the passions that fuel us, and will leave positive (and sustainable) marks on the world we leave behind.
We started off the day today with breakfast at 8 instead of 7! After breakfast we played a game called tank where we partnered up into groups of three while Jessica set up an “obstacle course.” Each person had a different role, the first was blindfolded and told what to do by the second. The second person was facing away from the course (they hadn’t seen it) and was voicing what they thought they were being told to do by the third person. Finally, the third person could see what was happening on the field and could act out what they wanted the first person to do, but they couldn’t speak. Everyone involved quickly became confused and loud (with Kamilah shouting louder than everyone else).
At nine, we all piled into the bus for three hours of sleeping, listening to music, and reading. When noon finally came around, we pulled over at a restaurant in Cartago where we were offered a variety of foods (but most of us chose hamburgers or burritos).
Afterward, we planned on walking around a local market in Cartago for a bit to do some local shopping. However, today happened to be Mother’s Day here in Costa Rica, so most of the shops were closed! Instead we were given a tour of the area by Andrey where we learned fun facts about the city’s history (like how Cartago was the original capital of Costa Rica after it gained independence from Spain. We walked around a park for a bit and looked at the ruins of an old church.
After that, we visited the Basilica, one of the most popular churches in Central America and learned about a tradition on August 2nd, where people from all over Costa Rica travel to the church– many by foot– to pray.
Later, all 17 of us went to the movie theater in the area and watched the most recent Ice Age movie (in Spanish!). Once the movie started, some of the group tried to follow the plot line of the movie (and many failed), others didn’t want to keep up with the movie and fell asleep in the theater, and the rest silently ate their food in confusion. Some actually understood more words towards the end, after intently listening! A few of us bought kinder eggs (which Kaitlyn plans on smuggling back into the US) and then had a contest to see who got the best toy (Lauren got a panther, Kaitlyn got animal stickers and I got a panda…so I won ?).
We finally arrived at our hotel at 7 and ate dinner (which kaitlyn wants to comment was bomb), then played card games in the lodge of the hotel. Kaitlyn and I are currently talking about how much american candy sucks (according to Kaitlyn).
-The Sandraman of the Aquarelo Junior tent
“Whenever I thought I had more candy as a kid but then found out I didn’t, I always thought it was because the elves took it” -Kaitlyn
Today we started the day off with a beautiful breakfast overlooking the mountains at the Guayabo Lodge. After breakfast we all loaded the bus to head to our next adventure of white wafer rafting. After one bus change and two hours of anxiously awaiting our arrival at the Parcuaya River we unloaded, put on our gear, and set off on the float of a lifetime.
The first two hours on the river were filled with laughter and the clapping of paddles after successful passage down a rapid. Along the way, there were countless beautiful views of waterfalls on either side of the river.
After finishing the first leg of the float we stopped along the river for lunch. We had a make your own bar with fresh fruit and juice. While waiting for lunch to be set up many of us had a fun time playing in the mud and swimming in the river. After lunch, we all got back in our respective rafts and went off for the final section of the trip. Each raft did different things, and in my raft, our guide Diego had us do many tricks including spinning the raft in circles while everyone gathered in the back of the raft and standing up while going down rushing rapids. Everyone enjoyed these tricks especially Kamilah, the non stop hard working team member in our raft whose screams of joy and fear brought entertainment to us all. While passing through a beautiful canyon, we all got a chance to jump out of the raft and float in the river.
At the conclusion of our trip, we changed into dry clothes, tipped the fantastic guides, and started off on the trip back home to Tami. After we stopped for delicious ice cream, we were serenaded by the lovely Nathan and Nyles duo up until stopping for dinner. After dinner, we went straight back to Tami where we all crashed after a long and exciting day.
At the start of the trip, I traveled to a foreign country by myself not knowing what the next three weeks would hold. 14 days later, I know when we all leave, I’ll be leaving not along, but with 17 new family members. The GLA program provided more than a new experience, but insight into a new way of life and memories that will last a lifetime.
This morning we went to Juan’s restaurant and had pancakes. They were amazing. We split into two groups and 1 group went to the coffee farm and the other stayed to make Eco bricks, the first group had to walk to the coffee farm. About half way into service we switched. We had lunch then Spanish class, during Spanish we started working on our project due the next day.
After class & a bit of free time, we had a discussion about coffee farms. During the discussion we talked about the difference between conventional and ecological farms. We compared a coffee plants use of chemicals and fertilizers to our body’s and the chemicals we use and are surrounded by daily. Then we had dinner and since I was leader of the day I decided that we should all get a lot of sleep so that’s what we did.
While Jake went to bed, some of the boys and girls gathered in front of “Socks and Sandals” porch. Some read, others talked and one slept on the hammock. My groups porch has become THE hangout spot. As some of us relaxed together at the hangout spot- I was with a small group of girls chatting away and laughing our butts off in front of “Holla’s” tent. Needless to say, it was a very interesting and enlightening conversation.
Today I began my day with a 6:00 o’clock run. Although each morning I struggle to leave the warm cocoon of my covers, the cool mountain air always quickly serves to wake me up and each time I am always happy to be in Providencia. Today in fact I reached a personal goal of running up the entire hill without stopping- a task I thought nearly impossible in my first days at Tamí. After rushing back to change into my service clothes and pack my bag for the day, I walked to breakfast. As co-leader of the day, my tent had to get there early to help set the table. After a satisfying meal of eggs, toast, and seasoned tomatoes, we headed off to service.
Today was an especially important day of service because it was our final chance to reach our goal of 200 eco bricks! Thus far we had made a combined amount of a little over a hundred over the course of about 5 days, so it was a serious time crunch. Instead of splitting up to work on the farm, we all worked together for over 4 hours making them- setting a goal of at least 4 per person- and eventually painting them- blue, yellow and green. By the end many of us walked away with “battle paint” with various body parts splashed with color:).
After cleaning up following our morning of service, we made our way to the ranch for lunch, where the ladies served us a classic meal of Gallo pinto with meat and vegetables . After lunch I hurried back to my tent as we had limited time to shower and get ready for class. Today was also an important day for Spanish class- not only was it the very last day it also was the day to present our final projects. After a short lesson, we rushed to finish the projects- my group still needed a lot of work. We had chosen to do a puppet show, which although had at first seemed to be a fun and simple idea, soon turned very complicated as the story developed. A romantic comedy named the “Patas de Pollo”, it included a crazy love triangle in which a a nice boy- Sid, was in love with a mean girl- Esperanza, who was instead in love with a suave guy- Fabio, who was secretly in love with a old lady-Bertha, as well as a whole host of other characters. The script was already confusing in English, so I’m sure you can imagine the difficulty of translating it to Spanish while holding up decorated sock puppets. If I’m being honest, the show was a bit- or maybe a lot of a hot mess, but nevertheless it was entertaining to the audience. Other students projects included “Bombas”-traditional Latin American poems, skits, picture books, and more.
After the presentations we all received certificates for completing Spanish class in addition to a pin with a fun Costa Rican phrase written on it- “Pura Vida”, “Tuanis”, “Mae”, and more. We regressed back to our tents for a short resting period but soon returned to the restaurant where we played a fun game called “ships and sailors” lead by Sandra. After that bit of fun we returned to a more serious topic as we joined in a discussion about problems challenging the world today. We watched an eye opening and inspirational video on the topic and eventually walked through the steps to figure out which specific problem we felt particularly passionate about and wanted to explore in our local and eventual potential global community.
For dinner we had a delicious meal prepared by Juan of pork, mashed potatoes, and chayote- a traditional Costa Rican vegetable, and discussed how we were going to proceed with our few remaining days here at Tamí. Dinner soon came to close, and as leaders of the day, Sandra and I began our learning opportunity for the evening, a discussion on the ever prevalent topic of genetic engineering-more specifically in fetuses and unborn babies- whether it should be allowed, and if so, where to draw the line. Personally I found the discussion incredibly interesting. As usual people shared their differing opinions and thoughts and brought up points that would have never even crossed my mind. For example, one point brought up was of how introducing something like this could potentially create an even bigger social divide between those of higher and lower classes- those with greater resources would have the ability to pay for genetic engineering on their potential child, while those with less wouldn’t. Another interesting issue was that of illnesses and disorders. Genetic engineering could potentially hold the key to eradicating life threatening diseases and sicknesses before they even developed. However, one person questioned how one could exactly define a life threatening disease. Does anyone have the ability to label certain illnesses such as autism or depression as a life threatening or altering disease, and if so, does that in turn project these disorders in a negative light? These were just a few of the many interesting points brought up during the discussion and as usual I was captivated as my friends and fed to it with such higher level thinking and stood their ground as their opinions were challenged by one-another.
Though the day had been long, it wasn’t over yet. We still had skit night! It began with the classic “bean soup” which started fairly normally until it suddenly switched into “snoop dog” and “opposite gender” style. Next came one called “house party” in which one at a time people would come into the skit, yell freeze and then change up the story. Lastly came a total improv skit in which one person made up a story on the spot- it included a prince and princess, a cranky grandpa, a mermaid, and a dragon- as each new person who came in had to do exactly what the narrator said. As I’m sure you’ve already concluded- each skit came with lots of laughs from the audience!
Similar to many others, the day had been incredibly busy so I was happy to finally crawl into bed at the end of the day. Yet, as I realize that each day brings us closer to our last here at Tamí, I am sad knowing I will soon have to say goodbye to this beautiful place and even worse- bye to the GLA family which we have all so quickly adopted. We are all counting down the days until we will have to leave our home here at Tamí, eager to share our stories and experiences with our friends and family, yet incredibly sad to have to say the inevitable goodbye.
Photos from our last day of Spanish Classes! We presented our final Spanish projects. Sock puppets, Costa Rican sayings, stories, skits and more! All very entertaining and creative:
Hola Family and Friends!
I want to start this blog by saying thanks to all the parents for giving their kids the opportunity to come and enjoy this magical and life changing experience in Costa Rica with Global Leadership Adventure. This trip so far has made my life. Everyone in the group has the chance to interact with one another to make an impact in the world. Throughout the trip, we learned a lot of things about making the environment safer and better for everyone. Hopefully when we get back to the states we will be able to share more about our experiences.
This morning, I woke up around 7:00 and I went to breakfast a little late. We had an awesome breakfast. After breakfast, we went out to do service. We worked making a staircase with ecobricks. Eco bricks are bricks made by using plastic bottles. We fill them with plastic bags. Once they are complete, they feel like rocks. This is one way that Green Communities is trying to save the environment from plastic. Plastics can last very long but instead of leaving them to go on the ocean, Green Communities takes the plastic and make amazing structures with them. We divided into two groups. My group went and worked on building the stairs and the other group went to plant bushes to attract humming birds and pollinators in a coffee farm.
I was so happy to work on mixing cement because I love hard work and I wanted to be able to make an impact also in the community. We worked for about 2 hours and it was probably the best and last day of service for several reason. First, I filled up all the bucked to the top and my other teammates were complaining but I made it fun because the next time I would put a small amount in the buckets where they will complain that it’s too little. It was fun. Second, I would throw those Eco bricks to my teammates while screaming. I made all of them laugh. Finally, everyone was just amazed by everyone’s actions. It was the funniest moment for me. After that, we had a little break. Then, the group that was doing the bricks went and planted the bushes to attract pollinators to the coffee farms.
The coffee farm was kinda hard but I made it fun because I finished all of my work and then found some shade to lay down and rest.
My group went and helped with cementing the road with two locals that were finishing it by themselves. It was fun. I ran up the hill with my wheelbarrow full of concrete. I always run up the hill with my concrete because it brings positive energy in the group because it will force others not to give up in their work. I’m really proud of that and I want to thank the people who allowed me to go on this trip.
At 12, we had lunch and it was a good lunch because it was our last time eating from the ladies in the community of Providencia. After lunch, we had a lot of free time. During my free time, I read part of a book and slept. At 5, we had a story of action. We had dinner at 6:30 pm. It was a delicious meal.
After dinner, we watched about 35 minutes of a film that totally will change the way I live and impact this planet. The film is called Cowspiracy. It was shown that a hamburger will take about 660 gallons of water to produce. And 1 lb of beef will take about 2500 gallons of water to produce because the cows eat a lot of food that uses a lot of water to produce. All of that is an impact on the water footprint. 75% of the planet is water, of that 75%, 97% is salt water and 3% is freshwater. Imagine that 150 trillion gallons of water is used to produce meat everyday in the world, that is a waste of a lot of water. Wetlands are not wetlands anymore because we impacted the water footprint. After watching this film, I decided to reduce or stop my meat consumption. It’s going to be hard for me but I’ll try to do my part in trying to save the world.
See you next time!
Friends, Family, Countrymen. We have all gathered here today…Aaaand that’s all I remember of Julius Caesar. I’m not sure I even quoted that right. Moving forward.
The day started off with us walking into the restaurant with crusty eyes and sad hearts as we realized our trip would soon come to an end. We were greeted with a wonderfully cooked breakfast made by Juan who never fails to amaze us.
We could not contain our excitement for it was the first day with out service and we would soon be on our way to the adventure park! All 17 of us hopped onto the back of Jonathan’s pick up truck, once again holding on for dear life as he drove like a madman.
Before arriving at the Adventure park we had some mechanical difficulties with the crazy contraption we call our ride, but definitely did not mind the beautiful hike that awaited us. On the way to the Adventure park we stopped on the side of the road in order to have a group discussion on the importance of water conservation. This was an enlightening conversation as we learned how fortunate we are to have access to fresh water when compared to underdeveloped countries. We did not realize until now how much water we as a whole consume and waste through even the simplest of tasks such as raising livestock or eating a burger.
After this we continued on our long awaited trip to the Adventure Park. Eight locals welcomed us as we shook with fear at the thought of jumping off a 90 foot tree. There were four different activities that all involved speed and height which was especially terrifying for Abarar, Adam, Magali, and of course Thomas. While there was lots of screaming and foul language that I must not repeat, there is no doubt that everyone had a blast. Soon enough rain began to pour down on us, but we did not let it prevent us from enjoying out day at the park.
As fun as the park was we were super happy to come back to the restaurant for lunch and change into nice dry clothes. We had coffee time where groups enjoyed some card games and a nice cup of coffee. After some bonding time, we worked on completing our Story of Action. We prepared our presentations which we would share the following day. As soon as that was completed we took some time to write letters to ourselves that Allison would send to us in a year. After a long afternoon of reflecting and writing we headed off to our tents to get ready for the fiesta!
The boys stood outside the tents for quite awhile, waiting for the girls to get ready. Eventually we made our way down to the restaurant in our best clothes. It was nice to see everyone out of their work clothes and not covered in dirt and cement. Locals and their families came to join the party which, as Kamilah and Nyles would put it, was “lit.” We had disco lights, music, great food, and enthusiastic dancers. The locals must have thought we were crazy, but they went along with our strange dance moves anyway. We put our salsa skills to the test and even used the locals as dance partners. It was great seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces, especially during the fun dancing games we played with them. Unfortunately the party soon came to an end and we made our way back up to our tents where we changed into comfy clothes to play cards. If you have not noticed, cards have played a huge part in our entertainment during this time! We played until sleep could no longer be ignored due to the long and productive day, but nonetheless it was a day to remember!
Abarar and Estrella out!