Sunday March 8, 2020
Bienvenidos a Costa Rica!
Welcome to the Spring Break Service Adventure and Sea Turtle Initiative Track blog!
This will be our opportunity to share our adventures and learning in the Guanacaste Province with all of you! And this will be your opportunity to travel and experience with all of us throughout the next week.
Our group has arrived safe and everyone is settling into their new home in Junquillal (Costa Rica). Most of them were exhausted after traveling for long hours, but everyone showed optimism and enthusiasm!
On our way from the airport, we stopped to get some treats, an amazing way to start practicing our Spanish: buying ice-cream! At the home base, we walked on the beach, completed the swim test, watched the sunset together and had a traditional Costa Rican dinner called Casado. After dinner, we played a couple of get-to-know games, while our last two students arrived from the airport. We can’t wait for the adventures, service learning, lifelong memories, and deep friendships that await.
The GLA Team,
Ila & Daya
Monday March 9, 2020
Today was Orientation Day, we started with some quick Spanish learning, a fun game and a lot of curiosity about the next week. We announced our two service projects; students will be working with local organizations creating awareness around environmental issues, cleaning up beaches, planting trees and restoring the watershed.
During the morning, we had the pleasure to receive Silvia, our guest speaker! We also played a couple of games and our typical “Venado-venado”, having the first winner of the Spring: Jess. We wrapped up the morning with a great debate about how to be respectful travelers.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed the beach and had our first Sunset meeting, appreciating how grateful we are for being here. We were delighted at dinner time and had the pleasure to celebrate Devon’s birthday with a chocolate cake. After dinner we had a fun game to get to know the team, our students couldn’t stop laughing and we are really happy about how quickly they connected and started making friends!
All of them went to bed excited to meet their local community organizations and start service-learning tomorrow!
The GLA Team,
Ila & Daya
Tuesday March 10, 2020
We have some, but little experience with service, and being from a northern climate the weather was a bit of a shock. Arriving on the ROWS compound today really opened our perspectives to what serving entails during such an arid time of year. It was very externally oriented which was completely different from any facility We northerners had been in previously. The real gem of this spot though was undoubtedly the people.
All of the employees welcomed us with open arms and accommodated to us in every way, including their successful attempt to communicate in terms we could understand. This warmth also included assistance in all the tasks that we were not fully confident with. The community and facilities at The Green Center were quite different from that of our home countries and this set the stage for an amazing day.
Before anything we were all pulled aside and started an activity that displayed the abundance of water on our planet, but also how little of that water is drinkable. They educated us on how important water itself was and how the lack of it could cause utter chaos in a community. In order to exhibit this in laments terms they showed us multiple diagrams which increased our understanding of the Guanacaste ecosystem and what they were doing to preserve it.
Our day consisted of painting, sanding, wood carrying and multiple other community service based activities. These experiences definitely humbled us and caused us to think about how we could use these experiences to educate those at home. This day provided us with many new experiences and educational thoughts which can be applied at home.
All in all, today provided our group with vastly new and different information along with new relationships with many amazing people.
Written by students Evan and Jess
Wednesday March 11, 2020
Hello from Costa Rica! Today, we had a fun and adventure-filled day consisting of whitewater tubing, zip-lining, and a visit to a natural waterfall. We woke up early at about 6 a.m and had a delicious breakfast at the eco lodge. Gathering all of our necessities for the trip, we left for a hidden hotel with their own tubing and zip-lining facilities, taking a 2 hour bus ride to get there.
When we finally arrived at the hotel, we signed in and got ready for the first excursion, tubing. After a quick bus ride, we boarded our tubes and went on an hour ride down the river. We all had a great time splashing and getting flipped in the rapids. After getting off the river, we had an awesome lunch at their buffet. Everyone had at least two plates of delicious Costa Rican food.
We spent about an hour eating before getting ready for zip-lining. We went through a course of seven zip-lines along with two Tarzan swings and a rock wall. Finally, we went to a hidden waterfall to swim. Some of us even jumped off the shorter cliffs. After a day of fun and adventure, we finally boarded the bus and headed back to our hotel. It was a truly adventurous day and we highly enjoyed it!
Thursday March 12, 2020
We had an incredibly exciting service day. We started by painting boards to start in the creation of signs. These signs expressed the need to halt throwing trash along the streets or close to the rivers. Our group then began to pick up the trash along the streets and rivers. A group of school children were allowed to join us in our mission to pick up trash. This was incredibly helpful, and everyone associated with the school was kind to our group. We made friends with those children and adults, and joined in to play in their activities. The smiles from the children meant so much to our group. We had a few struggles in terms of the heat and a few times, we thought we weren’t going to get through it (but we did! YAY).
The other branch of GLA students went to the “green center” to continue their work from Tuesday. It began off light with us cleaning, leveling, and installing drainage under a newly completed workstation. As the day progressed and the temperature rose, so did the intensity of our work. Along with two volunteers from Pennsylvania we continued hard work and began the installation of a Parisian drainage system alongside the station. This project took up the bulk of our day and claimed it’s fair share of sweat but in the end it payed off. After conducting a test in which we used a hose to imitate the rain, we concluded that our project was indeed a success and left feeling tired but accomplished.
Next, we were off to a local beach (it’s so gorgeous), and to hopefully not get anymore burnt in the midst of the beaming sun. Once we arrived at the beach we dived into the water and ate all the sun. The salt water absorbed all of our troubles and we surfed the waves (without a surf board) and floated over the large bodies of water. Evan and Griffin were the leaders of surfing the waves, they seemed like pros!! We then came back to learn the salsa, we used our knowledge of spanish to navigate our way to properly use our bodies in accordance to the music. We got realllyyy into it, we shook our shoulders and moved our feet to the beat.
Jess, Devin, and Michaela led the way in this activity, for they quickly picked up the choreography. Heather, also seemed to put her spin on the dance going along with the instructors humor and fresh moves. We then saw the sunsets and talked about our day, reflecting on what all happened, and what we were grateful for. We ate dinner and became ready for our final part of the day, coming together as a group for a few activities. This discussed stereotypes and our judgement towards people, people that have a past we aren’t aware of. We agreed we need to help prevent these stereotypes/ assumptions about those far or close to our home and come together as a whole.
Written by Griffin and Cat
Friday March 13, 2020
¡Buenos días! After a tasty breakfast of burritos, gallo pinto, and fresh fruit, the students split up into their respective service groups for the last day of service learning. The Avellanas group traveled with Frank to the Avellanas Beach for a beach cleanup. The group primarily picked up small microplastics, which can pose the greatest risk for wildlife because they often eat them. After cleaning the beach, the group transplanted mangrove trees and also collected mangrove seeds for planting later. They then all enjoyed some fresh watermelon, mango, and lemonade. The ROW group finished painting the signs they started earlier in the week and then moved on to planting three species of trees and sorting seeds.
After lunch, the entire group tracked to a local house for a cooking class. Yolanda showed us how to make empanadas and tortillas and also have us some fresh bakery treats. The group then went back to home base and had a small debate about how industrial and commercial expansion can conflict with the health of the environment and how we need more laws that allow for the protection of the environment. After the sunset meeting and dinner, we had a movie night with popcorn!
Written by Michaela and Sophia
Today was our last day in Costa Rica.
We headed to the beach in Playa Flamingo to experience the amazing Catamaran tour. While we were there, we met the crew of the Lazy Lizard and went to a snorkeling place called Honeymoon Beach with the amazing Catamaran yacht. The water was crystal clear today so we were able to see various kinds of marine animals such as pufferfish, starfish and even a stingray. I was so happy to see the wild stingray today. This indeed was a perfect tour!
After our Catamaran tour, we headed back to our home base and had some rest time with tacos and participated in some local fairs. We also bought some souvenirs there and had sunset meeting.
During the sunset meeting, we could see the cute and adorable baby turtles crawling back their way to the sea.
The moment the little turtles crawled up to go to the sea was cute but was also something mesmirizing. The sea was wide and the waves were rough, but the baby turtles were too small by comparison. It was heartbreaking to see the baby turtles being pushed back to the sandy beach by the waves. The baby turtles were so small and fragile that I was worried whether or not they could survive in that rough sea. All the turtles went back to the sea, but there was one baby turtle who kept struggling to go to back to the sea because of the huge and aggressive waves. We all cheered for that one baby turtle with one heart.
After the sunset meeting, we had a dinner and a pool party. This program will truly remain in our minds and our hearts forever. I’m beyond thankful to everyone that I met in this program, that we all made good and special memories with each other. I’m thankful for memories that will remain forever in my heart.
Written by Juan
Sunday March 15, 2020
Today we said goodbye to our amazing students!
It has been an incredible experience to all of us!
We hope all students have a safe trip home and continue on with a fulfilled life of learning, values and commitment to make a better world!
Lots of love from the team,
Daya, Ila & Orlando.