Thank you for visiting one of our GLA Program Blogs! Here are a few things you can expect:
1. We typically receive 1-2 Blog Posts Per Week from international staff. It is very unlikely programs will send blog updates daily.
2. Blog Updates sent on weekends may be delayed until Monday morning.
3. Due to many factors including internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes staff are only able to send text.
Thank you for your patience and understanding!
April 1, 2018
Welcome to the pura vida!
After everyone arrived safely last night, we settled into our new spring break community in Costa Rica. Today we spent the day traveling through beautiful scenic mountains toward the Caribbean coast! We are all now safely at homebase, excited to start our adventure together!
April 3, 2018
So far this has been such an amazing session. We are lucky to have a group of students that jumped right into chatting effortlessly about both deep and superficial topics together, exploring their leadership skills as they support each other in this new and exciting environment. Exploring the coastal rainforests of the Costa Rican Caribbean is always full of surprises; check back soon for students’ first hand insight into our experience here and all of the things we have seen and learned!
April 3, 2018 – Part 2
¡Hola from Parismina! After our night in Alajuela, we drove the several hours (taking a break to zipline in the forest) to meet our boat. We loaded onto the low laying transport (at top speed the water sprayed well over the roof), adorned with nothing but our wits and life jackets, and made our way across the river. Upon hitting land, we retrieved our bags, and, like the savvy travelers we are, made the trek to Home Base. Among lush vegetation, our temporary home is shared with other critters (most notably the spiders and a few praying mantises). Several hammocks are littered between every set of beans they can fit between, and they’ve allowed for many a nap and even more conversations between newly formed friends. Our rooms are sets of bunk beds with our best friends always immediately above us: mosquito nets. The rooms are open to the jungle, where monkeys and birds have no care for our quality of sleep, going about their very loud, natural, lives. They visit us occasionally for breakfast, ‘stealing’ plantains that our host, Jason, has left hanging in a tree for them. Our second day here, Jason took us on a tour of his land. We ate termites, saw a gargantuan colony of leaf cutter ants, and drank fresh coconut water.
Last night was our first night patrol, but the turtles behavior is unpredictable, so we didn’t get our hopes up. Walking up and down the shoreline under the stars, we talked about the sand in our shoes and how bad we smelt. Then, about 2 hours in, we got a call from down the beach. A turtle was making her way up the beach to potentially nest. We made our way up the coast to see Bessie, a 152 centimeter by 113 centimeter shelled leatherback turtle. We sat for over an hour watching her make her nest, lay her eggs, bury them, then make her way back to the ocean. By the time midnight rolled around, we were ready for our bunk beds and welcomed sweaty sleep. This morning we hopped into the beds of vegetable trucks to see the hatchery and the village of Parismina, where we amassed a handful of dog friends who followed us through the streets. The same trucks brought us back to Home Base, where we are now lying in our hammocks, awaiting beach cleanup. We’re having an amazing time!
April 5, 2018
Today was a great day, and a perfect end to our trip!
We had breakfast at eight as usual, consisting of arepas, gallo pinto, and fresh fruit, and then headed to the village right after for a full day of activities. Greeting us when we came into town were the friendly and happy-go-lucky stray dogs of Parismina, some of who we had seen the previous day in town. We saw them many times throughout the day, happily wagging their tails and definitely wanting to be petted.
We began the day by visiting Escuela de Parismina, the local school, to spend some time with the kids and help teach English. Our time with them was limited, but we tried to teach as much as we could in the time we had. There are 17 of us and about 14 of them, ranging in age from two to ten. We split into small groups to teach some basic English.
My group worked with about 6 kids. We taught them basic phrases like Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, You’re welcome, I don’t know, and I don’t understand. They were very enthusiastic learners, and did a great job sounding out the foreign words and repeating them back to us.
Towards the end their attention span seemed to be dwindling, so I asked some of them what their favorite animals were (in Spanish) and they excitedly told me. Mono and caballo were the two answers I got, and I told them the words in English. They joyfully repeated back to me “monkey” and “horse”.
Then we all came back together to play a game of duck duck goose (or, pato pato ganso until they got the hang of the words in English). This involved lots of running, yelling, and laughter, as well as one wipe out.
All too soon it was time to go, so we said goodbye to the kids, who were out of school for the day.
Next, we walked to the house of a woman named Yolanda, for a cooking class. She taught us how to make Prestiños: a sweet, fried tortilla-like desert. First she made the dough, which consisted of flour, lime juice, and a little sugar. Then we each took turns kneading the dough, and after that she cut it into lots of little pieces. We each took a piece and rolled it out. There was only one rolling pin, so some of us used empty soda bottles. Rolling them out correctly definitely took some practice; the prestiños had to be very thin. I really enjoyed the process, and ended up rolling out the dough for 4 or 5 of them. By the end I think I was actually pretty good at it, although nowhere near as good as Yolanda.
After we rolled them out, Yolando fried each prestiño. The dough bubbled up and turned a golden caramel color. We ate the prestiños with honey and/or condensed milk. They were delicious – light and crispy with a sweet flavor.
Afterwards, we said goodbye to Yolanda and continued on our way.
We walked to ASTOP next (the sea turtle protection organization GLA is working with) for a lunch of arroz con pollo (chicken fried rice) and plantain chips.
Afterwards, we walked to a local restaurant for batidos (smoothies), and then headed back to ASTOP, because locals were setting up an artisan market there, and we wanted to see what they had and bring back things for our families (and ourselves). The locals had many items for sale, including bracelets, necklaces, and pieces of wood with animals and beach scenes painted on them. Many items were made from locally sourced materials – a man named Mako who we had met earlier in the trip was selling necklaces and other items that were carved from cow bone, and another man named Carlos had on display bowls, spoons, and other items carved from wood and made from coconut shell. 10% of the profits from everything we bought went to ASTOP, to help them fund their organization and continue to protect the sea turtles.
After the market, it was time to leave Parismina. Between the town and home base there is a lagoon, so we stopped there for a swim on the way back. Some of us went in the water, while others layed out to tan.
Soon we had to leave and head back to home base. When we got back, it was time to pack, since tomorrow we’ll be leaving right after breakfast.
After packing, we all wanted to go to the beach to see one last sunset. We laughed and had fun on the beach, and took lots of pictures. Then we went to the volleyball court and played a short game of volleyball with a giant, soft, neon pink and green ball.
We had a little downtime after that, and then dinner. We had brownies for desert as a treat since it was the last night. The day wasn’t over yet though, because we still had night patrol. We got dressed in our all black clothes, and left at eight as usual. We got to see turtles both of the other nights we went, and I think some of us were hoping we’d go three in a row. The turtles weren’t in the mood though, so we didn’t see any. However, it’s still important that we were there, since people consistently being on the beach discourages poachers, regardless of if there’s a turtle there on that particular night.
We got back some time between 11 and 12, and were all very tired. We brushed teeth quickly and went to bed, exhausted from our fun-filled day.
April 6, 2018
It’s crazy how time flies when you’re having fun! Sadly, today was our last full day together.
We traveled from Parismina early after breakfast to catch a bus back to Alajuela. On our way we stopped for lunch and bought last minute souvenirs. Once in Alajuela it started pouring rain but that didn’t discourage us from cherishing our last day together. We all showered and dressed up for a final dinner at Kurcuma, where we indulged in American style food and laughed at everything that happened during our week.
Once back at the hotel, we watched a Ted Talk video on how people can affect our lives and how it’s important to let them know how much they mean to us.
We participated in a closing ceremony allowing us to let our peers know how they impacted us.
We reflected on our experiences before saying our final goodbye. Thank you so much GLA for this unforgettable experience! Pura vida!