Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our Costa Rica trip ended! I can still imagine the sound of the surf heard through Bahia Ballena and the delicious coconuts we shared by the beach. Often times, it seems like yesterday that we were laughing in the crashing waves, working in the rain, playing soccer on the beach, doing soccer drills with the locals, helping Lucia with the native tree and plastic projects, and learning about ourselves and role in our own communities back home. You’re probably back in school (or starting college!) but we wanted you to know that we are still thinking of you and the impact we made this summer together.
Our time spent together in Bahia Ballena truly did make an impact. Not only did you leave Costa Rica a better place than when you came, you left as changed individuals ready to make an impact in your home communities.
Lucia’s tree nursery and plastic collection will continue to be a strengthening aspect of this community as more volunteers come to Semilla de Ballena and are able to continue to care for the trees in her farm and enjoy a plastic-free beach. Omar’s soccer team is strengthened for the children you met. Hafet continues to pursue surfing with a stronger sense of confidence after your encouragement during lessons.
And more importantly, the knowledge YOU gained on this trip we hope will serve you and the communities you go on to be in for the rest of your life! We now know how harmful plastic is to the environment, and some ways to REFUSE, reduce, and reuse it in order to lessen our impact on the environment.
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together here! You guys were a huge part of making this trip so fun by being a really close knit group. We tackled big challenges by learning to surf. We tackled a hot and steep Costa Rican hike through the rain forest. Once at the top we enjoyed our triumph, while reflecting on our trip and getting a bird’s eye view of the place we worked and played in.
We also got to explore Bahia Ballena and see the beautiful beach. And no one can forget the giddy feeling of laughter from rafting the rapids in Rio Savegre (Central America’s cleanest river) together in a group of friends that we will never forget!
We worked really hard and also had a blast together. Whether it was playing games at night, engaging with community members, pushing our comfort zones on the river and in the surf, sharing our stories of self, or exploring new places together- it was that much fun because we got to share it with all you guys — the 2019 GLA Costa Rica Surf and Sustainable Service group! Thanks for helping to make these special memories in an amazing place.
Remember your individual OMG – “One Meaningful Goal” – that we created at the end of the session? We’ve attached a photo of each of your OMG papers as a reminder for the variety of goals we set.
Some of you pledged to reduce as much plastic in your lives as possible and to encourage our friends, families, schools, and local communities to do the same. Or to make a difference in your community volunteering and organizing volunteers for things like beach cleanups. Some of you set a goal to pursue surfing and the sustainable surf lifestyle.
Some of you made more personal character goals to stay positive or increase the meaningful connection you make with other people. We would love to know how that is going! Have there been any changes in your selves, home, or even community?
Kiersten, Ellen, and the Bodhi Team
Wednesday July 24, 2019
Our arrival to Costa Rica has gone well! We enjoyed getting to know each other while munching on pizza and snacks at the hotel as students arrived throughout the morning and afternoon. Students played card games and got to know each other with some icebreakers. Kiersten took small groups to walk around the Alajuela central square and stretch our legs.
The group enjoyed Casados (traditional Costa Rican dish) for dinner consisting of rice, beans, salad, plantains, veggies, and a choice between pork/chicken/beef/fish. Jenna, Kristen, Sammy, Skylar, Sofia, Lucas, JT, Jane, and Anna arrived before dinner. We had Bosco’s restaurant to ourselves to get to know each other a little better. (After dinner we were joined by Nick, William, Cat, Maren, Sabrina, and Madaline who are not pictured at dinner due to landing later in the evening.)
Cat arrived right after dinner. We did some icebreakers in hopes that we could keep our energy up before the last group arrived. Energy was eventually running low and we decided it was better to get some rest and greet them in the morning.
The fifteen of us that arrived today will head to Bahia Ballena with Ellen (International Director) and Kiersten (International Mentor) first thing in the morning. We are anxiously awaiting some beach time!
Kiersten Brown – GLA Mentor
Saturday July 27, 2019
Hola GLA families!
These past few days have been an interesting experience. On Friday the day started rainy, but we did not let that bring us down. We all collectively voted to continue with our day as planned because we didn’t want to miss an experience. The rain was only “pelo de gato”, meaning cat’s hair because the rain was so light and soft. We made our way to the tree nursery and learned about reforestation and why it is so important. We then helped around the tree nursery by replanting trees, painting, maintenance, and building tree protectors. Some of us ended up covered in paint and dirt, but it was worth it.
On Saturday, after cleaning up the beach, we had some free time. We came together and got to play a pickup game on the beach. Everyone’s different skill levels made it especially funny and fun to watch. We played boys against girls and it was a fair match. You could see everyone smiling and having a good time. After the game we got to cool off by taking a quick dip in the ocean, which was a great end to the day.
Our service on Saturday was picking up trash on the beach. Laying out all the garbage we collected was a sad sight to see, but also inspiring. Today we will learn more about single-use plastic and the negative effects of it in hopes to prevent garbage on the beach. Hopefully, we will bring what we learn to our own communities at home.
Saturday night, last night, a group of us got together to play cards, and someone suggested we play old maid. Not everyone knew how to play, so it was an interesting experience. It got very competitive and fun towards the end. When playing you are supposed to keep the cards you have discreet, but Lucas accidently told us when he got the old maid because he has, “an honest bone in his body.” But we kept playing anyway and it made the game more interesting; it was a great way to end our night, with lots of laughs.
After practicing for three hours on both, Friday and Saturday, each time standing on the surfboard was a victory in itself. It was very rewarding learning knew things on the sand, and then practicing it on the water and doing it correctly. So far, we learned how to stand and turn, and it was a very fun time, but we have to remember to shuffle our feet when walking in the water so we don’t step on a stingray.
Anna, JT, and Sammy
Tuesday July 30, 2019
On Sunday morning we went surfing and learned how to paddle out. Although it is quicker than walking out, it comes with its challenges as we had to avoid crashing waves from pushing us over. We learned two methods to combat this in the plank and the turtle roll. After a few minutes most of us got the hang of it and we became very comfortable with paddling out into deeper water.
On Monday we took a break from surfing and went white water rafting. We rode in 2 small vans for an hour and a half until we reached our destination by the river. Halfway to the put in location we stopped at a small store to use the restroom and try some local honey and fruits. After our safety check it was time to go rafting. The rapids were extremely fun, although everyone got splashed, we all still had a great time. We were able to jump in and float along the calm part of the river. Halfway through the rafting, we stopped at a beautiful waterfall and ate delicious snacks prepared by the crew.
Halfway through rafting we stopped at a waterfall and stood under and behind it. None of us had ever seen anything like it and feeling the water blow into our faces was a special experience. Before we continued rafting we had a delicious snack that was put together by the rafting guides.
After rafting, we drove an hour and a half back to Bodhi and everybody was tired and wet, so the ride was pretty uncomfortable. We did our best to fight through this though to make the ride more bearable.
Throughout the whole rafting trip, we were constantly getting splashed by the rapids and even each other. A couple people even fell out of the rafts but were pulled back inside quickly.
For service, we went down to the national park base to see a whale that was made up of over 3,100 plastic bottles. Many of us were really impacted to see this because it is hard to imagine how much plastic humans go through until you really see it. This whale is still nothing compared to the continents of plastic that float through our oceans.
-by Nick, Will, Madeline, Sabrina, Maren
Hello GLA Families!
We are back in San Jose ready for departure day tomorrow. It has been a wonderful trip with many deep connections and friendships made along the way. Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of our final two days of surf and service. Many of us were able to go out to the break for both days and catch some blue waves during surf!
Everyone really pushed themselves at service and gave 100% as we laid gravel down in the tree nursery. Soccer on Wednesday night was a blast as everyone again, pushed it and got an intense workout trying to keep up with the kids on Omar’s soccer team.
The hike Thursday morning was filled with laughter, reflection and fun as we learned about the plants and animals in the rainforest and got to see the whale’s tail and Bahia Ballena from another perspective. At the top we made mandalas out of found objects in nature and reflected on our experience here.
We are all quite sad to say goodbye to each other tomorrow on departure day!
Kiersten Brown – GLA Mentor