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 that we shared by the beach and during service. Often times, it seems like yesterday that we were laughing in the crashing waves, working in the rain, playing games with the local high schoolers, 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.
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 school community volunteering in an ESL classroom. 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
Friday June 28, 2019
Our arrival to Costa Rica has gone quite smooth! 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, did some tarot readings, and got to know each other with some icebreakers. Kiersten took a few 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, potatoes, and a choice between pork/chicken/beef/fish. The boys and girls split up for dinner into two tables to get to know each other a little better. We were joined last minute by Rohan, Ted, and Alex during dinner because their flights landed in the evening.
After dinner we shared some of our hopes and fears for the program. The fifteen of us that arrived today (Sarah, Regan, Emory, Jordan, Alex, Courtney, Danielle, Ted, Hayden, Helena, Jake, Jamie, Jeyson, Rohan, Ryan) will head to the beach and Bahia Ballena first thing in the morning. We are excited for the beach life!
Kiersten Brown – GLA Mentor
Monday July 1, 2019
Hello GLA Families,
In our first few days in Uvita, we have surfed and done some service, one of the highlights being working at a plant nursery called “Semilla Ballena.” When we arrived Lucia, a local community leader, explained the importance of having trees in communities such as Bahia. We split into trees separate groups working on the projects of making signs to label the trees, moving equipment, and moving trees to make space for new native species. After about an hour of work we could see the sky getting gray, and it eventually led to the biggest thunder storm we have seen yet. It was raining so hard, we had to call for someone to pick us up, and we squeezed into the van for a bumpy ride back to Bodhi.
On the second day of surfing, many of us were able to stand up and maneuver the surfboard. Many kids even rode green waves, ones that have not broken.
As a result of the rainstorm we experienced at Semilla Ballena, our service ended short and we were unable to complete some of our work.
While some kids were riding in the surf truck during the rainstorm, they went over a large pothole in the dirt road. The puddle formed by the pothole splashed into the truck and soaked the driver along with the other passengers. Drenched kids fogging up the car this made for an interesting ride back.
In today’s surf lesson, we learned how to turn the surfboard to lengthen the ride of the wave. This will be extra helpful when we advance into riding bigger waves.
-by Helena, Ryan, Alex, and Teddy
Thursday, July 4, 2019
Hey party people! It’s the sixth day here in Bahia Ballena. On Tuesday we surfed and then went to Canto Ballena to plant the trees that we got from the nursery the previous day. When we arrived, a huge thunderstorm began. We quickly returned to Bodhi and waited for it to pass. After a while with no thunder we returned to Canto Ballena, only for it to start pouring again! Since the lightning stopped, we were able to plant our trees successfully while getting drenched in the rain.
Everyone kept a good attitude and a smile on their face, so we still had a good time! On Wednesday, we spent the day white water rafting down the Savegre River, which is the cleanest river in Central America. After putting on helmets and life vests we started our exciting trip down the river. Halfway through, we stopped and played in a beautiful waterfall. After rafting, we spent the evening playing soccer with the Costa Rican locals.
Swimming underneath the waterfall was relaxing, clean, painful, incredible, peaceful, amazing, calming, super cool, fascinating, enjoyable, and mind opening. It was a life changing experience for us high schooler students in Costa Rica. We also ate Roni’s (one of our rafting guides) special snacks (see picture) using leaves as plates. Those had us feeling great!
We had so much fun that there was no time for a low moment.
Alex fell out of the raft, Jeyson had to pull swimmers out of the river, and we had to towel change on the side of the river.
We got to paint ourselves with plants, smell citronella (a plant that makes bug spray), give ourselves temporary tattoos with fern leaves, and smell cinnamon plants.
Rad Regan, Cool Courtney, Jammin’ Jordan, Joyful Jake, and Rambunctious Rohan
Dear GLA Families,
These last few days have been filled with many memorable moments that will last a lifetime. We surfed on Thursday and Friday and even caught green waves on Friday which was the last day of surfing. As of service, we went to a high school and interacted with Costa Rican students to try and help better their English and try to speak Spanish ourselves. On Friday, we did a beautification project in the local community early in the morning to plant flowers.
The environment ended up looking extremely beautiful. We gained knowledge and experiences during this project that we are hoping to bring back home. In our last day in Bahia Ballena, we went on a 7 mile hike up the mountain to see the famous and beautiful whale tail which was breathtaking. Our time in Costa Rica is one we will remember for the rest of our lives. And we hope to spread more knowledge about the effects that we as a whole have on the planet we live on.
High: Having the ability to paddle further out through the rough white water waves and being able to surf the green waves.
Low: Hiking up the hills throughout the forest in hot and humid weather.
Ha: Riding in the back of the truck playing music on out last day of surfing
Aha: We all have the ability to help out even in the smallest of ways. Even back in our towns we could do something as little as plant flowers.
See you soon!
Jamie, Danielle, Hayden, Emory, Jeyson