The Cali Crew (Jess, Nini, Sof) arrived in Liberia, Costa Rica around 10 AM Costa Rica time. The moment we stepped out of Customs, the humidity slowly began to melt us. We immediately were greeted by the smiling faces of Jen and Chris, and sweaty hugs. 🙂 Soon after, our drivers (Etan and Freddy) took us to Pop’s, a local ice cream shop. Jess got a pina colada smoothie, Nini got a mango no. 5 (smoothie), and Sof got a cookies and cream ice cream cone.
Even though it was our first day, Jen and Chris immediately put us to work holding up the GLA welcome signs for the incoming passengers. After we met up with the girls (+Kevin), we went to Cafe Cristina where we ate a traditional Costa Rican lunch, consisting of beans, rice, choice of meat, chimichuri, sweet plantains, and blackberry pie for dessert. We spent the next few hours getting to know each other, awaiting the arrival of the second half of our group. After they arrived, we introduced ourselves, took a group picture, and played icebreaker games. From there, we began our long journey back to the home base with throwback jams (thanks, Zoie).
The journey was worth it when we saw the natural beauty of our hotel and were welcomed by our Italian hosts, Juri, Michaela, Guido, and Ferry (+the dogs and cat). After a lovely homemade meal, we spent the rest of our night listening to live music courtesy of Chris and Juri, playing card games, and goofing around with toys.
We can’t wait to begin our service and continue the rest of this adventure (especially the babies). PURA VIDA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Jessica, Sofia and Denise)
We started our first full day in paradise at 8 AM this morning (which is apparently considered sleeping in) and had a lovely breakfast courtesy of our fabulous cooks, Juri and Guido. We spent the remainder of the morning getting to know each other through card games, conversations, and competitive diablo-ing. Orientation 1.0 followed, which consisted of house rules and icebreakers. After working up a sweat we walked a greuling 50 meters to the pristine beaches of Garza, whereupon we attempted to wade through crashing waves. For those whom the waves were too intense, they indulged in some beach yoga and worked on their Costa Rican glow. 😉
Moving from one body of water to the next, we hopped in the pool before mowing down on some Costa Rican cuisine. 😉 For one, it was their first time eating seafood. Next was orientation 2.0, where we talked about leadership and what is expected of us as GLA students. Jen was so kind as to provide us with Costa Rican candy. ;-0 Next on the schedule was a presentation from Nosara Animal Care, but as we have all learned, not all goes as planned in paradise. In the spirit of pura vida, we did our thang until the guest speakers arrived. We learned about the unfortunate circumstances of the domestic pets of Nosara and how both NAC and us GLA students can work together to provide awareness and give animals un segundo oportunidad (a second chance). Dinner consisted of fresh tuna and spiritual conversations and was followed by even more down time (gracias, GLA staff). We then split up into our mentor groups and discussed our experience so far.
After receiving hecka rad bracelets ;-D, we broke up once again, some retiring to their rooms and others to the hammocks and beanbags, our group finally complete with the arrival of Beba, our final GLA member. What we have to look forward to is new experiences, meaningful conversation, 6 AM wakeups, and the return of a lost suitcase.
-Leo squad ;~) (Zoie, Caroline, and Ellie)
PS hi momma, papa, michelle, kaitlin, lola and debbie -Zoie
PPS love you mommy, daddy, Harrison, and Chuck (Charlotte) -Caroline
PPPS- love you mom, dad , max, jacob and Ringo! – Ellie
De nada for the bomb blog post.
ROMPAHIELOS … Aka ice breakers
We are finally all here!!! A family of 26 🙂
We started our day at 6:30 to be followed by a lovely breakfast consisting of assorted fruits, banana pancakes, eggs, bacon, and cereal.. YUM. It didn’t take us long to get started on our Nosara Animal Care Play that we will be collaborating with the Santa Marta 4th graders on Thursday. Let me tell you, this wasn’t easy. We had to plot, script, costume and prop design, and most of all, learn to work alongside each other. Jen and staff decided we needed a beach break, so we headed to la playa (which may I mention is only 50 meters away) and soaked up the sun and cooled off in the water, which to our surprise was very warm. Some of us enjoyed a game of keepaway soccer with our italian perro, Brownie. Brownie is VERY good at soccer, he tends to wrap his paws around the ball and threatens us if we try to take it. With sandy bottoms, we headed back to home base.
We arrived back to home base to yet another wonderful meal including plantains, garbanzo beans, pineapple juice, and pork chops. After lunch, we threaded out the flaws of our play by running through multiple rehearsals consisting of interruptions by the dogs, humidity, diablo-ing, and laughing. Thanks to our wonderful costume designer Keaghan, Spanish speakers Kevin and Anthony, and directors Erin and Zoie, the show is beginning to come to life. While we made huge progress in our play, still one was missing.. OUR 4th GRADERS!
After a day’s long work, to our surprise, we got P I Z Z A 😀 This pizza wasn’t just any pizza, but the Juri-crafted one of a kind Italian masterpiece. It was love at first bite. This session was told we hold the record for the most pizzas eaten. And how many was that? 22 FREAKIN PIZZAS. ONE WHOLE PIZZA PER PERSON!!!! It was so good we couldn’t stop. With full tummies, we insisted that we burn off the calories by taking a nighttime stroll down the beach ft. special guests: hermit and halloween crabs ← google them! Lights were crucial to not get pinched. After getting a much needed workout, we headed back home to watch a TED Talk about leadership. We found out that it not only takes courage to start a movement (leader), but also to be the first follower. “The first follower is what transforms the lone-nut into a leader” — Ted Talk
The video was followed by a constructive feedback about the day and everyone’s’ role as leader. Two bold souls (Jess and Keaghan) then volunteered as LOD (Leaders of the Day) for tomorrow. LOD is two people who volunteer to wake everyone up, create the schedule, take attendance, and take a leading and crucial role in the day.
So now, Serena and I (Alyssa) and casually blogging while listening to laughter, Chris playing the guitar and singing, and everyone enjoying one another’s company. Tomorrow we have to get up at 6 AM, so we’re checking out for now!
PURA VIDA LOVE THE PARTNERS IN CRIME,
– Alyssa & Serena
FIRST LEADERS OF THE DAY! Planning the night before was exhilarating! The main question on our minds was “How do we wake everyone up?” The mastermind, nicknamed “challenge cracker” (Keaghan) came through with the idea of a water wake up. After the wake up we were challenged with time. Managing time was surprisingly not the main priority at 6:30 in the morning. When everyone was on the bus it was brought to our attention we were about to depart without any supplies for the services we were to provide at school. Once corrected, and at the school we participated in the spanish version of the name circle game featuring our favorite animals. The way the students faces lit up with the discovery that most of us shared common favorite animals was so rewarding. We then had a planning period for the play followed by recess! Both of us leaders re-discovered our love for “futbol” with the help of the profesional grade 11 year olds. After an exciting recess production of the play began. Taking on film and stage crew really made us feel stretched yet like an important support in the structure that was the play. After leaving the school we participated in a cultural activity that sparked lively and interesting conversation that seemed to open eyes and minds. I (Keaghan) decided to go along with the “advanced” spanish speakers and go meet new friends who were locals and that was personally my favorite time other than playing soccer with the kids. Feedback was great and necessary.
Much love <3
Jess and Keags
Prepping for the play
The kids sent mentor Chris flyin’
Practicing the lines and filming it as well
Enjoying the Annexation of Guanacaste parade
…and a visit to the post parade festivities (thanks Anthony)
Local Coordinator, Susan and her son and future GLA employee, Saul
A visit to the NAC casa – Elliana really bonded with Blue… He working on growing his hair back
… And Serena loved the puppies
It was 5:59 in the morning and most of the students of Hotel Playa Garza were fast asleep, except two Leaders of the Day who were anxiously awaiting their 6 am wakeup routine. The second the clock struck 6, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off was blasting through the halls (much to some students’ displeasure). During the next half an hour, teenage zombies shuffled around until they were greeted with banana pancakes and sizzling bacon, courtesy of Guido. Once we got on the bus, we scurried off to Nosara to watch a parade celebrating Guanacaste’s annexation. We all gathered on the side of the road with our cameras ready and hairs did up all purdy by one of our wonderful LODs, Sofia. The parade started with a procession of drummers followed by adorable children (whom Sofia has way too many pictures of), beautiful dresses, and LO(a)Ds of culture. After our own gringo parade (behind the real one) we arrived at a school where we were able to experience some of their traditions. This included accidentally pledging our allegiance to the wrong country and stepping in rotten mangos, but pura vida. On the brighter side, some of us tried horchata (rice milk with cinnamon that was apparently out of this world) and we got to meet more cute babies playing with their caballitos de palo(ponies). At our next stop, we split up into two groups and visited local cafes that both had… wait for it… WIFI! No need to elaborate. After dragging everyone away screaming from the sweet treat of electronic bliss, we went to Olga’s for another delicious lunch. Conversations ranged from terrible terminal illnesses to celebrity bragging (Caroline once made eye contact with Taylor Swift… it was a big deal). Others decided to take a short walk on the beach to enjoy the sunshine and doggies. Speaking of dogs, our next stop was at the Nosara Animal House where we learned about how the organization aided ill dogs and found homes for them. We enjoyed playing with the dogs and the adorable five-month-old puppies (even though they were covered in poop). We got some mangos, touched some magically evolved leaves, and headed home. (This was all accomplished before 3 in the afternoon by the way). At home base, we prepped for our play at the Santa Marta school tomorrow. After a hard days work, Chris gave us an inspiring presentation on what it meant to be a leader. This was followed by another lovely meal of veggies, salad, and beautifully fried empanadas. Rain began to pour from the skies and soon enough everything was either soaked or at least slightly wet. Some very energetic and adventurous students decided to dance in the rain, even going for a quick dip in the pool. We ended the night as a group giving feedback to our Leaders of the Day and preparing for our adventures tomorrow. Everyone is slowly making their way to bed as we write this so we bid you a farewell and a good night. Love (the ever amazing, charming, charismatic, beautiful, wonderful, talented, and modest leaders), Caroline and Sofia P.S. shoutout to Mommy, Daddy, Harrison, and Charlotte. I love you soooo much. P.P.S. HI MOM, DAD, SIS, MAAMAA, PAPA, THE SWANK FAM ILY AND I PROMISE TO KEEP SENDING YOU PICTURES OF CUTE BABIES IN MY SPARE WIFI TIME! <3
No matter who you are, conquering your fears is a challenge, but very rewarding as well. Our (Serena and Denise) first challenge was volunteering ourselves to become LODS (Leader Of The Day). We began our day with informational notecards under the doors reminding each student about what was necessary for their first adventure day plus the play’s performance. We arrived at Santa Marta (school) on time and pumped to see/talk to the kids again! After a long, but much needed rehearsal, we successfully presented our play with a few kinks- nothing we could not work out. (PURA VIDA) After leaving the school we had time to do some souvenir shopping, as well as, try some coconut water straight from the coconut. By the end of our shopping spree, everyone was famished and ready to eat. LUNCH WAS BOMB.COM. Speaking of conquering our fears, 19 GLA students went zip lining and a lot of us have a fear of heights. Throughout the 13 courses, we became more confident and started to do tricks! The 3 people who did not participate in zip lining, had their own adventure riding horses or learning how to surf. The plan to see a sunset was interrupted by the warm rain. But, to keep up with the positive energy, we decided to get gelato & it was soooooooooooooo good. After enjoying the gelato, we went back to home base and relaxed with some free time. In this free time, some of us went swimming while it was pouring rain! Others were dancing and journaling their day. To conclude our evening, we had another bomb.com meal! QOTD: “Climb mountains not so others can see you, but so you can see the world.” Love from, Serena and Denise P.S. SHOUTOUT TO MY MOM FOR READING MY BLOGS AND WHOM EVER ELSE OUT THERE AND PURA VIDA AND I LOVE YOU ALL – DENISE
The play in full swing
Hey guys its ya boi Kev! Today we had a little bit of a nature walk through a jungle and I surfed the p-fic (that’s what I call the pacific ocean) like a champ. It was chill; everyone still notices I have a Cuban accent. Assimilation will happen. Also Anthony, my brother in arms, my partner in crime, my god and idol, fell very hard on his butt today and had to ride horses. That’s pretty unfortunate for him, so please have him in your thoughts, his butt hurts. Hey guys now its Ellie.!(the fill in leader of the day because Zoie was not feeling good.) Today we got to sleep in to a strikingly LATE 6:30….. Like Kevin said we went on a nature walk with a German tour guide who was really into some trees. We split up into our adventure activities, such as surfing , paddle boarding and horse back riding ( my horse would not stop eating). After this, we watched the beautiful sunset and had a wonderful dinner.
Today is day 8 here in Costa Rica! Today also marks our first day of service. Erin and Alyssa (LODs) woke the group up with some Beatles, Rusted Root, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. At 7:30 we embarked to our service site to begin our two hours of constant hard work. Once we arrived, Susan (the local GLA director here in Nosara), explained to us what exactly the park is going to look like. Its going to include a jungle gym made out of tires, a soccer/volleyball court, several swings hanging from trees, and two sets of tables and chairs. The group couldn’t have been more excited to start working. We began our first day by cleaning the terrain of our soon-to-be park. We assigned weed pickers, rakers, shovelers, etc. It was a hot and intense process, but we continued to work and persevere as a group. The local children began to seek interest in our work by peeking through fences and watching, some even grabbing a shovel to help.
Once our two hours of service were up, we headed to Super Paloma for a celebration. The group was lucky enough to land on a national holiday in Costa Rica! We celebrated the annexation of Guanacaste from Nicaragua by eating local foods and socializing with the Ticos y Ticas! The whole festival was filled with warm hearts and great dance moves. A lot of us were able to see and enjoy time with the children we put on the play with from Santa Marta.
We headed back to home base for our second meal of the day, TACOS!!!!! We didn’t stay at home for too long. It was time for Cafecito! We split up into the two mentor groups and departed our separate ways. It is safe to say that we had a more than amazing afternoon. The groups were so grateful to be welcomed into such a different setting. This is how you immerse with a different culture. Speaking from my point of view (This is Erin by the way), I learned more in that hour and half about Costa Rica than I have in my 8 days here. This is why I came on this trip, to really understand how different the world is. Costa Ricans have coffee and special cheese pastries every day at 4pm with their families. Talk about united. They understand what the meaning of family is and I truly learned from it. The way they smile and speak about their history is just so genuine. Our groups, socializing with different families, were able to experience the same thing. The people of Nosara are very true to their tradition. We all tried a new fruit! They are called jochotes; they kind of taste like mangos mixed with grapes and they were a little sour but definitely delicious. It was sad to say “Adios” to our new friends, but we had to move on with our day.
We were all so excited to come home and share what happened with the families. The energy at home base was the most positive and enthusiastic I have ever seen the group. The words “Pura Vida” are really getting to us! We had another amazing dinner made by the greatest people in the world, Yurri, Micaela, and Guido, the hosts of the hotel. They are Italiano, so pesto pasta it was! Very, very yummy. We always manage to clean off our plates. Dinner didn’t end until we sang happy birthday to the beautiful Caroline, a very happy spirit here at GLA. She turned 17 and we were all very pleased to know she had a great day by giving back. Oh and there was cake too. 🙂 We then did our usual feedback for the leaders of the day and hung out all together afterwards.
Every day just keeps getting better and better and we are all improving so much in Spanish! That’s it for now, but stay tuned because the service work is about to get real!!!
LOVE YOUR LEADERS OF THE DAY!!!!!
-Erin and Alyssa 😛 😀 🙂
Starting our work on the playground
Celebrating the 25th of July
Cafecito with the families
– learning how chorreadas are made
Cafecito with another family
Today was our second day of building the park, we spent four hours working hard. We started service at 8am and the members of the community quickly joined us uniting our efforts. With the main phrases of the service being “did you drink water?” and “put sunscreen on”. After all of our hard work we headed back to the hotel for lunch! The lunch was rice with shrimp, salad, and FRENCH FRIES!!!! It was so bomb. Mentorships was held after lunch. Chris Crew started setting goals for themselves and KodSquad gathered around to hear about their peers/mentors. THEN IT WAS BEACH TIMEEEEEE! The beach was an exciting time. We met a local surfer who had hella nice, curly hair (lol). Coming back from the beach was a very relaxing time. Most of us rinsed off, jumped into the pool, and played a fun game. Tonight was our second PIZZA NIGHTTTTTT!!!! There are no words for the excellent pizza that was made. It was seriously just yum yum yum! Hahaha. Feedback was inspiring for all of us. And we outte * drops the mic*.
love n light,
Eve and Ashbelia (:
Today’s service site was full of kids today… So full it was hard to get our work done.
Hello ladies and gentlemen,
Today we present you two young ladies that made the day a very special one. Their names are Saria and Micaela and they were leaders of the day. Many challenges were faced today on the construction site but we made it through. Saria stepped out of her little bubble and blossomed so much she took control and made everyone feel very very special. Micaela is just a natural born leader. Many kids came to help us out during service which was a good opportunity to make many local friend and be a part of the community. We are thankful to have the opportunity to not only be a tourist in this very cultural extraordinary place but to live experience the community and be a part of it.
-Micaela and Saria
Hard at work
This may look like salsa dancing — but it was TeamBuilding! Good laughs!
To quote , Anthony, “YASSSSSSS”!!!! Today was filled with a wide variety of cultural activities. We began the day at the Santa Marta school where we had the opportunity to play with the children during their school day. There was an epic game of futbol coinciding with various other activities, like a school favorite, launching people off of the seesaw. The ability to connect with the children of Costa Rica, either through words or actions has been a truly wonderful experience. After recess we returned to the park where we continued working. It was exciting to see the progress being made as we began to dig the “worm” and play gym and fill the volleyball court with sand. We worked hard and completed a lot because we knew that we were not going to be here for the next three days (we are preparing for a three day journey in the mountains/rainforest!). After service we took a pilgrimage to the Mecca of SuperNosara—the massive supermarket so we could resupply ourselves with Nutella and chips in preparation for the long journey ahead. Our final activity of the day was a cooking class at Lisbia’s home (a place where people can come to live and learn Spanish and cook). We learned to make arroz con pollo (rice and chicken), the common and delicious dish of Costa Rica. The night took a turn when we began to dance after dinner and had the opportunity to show off our salsa and meringue moves (or lack thereof). Our amazing chefs at basecamp ended the night with something sweet—crepes and Nutella. We can’t believe that day 11 has come to a close and we are over halfway done with the trip. We are growing closer by the minute and enjoying every last second of our time in paradise.
Your leaders of the Day signing off, Rosalyn Kutsch and Anthony Marte
Today the squad started the day on a four hour bus ride to Rio Celeste. The ride wasn’t as intense as we expected and we did catch up on a lot of sleep, we had lunch over at Heliconias Lodge which we had a amazing view. After lunch we went on a hike through the rainforest over several hanging bridges where some of us caught a glimpse of a sloth (some of us being one person). After the hike we took another hour ride on the bus where we arrived at the hotel were staying In called “Cabinas Piuri” where the leader of the days (Blasmilca “Beba” and Isabel) decided roommates as we settled in we took a look at the Rio Celeste which is a clear blue beautiful water river that we might go for a swim while we’re here (depends on the rain). After the river we had a amazing dinner made by the chefs. After the amazing dinner we had tea and feedback with a very cold rainy weather. Overall, the day was very laid back due to a long bus ride of sleeping and quiet hiking.
Tomorrow: were off on more adventures… Stay tuned.
Today we all woke up at 6, had breakfast, and got on the bus bright and early to go milk a cow. When we got there everyone all milked the cow named Estrella and we all got to have warm chocolate milk which was amazing. After that we went on a beautiful 4 hour hike and got to see the most amazing wildlife and views. We all saw eyelash vipers which blend into the trees very well and an owl. Also we got to look at this amazing waterfall and a blue lagoon that was so blue! Then we left to have lunch back at the cabinas and afterwards it started to pour so sadly we did not get to go into the river. I, Chloe, went to all of the cabins in my swimsuit and then me, Kevin, Anthony, Roslyn, Serena, and Yasma had a rain party. Yasma did fall (but is all good don’t worry). Then after we went to the sugar cane tour and got to see how sugar cane was made. We ate a whole lot of sugar so at night everyone was super energetic. Finally we came back for dinner and hung out.
I’m not much of a blogger so to sum things up today was pretty interesting we got to meet a lovely family at the sugar cane tour they were extremely welcoming! It’s our last night in Rio Celeste and EVERYONE here is totally enjoying the cooler weather!! The highlight of my day was definitely the dance party! :S
-Yasma & Chloe
Today we started our day in Rio Celeste where we had spent three days ! We left the beautiful rainforest and went on a bus ride to go white water rafting ! It was scary but we had a blast ! Most went down a 12 foot drop ! This caused some pretty funny facial expressions in the pictures ! After this we went to a really cool puma and animal rescue . We are very tired but happy to be back in playa garza ! Service starts tomorrow!!!
– Ellie and Erin
Yo ok so we had three leaders of the day today (Zoie, Keags, and Kevin) because that’s how it’s gon be from now on. We had a super awsum day 2day. I (Zoie) was a nurse as my main job was the student medic, keeping my group taken care of. S/O to momma Deech. I am tired – goodbye also hi momma.
Keags here. Today was pretty great, I met such an inspirational person who will benefit me back home. LOD is fun (cough cough). It’s truly great hearing everyone’s feedback at the end of the day. Oh yea and zumba/dance lessons were amazing! I highly recommend doing zumba, you will sweat more than any other time in your life AND learn some moves. The park is making great progress and the kids are a great help, sometimes. Sometimes they just paint you, like they did today to me. Buenas noches.
What it do my party people. Its ya boi kev, leader of the day #3. I danced in the rain and I made cement like a pro. I was called the master of hard labor today by our overseer at the construction site, so I guess I’m pretty good at that stuff. Peace out and goodnight. Shout out to the crew back in Miami.
Day 17 was filled with hard work and inspiration. We spent our first hours of service making more progress on our soccer/volleyball court, see-saw, and worm. KOD squad was even able to spend a little time at the school to play with the kids during recess. A long and intense four hours of service seriously wore us down, but we were thankfully reenergized with lunch back at home base. Following lunch, we headed to the recycling center. The center is run by one man, Alvaro, with few volunteers. This special and extremely gracious project could use some love and support, feel free to visit http://www.nosararecycles.com/
After the recycling center, we got the much anticipated, Gelato. We then closed our night up by watching the sunset at Playa Pelada. We headed home to a wonderful pasta dinner by Juri and staff. We are ending our day feeling very empowered about projects to incorporate at home and excited to finish this playground. Our time here is running out so we hope to make the most of our last days.
– Eve, Serena, and Alyssa
All students have made it through security and are on their way home!
Playground is complete!