ComWow! ( dijo el perro) the day has finally arrived for Airport pickup day on Day 1 of GLA’s Children’s Initiative for Costa Rica! This is our third and final group and we are excited to get things underway! Let me start by first introducing myself. My name is James Tuttle and I am in the International Director for the program this summer, and I feel honored that I get to spend the summer between year one and year two of medical school having an amazing time in Costa Rica with students from the U.S., Canada, Spain and beyond! I am happy to be returning to Latin America after having spent two amazing years managing college students in the mountains of Guatemala. I am joined this summer by two amazing student mentors: Casey Riesing and Aileen Soto. Casey is an expert Spanish language instructor who is working on her Master’s in Spanish Language, while she manages her university level Spanish classes. Aileen is taking a break this summer from her work leading teens on 20-day wilderness hikes with Outward Bound to share her years of experience with GLA students this summer. Between the three of us we have over 15 years of experience working with youth, and over 10 years traveling, living, and working abroad. Finally, we are hosted and guided by our Local Director Alfredo Corrales. Alfredo is well known member of the town of Santa Teresa de Cutris where he owns an amazing 200 hectacre finca (farm), complete with 3 beautiful lakes, farm hands, and everything una vida en el campo requiere. Alfredo is the father of three sons, a master in the kitchen, and is joining Casey, Aileen, and I with over 30 years experience working in hospitality as a hotel owner, business owner, and partner with GLA since the program’s conception. Today, the first three students arrived early in the morning from Los Angeles and had an opportunity to catch up on some sleep in a nearby hotel with Casey. Once the vast majority of the other students arrived we took a trip to City Mall so students could eat their last bits of American comfort food before heading off to our home base. We were on our way to home base around 5:00pm and students were able to relax and have a dinner at the “Iguana Loca” named for the Iguana’s which sunbathe in front of the restaurant during the day. As you read this all 23 students are getting to know their new roommates in of the six cabins at Alfredo’s finca in Santa Teresa. Students are enjoying a comfortable air-conditioned rooms, a Costa Rican sunset over one of our three private lakes, and an opportunity to catch up on much needed sleep. Not much in terms of “roughing it” is in store for our group. However, cell phone service is limited at home base so please expect some delays in communication while your student is in Santa Teresa, I, however, can be reached via my local number +506 7248-0065. Tomorrow morning we will start the day early with an extensive orientation on our dock, followed by a day of planning for our first day working with the local schools on Friday. So as they say here in Costa Rica, “Hasta muy pronto”, and of course, “Pura Vida”!
Today was wonderful. We started off the day with a delicious breakfast of eggs, fruit, rice and beans, and cheese. After, we went on a bus to one of the schools to play with the kids. They were unbelievably adorable!! We played many games with them in a big field like sharks and minnows, duck duck goose, red light green light, and drawing. It was great to run and play, I felt like a little kid again! Some of the kids loved to play with my hair and take pictures! After, we went back to home base for lunch and had pork tenderloin, coleslaw, plantains, rice, and beans. It was also very good. We followed lunch with a rainforest hike. After that we chilled by drinking Costa Rican coffee which is amazing, and I don’t like coffee!!!! Today was also joseline’s birthday and we had a great celebration with her and it was so fun! Can’t wait for tomorrow!!!!!
(Picture of kids touching a girl’s hair)
(Picture of kids at a table)
Today in Costa Rica we got to go to Santa Teresa and meet the local kids who attend there. We played a few games , and they were definitely a challenge . They were so sweet and eager to learn. Later that afternoon we took a hike in the finca and got a little more familiar with our surroundings. On our second hike we went through the rain forest and saw some of the most beautiful sceneries .
Dear Parents, friends, and family,
In order to better provide a more personal touch to the day-to-day affairs of our students, we ask each student to write one blog post and select one picture of the day that best captures their experiences that day. So without further ado:
First full day in Costa Rica! Today we hung around home base, had a group orientation, and got to know each other more. After learning more about the program and each other we had a lake day. Everyone swam and jumped off the dock. For breakfast we had eggs, pancakes, plantains, and a pineapple banana salad. For lunch we had beans, rice, and chicken. For dinner we had pasta. It was good to rest from traveling and getting to know everyone better!
(Picture of lake)
Hoy ha sido el primer día completo en Costa Rica! Hemos pasado el día en “Home Base” donde hemos hecho orientación en grupo y nos hemos empezado a conocer mejor entre nosotros. Hemos pasado la tarde en el maravilloso lago que tenemos. Todo el mundo salto de la terraza y se dio un bañito. Hemos tomado maravillosa comida tradicional de Costa Rica. Para desayuno comimos huevos revueltos, pancakes, plátanos fritos y una deliciosa ensalada de piña y plátano. Para comer en mediodía tomamos arroz y verduritas justamente con un delicious pollo. Para cenar tomamos la famosa pasta de Alfredo. Fue un día perfecto y tuvimos la oportunidad de descansar del largo vuelo y conocemos todos mucho mejor!
July 23, 2017
July 25th 2017
Today is a national holiday in Costa Rica. It is the anniversary of the annexation of guanacuaste. Therefore the children did not have school today so we went on an excursion. After a delicious breakfast we drove an hour and half away to a remote part of costa rica. We hiked one of Alfredo’s favorite mountains. We were the first GLA group to hike it this summer. It was a very challenging trail with deep mud, slippery rocks, and high elevation. In the end it was all worth it. A crystal blue lake, untouched by humanity, at the base of a dormant volcano. (don’t worry we all took pictures). In total the hike was 3 miles which took us the entire afternoon.
After the hike we went to the costa rica KFC and headed back home exhausted. We took showers, did service planning, ate dinner, and headed to mentor night. Tonight is a special mentor night, being the day we throw our fears into the fire. Last night was the first stage; creating an open environment for everyone to open up, creating a deeper bond within the group. Tonight we let go of our fears in hopes of moving forward.
Today was amazing, can’t wait to see our kids tomorrow:)))
July 26, 2017
Today we were able to work with the kids again which is always an amazing way to start our day. Every time we step into the schools we are welcomed with smiles and hugs, and it’s impossible not to instantly be in a better mood. After we got back from the school and ate lunch we had a coffee talk with the amazing Alfredo. Alfredo makes his own 100% pure coffee here in Costa Rica. He explained to us the difference between his coffee and other coffee that is made in Costa Rica and also one in Brazil. We also learned about how the coffee business started and how it is made.
For the second half of the day we did cultural activities. These activities ranged from milking a cow, making empanadas, and learning some basic Spanish. We milked the cows on a local farm here in Santa Teresa and got to see how they make their cheese. Most of us were a little nervous at first to milk the cow but after we did we were all glad that we did, it was a pretty cool and fun experience that most people don’t get. When we learned Spanish, we were taught by a 10 year old girl named Melina. It was very impressive that she was young but yet so good at teaching all of us. Making the empanadas was very fun and messy and a fun way to end the activities. We are ending today with mentor night and service planning. Today was a very packed day but very fun and exciting like usual.
-Paige and Chetana