Day 1: July 31, 2017
The Initiative for Children students arrived to Costa Rica safe and sound and we are so excited for our amazing 3 weeks of service, fun, learning, and adventure! Our students were immediately taken from the airport to have a typical casado lunch, consisting of rice, beans, plantains, salad, and a choice of either chicken, or veggies. Today, our students also signed up for two adventures of their choice: surfing on one of Costa Rica’s best beaches, stand up paddle boarding through the mangroves, zip lining through the jungle, or horseback riding on the beach-all of which should be very exciting in the days to come!
Once we arrived to our Home Base, we unloaded suitcases and got everyone moved into their rooms. We had a delicious dinner and then headed to bed early as everyone had a long day of travel and there is an early morning ahead of us.
Day 3: August 2, 2017
Hey, everyone, it’s your leaders of the day Utkarsh and Dylan. Today was our first day of service and we were introduced to the place we would work, sweat, and grind for the next few weeks! After given a tour of the facility and the improvements that we needed to make, we set out to accomplish our difficult, but ultimately satisfying, goals. Today we acted as worker bees and cultivated a sweat when we were digging dirt to set up a new fence, tearing down walls, pulling weeds, and digging up concrete bases. As we were working, a four-year-old boy, Santiago, showed up at our site, with a gigantic smile on his face and nothing but gratitude for us. He came running into the work site with flowers in his hand.
After four hours of hard work, we returned to home base to freshen up before we headed out to the beach! The waves were rolling, the water was warm, the sand was smooth, and the overall atmosphere was energetic. We enjoyed a good few hours playing in the sand, swimming, throwing around our Frisbee, playing soccer, and taking tons of pictures.
Upon arriving, all of us were quick to bond and quickly got to know each other. We were all from different parts of the United States and from different backgrounds, and we all still “clicked.” Within the second day of the trip, we began the fun and nerve-racking ice-breaker game of assassin (it sounds far worse than it is). In this murder-mystery game, one attempts to identify the assassin before be “killed” themselves. The game lasted all day and was an exhilarating experience that kept us all on edge. The winner is still undetermined.
We also had a seminar on the currency of Costa Rica and watched an important documentary regarding the influences tourism has had on this country. We were all surprised how important of a role it has played and how heavily it has impacted the citizens and the ecosystem. We spent a good amount of time reflecting on and sharing our thoughts on the importance of culture, environment, and our own experiences.
So far, our adventures and our time here in Nosara, Costa Rica has been amazing. We are looking forward to tons of fun, working alongside the locals, and working together as a team that can hopefully change people’s lives for the better-including our own.
Day 4: August 3, 2017
Hey, leaders of the day here. You already know who it is, in case you don’t it’s your boys Arlo and William.
Today we continued our service project and we are progressing extremely fast. We worked up at the school digging up the many concrete post bases and down at the salon we were painting the inside and leveling out the dirt around the driveway and behind the building to build retaining walls. Today was our first day working alongside the kids in the school. It was so much fun to play with them during their recesses and talk to them. Also, the empanada truck came and they shared their delicious empanadas and fresh coconuts with everyone.
After lunch, we went for gelato and met up with Jen, our local director, for a community walk. She informed us of all the details about the locals and the environment surrounding them. Then we made our first trip to the grocery store. We have never seen so much soda packed into one bus before.
This evening, Kelly took the entire group to the beach to see the sunset, many of us took a mini adventure to a close island to take some pictures. We found many hermit crabs and coral that had washed up on the shore.
Dinner was delicious, as always. We had the classic rice and beans and some curry potatoes and fried plantains to go along with that. Now we are off to mentor groups and the introduction of our capstone presentations.
Day 5: August 4, 2017
Hey family and friends!! Welcome to day 5!
Today was another wonderful day in Costa Rica. We started off with a great breakfast that started off the day of Service and hard work (by “hard work” we totally mean playing with the kids).
Another round of Empanadas was finished off, with cementing, digging and painting.
After service, we had a nice lunch consisting of pesto pasta and jugo de jamaica, which was, shall we add, delicious as always.
We then went into town and were blessed with the magic of the internet. We were split into groups of three and took to different locations. We had ice cream, bagels, and fries. We got to speak with you guys, post selfies and catch up on latest drama. Then we took a little souvenir detour, trying to pass the time while waiting to head down to our first cooking class.
When we arrived at ‘ La Cosina de Lisbia’ we were put into 4 groups, Each for a different step of the recipe. The first 3 groups were Chopping veggies and the last group was mixing it together in the work.
The meal came out delicious, arroz con pollo, with sides of salsa, frijoles, salad, and loads of fruit.
Ivory, Sergina and Lorra had a dance party, jamming out to Spanish and Caribbean music while William and Utkarsh were rap battling it out.
We arrived back to home base with a lovely gift waiting for us, arroz con leche! (Rice Pudding, if you will.) Then we all went off to bed with wonders of who has Ivory’s phone…?
Buenas Noches, and hope you guys stay tuned for Day 6 in the Costa Rican Jungle of teens!
With lots of sleepiness,
Bailey and Ivory J
Day 6: August 5, 2017
Hey family and friends!! Welcome to day 6!
Today was a very hot but wet day! We had a great breakfast that was cereal and tons of fruits. We then had service which was really tiring today and we didn’t get to see much of the kids due to the weekend. We still had some sick people but we managed and finished service off in a timely manner.
After service, we had lunch that consisted of shrimp rice and salad. There were also more fruit smoothies. J
After lunch, we chilled for a bit on the yoga deck and listened to some cool music that was played by Arlo, UtKarsh, and William. After our little break, we left to watch a traditional baile folklorico performance-we were even invited to participate after! It was super cool because we got to interact and dance with the kids/teens. We also got to try on their Ticodance outfits and finished off eating some bomb empanadas.
After our little dance lesson, we headed back to home base for our group survey/pulse check and mentor groups. Our pulse check was a little survey on how were doing and how we’re liking our trip so far. We then had a discussion on leadership.
We finished with lots of amazing food for dinner and some pouring rain! Hope you stay tuned (and dry) for tomorrow.
With lots of happiness,
Kelly and Danny.He J
Day 7: August 6, 2017
Hey family and friends!! Welcome to Day 7!
Today was a very exciting, action-packed day! It was actually cooler today than others because it was cloudy and drizzled. Breakfast today had a lot of fruit (as usual) and eggs with cheese and ham. At service today, we only saw a few kids that often come help us as today was Sunday. It was tiring but worth it.
After service, we had lunch that consisted of corn tortillas with fish, pico de gallo, and beans (fish tacos). We also had a salad and lemon, ginger tea.
After lunch, we had mentor groups where we watched a TED talk and learned about cultural awareness. Right after, we went with our service director, Alvaro, to a recycling plant and learned about eco-friendliness, and the efforts Costa Rica is making in trying to help the environment. The recycling plant demonstrated their process in compressing plastic and some of us were able to break glass.
Right after this, we were spoken to by a member of the local fire department who gave us an educational talk about different snakes we may encounter here in Costa Rica and what to do. He passed around a snake tooth (deactivated), snake-catching tools, and snake skins. Next, he took out two live snakes and let us pet the boa-which most of us really liked.
Then a lot of us hung out on the yoga deck with music and card games. For dinner, we enjoyed rice, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes with beef. After dinner, it poured again, but we all met on the yoga deck to talk about our survey check in’s and got our schedules and activities for adventures day tomorrow. We are breaking into our groups to go either horseback riding, zip lining, and surfing. The next day is adventure day number two where we will go either surfing, zip lining, and paddle boarding. Stay tuned, you’ll hear from us soon!
With lots of love and happiness,
Alyssa and Jayda <3
August 7, 2017
Hola from Sergio, one of the mentors here in Nosara!
Our first adventure day! We slept in and then, feeling refreshed, we ate a delicious breakfast that included fruit, ham and eggs, and fresh bread from our chef Kim’s family bakery.
With some time before our adventures began, we hung out in the yoga pavilion and watched a documentary called 180 Degrees South, which follows adventurers surfing and climbing their way to Patagonia, learning about the human impact on the natural world and our potential to change it for the best, throughout their journey.
Feeling inspired, my group went first to Playa Guiones to do some surfing of our own. After a few face-plants and belly flops all around, we were soon standing and riding waves side by side all the way into shore. We then met some of our fellow surfers who happened to be from the cast of The Walking Dead, riding right beside us.
Another group went flying through the sky, zip lining over the mountain tops and rivers of Nosara. It was a beautiful sight! Some of us even hung upside down and attempted flips while zipping.
The last group went for a scenic beachside horseback ride. They got to stroll along the streets and get to know our town a little better, as well as enjoy the warm afternoon while riding along the shore.
The late afternoon brought in some heavy rain and down time before a satisfying taco dinner. After an amazing adventure day, I would say we’re all feeling content and excited to do it all again tomorrow!
Day 9: August 9, 2017
It’s Kelly, one of the mentors, checking in on day 9. Today was adventure day number two! We were all excited to sleep in again and have a later breakfast. After breakfast, we loaded onto the bus headed to SIBU, an amazing monkey sanctuary here in Nosara run by a Jane Goodall- type woman named Vicky. We were taken on a tour around the facility and we learned about the great work her organization is doing to rescue monkeys, as well we all their conservation efforts.
After touring SIBU, we dropped the first group off at surfing and the rest of us headed to another local soda, or restaurant, for lunch. We then headed out to drop off the group doing zip lining, and finally the stand-up paddle boarding group. We all had a blast! I took the group zip lining. It was perfect weather for adventure day and quite a thrill to fly through the air, high above the trees, upside down! The last two days have been a lot of fun and it was a nice “weekend” break after all of our hard work at service this past week!
As the first week has officially passed, I’m looking forward to all the service, learning, bonding, and adventure yet to come! It was been a lot of fun to watch the students work, learn, and grow as leaders. Tomorrow we will be back to early breakfast and off to service to continue the projects we have been working hard on. I’m looking forward to the next two weeks that will be packed with more hard work, fun, and adventure!
Day 10: August 9, 2017
Hey family and friends!! Welcome to Day 10!
Today was a day full of laughter and dancing in the rain! It was very hot today and super humid we were all sweating a ton at service. Breakfast today was delicious fruit as usual as well as eggs and bread. During service, we spent a lot of time playing with the kids and they drew us some lovely pictures.
After service, we ate paella with a yummy strawberry banana smoothie. There were more dogs then usual and they were all being super friendly so we had a great time petting them.
After lunch, we had some time to shower and played games at the yoga pavilion. During that time some people were also practicing for open mic night which will be later in the evening.
We drove to a small neighborhood made up of about ten houses with all land owners being a part of one family. Here, a lady taught us how to knead dough and make bread in her brick oven that people have used for hundreds of years. The children in the neighborhood came for some food and to play with us. They were very adorable and their favorite game was “caballito” or horseback rides. We also played a lot of “anda” or tag.
When we got back from bread making we only had half an hour until dinner so we just hung out for a bit then it was time to eat. For dinner we had chicken, garbanzo beans and vegetables it was very good! After dinner we had our open mic night, there are so many talented people in our group. There was dancing, singing, rapping and some collaborative acts. All in all, it was a very fun day.
With lots of bugs and sweat,
Heather and Eliana
Day 11: August 10, 2017
Hey guys! Our day 11 has been amazing.
This morning we were able to have a taste of home; for breakfast, we had pancakes and honey!
Today we all worked super hard and achieved multiple goals. During service, we were able to take out four concrete blocks (Dominique said she’d get us cake for it!)- although our average is two a day- and we finished painting the salon for the community. We were able to play with a lot of students that quizzed us on our Spanish skills. They taught us so much.
After service, we had the typical amazing rice and beans with salad for lunch. We then had a discussion based on many different topics: sexism, feminism, racism, homophobia, and misogyny led by Amelia McCahill. It was ninety minutes full of debate, acceptance, and perspective. Luckily, everyone was very loving and willing to discuss some of these challenging and touchy topics.
We needed to cut our discussion short because we had a visitor! As a group, we never stopped moving for over an hour while we learned common Latin dances from our dance teacher, Willy. It was wonderful dancing along with each other, learning salsa, kumbia, merengue, and bachata. We found ourselves wishing that it would never end!
For dinner, we had barbequed pork, rice, steamed vegetables, and perfectly ripe beets. After dinner, we all hopped onto the bus to meet the animal rescue GLA group for a mixer to watch a local musician play a special private concert for us all.
Our favorite part of the day was the hard work we did at service and the connections we made with the children. Hope you enjoyed the run-down of day 11. We are off to sleep now.
Amelia and Lorra
Day 12: August 11, 2017
Hello friends and family! Day 12 of our trip went great!
We started the morning off with a breakfast of eggs and a wide variety of fruits. After breakfast, we headed off to the service site to continue our projects for the community. Up in the school, groups worked to turn old tires into fun playground structures for the kids. In the back of the school another group continued to work on constructing a room for teachers. Down in the salon, the other half of our group continued painting and building a retaining wall to prevent erosion.
After our morning of service, we returned to the home base to enjoy a hearty lunch of chicken, potatoes, and salad. Sadly, our afternoon plans of riding in ox carts were cut short due to the weather. It started pouring with thunder and lightning just as we arrived. Hopefully we can reschedule!
We also met in the pavilion to talk about our upcoming weekend adventure, Rio Celeste! We are leaving this coming Sunday and plan to stay for three days. Everyone is super excited!
After dinner, Dominique got us our cake for being such great workers at service!!! It was so delicious, our chef, Kim, has a family owned panadería and it was just as delicious as it was beautiful.
“Buen Trabajo, Más Trabajo, Todo Trabajo!”
Your leaders of the day,
Sabine and Michelle
Day 13: August 12, 2017
Hey everybody! It’s Day 13!!
This morning we had eggs, bread, and fruit for breakfast. Then, we hopped on the bus and rode over to the service site. Today service was a little shorter, so that we could have an activity day for the kids! The morning consisted of one group continuing the construction of the teachers’ room and multiple groups at the salon, either finishing the cement for the retaining wall, or painting tic tac toe boards for the kids. The activity day included a soccer game, an art station, jump rope, and a face painting station. The kids loved it!!
After service, we ate a lunch of fish, rice, beans, and salad. We then had a leader of the day-facilitated activity in the yoga pavilion. We led a Privilege Walk and had a discussion on some of the topics that were addressed. Immediately after we divided up into five groups and had an epic lip-sync battle and competed for a free bag of chips for each of the winners in the group. Lorra, Utkarsh, Christine, and Sarah won with their rendition of “Baby” by Justin Bieber.
Later in the day, we all went to “Super Nosara” (our favorite grocery store) and loaded up on tons of snacks. After, when we got back to home base, a huge rainstorm started!
Now, we’re all working on our Capstone Projects and packing for our trip to Rio Celeste. We leave tomorrow and are all looking forward to it! WHEN you don’t hear from us for 3 days, it’s because we are gone on our adventure weekend. Can’t wait to tell you all about it when we get back.
-Lauren and Sarah
August 16, 2017
Hey everybody! It’s Day 17!!
This morning we woke up an hour later and had eggs, yogurt, and fruit for breakfast. Then, we hopped on the bus and rode over to the service site. Today service was a little shorter, so that we could get more sleep after a long weekend at Rio Celeste. The morning consisted of one group continuing the construction of the teachers’ room, another finishing the installation of the tire tables and chairs, and two groups at the salon, either finishing the cement for the retaining wall, or painting tic tac toe boards for the kids.
After service, we went out and had pizza. We then went to the beach. However, it was raining so half of us walked back to home base, where we had a dance party in the pavilion. The others stayed and played beach soccer.
Later in the day, we all ate dinner. After dinner, some of us presented our Capstone Projects. We look forward to listening to the remaining Capstones. See you in a couple days miss you. “LOVE YOU MOM AND DAD AND JOE AND SPENCER, ELLA, AND AVA” – PAVA AND RINA
-Rina and Sophia
Day 19: August 18, 2017
Hi everyone!! Today is Day 19!!!
Today is the very last day of service, and all of us were place at the school. Some were either building the teachers’ lounge or on the playground painting. Everyone was covered in paint from head to toe, but no one seemed to really mind. We did it! We finished the playground and the smiles on the kids’ faces were precious and made us feel accomplished.
We came home to a wonderful meal. Not only was it the last day of service, but it was also Wi-Fi day where we got to call our families. Bailey called Oma (Hi Omy J moon and back!!!). Gar Wai got to call her mom (Hi Mommy, see you soon J). We also had 2 hours for buying present and souvenirs in the local shops.
After dinner, we went down to the pavilion and presented the last of our moving and inspiring Capstones.
“Love you all and see you soon”
Bailey and Gar Wai <3
Day 20: August 19, 2017
Today was our last full day here in Nosara! We will leave bright and early tomorrow morning to head to the airport. These past 3 weeks have flown by! We have worked hard, adventured, and bonded. We have accomplished a lot! It was so satisfying to see our service project wrap up today. We created a playground, painted the “salon,” installed benches for the soccer field, and built retaining walls! The school and salon look great and the community was very grateful for all our hard work!
Today we met one last time with our mentor groups after participating in a farewell activity where we shared one-on-one with our peers the things we appreciate about each other. Then had a beach morning! The mood was bittersweet as we are looking forward to seeing our friends and families, but will really miss Costa Rica and the new friends we have made here.
As we head out tomorrow morning, there are sure to be many tearful goodbyes. We are so grateful for all the friendships we have made and the experiences we have had that we will bring back with us!