Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
I hope you are all doing well, I can’t believe how quickly the time has passed since our incredible experience together in Costa Rica. You are such a special group of individuals- Yensi, Dash, and I miss you all!
Anyone else missing the hours and hours of mixing cement in the hot sun? It was exhausting and so rewarding to sit on the bus each day and look up at the driveway at the progress we had made. I remember feeling so impressed with how strong you all got, people were lifting the 50kg bag of cement alone by the end of the session. We played hours of that movie game, sang songs, and chatted as we built the formaleta, mixed cement, and transported wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow down that hill. Just think about how still today, the entire school community is benefitting from our work!
It is awesome to think about the transformation we made at the Kindergarten playground, transforming it from the uneven, overgrown area to the beautiful, safe play space place for the lil’ kiddos- it was amazing! The crew rocked it at digging holes, mixing cement for the structures, and doing lots of painting- tires, mural, and walls! And the green saran provides shade for the students as they play at recess.
White water rafting. Surfing. Horseback riding. Hiking. Ziplining. Stand up paddleboarding. Swinging bridges. Waterfalls. We did it all. One of my favorite memories was our first hike, which was more of a hike than we initially thought (oops!) Everyone got super muddy and I carried a bunch of you across the river. The gelato was a well deserved treat after that adventure.
We got an authentic taste of the pura vida culture through cafecito, dance class with Willy, and learning to play the marimba. We also ate lots of delicious things- Kim’s tres leches cake, endless empanadas, rice and beans, Junior’s coconut ice cream, the sugar cane delicacies, cinnamon rolls, plantains, lots of pipa, and of course, so many snacks from Super Nosara.
It was an incredible three weeks and one I hope has stuck with you since you returned. Sending you all lots of love.
Costa Rica, The Initiative for Children
July 6-26th, 2016
- Count off: “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Diego, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27”
- Cameron squirting milk into Caleb’s mouth at Río Celeste
- Seeing the completed mural. The mural team did an awesome job, and all of the handprints made the space perfect!
- The most intense game of Buddha ever- Caleb versus Dash was hilarious.
- Singing on the bus ride to Río Celeste
- Everyone swimming in the freezing blue water in Río Celeste
- Our jump rope activity when everyone had to work together as a team to figure out the pattern. Scratch.
- Hiking up the Mala Noche waterfall and jumping into the water
- Morning adventures- running, Insanity, early morning swims
- Singing Oye (Madre Tierra) together
Summer Blog Posts
July 6, 2016
We had an awesome first day here in Costa Rica with the Initiative for Children program!
After picking up our afternoon arrivals, we headed to Melro’s for lunch. We had casados, a typical Costa Rican meal with rice, beans, plantains, salad, and a choice of chicken, pork chop, or ribs.
With full bellies, we hit the road to Nosara, our Home Base for the next three weeks. We made a pit stop at a grocery store to try some local snacks and exchange money.
We had a delicious dinner of chicken, vegetables, and salad, followed by a surprise birthday cake! Today was Dani’s 17th birthday! Our chef, Kim is also an expert baker, so we enjoyed vanilla cake with dulce de leche filling; we had an alternate ice cream option for those with some dietary restrictions. We have 3 more birthdays this summer which means more cake to come. Yum!
July 7 – Day 2
For their first full day in Costa Rica, the students spent their time at the home base which is an ecolodge built in the jungle next to the beach. The morning was filled with orientation activities that included icebreakers with the local staff, cultural normality talks, and safety skits, many of which were in both English and Spanish. Because of its close proximity, the entire group went to the beach after lunch and hit the water. The waves were exceptionally fun to splash around in and the water was as warm as a bathtub. The day closed with more team building activities, especially name games, and the students went to bed prepped and eager to start their service orientation the next day.
“Knowledge is power, community is strength and positive attitude is everything.” –Lance Armstrong.
Today was our first day experiencing the community we would be working in for the next three weeks. Early in the morning we all sleepily lumbered to the Pavilion to find a projector screen facing a big white cloth. Our mentors showed us a documentary about the horribly negative effect of tourism in the local community. The large hotels have torn up forests, fenced off public beaches, hoarded the community’s water to water golf courses and filled their many pools. Then, after a delicious breakfast by the cooking staff, we loaded into vans and drove to the school where we would be working. It was determined that we were going to pave the driveway to the school to enable parents to easily drop their kids off by car. The playground is in rough shape, with broken beams missing handles and snapped ropes.
Following the visit to the school we went to a play put on by the GLA Animal Rescue Project in Costa Rica. Its actors included kids from the local community, and the play was both informative and adorable.
Upon arrival to our home base we were divided into a service group, a media group, and a culture group. Our media group includes: Abraham, Emily, Angelica, Dani, Cassie P., Cameron, Melanie, and Celia. We will be blogging everyday for the next week until we rotate.
“Despues” another delicious meal (I ate two burritos), we had an hour of Spanish class. I think this helped all of us get our memory of the vocabulary back. After the class we went to the beach! Which was full of body surfing, picture taking, and overall excitement at the temperature of the water.
Before dinner we had mentor groups and our subject was great leaders and the characteristics of those leaders. Among of those nominated included: Emma Watson, Ellen Degenerous, MLK, and Beyonce.
Following dinner, we played a game of “Mafia”. At first I had no hope for the imaginary town struck by the horror of the Mafia, but in the end evil was vanquished and the Mafia was defeated! This was followed by shout outs and our daily game of squeeze, both reflecting on the day in a thankful manner.
P.S.- Azure says “Hi, Mom!”
July 9, 2016
Dear Friends and Family,
Today was our first day of service at the elementary school, “Santa Teresita”. We split up into our work groups and started the projects that Alvarro, our local director, had coordinated for us. We saw the massive hill that we will be paving as a driveway to the school and we are very excited to mix lots of cement. Today, one group started on weeding and evening out the ground inside of the playground while the others ran a summer camp for the students. A few hours in, a local family arrived to sell us some “empanadas y frescos” with their little 3 year old child and advertiser named Santiago. Many pictures were taken (See Below). After a quick stop at the “pipa” stand (coconut water stand), we got back to home base and showered for lunch. After refueling with spaghetti and salad, we toured the community of Nosara and learned about its history. To finish off the tour, we went to the super market to stock our refrigerators with our favorite snacks. After dropping off our groceries, we embarked on a “25 minute nature walk” which we later found out was a muddy, grueling hike. After a few slips and stings, we comforted our minor injuries with a trip to the local gelato shop. Like they say, “adventure starts when everything goes wrong.” Embracing our inner child, we cheated with having dessert before dinner. After our tummies were full, we had a group chat about our day, and finished it off with an adventure documentary.
-Emily & Melanie
Student of the Day: Liza Roe
From: Bozeman, Montana
Hobbies: volleyball, skiing
Fun Fact: She lives on farm!
Siblings: 2 sisters
Liza came on this trip because she likes to travel and work with kids (it’s what she wants to do in the future). She knew it would make her feel good and she would be able to help a community that needed it.
July 10, 2016
Did you know Costa Rica only takes up .03% of the planet’s surface but holds 5% of its biodiversity? Neither did we until we watched The Goose with the Golden Egg a few days ago! Today was Day 5 of our GLA experience- another work day. We woke up and ate breakfast as to be promptly on time for our buses at 7. However, the bus drivers weren’t so inclined to be punctual (Tico time am I right?). We made the best of our situation by playing games until we were able to get to the service site. Upon arrival, we began the preparation to pave the driveway as well as continuing weeding and playing with the cute little kids. About halfway through, the “Empanada Lady” and Santi returned to sell us yummy sandwiches and juice. It was a particularly hot day so we all made sure to drink lots of water. Upon arrival back at our home base, we filled up on delicious quesadillas and guac made with love by Kim. After creating a list of community norms (rules to guide us during our stay in Nosara) and spending some well- needed “Pura Vida” rest time, we hopped back on the bus to go to our cooking class/dinner with a local family. Lisba showed us how to make a traditional dish of Arroz con Pollo and some sides. We danced and enjoyed the wonderfully authentic atmosphere. Returning home stuffed, we were surprised by a wonderful treat of cheesecake with berry sauce which we happily gobbled up anyway. The night was finished off with a few rounds of charades in the pavilion before we hit the hay.
-Abraham & Celia
Student of the Day: Emily Sorrels
From: Annapolis, Maryland
Hobbies: Volleyball, babysitting
Fun Fact: Loves celebrities (Meghan Merkle)
Emily came on this trip because she wanted to see a new place and work with kids and of course this was the perfect opportunity.
July 11, 2016
Hola Amigos y Familias,
This blog post concludes a very full day of service and adventure. Service this morning, for many of us, consisted of cement mixing, which I must say could double as training for the Olympics (look for us in Rio 2016, team GLA!). Two groups of human cement trucks began mixing the extremely heavy pile of rocks, sand, cement, and water. The constant mixing of these piles is sure to send us home ripped and ready to rumble (alliteration am I right?). As horrible as the work sounds, seeing today’s portion of the driveway completed was rewarding enough to make up for it. In addition to the cement for the driveway, other groups were busy painting, fixing up the playground, and playing a rowdy game of soccer with the local kids. As always, our trusty local vendors arrived to sell us much needed empanadas and give us our daily dose of their lovely little Santi.
Exhausted and covered in cement, we are now just a quarter of the way done with our driveway project. After working vigorously up until the very last second of service time to ensure high quality work, our uphill strugglers piled into the bus for a bumpy ride back to home base for showers and almuerzo (that’s Spanish for lunch, Dad). Celia’s day was made when she saw Junior and Kim’s plantains waiting for us in the kitchen (“Mom, I fully expect plantains with every meal when I get home” –commentary from my left, Celia). After lunch came our favorite part of the trip… wifi time!!!! Waiting for the bus, someone spoke what we all thought to ourselves, “We only came here for the wifi day.” Probably the quickest hour of the trip yet. We caught up with friends and family alike, then got back on our bus with our heads held a little bit low. Don’t be fooled, we all love it here but as they say, you can take the wifi away from the kids but you can’t take the kids away from the wifi.
Arriving at home base, we were greeted by my greatest personal nightmare… SNAKES. Firefighter Ryan and his son Hunter had kindly agreed to teach us about the snakes in the area and now we know way too much… But we also know how to stay safe and respect the wilderness. Some of us chose to touch and/or hold some of Ryan’s snakes (none were poisonous, don’t worry). I, for one, opted out.
Now, we are sitting on the main house porch, enjoying a pleasantly cool evening and wondering what delicious dinner will be awaiting us tonight. As always, it smells good and we are hungry… The hunger never ends when we work this hard! After dinner we will be partaking in mentor group activities to unwind and reflect on our busy, scary, and happy day. We all send our love to whoever is reading this, we miss you dearly and can’t wait to tell you about all of the amazing experiences here soon… but not too soon!
Emily (with LOTS of help from Celia)
Escuela Santa Teresita “Orgullosos de ser Guanacastecos”
School Santa (Saint) Teresita “Proud of being Guanacastecos”
On our fourth day of work at Santa Teresita, the playground undertook some serious change. While the other half of the group was surprised by another arduous day of cement mixing. After many more batches of cement than anticipated, the playground crew finally planted all the poles needed for monkey bars. As per usual the kids showed up with their eyes gleaming ready for their summer camp of soccer, attention and talking to baffled foreigners. As the days have gone by the kids have become more and more comfortable with our presence. They no longer find it weird that we are all in their school, they ask questions to those who can understand and one kid even began to take pictures and order us into poses. It was adorable, and he got some good ones! After the usual showing of the Empanada family complete with a strange cornbread concoction we thought was dessert, we started work again.
After lunch the other group continued mixing cement while we continued to paint a row of tires in the playground red and blue (it looks pretty cool). The red will need another coat, but we all worked together to finish it in 20 minutes. That’s the beauty of teamwork.
After chicken tacos with some crazy delicious seasoning none of us knew, we started the king of all mentor group sessions (all afternoon!). Although it was fun it was cut short by a trip to the beach for some well needed R&R or in my case frantically swimming to try and catch a big wave to body surf.
After a bit of free time we all trudged to dinner newly showered and tired from the day’s excursions.
After of course a delicious meal we all gathered for the summary of tomorrow, our daily squeeze and a student lead activity. However, upon here the many things needed to be completed in order to be ready for tomorrow we shortened the evening to go prepare and get a good night sleep.
From: Pittsburg, Pensilvania
Hobbies: Friends, dancing, she likes cats and hates moths.
Fun fact: She has extra bone in her foot
Reason for coming: She was watching Awkward and the girl on it went on an international volunteer trip. She googled it and eventually found GLA. At the time she wanted to be a pediatric nurse so she found the initiative for children and here she is!
Student of the Day: Stephany Pacheco
Hobbies: sports, working
From: Oakland, California
Fun fact: “They” (her family) call her banana
Reason for coming : She is in a program that gave her the opportunity to have this experience and learn the different ways people live.
Student of the Day: Hailey Emerson
From: North Carolina
Hobbies: Color guard, reading, writing
Fun fact: Love to wake board
Reason for coming: She wanted to meet new people, different kinds of people, and volunteer.
This is Emily and Celia here to recap the crazy Wednesday and Thursday that made up our first “weekend” adventure here in Costa Rica. When we first arrived at Liberia Airport, we each got to choose two of four activities: Zip lining (which also included a surprise trip to a waterfall), Horseback Riding, Surfing, and Stand-Up Paddle boarding. All were so promising that it was impossible to choose just two, but in the end sacrifices were made and two champions arose for each of us. In addition to our chosen adventures, the whole group hiked to the Mala Noche waterfall on Wednesday morning and paid a visit to the monkeys at SIBU Sanctuary on Thursday morning. Instead of trying to explain our amazing adventures through a rambling paragraph (lets be honest… essay) we will just show you to the best of our ability. So enjoy these beautiful pictures to sum up our amazing experience.
In addition to the adventure fun, we returned to home base on Wednesday to a delicious cake made by our chef Kim to celebrate Angelica’s 17th birthday! Happy birthday Angelica (what we mean is thanks for having a birthday on the trip so we all got cake) (jk! happy birthday, we love you!).
Our hearts weep to tell you that this media team made up of Celia, Emily, AJ, Cassie P, Dani, Cameron, Angelica, and Melanie will no longer be at your service. Our blogging days come to an end as we switch jobs to lead the activities portion of the trip. We are sure we leave you in good hands with the new media team and we are excited to see what new concepts they bring to this blog.
Emily and Celia
Have you ever heard of the Marimba? The Marimba is an instrument, the piano of Central America, that was originally brought down from Guatemala and eventually became an important piece of Costa Rican culture. Years later, tradition began to fade as the Marimba became less popular until the President declared it the national instrument of Costa Rica. Today we all were given the opportunity to play the famed instrument at a traditional Tico BBQ.
Day 10: We started our morning early with a filling breakfast before a long day of service. At the elementary school we painted, built a swing set, continued framing ramps for the driveway, and started a climbing structure made of tires. After service, we rehydrated with some refreshing pipa and orange juice and were welcomed back to the home base with arroz con camarones. Following some well deserved free time and exercise, we were brought to Kim’s house next to her mother’s bakery where we were taught how to make traditional cinnamon rolls and piña empanadas. The moment the bread was out of the oven, it was devoured. As we baked, we all danced to the beat of the Marimba in the background. The band even taught us the common song “The Guitar and the Women” which is played throughout Costa Rica. Afterwards, Kim prepared us a barbeque beef and chicken dinner with chips and dip on the side as we all listened to music and got to know each other better. We ended the night with squeeze (a group question) and awaited future adventures.
McKenzie and Liza
<strong>July 17, 2016</strong>
How many of you sit down with your family everyday at 4:00 in the afternoon to drink coffee? In traditional Costa Rican culture families sit down for Cafecito and eat tortillas with cheese while drinking coffee.
Day 12: Today we once again had an early wake up eating full breakfast before a long day of service. At the service site we accomplished half of our cement ramps and painted a beautiful mural of a butterfly. To rehydrate, we made one more stop at Super Nosara for pipa and snacks. After lunch and some well deserved rest, we headed off to two local homes for Cafecito. The group divided up into two groups of 12 so we could have more of an opportunity to be invested in the conversations. Throughout our time with the families we learned how Nosara has changed over the past few decades and gained a greater understanding of traditions that are still prevalent in the local’s daily lives. Once cafecito had ended we came back for a lovely dinner and finished our night with a student led activity, choosing to watch Pitch Perfect.
McKenzie and Liza
Student of the day:
Hobbies: Volleyball, track, reading.
Where she’s from: Malden, Massachusetts.
Why she’s here: She wanted to help the children by giving them a better learning environment.
Fun Fact: She is an aunt to three kids.
Hobbies: Cross country and listing to music.
Where she’s from: Hayward, California
Why she’s here: She is part of a program called Summer Search that connected her to GLA.
Fun Fact: Her favorite show is The 100, and she can speak the fake language from the show.
“UNO MAS!” Today we tried to learn different Latin dances with our lively instructor Willy. After many laughs, we learned parts of the Salsa, partner danced, and worked on our foot work. However, that was only an hour and a half of our day…
Day 11: We had another early start today with a filling breakfast at 6:30. At 7:00, with eyes still half shut, we made our way to the service site where we divided up into groups. The long four hours of hard work resulted in finishing half the driveway, beginning our butterfly mural, painting playground structures, and organizing the graduation of our summer camp students. After service, sweat dripping, we loaded the bus to refuel with chicken fajitas for lunch. An hour later, we ransacked the local supermarket, Super Nosara, filling bags upon bags with a mix of local Costa Rican and American junk food. Later we spent a half an hour eating ice cream and inhaling the fumes of recently bought siracha sauce. Luckily, we had an up-beat dance class to burn out all of our sugar rush. Kim prepared the wonderful meal pica dillo (rice and beans with a beef and potato stew). To top it off, we celebrated Cameron’s 15th birthday with Tres Leches cake. We ended our night with a team building activity led by our mentors.
McKenzie and Liza
July 19, 2016
GLA ROAD TRIP MIX TAPE: “Party in the USA”, “Hey Sole Sister”, “Beautiful Sole”, “Forget You”, and many more early 2000’s hits.
Day 14: Usually our mornings consist of physical labor, but today we were fortunate to sit for 5 hours on a bus ride to Río Celeste. Along the journey, we stopped for snacks, sang songs (which probably annoyed Nixon, our bus driver), and stopped for lunch followed by a hike to hanging bridges. Many of us faced our fear of heights on the bridges, and we were all lucky enough to see spider monkeys swinging in the jungle. During our last stretch of the road trip our bus stopped and we saw a sloth hanging from a near by tree. An hour later we arrived at our “resort” in Rio Celeste where we were given our new room assignments. Each room has a unique stile whether it is big, small, rustic, or egg shaped. After unpacking we hurried down to swim in the refreshing turquoise river that passes through the property. To fill up after a long and tiring day, we were served an option of fish or chicken. We all ended our night connecting with each other over a game of two truths and a lie. Collectively our group has been all over the world, done the extreme and the unusual, and survived way too many injuries.
– McKenzie, Liza, and Hailey
Students of the Day:
Hobbies: Netflix and volleyball
Where she’s from: Jacksonville, Florida
Why she’s here: She wanted to learn about and experience the world.
Fun Fact: She’s always cold.
Hobbies: Trapeze, playing the flute, hanging out with friends, and baking.
Where she’s from: Needham, Massachusetts
Why she’s here: To work with kids and get a cool cultural experience.
Fun fact: She hates milk.
July 20, 2016
The translation of Rio celeste, the place where we are staying, is blue river. The blue portion of that translation is credited to a mix of aluminite and the high PH levels that create a Safire blue tint to the water.
Today we awoke at our regular time for a large breakfast to give us energy for the day ahead. In the morning many of us got to check an item off our bucket list when we were giving the opportunity to milk a cow. Some of us were adventurous enough to drink the milk seconds after it left the utter. The owner of the property gave us a small tour of the sugar cane cacao plants that he grows. Directly after the farm we headed straight towards our Rio Celeste hike where we divided into two groups. Each group was taught about the nature of the area from the eyelash viper to golden orb spider to sloths. The hike gave us opportunities to capture breath taking photos and to embrace in the unique beauty of the Costa Rican rain forest. Once the hike was finished we all gathered around a souvenir shop and were able to purchase local hand painted art. With stomachs growling we headed back to our hotel to scarf down our choice of lunch. Following our meal everyone fell into a deep food coma, only to awake for our sugar cane tour. We drove ten minutes to a farm where we admired dogs, cut down sugar canes, and ate as much sugar as we thought possible. We also learned how to extract the sugar water from the cane and had the opportunity of drinking the highly concentrated sugar. After a full meal of sugar, we walked up to the bus, some of us trembling on a sugar rush, to eat our actual meal. During dinner we had a power outage, witch made the night all the more fun. After dinner we gave shout outs and did squeeze, then played an optional game of impressions. Once satisfied we headed off to bed to get a good night’s rest for our day tomorrow.
Liza and McKenzie
Students of the Day:
Hobbies: Volleyball, spending time with friends and family, and baking.
Where she’s from: Mundelein, Illinois
Why she’s here: She wanted to leave her mark on the world, grow her leadership skills, and gain a better understanding of a different culture.
Fun Fact: She has never had a bloody nose.
Hobbies: Soccer, skiing, and cooks
Where she’s from: Fairfield, Connecticut
Why she’s here: She is here to build a great community for the less fortunate and to get to know the kids.
Fun Fact: She has a 36 pound cat.
July 21, 2016
This morning we got half an hour extra of sleep, meaning we woke up at 6:30 A.M instead of 6 A.M. Unfortunately this was our last morning at Rio Celeste and we headed back to our home base in Nosara Retreat. Now as sad as that sounds, we had the chance to go to the Tenori River and go white water rafting which consisted of going down the river, paddling through rapids, bumping into rocks, and having splash wars with each other. We all had just two emotions, total excitement and total fear, as we all knew there was a 12ft. drop waiting for us at the end of the river. Luckily only two out of our seven groups fell out of the raft, so about eight of us were hospitalized, just kidding! All of us are safe and had a blast white water rafting for about two hours. After such an awesome morning we had the typical lunch of rice, beans, salad, and choice of meat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We finally settled for the long bus ride of three hours, and came back to home base around 6:30 P.M.
Students of the day!
Name: Claire Stepchu
From: Marshall Islands
Purpose: She came to work with GLA: Initiative for children in hopes to gain new experiences and interest.
Fun Fact: Claire has once hugged a penguin
From: San Antonio, Texas
Purpose: Caleb has decided to come work with GLA: Initiative for children, because he wanted the chance to work with countries in need and thought best community service was the best choice.
Fun Fact: He can walk with his hands and feet taped together.
We got to start off today pretty late. We woke up at 8 A.M! We returned to our service site at 9:30 A.M, but with some mishaps we couldn’t actually work on the site. Instead we worked on the community and did a “clean-up,” meaning we picked up trash and recyclables around the area. To even get more involved, we played soccer with the local kids and what was really funny was they called the teams the “ticos” and the “gringos.” Now as we near the end of the trip, we’re all starting to get cravings and wondering what we will be eating when we finally get home. However, because we have the greatest instructors ever (Yensi, Dash, and Jessa ), today for lunch we had pizza! The real deal stuff, cheesy and greasy. Following that we went to the beach and also had gelato! Some us came to home base and even watched Netflix (aren’t we spoiled!).
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Reason for coming: She wanted to experience a new culture while making a difference in the lives children.
Fun fact: Went on a safari in South Africa
Hometown: Rochester, New York
Reason for coming: Had a friend who went on a trip last year which led her to look up GLA. Once she found want she needed, she fell in love with this program
Fun fact: Boxes
July 23, 2016
We started off the day with service and we had to do double the work because we missed a day. The group did such an amazing job and we are now almost done with the playground and we have completed more than half of the ramp. Through sweat and perhaps a few tears we made it through the morning and as an award we got to go to the supermarket and buy snacks. This time we were thoughtful enough to get our parents some local coffee and other Costa Rican trinkets. After lunch we caught the bus to go fishing! We sloshed through mud to make it down the river where we learned how to fish. As the hours went by, finally, we admitted defeat. No one caught a fish but it was still a beautiful afternoon on the river! Our night ended with mentor groups and we are all excited to see how much we can get done tomorrow!
-Shan and Kristina
From: Middleton, Massachusetts
Reason for coming: She loves doing service, she loves kids, and really enjoys traveling. Believes GLA is a perfect combination of these things.
Fun fact: She hates window balconies. She truly believes they are useless.
Mary Mc Philly
From: Brooklyn, New York
Reason for coming: She wanted to do a service trip that would allow her to meet like minded people while abroad.
Fun fact: The has a phobia of opening doors that she has not already walked through.
Today was a big day at the service site. Through hard work and sweat we finally finished mixing cement and accomplished our goal. The driveway is now complete! Afterwards, to celebrate, we bought pipa and had a great lunch at the home base. This afternoon we went into the town of Guiones for one last opportunity to buy souvenirs from local vendors. This group was fortunate enough to be here for the celebration of the annexation of Guanacaste, this region of Costa Rica’s equivalent holiday to the USA’s 4th of July. We had dinner a little bit earlier than usual so that we could go downtown and partake in the evenings festivities. The event was filled with dancing, music, and local food and we were able to learn more about the local culture while hanging out with the other GLA group in the area. Some of us were lucky enough to be reunited with old friends. As the event died down we headed back to home base and had another fun filled bus ride! It was a night to remember.
Students of the day
From: Marin County, California
Reason for coming: Wanted to meet knew people and experience a new culture.
Hobbies: Water polo and spending time with friends.
Fun fact: She has a house in Mexico.
From: Miami, Florida
Reason for coming:
Hobbies: Likes to play sorts, cook, and spend time with her friends and family
Fun Fact: She has 17 cousins.
From: San Francisco, California
Reason for coming: Wanted to travel abroad during the summer.
Hobbies: Drama and interior design.
Fun Fact: Father was a mime with Robin Wiliams.
July 25 & 26
For our last full day, we all arrived at the service site determined to finish what we had started and we did just that. We made all of the finishing touches on the playground, we added the children’s and our handprints to the mural, and we mixed more cement because we could. Today was the actual holiday of La Anexión and we were able to watch a short assembly where the children read bombas (poems) and the principal explained the history of the holiday in detail. At the end of the morning, it began to rain as we cleaned up. It was a refreshing way to end the day and as the clouds cleared we gathered with our co-workers in the sun and gave our thanks and said our goodbyes. As we exited the worksite, we looked back at what we had accomplished and were all proud.
The remainder of the day was a whirlwind of events. We held a surprise birthday party for Yensi, we had our last mentor groups, and we gathered at our beach to watch the sunset and take group photos. After dinner, we spent all night at the pavilion. We first hosted a small party for all of the people we worked with us throughout the program including our worksite partners, dance teacher, and the marimba instructors who were nice enough to provide us with music again. Together we busted out a piñata, we watched a short video/slideshow of our program, and we had ice cream. We ended the night watching movies at a sleepover in the pavilion.
The next morning, we had our last breakfast together and boarded the bus to head to the airport. Our bus rides were a highlight of the trip and this last one together was filled with of course music and singing but also reflection as we shared pictures and fond memories. At the airport, the entrance to the security check became a sob fest as we said our goodbyes and one by one went our separate ways. The last three weeks were something special. This group bonded at a very deep level and even though it was hard to admit it was over, we all know that the connections and friendships we made will continue on.