Day 1: July 7, 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 2: July 8, 2017
Today our group started off with a simple but beautifully plated meal made by one of our chefs, Kim. We had a wide variety of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, and toast. From there we jumped right into orientation day, which included introductions to one another as well as the staff, a cultural norms discussion, and an intensive game of rock, paper, scissors that included bears, ninjas, and hunters instead!
We then jumped into an intensive safety session that touched on everything from being a conscious and aware traveler in a foreign country, to beach safety (that included a scenic walk to the beach-not to mention the gorgeous beach itself!), an earthquake drill, and lightening safety drills. The teens all ended up “safe” in the parking light, standing in their designated rows.
After lunch, we broke up into groups and performed skits of what not to do to make sure we all understood our Full Value Contracts. Then we made an incredibly thoughtful, fun, and colorful team flag with leaves expressing our values on our “Team Tree.” We ended the night meeting in our small mentor groups to debrief about the last two days, for some reflection time and journaling. We’re tired, but content.
Day 3: July 9, 2017
Hey everyone, it’s Tessa and Jolie! We are writing this blog post as the first leaders of the day! Today was our first day of service after a delicious breakfast at 6:30 am.
Upon arriving at the local school, we met Alvaro, our local director for all of our service projects. The day started with taking inventory of all the tools (somehow, we managed to lose a shovel in one day? Oops!). We were split into three groups: one hacking away at concrete and sanding metal posts, another moving tires and creatively making tables for a playground with them, and finally the last group digging huge holes that will eventually become sinks for the children! It was hot and dirty work, but it was more than worth it.
We left the school around noon and went back to the house for yet another amazing meal. We then headed out to spend an afternoon swimming and relaxing on the gorgeous beach. On the way there we were greeted by a bunch of cute howler monkeys, which aren’t so cute when screaming outside our windows at 5:00 a.m. After showers and quick break, we headed to the pavilion for a lesson on currency exchange. We are excited to show off our new money skills buying snacks tomorrow at the local supermarket!
P.S: Did we mention how great the food is??
Day 4: July 10, 2017
Hey everyone-it’s Erin and Carolina, the leaders of the day! Today we had our second day of service followed by our walk around the community.
We started off the day with our delicious 6:30am breakfast, and we were on our way to service by 7. It was another day of amazing productive work. We split up into teams and continued to work on the school. Our first group was sanding and painting the structure bars. Our second group continued digging holes and started filling them up with rocks for the sinks we are constructing. Our third group continued engineering a very creative playground out of old tires. Everything is turning out amazing and we’ve accomplished a lot in two days.
Later in the afternoon we immersed into culture on our community walk. We started off by visiting an old GLA project which involved a mural at a music school. We then continued to walk through the streets and seeing sites such as police station, airport, medical clinic and other places throughout Nosara. We also visited the grocery store where many of us purchased snacks and such. Some students used their credit or debit cards, make sure your banks are notified that the cards are being used out of country.
After dinner, we have a special music guest who came to give us a private concert! This is a rare opportunity that a GLA group gets a private show with typical Costa Rican rhythms and sounds. If you want a glimpse of Alex Piedra’s amazing music and what we got a chance to experience, here’s his link: http://alexpiedra.com/
Day 5: July 11, 2017
Hello parents and people of the world visiting the blog, it’s Kassidy and Kiera, today’s L.O.D (Leader of the Day).
We started off the day with our delicious 6:30am breakfast. Today was our 3rd day of service at the school and it has been pretty amazing. In service, we had nine different groups divided up all doing very hard work. At 11:30am, we began to clean up and gather all of our tools and supplies and were out of the school’s service site by noon. Our mentors then took us to the pipa stand, where many of us tried our first coconuts!
After lunch, we as the “leaders” washed dishes proudly and after that we had a little down time until we got WIFI! YAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!! While enjoying our wifi hour, most of us indulged in delicious pastries, amazing smoothies, and coffee.
After our WIFI time was up we went straight to a local family’s house, Lisbia, who hosted a cooking class that the entire group participated. We made el roscommporo (Editor’s Note: arroz con pollo-we thought this was too cute to take out). It was absolutely delicious!
To make an attempt at our dinner tonight, follow the recipe below:
Recipe for Arroz con Pollo
old (cannot be fresh) rice
pasta de achiote (paprika paste)
can of corn
1. Dice all the vegetables.
2. Acquire a pan and add two serving spoons of olive oil. Heat the pan.
3. Add four tablespoons of pasta de achiote.
4. Add the garlic, onions, and peppers. Cook for a few minutes.
5. Two minutes later, add the rest of the vegetables.
6. Add two spoons of ketchup, two spoons of lizano, one spoon of mustard, teaspoon of pepper, and one chicken bollian.
7. In two minutes, add the can of corn and two cups of chicken broth.
8. Let it simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
9. Once it simmers, put in the chicken and add some broth.
10. Finally, add the old rice. Mix it, lower the heat, and simmer for about ten minutes.
We hope that tomorrow we have an even more amazing day.
-Love Kassidy and Kiera. (A.K.A. the double K)
(P.S. “Sarah S. is awesome” – direct quote from Sarah S.)
Day 6: July 12, 2017
Hi parents and everyone, it’s Sarah S. and Katie, and we are the L.O.Ds today!
Today was a really amazing day, with starting off breakfast again at 6:30 and heading to our 4th day of service. At service today we split into many different groups, for example people worked on sinks, the playground, painting, and putting cement on the concrete to smooth it all out. After service we went to a different coconut stand than yesterdays and it was delicious.
After lunch, we had a group check in and played a few ice-breaker games. Then after that we headed to the bus to go learn how to make bread and empanadas. At the bread making place we enjoyed music played by the people of the small community and played with all the little kids. After enjoying the bread we had made and some coffee we all danced with some members of the community.
Following our adventure at the bread making place, we ate dinner and played card games.
Below is the recipe for bread and empanadas:
· Mantilla (condensed milk)
o Then mix all the ingredients together
o Form little balls
o Put in oven
Thank you for reading our blog post, and we can’t wait for another amazing day tomorrow!!!
-Sarah S. and Katie
Day 7: July 13, 2017
What up everyone, it’s your gals Lindsay and Shayna, and we are the L.O.Ds today!
Today was an awesome day. We started off our day like any other, breakfast at 6:30 and our 5th day of service. We continued to worked on the sinks, the playground, painting the walls and beams. Everything looks beautiful! J But we can’t wait for our day off tomorrow!
After a delicious lunch of chicken and beans, we had a deep mentor group session where we learned the different types of leadership and how we can grow as a leader on this trip. Then after, Alvero gave an inspiring talk about his personal growth and being positive no matter how dire the circumstances. He then leads us to a recycling plant that he used to manage were we learned the importance of recycling in Costa Rica. We even got to participate in the process of recycling glass, where Lindsay broke one of the bottles…After that, we headed home for some much-needed nap time.
Later that evening, we were blessed with the presence of snakes! Ryan, the snake guy, showed us different varieties and sizes of snakes and we even got to touch them. The coolest and scariest snake he brought today was a live rattler!
Thanks for reading our blog post, see ya again tomorrow!!!
Love your favorite L.O.D’s,
Shayna and Lindsay
Day 8: July 15, 2017
Day 8 was our first day off of service and it was also our first adventure day! The group was able to sleep in before having a leisurely Costa Rican breakfast.
To kick things off, I led the group on a walk down to “la boca”, where the mouth of the Rio Nosara meets the Pacific Ocean. There we relaxed in the shade and watched the waves roll in, before hiking back up to the B&B Retreat to prepare for our adventures.
We divided into teams of surfers and zip liners, stopping for a classic local lunch at Soda Vanessa. My crew hit Playa Guiones first to surf some of the best waves in Central America!! Our awesome instructors prepared us on shore before taking the salty plunge. On heavier, stable long boards we were able to learn how to stand up and did our best to stay up, riding under a beautiful afternoon sun.
Meanwhile, the other group went up the mountains to zip line over the rainforest canopy. From peak to peak they zipped about a dozen times, passing over waterfalls, spinning upside down, and flying across one section that is a half of a mile long! The funny local guides also showed them a secret jungle waterfall, where they were able to take a quick dip. As the late afternoon rain rolled in, they cruised back to base, soaking wet and feeling alive!
The day wound down with a big dinner of tacos and salad, followed by a group discussion of our “pulse checks”. Week two is off to a great start and we have many more exciting activities and adventures ahead. I am looking forward to seeing our group continue to engage with the Costa Rican culture, tear it up at service, and grow as both leaders and explorers on this incredible adventure! Pura vida!!
Day 9: July 15, 2017
Hey, hey, hey! Reporting back are today’s L.O.D.s, Dana and Julia!
This morning we followed our service day routines and headed to the school around 7:30 for another great day of work. The playground crew made lots of progress on the tables and sandboxes, while the sink crew finished cementing and refilled the surrounding area with gravel. The beams of the overhead structure now display a sleek gray color thanks to our painting crew. The recreational center shack workers have almost finished giving the building a face lift of bright colors, while other students painted and dug holes for the new metal benches for all the soccer fans.
Following a delicious lunch and some much-needed free time, everyone headed over to the local music and dance school for a private preview of the local children’s dance company’s traditional baile folklorico. Not only did us students receive authentic snacks for the show, but also the chance to work off the snack by putting on the skirts and joining the dancers on stage.
After showing off some moves, everyone returned to home base for a mentor group session in the yoga pavilion. The students simulated a culture mixing activity that acknowledged that cultures have different ideals and norms and that what might be appropriate in one culture may be impolite in another. The students then watched a Tedtalk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called the Danger of A Single Story and took time to discuss it with their groups.
Thanks for checking in and you’ll hear from the L.O.D.s tomorrow! J
Hugs and kisses,
Dana and Julia <3
Day 10: July 16, 2017
Hey, hey, hey, hey! Reporting back are today’s L.O.D.s, Sarah and Zoie!
This morning we followed our service day routine with breakfast at 6:30, with the usual meal rice, beans, and fresh fruit!!:) We then headed to the school around 7:30 for another great day of work. The playground crew made lots of progress on the tables and sandboxes, while the sink crew finished cementing. Others helped in the process of digging 36 holes for our new benches to watch the soccer games in. The remaining peers created a welcome sign and finished off some painting projects. Around 11 everyone helped in cleaning the school for the kids first day back tomorrow! We can’t wait to see what they think of our progress so far!
Following another great Costa Rican meal for lunch we then left for our one hour Wi-Fi session!! Many enjoyed delicious waffles, refreshing ice cream, and much needed coffee while catching up on our lives at home.
After Wi-Fi we headed for the next activity of the day, the Ox Cart Ride. Here we traveled across a shaky bridge surrounded by a beautiful view. When we arrived at the other side we met Quinko the owner of the oxen. We not only got a special ride but learned the culture behind the oxen. Quinko is one of few who uses oxen for not only his transportation but a business in town. Many look up to Quinko as someone who is keeping the Costa Rican history alive for many more generations to come.
Next, we arrived back at the Nosara Resort for some free time and showers. After dinner and dishes were done we headed off to the yoga pavilion for a very crazy enjoyable open mic night, which many of us have been preparing for. After all the laughs and memories, we headed off to bed, preparing to start our next adventure.
Thanks for checking in and you’ll hear from the L.O.D.s tomorrow! J
Lots of kisses and even more hugs,
Sarah and Zoie <3
Day 11: July 17, 2017
Hey people! It’s your girls Holly and Rae-Rae (the L.O.D.s)
We kicked off the day sleeping in (hallelujah) until 8:00 a.m. when we had the usual fruit and some delicious sandwiches for breakfast. From there we went to the gorgeous Sibu Sanctuary where we met Vicki (basically the Jane Goodall of Costa Rica) along with her monkeys, cats, pigs, and other animals in rehabilitation. We got to sip on strawberry banana juice while we learned about how to protect the different types of primates and environment here in Costa Rica.
Afterward we went to Rancho Tico, where we had-you’ll never guess- beans and rice!! Even though meals can feel repetitive, they’re always quite good and each one has a unique flavor. However, I think what most of us look forward to most is being able to talk and laugh with each other after our meals. It’s crazy how much we all have bonded over just a short week.
Following our Sibu visit, we got to pick from three different activities for a day of adventure. These activities included: zip lining, horseback riding, and surfing. Holly and I weren’t able to experience every activity today but everyone who went on each adventure was more than satisfied.
The people who went surfing went to Playa Guiones. Although the afternoon started out raining, we were able to get there right as it was clearing up. We each got sectioned off into three groups where we got an in-depth lesson on surfing and how to remain safe in the unpredictable waters of Nosara. Each of us were shocked by the fact that surfing was a lot more difficult than we had previously expected. Despite the shock, we all caught on to it quickly and had a lot of fun attempts, falls, success, and laughs.
Those who went zip lining also got lucky with the weather. Although they started off their journey with heavy rain, it ended right as they begun zip lining. The view was foggy but breathtaking as they sped across the Nosara forest. Despite a few minor crashes (Annie), everyone had a tremendous time while being able to ogle at the zip lining instructors .
Unlike the other two groups, horseback riding did not have good luck with the weather. What started out as a sunny stroll through the jungle quickly turned wet and cold. It didn’t matter, though, because the jungle and ocean views were stunning enough to make it all worthwhile.
Lastly, the groups met back up at home base to enjoy another tasty meal that consisted of rice, chick peas, and salad. We ended the night with a leadership activity that helped us get to know one another and break through some of life’s prejudices and boundaries we place on ourselves and one another.
Thanks for joining us… signing off! –Holly and Rae Rae
Day 12: July 18, 2017
Hey everyone! It’s Jeremy and Brandon reporting about day 12 as your leaders of the day!
We started out the same as usual with a 6:30 a.m. breakfast. After that, we went to the school for another service day. It was the students second day back from vacation and it was our first day meeting them! In addition, we found out that our beloved Alvaro was too injured from his motorcycle crash to attend our community service, but Jen filled in for him. Once we got the tools, we split up into different projects: digging holes, installing benches, building the playground, and constructing the sinks. Everybody got to attend one of the schools three recesses to play with the children. The ending of the service day was a little stressful because we were running behind on a few projects that we had to finish, and as a result, we left the school very late.
Once we got back to home base, we all ate lunch. A half hour after lunch, the group left for a scenic walk on the beach to get some gelato. Everybody got two scoops, but most people couldn’t resist their craving for more gelato (us included), so they got some more. We then got picked up from the gelato spot and went to cafecito, which is coffee and conversation with some local families, at 4:00p.m. For cafecito, we split up into two groups: Sergio’s mentor group (aka the best mentor group) and Kelly’s mentor group (actually the best mentor group).
In Sergio’s group, we went to Jen’s suegros and made tortillas and drank coffee. We started out with talking about some deep stuff like climate change, the impact of technology, and the cute story of how the owners met. Starbucks cannot compare. This is what happens when people get off their phones for a minute.
Kelley’s group went to Marleni’s house. While there, we made tortillas, drank coffee that was probably delicious, but I (Jeremy) did not have some because coffee is not my thing. While at the house, we played with her grandchildren and talked with her about her fascinating past, which included having to ride four hours on a horse just to reach a doctor while in labor! After that, we played some fútbol with her son and some other local kids. The GLA teens represented and won 4-3. When Sergio’s group arrived to pick us up, we finished the game with them and the kids against the rest of the group.
After that, we went back to home base to enjoy a delicious pasta dinner. Following dinner, we had a meeting about our upcoming trip to Rio Celeste, which is on Thursday. Only two days away!
Shout out to Kiera and Kassidy for being my favorite two people.
Shout out to Carolina for her soccer skills.
They made us.
Day 13: July 19, 2017
Hey what’s up! it’s Chloe and Annie
Today was a pretty mellow day because tomorrow we are heading to Rio Celeste! (This means NO BLOGS for the next 3 days, so no worries parents.) The day started as usual with us going to the work site and doing service. We are still finishing up building the sinks and digging holes for benches. The playground is coming together and we are painting and decorating the outside of the salon by the field.
Also, the kids are back from vacation so we can play with them during their recess (there weren’t as many kids today because some teachers had a day off). We put a lot of effort into our service work today, so we could leave on time and we got a lot done.
After lunch, we headed to the yoga room and did a group activity to determine our leadership personality types. It allowed people to get a better understanding of themselves and determine if that personality category fit them.
Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for, we got to go grocery shopping. People were loading up carts of chips, drinks, and junk food everyone had been craving. Once everyone got back and stocked up their fridge with food, we met in the yoga room and had a leader of the day led group activity. We did a human knot activity where two groups were formed and everyone would reach across the circle and grab hands with another person in their group. The goal was the communicate with one another and get out of the knot without unlocking hands. It was successful and everyone worked together really well!
As we are writing this, we are sitting and waiting for dinner. Then we will head back to our rooms and start packing for Rio Celeste which we are all super excited about!
Can’t wait to see what the last week brings us!
Day 17: July 23, 2017
¡Hola! It’s Alexi and Debora,
So, we are finally back from our trip at Rio Celeste. Let’s re-cap…
we had a long four-hour ride to Rio Celeste but of course we took a small lunch break and when we finished we hiked to the hanging bridges. We wobbled around as we crossed the bridges and the stairs. Us being short people (haha) it took more effort to get up and over those stairs.
We were also lucky enough to see a sloth who was chillin in the tree enjoying a midafternoon snack… some of us were in tears at the sight of it. When we finally arrived at Rio Celeste, we unpacked and went into the bluest river we’ve ever seen where we, according to Cereal aka Uncle Serg, “swam in cleansing water.”
The next day we learned to milk cows as is traditionally done here in Costa Rica, and then headed to Tenorio National Park and went on a 4 hour hike where we saw a beautiful waterfall! During our hike, we come across a sulfur Jacuzzi (death cave really, due to carbon monoxide and a phenomenon of aluminum silicates) which accounts for the rivers magnificent blue color. This occurs when Rio Buenavista and Quebrada Agria meet and create the aluminum silicate particles.
After the hike, we went to see Trapiche (sugar cane plantation) and learned about its different uses and how the extraction of its honey has changed over time. We were fed a sweet dessert accompanied by a sweet tea.
On our last day we went whitewater rafting, where ‘everybody swam’ when the 12-foot drop came. We were able to swim, splash and push each other into the water and well as guide our groups raft. After, we took an hour-long ride to lunch where we had ice cream for dessert. Then we headed back to home base in Nosara.
Today is back to normal. We had pancakes for breakfast and went to service with Alvaro, our service director. We finally completed digging our 40 holes after 4 days (where we are putting the benches into) and were treated with pizza for lunch. At 4, our dance instructor, Willy, taught us how to dance to salsa, bachata, merengue, and cumbia. We had a ton of fun shaking our booties and learning all the patterns!
Day 18: July 24, 2017
Hey everyone! It’s Kassie and Tessa, second time around being Leader of the Day! Today was a nice and relaxing day, which is not heard of often around here. The day started with another 5 hours of hard service work at the school. It is starting to all come together here as we near our last day.
After service, we headed back for lunch and then out again for some Wi-Fi and souvenir shopping. Last night was the first night for our capstone presentations and we are excited to hear more of our friends share their stories tonight. Tomorrow we also look forward to Dia de Guanacaste, a local celebration at the school! We are all getting excited to see our friends and families in 3 days!!!
P.S. Hi mom, it’s Tessa here telling you something that probably won’t surprise you… My phone broke while getting dumped on while horseback riding in the rain, so that’s why you haven’t heard from me. Just wanted you to know I’m not dead and I’ll talk to you when you pick me up at the airport. Love ya!
Day 19: July 25, 2017
Hi everyone it’s your leaders of the day Carolina and Jolie. Today was a day full of celebrations. To begin, we started off with our service celebration at Esperanza, the school we have been working on, and on top of that we also got to celebrate the annex of Guanacaste with the community.
At the school, we had a great time participating in activities such as wood cutting and tortilla making. We also were able to present the memory game we created for the children, which they greatly enjoyed. Towards the end, the kids made beautiful masterpieces with chalk and got their face painted by yours truly.
After leaving the school, we continued the celebration of the annex of Guanacaste with the community. There we danced, ate, and enjoyed every last bit of it. We then ended our day with a relaxing trip to the beach.
SHOUT OUT TO CHINO AND HIS BROTHER BRANDON FOR HELPING US IMPROVE THEIR SCHOOL!!!!!!! We will miss them very much.
Day 20: July 26, 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 entire “salon” across the street from the school, dug holes, built water fountains, sanded and painted. We mixed concrete and installed benches. The school and salon look great and the community was very grateful for all our hard work!
We wrapped up the morning by playing a game of soccer with the locals that helped direct our service project. We arrived back for lunch sweaty from soccer and with a feeling of accomplishment for the work we finished.
After lunch, 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. We did one last check in and talked about how we are feeling about heading home. 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.
After having some time to pack up, we enjoyed one last traditional Costa Rican dinner together, then headed down to the pavilion for a surprise— a Marimba band, followed by a piñata and a dance party! It was a fun way to end our last day together!
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!