Day 1: June 12, 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, steak, fish, 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 an early morning ahead of us.
Day 2 June 13, 2017
Today our group started off with a simple but beautifully plated meal made by one of our chefs, Junior. We had fruit, yogurt, granola, 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.
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 each of our hands expressing our values. We ended the night meeting in our small mentor groups to debrief the last two days, and for some reflection time and journaling. We’re tired, but content.
DAY 3 June 14, 2017
Hello! From Trudie and Bella, your first set of “Leaders of the Day!” Leaders of the day are 2 people who direct the group at the work site, help facilitate activities, manage the team, act in service by doing everyone’s dishes, and help by make everything go a little smoother.
Today we had several fun things planned, such as going to the school we’ll be serving at for the duration of the trip, a swim at the beach, a Spanish class where we learned out to use colónes, and some group discussions. However, due to rain, things got a bit turned around-but in the end, we were still able to accomplish everything and had an amazing day!
After breakfast, we all headed down to the meeting room and had a relaxing group yoga session with our mentor, Kelly. We were all still a bit tight from so much transit (sitting on our planes and the bus) so it was nice to stretch out. Then we got to see a cool documentary called The Goose with the Golden Egg, which was about how tourism is affecting the culture and environment in Costa Rica. It was very interesting to learn how big hotel chains are leaving the Costa Ricans with close to nothing, depleting their water sources and essentially killing off the natural biodiversity of the land.
Once the rain calmed down, we all took about a 15-minute drive to the school to meet Alvaro, who told us what he had planned for us at the work service site. He showed us around the school and community hall, taught us how to use certain tools, and showed us the walls we will be painting our murals on! His outlook on life is really inspiring because he believes that everything he does has the capacity to leave a positive impact.
To end our day, we all walked down to the beach and swam for a few hours. We visited some tide pools, boogie boarded, and relaxed. We all got the chance to officially bond as a group and introduce ourselves to more people on the team we hadn’t spent much time with. It was a great group bonding experience!
DAY 4: June 15, 2017
Pura Vida from today’s leaders of the day, Madison and Isabel!
For us, the last few days have been quite an adjustment on many counts. For one, being away from home for this long is not necessarily a sad thing, more of a new thing that requires adjustment. Moving from using primarily English, to English and Spanish equally has been an interesting transition.
The best way, we think, we can describe how this trip has been so far and how we expect it will be from here on out is by comparing it to the thunder storms. There’s something really beautiful about the thunder here, it’s peaceful and calm, yet there’s nothing peaceful and calm about it. It is just as much the silence between each clap of thunder as it is the resounding boom. It is loud and it is quiet. It is scary and it is calm. It is cruel and it is lovely. It is harsh and it is gentle. It is the measure of noise and silence and everything in between.
In so many ways this is what this trip has been like and what we expect this trip to be like. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s fun and sometimes it’s real work. It’s a journey where things that should be frightening suddenly seem beautiful. We expect the rest of this trip to be joyful and scary and everything in between. And we know it will be.
Today was a day filled with new and eye-opening experiences. Bright and early at 6:30 a.m., we woke and ate an amazing breakfast prepared by the lovely kitchen staff here at home base. After this, we left for service in the nearby village of Santa Marta (no rain-yay!). We spent the morning sanding down tables, scrubbing tires, cleaning the school walls, picking up trash, and much more. Tomorrow we will begin the exciting task of repainting, digging holes, and creating a mural for the school in the area!
We also had the opportunity to play with the children during recess– they were so joyful and happy to help us practice speaking Spanish. After soccer matches and games of tag, everyone (especially the kids!) was covered in mud! At midday it began to rain as we returned to the home base for lunch. After some group activities, we embarked on a community walk of the town of Nosara, where we got to see the high school, the library, and shop in the local supermarket! We are all so excited to continue our service projects tomorrow and continue to grow as individuals and as a group!
June 16, 2017
Hola, It’s Zoe and Carly, today’s leaders of the day.
It was another morning waking up to the sound of rain and howling monkeys. Junior prepared us some delicious pinto gallo alongside some fresh fruit to give us energy through our second service day. We set off to the school for service and split the group in two, sending some to the salon and others to the school.
Those that stayed at the school spent their day working on priming the kindergarten wall for the mural, continued painting the bars, and got a head start on painting the Guanacaste and Costa Rican flag on the front of the school wall.
At the salon, the group continued to sand the tables and managed to finish painting three of them. Not only did we have enough time to do the work assigned today, we even had time to teach the school kids jump rope, color with chalk, and play a classic game of tag. We are nothing short of proud of the hard work the group has put in on only the second full day of service.
After a hard day of service, we were rewarded with an internet cafe break in Guiones, this is a big deal for those of us without international phone plans. As we finished up, we hopped on the bus towards Lisbia’s kitchen to cook some Arroz con Pollo. If you want a taste of our afternoon…
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 recommend a side of plantains, hardboiled eggs, salad, and fruit. Enjoy! (We sure did.)
Not only did we help the local community, we ate a well-known Tico meal, and ended the night with a banging dance party. On a scale of 1 to 5, our energy is 5.
June 17, 2017
We enjoyed our first weekend in Costa Rica by volunteering in the local school, but with the lack of students and staff today, the school felt a bit too quiet and deserted. However, we got a lot of work done and thanks to Caleigh and Mariana and the rest of the artists, we finally have a sketched-out plan for the kindergarten mural. We can’t wait to finally start it tomorrow, and eventually see the final product.
This afternoon, we had arroz con camarones (shrimp and rice). As simplistic as this may sound, it was easily one of the favorite meals of the trip. We plan to get the recipe later so we can enjoy it with our families at home.
After lunch, the group enjoyed the “Dating Game.” We played it “game show style,” inviting members of the audience to answer dating site questions while pretending to be a certain character assigned by the audience. These five characters had to be guessed by the bachelor/bachelorette through questions guided by the hosts of the show.
After game time, we headed out to La Escuela de Musica, the local music school, to watch a beautiful performance put on by Tico teenagers. The dance was a good combination of traditional Tico culture and fun audience participation. The dancers let the girls try on their flowing skirts, while the boys practiced waving scarves through the air. They guided us through a simplified version of their dance, which turned out to be quite a challenging, but fun task. We worked up an appetite in our dance attempts and they generously provided us with a local dish, called arroz de maiz. We enjoyed the soup, gave our thanks and headed back to home base.
Caroline and Sophia, your leaders of the day
DAY 7: June 18, 2017
Hola from Julia and Sanaya, Sunday, June 18th’s leaders of the day!
We started out with a delicious breakfast of fruits, eggs and ham, and gallo pinto, a traditional Costa Rican dish. We then headed to the service site and continued working on our projects. We made progress on the Costa Rican and Guanacaste flags we started painting at the school service site and finished the second coat of the paint. We also worked on painting fun images, such as whales and octopi, on the walls of the kindergarten bathroom. Sanaya and her group continued sanding and painting tables in the community’s gathering hall. We also started painting the benches that surround the soccer field, but unfortunately it started raining so we could not complete this job. We then watched a community soccer game on the soccer field between two local teams. It was very interesting to watch and spot the differences between the Costa Rican game and games in the U.S.
We had grilled fish and traditional rice and beans for lunch. We then went to the yoga pavilion and discussed the plans for the next few days. We also went around and told embarrassing stories as a fun bonding activity. Alvaro then came and spoke to us about the environment, sustainability, and what we could do to help the community. We specifically discussed recycling and separating trash. We then went to the local dump and recycling center. It was shocking to see what exactly happens to our trash, and it really encouraged us to be more mindful of what we throw out.
We returned to the hotel for a presentation from the local fire chief! He spoke to us about the different species of snakes in the area, showing pictures of snakes, such as boa constrictors and rattlesnakes, that he had taken himself. He then brought out snake skins and live snakes that he had caught for us to touch and look at. It was a very interesting presentation, but it definitely surprised us to learn about all of the different kinds of snakes, venomous and non-venomous, in the area.
We had a dinner of chicken, cheese, and bean quesadillas. We, the leaders of the day, then picked the leaders for tomorrow–people who we thought were the most productive and helpful today. We had a discussion about our recent anonymous survey to address positive and negative issues amongst the group. Tomorrow we go on adventures! Pura vida!
Day 8: June 19, 2017
It’s Kelly, one of the mentors, checking in on day 8. The mentors will be taking over the blog today and tomorrow as we won’t have leaders of the day on adventure days. It’s been such a pleasure getting to know our group over the last week. They have been working hard at service and engaging with each other during group activities and mentor groups.
Today we got to sleep in a little and our wonderful chefs, Kim and Junior made a delicious pancake breakfast that the students loved!
After breakfast, we headed out for a short morning at the beach. It appeared to be a nice beach day until the rain started, which is expected most days during rainy season. We packed up and went back to home base to clean up before heading to a local soda, or restaurant, for lunch.
The sky cleared up after lunch and the sun came out as we headed off to our adventures. We split up into 3 groups and went surfing, zip lining, and horseback riding. Both the students and the staff had a blast! I took the group surfing and we had a lot of naturals out in the water! It was fun to have time for adventure 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! This is a fantastic group of students and it’s a joy for us as staff to watch them work, learn, and grow as leaders. The next 2 weeks will be packed with more work and fun.
Tomorrow is adventure day number 2! We are all looking forward to another fun day out and about in Nosara!
Day 9: June 20, 2017
HOLA from Sergio, one of the mentors here in Nosara!!!
Our Tuesday began not only with a delicious spread of fruit and breakfast quesadillas, but also with the sounds of the Howler Monkeys who were active at the crack of dawn. The students in the “treehouse” even counted twelve monkeys in the tree outside their door this morning! While the sun rose higher, our students engaged in an activity to learn which style of leadership they identify with most, as well as discussing deeper about the strengths and challenges that make up each style.
The group then went to the Sibu Wildlife Sanctuary, located in over fifty acres of pure jungle wilderness. We learned about the problems facing Costa Rica’s native animals, as well as the rehabilitation process that the monkeys go through at Sibu. We toured the facility, met the inspiring founder, Vicki, and some of the dedicated volunteer staff, in addition to several exciting animales.
We then divided into three groups for another day of adventure! A delicious lunch was served at the Rancho Ticorestaurant that was as authentically Costa Rican as you can imagine. While two groups went either zip lining over the rainforest canopy or catching waves in the afternoon surf, my group headed to the mouth of the Rio Nosara, where we set out stand-up paddle boarding. We battled both the current as well as our own balance!! Heading upstream, with the help of our awesome guides Norbert and Nelson, we were able to see lots of wildlife. As we adventured through this protected and pristine area up the river, we saw rare species of birds, entire colonies of crabs, camouflaged iguanas, and even crocodiles leering out at us from the shadowy tangle of mangrove trees!! We pulled over in a hidden nook under the hanging canopy for some fresh cut coconut water and juicy watermelon, before enjoying the float back down to la boca.
Everyone freshened up after adventuring for dinner, in high spirits and ready to wind down the night before heading back to service early mañana. It’s been a blast seeing this group bond together so strongly this first leg and I can’t wait to see what incredible experiences the next two weeks have in store!!!
Day 10: June 21, 2017
Today was an action packed day for the GLA students. From painting, to socializing with the school children, our community service work has continued to progress and come together to make the school and the salon look brighter and happier. The GLA students are ecstatic to be making such a tremendously positive impact on the people of Santa Marta and its future generations.
After a tiring day of service, we all went to a local home where everyone had the opportunity to mix and knead dough and turn it into bread. They had a traditional clay oven where we baked the bread in Tico style! We were also provided with an upbeat performance on the traditional Costa Rican instrument known as the marimba. Later on that evening, we were able to learn hands-on how to play the beautiful instrument and danced to the band’s upbeat music. The visit to this local home was concluded with a feast of our homemade bread and coffee.
Signing off, today’s leaders of the day, Christina and Sasha!
Day 11: June 22, 2017
Hi this is Marianna and Ethan,
Today we got a lot done in service. We finally sanded, fixed, and painted all the tables in the Salon. We moved on to creating welcome signs and some for directions. We also created a fun memory game for the kids so they can practice memorization and patterns.
As for the school, we’re finishing up most of the projects we began last week, one of these being the Kindergarten bathroom mural. The primary focus was to help the kids remember to brush their teeth, making this daily task as fun as possible. Themed with under the sea creatures, we created a mural with all elements involved in maintaining oral hygiene. Hopefully, kids will learn the importance of brushing their teeth, and develop an enthusiastic approach towards being clean.
A project that was started today was another mural for the Kindergarteners, however this one is outside of their classroom and in their small recreational space. Our idea for this mural was to make it as interactive as possible (while keeping the under the sea theme), so the teacher could incorporate it into her lessons and potentially have the kids learn a couple of things from it.
During our “time off” we took part in a dance class, led by our instructor, Willy. The intended dance was salsa, however, he included many different genres such as Merengue, Bachata, Zumba, and Cumbia. It was really fun to see people step out of their comfort zones and get involved in the hour-long lesson.
After this, as leaders of the day we are expected to come up with some sort of activity, and our idea was team building oriented. The game “Salt and Pepper” involved cards with the names of pairs that would usually go together: black and white, cookies and cream, rice and beans, and mac’ and cheese. The cards were later taped to each volunteer’s forehead and they were instructed to ask yes or no questions to the people around them in order to help decipher what their item was. After this was achieved, each individual would go on to find their “matching” partner. We felt like the activity was enjoyable and served its purpose. All in all, our day was successful in service and fun filled with activities.
Hola from Liv and Ava, Day 12’s Leaders of the Day!
Today marked the halfway point of our journey, and we are making great progress at the service site. In the salon, we worked on welcome signs to be placed around Santa Marta and the elementary school, while in the school, we completed the outline for our Under the Sea themed kindergarten mural, featuring sea turtles, jellyfish, and stingrays. During breaks, we played soccer with the students and enjoyed fresh empanadas before getting back to work. We saw an increase in hard work and quick cleanup today, allowing us to get back to home-base and have some free time before lunch.
After lunch, we led an activity called the Privilege Walk, in which we read off statements and allowed individuals to step forward if those statements applied to them. This activity allowed us to be open with our group without being put in an uncomfortable position. It got pretty deep, and on the way to cafecito later, we shared stories on the back of the bus. We also facilitated a conversation planning an ice cream sundae bar for our wonderful staff at the end of our stay in Nosara.
We split into two groups and attended Costa Rican “coffee and conversation” at the homes of gracious families. We made tortillas, taste-tested Tica drinks, and translated stories between Spanish and English to connect with our hosts. The afternoon consisted of lots of laughs, great food and drink, and an authentic experience, which many of us were grateful for.
After returning to home-base and eating a comforting meal of spaghetti, we checked in with our mentor groups about our energy levels and opinions on the trip as a whole. We were all excited to hear our itinerary and packing list for our 3-day trip to Rio Celeste, which we will leave for on Sunday morning. We look forward to hikes, a sugar cane tour, and especially milking a cow!
Though we miss our families and the comforts of home, we are saddened by the fact that our trip is now more than halfway over. We are making every effort to make our final days count!
Xoxo, Liv and Ava
Day 13: June 24, 2017
Hola from Izzy and Kenzie, Day 13’s Leaders of the Day!
Today marked the last day of service before we all go on our adventure weekend trip to Rio Celeste. On this trip, we will be unavailable for 3 days- no Wi-Fi and poor service from Sunday to Tuesday night. Parents don’t worry! Nothing bad has happened to us, we’re just white water rafting, hiking, tasting sugarcane, milking cows, and crossing the beautiful hanging bridges of Costa Rica.
Our events for today consisted of going to a normal day of service for 4 hours. We are truly amazed at how fast we have been able to complete this project and how each day we are growing closer to completing our goal. We had people continuing on the Under the Sea mural, people creating a memory game for the children, and painting signs, walls, and tires.
Later in the afternoon, we held our Leader of the Day Activity where we facilitated an open discussion about Feminism and gender roles. It was great to see everyone opening up and explaining their own opinions about the topic. Hearing everyone’s thoughts on the subject helped us grow closer as a group and understand each other more.
Immediately after this activity, all of us took a lovely beach walk down to a delicious and local gelato shop. The gelato tasted so fresh and was really nice on an especially hot day here in Nosara, Costa Rica.
After this quick snack, we headed on over to the Super Nosara to get a few items or snacks before we head to Rio Celeste. We also picked up the ingredients for an ice cream bar that we will all be hosting to thank the wonderful staff here at the Nosara B&B Retreat on our last night here. The staff has been so kind and welcoming to our group and we are so thankful for all of the work and dedication they have put into our program.
Signing off after a full, fun day; you will hear from the next leaders of the day in three days after our trip to Rio Celeste.
– Izzy and Kenzie J
Day 17: June 28, 2017
Hola from Adeline and Ava , Day 17’s Leaders of the Day!
On Sunday we got up, quickly ate breakfast and hopped in the van for a 3-hour bus ride to Rio Celeste. We stopped halfway to grab a casado lunch at a local restaurant and then took a short hike. During the hike, we crossed hanging bridges and searched for animals throughout the trail. After the hike, we got back into the van and drove to our hotel. Shortly after arrival our mentors told us we could go down to the river for a quick swim. We were all so amazed at the bright blue water, we didn’t even take into account how cold the water was. That concluded our first day in Rio Celeste.
Bright and early the next morning we had breakfast and then headed out to our first excursion: milking a cow. It was a weird yet exciting new cultural experience. We milked the cow straight into the cup and got to taste the milk, even making some into chocolate milk-everyone enjoyed it! After milking the cow, we drove to Costa Rica’s Parque Nacional Tenorio, where we met our jungle tour guides Kevin and Juan Pablo. They led us on a 3-hour hike through the dense rainforest where we saw snakes, spiders, hot springs, and aquamarine rivers and waterfalls. After our exhausting hike, we got to visit a sugar cane farm (trapiche) where we snacked on many different goods made from sugar cane. We then drove back to the hotel, had dinner and quickly fell asleep.
The next morning, we got to go white water rafting. Our rafting adventure included going down a 12ft waterfall! It was so much fun and we all got soaked. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the bus for the next 3-hour trip back home.
Today, we were back doing community service at the local school. We’ve made lots of progress with the under-the-sea themed mural and we are finishing up the other projects as well. The kids happened to come out and see all the work we had done and were so excited and pleased with their “new school.” One kindergartner said he was “so excited he might drop his banana!”
This afternoon we had a pizza party for lunch, taking a quick break from the Tico traditional meals. We then got to chill on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. However, we are still going to enjoy our amazing dinner created by our chefs Junior and Kim, and we are looking forward to the first few people who will be presenting their Capstone projects tonight.
Buenas Noches, from Adeline and Ava!
Day 18: June 29, 2017
Hey, it’s Caleigh and Natalia, and we’re the leaders of the day for day 18!
On this sunny Thursday, we got up and after a yummy breakfast, headed straight to the school to try and wrap up our service work! We got super close, and we will be finishing everything on Saturday. The mural looks great, the bathroom walls are finished, and the school overall is looking much more appealing. The parents and kids love to greet us and exclaim “¡Que linda!” (how pretty) or “¡Que chiva!” (how cute). We finished painting the trash bins and the walls, so finishing up the mural, completing our game in the salon, and hanging the welcome sign at the front of the school is all we have left. Tomorrow, the school community would like to throw us a fiesta to show their gratitude!
After service, we came back and had lunch, which consisted of rice, beans, plantains, and some delicious seasoned carne y vegetales. We then had mentor groups, and discussed “reverse culture shock” which included the expectations of going back home and possible difficulty when trying to describe our experiences here in Costa Rica. We also used graphs to portray the emotions we felt when coming here and the emotions we are feeling now, getting close to our departure. We then had some free time to work on our capstones, which we will be presenting some more of tonight!
Right after we headed off to meet Quinko, a local in Nosara that owns two oxen and an oxcart that we all had the honor of riding. The short and slow ride was very eye opening, as this was one of the only methods of transportation that Ticos were able to use. We got to take pictures with them and ask a bunch questions.
Once we got back home we had some free time to either stay home or take a short walk to the beach to watch the sunset.
We went to dinner and had a lovely meal, only to top off the day with some presentations of capstones! We, as a group, are very good writers. We are excited to see our families, but we are also going to miss being here and helping out so much. We plan to make the absolute most of the time we have left!
Buenas noches, y adios para ahora.
(Goodnight, and goodbye for now.)
Natalia and Caleigh
Day 19: June 30, 2017
Hey, it’s Jacob and Trudy, and we’re the leaders of the day for day 19!
This Friday we woke up 30 minutes later than usual to show up on time for our service celebration day with the children!!! It was the day we were all looking forward to. The day where we got to spend the whole day playing, celebrating, and eating with the children. The school kids enjoyed painting the faces, arms and legs of many of us student volunteers. The school chefs were even nice enough to serve us some amazing chicken as a snack. After we filled our stomachs with chicken, the kids and us got the chance to top it off with churned orange cream ice cream and amazing white velvet vanilla cake. I personally loved the combo, but it was bitter sweet, as I regretted the way it made my stomach feel in the afternoon.
Just when the kids thought the desserts were over, we brought out the grand finale of a gigantic piñata and their memory game from student-painted wooden pieces for them to play with. As the kids spun around and attempted to hit the large candy sack, it slowly began to shed its wrapping, until it finally exploded and a dog pile of children ensued to fight over every last bit of candy.
After service, we came back and had lunch, and had the opportunity to go to the Playa Guiones main tourist area, or as many of us like to call it, “gringo village.” We all enjoyed filling ourselves up on overpriced tourist ice cream at a local ice cream shop as we surfed social media with our last day of Wi-Fi privileges before we go home. We then topped it all off with souvenir shopping for our families, so many of you should have presents to look forward to when we return home.
As we finally arrived back to our home base we had an hour and a half to relax until dinner, or if some of us wished we could go the beach for 45 minutes to take pictures as one of our last days together. However, given our sore feet and worn out bodies from a long day of playing with the kids, many of us chose to spend the time relaxing and napping. Myself included!!!
We then concluded our day with another amazing home prepped meal from our chef, Kim, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. And then we listened to the last of our capstone presentations from the rest of our amazing student writers and curators that pleased our hearts with our many perspectives from all of our diverse views from all across the country. Afterwards, we finally got the chance to rest our tired heads and prepare for our last day of service and school clean up. It is nice to see our hard work pay off. And we are all finally ready to see it all come together tomorrow.
From all of us here in Costa Rica,
Day 20: July 1, 2017
Our past three weeks here are full of cherished memories, laughter, and joy. We learned and laughed a lot. We shared café y arroz. We gave our best as service- we sanded, and painted, and nailed, and scrubbed. We told each other the stories of ourselves. We swung from zip lines, learned to surf, white water rafted, and played in the sand (rain or shine). But most of all, we gained friendships and experiences that will last a lifetime.
Today was about completing what we came here to do, and us. We went back to Santa Marta to clean up and put final touches on our mural. We then bid adieu to Alavaro, a prime example of servant leadership, and the place we had given the majority of our time. We returned to home base where we had the opportunity to participate in a goodbye activity where we sat and talked with each other individually and reflected on how that person impacted our lives.
Knowing we had our farewell dinner later, we decided to head down to the beach together for the last time. We frolicked in the waves, caught a plethora of hermit crabs, and let the Costa Rican sun shine on our skin for the last time.
Dinner was spectacular! A traditional and amazing Tico dish… We then thanked our staff and all those who served us while we were here (those who clean, cook, wash, tend to the grounds, our guards, office and maintenance staff, etc.) with an icecream bar we had prepared ourselves. We then went down to the pavilion for what we had already planned to be a “dance party.” Little did we know, our GLA mentors had also planned a surprise Marimba band!
Today was long, fun, and bittersweet-but we also can’t wait to come back home to our families smiling faces.