Time Capsule Letter
Can you even believe that so much time has passed since our Parismina sea turtle trip ended? I still think about the amazing starry skies we got to see together on the last two night patrols. I remember cheering you on during surfing, and admiring and respecting your openness with the community on our town days (Miriam the Smoothie Queen who had so much gratitude for your business, who could forget her?!). I think back often to the piggyback rides you gave to the school kids, and my own ridiculous and cringe-worthy attempt at singing my way through Musical Chairs when we didn’t have a speaker available for music.
When we first started to get to know each other at zip lining, I could tell you would become a tight-knit group, but you surprised me by the depth of the friendships that were formed in 10 short days. You were so inclusive of each other, so kind, and provided such a safe space that allowed everyone to be themselves. I was, and am, so proud of all of you for the beautiful community you formed. By the end we were all braiding each other’s hair (and remember the professional braids from the local ladies at the artist market?), sharing bug spray in a unified front against mosquitoes, laughing out way through dance class, and hugging our way through Story of Self.
Our time spent together in Costa Rica truly did make an impact. The beaches are cleaner because of you. Over 200 eggs and two mama turtles are safe because of our group. Beach erosion will be lessened and monkeys are ensured a habitat because of your reforestation efforts.
I really hope that you have taken some of what you learned in Costa Rica and applied it to life back home. Perhaps you are decreasing your plastic usage, or are supporting small, local, ethical businesses, or maybe have reached out warmly to someone who is not native to your culture. Following up on our One Meaningful Goal, perhaps you now think twice about buying Dole, Del Monte, or Chiquita bananas, remembering the atrocious plastic usage and questionable human and environmental rights practices involved in their production.
We did a lot of hard service work, often under the full sun, but you all made it really enjoyable when we worked as a team. Even when we had to try to quiet you down (because you just got along so well and had so much enthusiasm when talking, or wanted to continue hanging out after lights out because you enjoyed each other’s company so much), I still wouldn’t have traded your group for anything. You gifted me and all of the GLA team so much joy. It was genuinely a privilege to spend time with you all on each and every adventure we had.
I’d love to hear from you – how are you BEING the CHANGE back home? How have you been inspired from our time in Costa Rica?
Wishing you the very best and sending you all a big hug.
Brittany and the Sea Turtle Initiative Team!
Monday June 17, 2019
Students trickled in slowly on Arrival day, leaving equal time fir getting to know each other and resting up from a day of travel. For those who arrived through the afternoon, lunch was on offer from a family owned restaurant across the street from the hotel.
After naps, games and more arrivals, students got to stretch their legs with a family walk to dinner, where they enjoyed typical Costa Rican fare (rice,beans,choice of meat, veggies,salad and fried plantains!)
With full bellies and new friends, students returned to Hotel Pacande for some get to know you activities and a quick orientation from Mentors Jack & Angelina. The last arrivals enjoyed their meals in the hotel, while discussing the following day’s journey to home base and big ziplining adventure!
Tuesday June 18, 2019
After an early morning and van ride to the zipline tour, students spent the afternoon soaring over the rainforest canopy. After lunch and a stop a the gift shop they loaded into the Vans for the rest of the journey to their Costa Rican home for the next 9 days. Without wifi, reliable cell signal and limited electricity, students pondered what stepping into an unplugged world would hold.
Wednesday June 19, 2019
Today was the first full day at home base. In the morning we got to experience a farm your that was surrounded by Jason, the owner of our lodge. We saw lots of different wildlife, including spider monkeys and a sloth, following a break in which included eating various fruits from the garden and drinking from coconuts!
Later in the day , we joined tigether in the common area to create the ‘Pura Vida Pact’, which ensures all students get the most out of their trip by being inclusive and understanding of others. Then, local guide Mako came to home base to explained what types of turtles to expect to see, and other ways we can help them. He also helped us prepare for Night Patrol, which was coming up.
After dinner, we celebrated Grace’s birthday with a surprise birthday cake and beautiful bouquet of tropical flowers from the garden! Later that evening, we introduced ourselves to our local guides, and got a feel for what our partner organization does most nights…we didn’t see any turtles, but have alot of respect for the locals who work hard year round to keep nesting turtles safe.
Written by Lauren, Faith, Maddie, Alex
Thursday June 20, 2019
Today we started a beach cleanup and witnessed a baby turtle start it’s journey into the ocean. We finished our beach cleanup with approximately 14 bags if trash! After lunch, we returned to the beach for a swim test. It was our first time in the ocean since arriving, and although we weren’t all accustomed to the crashing waves, we eventually got the hang of it! We also did a bonding activity later that evening. After dinner, we prepared for Night Patrol and headed out with our guides. There was thunder and lightning out over the ocean, in addition to a near full moon that made the night truly majestic.
Written by Chloe, Isabel,Sam, Paizley
Friday June 21, 2019
After a nice breakfast we took a fun truck bed ride into town and got a very interesting tour of Parismina, and even a few local dogs joined us! We then went to a local primary school, where we met a class of great students and played games with them. After that we came back to home base and had a great lunch, but sadly we had to say goodbye to a fellow group member. We then got a few hours of free time to rest and relax. At 2:30 we met with our mentors, played a game and talked about some things. At 4pm we went down to the beach for about and hour and a half and swam in the ocean. Then we walked back to home base and had some spaghetti and had a fun game night. The day ended with an opportunity to take a guided night tour in the garden or just head to bed.
Written by Ava and Spencer
Saturday June 21, 2019
Today we started off by waking up to a breakfast made by our lovely cooks. We then left home base at 7am to go surfing. With a long drive for everyone, almost being a 3 hour drive, everyone was happy to be able to go surfing. Everyone that tried was able to stand up and surf! After surfing we all had a great lunch at the Raggae Bar.
Then we all got ready for the ride back to home base with alot of music and singing. Once back at home base we had a great dinner with pizza and soda. After dinner we had some free time, complete with hanging out in the hammocks. Finally, we got together in our Mentor groups and had very well conversed conversations.
Written by Robbie and Dylan
Sunday June 23, 2019
At 8 o’clock we left for the town of Parismina on an open back truck. It was okay because the sides were tall, and we never went more than line 5mph on a little jungle road. Staff ride with us, so it was another fun bonding experience. When in town, we split in two groups and went for a cooking class in local people’s homes. We learned how to make empanadas from them and got to see how they live. Then we hit a little smoothie shack where they offered chocolate, banana it pineapple.
Next we went to the volunteer HQ of our turtle organization and ate cheeseburgers for lunch where we listened to a Tedtalk from a Nigerian author who talked about her struggles on stereotypes while in the US. After several locals came with handcrafts and goods for us to buy. It was cool because they were all things that were handmade by the people of Parismina, not stuff from China. Then we played soccer and/or volleyball with the local children who were very good at both sports. After we got back to home base we laid in the hammocks until night patrol. During night patrol it started to rain which was difficult but we pushed through. We went to bed after a fun but tiring day.
-written by Lawson, Miles & Dhruv
After another wonderful breakfast, students departed for a boat tour led by Local Director Jason. The Parismina River is the lifeblood of the area, so students were able to get a more detailed glimpse into the ecosystem and it’s inhabitants. Dart frogs, tiger heron, bats, osprey, kingfisher and many other animals were spotted, but spider monkeys jumping through the trees was the clear fan favorite!
After lunch, students went out on their final beach cleanup service, where they stumbled across another baby Leatherback finding her way to the ocean. Mother nature has certainly delivered to this lucky group, who have been able to spot 2 hatchlings voyage to the ocean under completely natural conditions.
After some free time and an optional “cafecito” (small afternoon coffee break) students were led by locals Bianca & Genesis in a fun and lively dance lesson. They learned several dances, including a local dance popular in Limon during Carnival, bachata (from the Dominican Republic) and then finished out the lesson with a group dance off!
The final night patrol showed promising, as we just missed several large leatherbacks who came up to shore but decided conditions to lay weren’t right. We were able to see the ‘slides’ or tracks, but only one group was lucky enough to see the back side of a mama turtle as she returned to the ocean. Patrol continued on, as we discussed the value of service without expectation. With these turtles being some of the most endangered in the world, it is an honor to know our presence here in this little village is helping their plight.
Tuesday June 25, 2019
After a morning of final packing details, students took their last boat ride from home base to a private shuttle in Caño Blanco. It ended up being a LONG ride to Alajuela, as country wide trucking strikes slowed traffic almost to a stop. Music, singing, bonding conversations and laughter filled the time, and before we knew it we had arrived again at Hotel Pacande.
After (hot!) showers and a pizza delivery, students spent their last hours exchanging contact information and sharing not goodbyes, but “see you laters”.
After a heartfelt and moving Appreciation Circle, students prompted a group hug, as loving sentiments were tangible for all in the room. With newly forged bonds and lasting friendships established, students reluctantly prepared for early departures and a final day of travel.