Letters from your International Director, Susannah
June 6-19, 2015
Two weeks with you girls was such a pleasure! You all emulated such positivity and teamwork throughout our time together. There was never a quiet moment at home base, laughter echoed through every room and smiles radiated as you girls connected with one another and with our local communities in Costa Rica.
Some of my fondest memories throughout our two weeks together included:
The van rides: Once the auxiliary chord was discovered, it was all down hill for our chauffeurs. The music from your ipods blasting throughout the car, nearly muffled by all of our melodic voices singing (screaming) along to your favorite songs.
Lights Out: Every night we witnessed the exhausted expressions on all of your faces as we finished up our evening activities. After closing up the day, we would send you off to your rooms to get ready to bed. The moment you were excused, life was brought back to your faces. And all of a sudden there would be screaming and peels of laughter throughout home base as you entered the “war zone” of bugs. Just minutes before lights out, you girls would be reenergized… just like THAT!
Bugs: You girls were troopers with the bugs! What an experience that was. The first few days your legs were unmarked, but it was just a matter of time before those bugs found you. I personally enjoyed walking down the hall and being pelted in the head by flying bichos.
We truly had an amazing time watching you girls connect so quickly, and to see that group cohesion throughout the two weeks of service, soccer games, activities, mentor groups and more. I hope you always remember the connections you made with each other, with the communities here, and with yourselves!
June 23 – July 6, 2015
Gorditos: Your time in Costa Rica was two amazing weeks of of bug bites, Baes and Choco-la-te-ing with the Costa Rican kids.
Arrival day: As we awaited the arrival of the rest of the group the first night, we spent quality time with our new bicho friends (Steve and Titan, you will never be forgotten…and Queen Latifa and Penelope and the paparazzi…).
Bug bites: After surviving the likes of mosquitoes, bullet ants and unidentifiable/unseen insects, there were a lucky few that left with clear, unbitten legs. Most, however, and especially one or two, left with hideous scars from the onslaught of the bugs. Itching and scratching became part of the daily routine and even with the application of rubbing alcohol, lotion, aloe and pants, nothing seemed to rid the itch.
Dancing: Every opportunity there was to dance, you all danced. Even before our official dance class, Latin music was being played and the batchata and salsa were danced.
Spanish Immersion: Thanks to our few fluent Spanish speakers, the staff got a break from translating. We were incredibly impressed as everyone connected on so many levels with the local community. Kudos to everyone that pushed their comfort zones and practiced their Spanish.
Kid time: From playing soccer like a homegrown Tico to playing tickling and dancing, the hours you spent with the kids were a highlight.
Thanks for an unforgettable two weeks!
July 9 – July 22, 2015
Many things were fresh at the start of group 3; a new driver, a new blue van and an excellent group of 13 students. You all came with open minds, ready to learn about Costa Rica: it’s people and environment. Though you all started out as a quiet group, over the two weeks everyone came together and formed amazing friendships.
The first week at ACG Horizontes began well, with challenging yet satisfying service work that will help protect and enhance the reforestation project in the dry forest. Pouring rain on our first night hike with Freddy, a couple of AMAZING days at the beach camping and swimming and all the friendly scorpions in your rooms were definite highlights for some.
By day seven, everyone was ready to make the trip up the mountain to the tropical forest reserve of Bromelias near the volcano Rincon de la Vieja. We were all greeted by the crazy and boisterous Mapache and his family and his sweet dog Pantera. The constant bug bites, occasional room rats and appearance of a rat eating snake in the rooms of the lucky, all made for some great memories. The fear of getting bitten by a bullet ant didn’t stop anyone from enjoying the spectacular waterfalls and relaxing hot springs. The soccer games (in pouring down rain and with the kids) were definitely high points for many of you as was the time spent with the students at the schools.
It was a great two weeks that passed much too quickly but hopefully helped make some amazing memories, friendships and inspired you to continue to travel and find ways to connect with new communities.
July 25 – August 7, 2015
Two weeks of fiestas and fun flew by with the Ohana group. From the moment you all arrived in Costa Rica, to the moment you left, you blew us away with the way you connected, worked and played together. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish our summer!
Two exquisite trips to the beach during the first week were highlights for many though the soccer game and interacting with Rosbin at Horizontes were a close second. The constant presence of scorpions kept everyone on their toes that week and the incessant heat provided lots of opportunities for Jessica and Suzannah to remind you all, “mom squad style,” to drink your water. A birthday celebration with a visit from Tono Pizote, a delicious cake and cimarrona band was the perfect way to finish the first week.
Once we reached the rainforest the second week, you had become an incredibly tight group. You challenged each other to stay positive and succeeded in bringing out the best in everyone! The week in Bromelias was a blur of fiestas, including a bull riding exposition, multiple crazy piñata endeavors in the schools and another birthday celebration. Nighttime bedtime stories and requests to be tucked in became a regular occurrence and the continuation of playing “what are the odds” and other fun phrase games kept everyone entertained. The Buenos Aires and Gavilan communities were left a brighter place thanks to all the painting you completed during service.
It was an amazing two weeks, one that we hope left you with long lasting memories and inspired to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Thank you for being such an inspiring group!
For those of you on the July 1 – July 14 and July 17 – July 30 sessions: Here are some incredible bonus cultural immersion photos from the entire summer for you!