July 29 – August 11, 2015
I wish this time capsule letter was paired with a time travel machine, because I would love to go back and re-live our two weeks together again! I remember meeting you all at the airport, it was a crazy day with everyone coming from so many different directions. Some students were arriving from northern Costa Rica, a short 45 minute flight away, while others were coming from distant continents and even crossing the Atlantic Ocean for our Protecting the Pacific program! Most of you arrived alone, not knowing anyone in the group and feeling a bit shy; or maybe your quiet behavior was actually just exhaustion from travel. In fact many of you, such as Shane and Callen, needed a long nap to rejuvenate yourselves. By dinnertime however, you were all together as if you’d known each other for a long time. I remember JP, Emi and I talking about this instant bonding, we were so surprised by the good energy, friendliness and humor everyone shared in the first day. We knew it was going to be an awesome two weeks!
For me, what I remember most clearly from your group was being consistently impressed by your energy and resilience. As an example, so many of you had never surfed before, and felt trepidation, but our first day on the beach everyone was in the water chasing waves. Specifically I recall watching Megan, Antonio, Callen, the Joshes and Anastasia riding waves like pros on our first beach day! I was so stoked that you all took advantage of the lessons and that you couldn’t wait for your next time with Bodhi Surf!
You spent a lot of time in the pool. May mornings you woke up REALLY early to play in the pool before breakfast! It was a great place to cool off, play games and refresh yourselves in between service projects and excursions. I loved all the pictures that our resident photographer Julia took in the pool! There was a lot of diving, flipping and chicken wars. I don’t know if Annetta ever made the leap, and I would like to remind Josh and Dylan to be cautious about future swim races!
Here are a few of my other favorite memories:
The never-ending, no-one-winning starring contests. For the record, who was victorious between Jack and Sabrina, or Austin and Isis? I can’t imagine how many hours you spent trying to make each other laugh and break your stern concentration!
I remember Fatou saying to me “my goal on this trip is to keep my hair straight”, but soon enough Fatou was in the water almost daily, swimming, kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling! I will never forget snorkeling with you for the first time, Fatou! You were so brave and I am still so proud of you!
Shane and Moises, our leaders of the first day, gave us a lot of insight into what it would be like to go to school at a military academy. They set a superb example of leadership and gave a strong foundation for everyone else who was later a “leader of the day”. Josh and Miles showed us a unique leadership style filled with humor and out-takes. I’m still unsure if the joke was on me, JP and Emi… or if you all were just writing your own script. I hope I am not that outrageous 😉
I loved watching you all with the kids at Forjando Alas. Moises, Dylan and Antonio certainly have soft spot for kids, and I enjoyed watching them hoist the kids onto their shoulders, playing soccer and talking with the students. Adi, Summer and Shane all had siblings or nieces/nephews at home that they missed being away from;I could tell when they were spending time with the children at Forjando Alas they were reminiscing about their little loved ones at home.
Finally, I want to share how great your group’s work ethic was. We had a lot of service hours, and a number of projects that we tackled over the two weeks. You all should be really proud of the time you put in, and I hope you learned some new skills! My favorite was painting the value signs for the public elementary school and building the bio-gardens! Jani, Anastasia, Moaen and Matteo should all consider careers as construction contractors and wood workers! Everyone learned so quickly and accomplished a lot!
To save time I will refrain from sharing all my other memories, but I encourage you to spend some time re-living yours. Maybe reach out and say “hi” to someone in the group that you haven’t caught up with in a while. Our group developed some genuine friendships, and I hope that you maintain those long past our time in Costa Rica. Emi, JP and I miss you all so much and hope you’re all doing well and sharing your light with others!
August 14 – August 27, 2015
Oh my, I can’t believe how much time has passed since we were all together! I can still hear Sam, Rosanna, Josephine and Jillian laughing, Izzy and Max splashing in the pool and others inquiring about whether we are expecting more rice and beans for dinner. I wish we could return to Canto de Ballena hotel and spend a little more time together! Your group was very special for JP, Jen and me because you were the final group of the summer! I have so many epic memories from out time together. I invite you to remember a few highlights from our Protecting the Pacific program:
Our beloved Max, aka Mr. Confident who would say, do or wear anything to lighten the mood and make everyone laugh.
There was a lot of good conversation between everyone. I remember at the end of the dining table was a great place for pensive and educational chats. Deqi, Lilly, and Wendy were always offering up interesting conversational tid-bits! I learned so much from you all.
Charlotte and Walda revealed their love for music (and their competitive side) when JP played his guitar and we tried to guess what song he was playing. I loved hearing you ladies sing!
We were so lucky to go on the whale-tail walk. The weather and tide did not always cooperate for us in the past, but for this final stroll and swim on the beach we were quite fortunate! I know a lot of you took pictures during that walk, I have a few but they don’t capture how serene our landscape was and how endless the sky appeared above us. I hope you all have a place that you’re sharing pictures between each other. I would love to see them!
You all left your legacy in Bahia Ballena with your beautiful update to the mural. I cannot emphasize enough how talented you all are! The murals are beautiful, and I’m sure the community appreciates all those hours you put in. It was awesome to see Cecile’s jellyfish addition to the mural and Walda’s updated sting ray. We had some really talented artists in this group and I’m so happy that you were willing to spend most of your service hours finishing the mural. It looks so much better!
Dancing lessons were hilarious, as many gave their own version of how to dance to Salsa or Merengue music. JP was not the only instructor in the house as Sebastian showed us how it’s done in Colombia, and Rosanna also helped those of us without rhythm untangle our feet. Lilly caught on quickly, but later surrendered to her free spirit and danced like no one is watching. I wish we had more dancing during the trip. It was fun to watch you all.
It was so great to briefly celebrate Rosie’s birthday on our last night together. I hope your actual birthday was very memorable, Rosie! I’m sure you were happy to get home and see your family that day. I hope you got even more cake and ice cream to celebrate!
Thank you for being an awesome group. You were all really fun, easy company and I am struck by how your unique personalities balanced each other so well. Thank you for a great few weeks in Costa Rica. I hope that you will keep your memories and friendships alive. Please share your knowledge and experiences with others! You all have a lot of good to offer the world, and it would be a shame for you to keep it to yourself.
For student volunteers on these sessions – June 10, June 26, and July 12 – we have some spectacular adventure photos to share with you from the entire Protecting the Pacific summer! Check them out below.