Letters from your International Director & Mentor
June 6 – June 26, 2015
To our fabulous first GLA group-
This summer has been such an amazing one and for its success, we have each and every one of you to thank! Looking back on all of your hard work, it was truly your group that helped pave the way (literally paved J) for the groups behind you and we feel so lucky that we got to get to know you!
Looking back on our time together, it is truly amazing the shear amount of hard work that you all put in! From helping to terrace Gerardos coffee farm (time getting blisters and dodging snakes at the same time), to making a ridiculous amount of eco bricks, you guys truly did so much work for the town of Providencia and played a major role in the transition of many conventional farms to organic. Gerardo informed me before I left that he has been slowly transitioning his farm over to organic over the years, but this coming year he wants to make his entire farm organic! Your group was also there when Pepe decided to become one of Green Communities organic farms, and it is so exciting to see that in the coming year, Jonathan and Carlos are getting even closer to their goal of 100 farmers!
Some of our other favorite memories come from the awesome trips that we were able to go on. From one entire raft jumping into the Paquare river (giving Emma a heart attack), to taking in the sunset at Manuel Antonio (and then getting attacked by bugs) we were truly able to live the Pura Vida lifestyle in and out of Providencia. To everyone reading this letter, thank you all so much for being part of these amazing times we shared and for being so open minded, accepting, and being ready for every adventure.
A few other memories we don´t want you to forget:
-Hannah´s love for the lunch ladies in town(BFFs)
-Juan and Marcial giving Jay the new nickname of “el mono blanco”.
-Seeing the giant tarantula while clearing trails for spider monkey research.
-Being the very first group to stay in Tami J
-How cold the water of the Savegre river was when you jumped in.
-Genevieves´ awesome permanent marker tattoos that looked so realistic!
-All of the names of our many puppies: Canela, Campeon , Oddie, and Charlie to name a few.
-Don´t forget: Be the Change
We know you guys are probably so busy, and are up to amazing things, but please wherever you guys are and whatever you are all doing, please send us an email, facebook message or even a handwritten letter! Three weeks together was nowhere near long enough and we want to hear all about your exciting lives.
Love and pura vida!
Emma and Chris
June 15 – July 5, 2015
To our amazing leaders!
Can you believe how long it’s been since our trip?! I hope you all remember the moment that we sat down and laughed and cried about this list at the end of the program. I miss all of your happy faces and think of you all often! I hope these memories bring smiles and laughter into your lives. :]
-At Zapotal, Emina decided to pick up a 3-month-old beagle puppy which peed all over her!
-Watching Mario and Carlos wrestle on the raft in Turriaba
-Jen and her Siracha
-Manuel’s emotional reaction to seeing a Quetzal for the 1st time.
-Amy and Dennis bonding over both being named after TV reporters during my mentor session.
-Singing Semilla song and seeing the joy on the student’s faces reflect in the faces of the community members.
-Connor’s lip singing version of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA”
-Watching Sandra pick up the baby in San Bernardo when she was walking near the cement. Also learning about her baby infatuation.
-Partaking in a typical Costa Rican tradition of egging Dennis on his birthday at the beach
-Belly laughing while watching Mario hide/run from Dennis when he was covered in birthday egg yolk.
-Eating sugar cane, which was freshly cut by Edwardo, Nacho, and Javier.
-Watching the girls swoon over Nacho and Javier.
-The giant spider near Amy’s hand at the waterfall in Turrialba.
-The talent show and the community involvement.
-When Abby said that everyone knew about Scottsdale when no one did.
-Jen’s happiness while slacklining and doing cartwheels with her Spanish teacher
-That one time that Jamie tackled Amy during a friendly game of “Electricidad” during Spanish class.
-Cala eating all of Samson’s food during the talent show
-Belting “Fireball” on the bus!
-When Lilly’s longhair got stuck in Dennis’ armpit on the bus
-Watching Dennis and Manuel jam out on the guitar together.
-Learning about the aggression of the 2 toed sloth and having Hailey run around grabbing us with her “sloth-claw” in Manuel Antonio
-Sarah’s crazy dance in Zapotal after eating lunch
-Jen’s unwillingness to stop working in San Bernardo
-Dennis screaming “Ride Me!!” during Princess, Cowboy, Fountain, Superstar, Family Car
-Playing “rocks” with Jen, Leo, Kaylyn, Meghan, and Dennis
-When Abby buried the squirrel that Cala was carrying around.
-Leo teaching the students how to slackline
-Hiking to the waterfall in Turrialba
-Sandra trying to take stealthy pictures of Nacho
-Tour guide from Guyabo National Monument “You hear that” (in reference to the volcano) “It’s just a car”
-“Does anyone have any other musical talents?” Emina: “… I can whistle”
-Jamie was walking towards the slackline and I said “Jamie, you look so beautiful” then Jamie slid down the hill with Sandra’s evil laugh in the background.
-Jamie’s tears over Kermit the frog song
-Sandra’s desire to be an old lady… Sandra: “Ohhhh yeahhhh”
-Hailey attacked a spider with her shoe at hotel in Turrialba with a dead gecko on the nightstand
-When Hailey fell on the hill on the last night in her blanket and sat there by herself
-Hailey was holding a small child on her back then Manuel kicked a soccer ball and it accidentally hit her sternum
-When the Spanish class was on the national TV show “Mochilero”
-When Olivia missed the ball and layed in the middle of the field
-On Nacho’s farm in San Bernardo: Manuel: “I’m so hot” Meghan: “You should take that flannel off, its hot” Manuel: “I shouldn’t do that, Nacho should do he’s in better shape” Olivia: punch line “No questions asked” –Manuel translates to Nacho and everyone points at Olivia
-In bus on way to get Pedialite for Jamie the whole bus chanted for a couple that was making out
-Hailey was staring at Memo as she was pouring her juice- she completely missed her cup and poured juice all over the counter.
-When I thought that the rinse water for the sugar spoon was a special type of sugar.
-When Mario’s girlfriend got on the bus and everyone had a synchronized “hola” wave
-When the people of Zapotal asked Sandra where she was from and she responded…”AMERICA”
-When Sandra stopped the thief from pick pocketing Jen with just a look
-When Meghan woke up the students on the first day with music
-Connor making the students wake up with “verbal confirmation”
-When Lilly and Olivia were both showering in separate cabins and screaming about how they both had shampoo in their hair
-Amy’s favorite memory is Brutus’ constant barking at 2am
-Hailey finding a giant cockroach in her boot after wearing it for 20 minutes
-When Amy, Hailey, & Arturo were yelling at the neighboring farm for using pesticides
-When Dennis whipped to cut his cake
-7:47 daily departure
Thank you for all the amazing laughs and memories,
June 30 – July 20, 2015
You guys were, what can I say, the bomb! When I think back to our time together, I have nothing but positive memories of our experience. You guys were so eager to work, to explore, and to learn.
The contributions you made to Providencia were invaluable. Because of you, Providencia now has a longer stretch or road that makes travel not just possible, but safer. Jonathan’s dream of converting 100 coffees farms to organic ones is much more of a reality. Scientific research about migrating monkey populations is now possible because of your impressive shoveling skills.
And let’s not just focus on your contributions to the community in terms of your hard work-you have also left a lasting impact on its members. Juan didn’t lie when he said that you guys were a special group. Even a month after you guys left, we found ourselves always together about how awesome you guys were. You really integrated yourselves into our small family. Your constant positivity was infectious!
Here our some of my favorite memories of you guys:
- My night-watch duties being replaced with super fun convos
- Ruby being Emma and I’s child J
- Me cleaning clogged sinks
- Y’all “returning” food and beverage to the earth, and minutes later grabbing a shovel, ready to work
- Hearing Tara from a mile away
- Jonathan teaching David how to play the Ukulele
- William’s going-to-the-bathroom impression
- Hot sauce competitions
- Not finding Big Foot, but having sightings of a second Aja
Thank you guys for making my summer so amazing. I was inspired but your willingness to do any and everything with such grace and positivity. I hope you take this experience with you for the rest of your lives. Don’t forget to hold on strong to those commitments and affect change in your houses, schools, communities, and beyond!
Un fuerte abrazo,
July 9 – July 29, 2015
I hope you all enjoyed the rest of the summer after returning from your Spanish Service Adventure. You definitely left a mark on the people of Costa Rica. Memo, Nacho, and Ale often asked about you after you left.
In other Cedrela news, it was clear that the days after you left and I was the only one at home base that Esperanza needs constant human love and would not do well during the off season when no groups would be at Cedrela to shower her with affection. A friend of ours helped get the word out and she was adopted by a super-loving family in Heredia. A picture is below and you can see that she is being well taken care of, with her own bed and blankets and she’s allowed to sleep inside, so she won’t get cold at night!
I’m sure you are all wondering about San Pedro and Zapotal. Arturo is continuing his work with Alvaro and the people of San Pedro. There is a non-GLA group there now, working in bocachi and cementing the sidewalk. We worked in Zapotal again with the last GLA group. With the eco-bricks that you all made and the new ones that we spend 4 days making, we were able to make a second bench at the soccer field. We also continued working on the sidewalk and we almost made it all the way to the tienda!
I will always remember how much your group loved to sing and dance, whether during the human iPod, Zumba class, or the talent show. I hope you are all doing well.
July 25 – August 14, 2015
Dear Spanish Service Adventurers!
The last few days of warm weather are being replaced by crisp autumn air as the days roll one by one away from our time in Costa Rica. I still keep my windows open at night, hoping to catch the sounds of nature like we had in Providencia, but nothing compares to the sound of the river and the birds in the morning from our tents in Tami Lodge. And those comfortable beds! After all the hard work you guys put in during community service, everyone deserved a fabulous night’s sleep in those amazing beds. I feel honored to have met such a dedicated, hard-working group of students who made such a positive impact on the community. The mornings spent mixing Bokashi and lugging goat manure up that hill (Go Crap Crew!!) and dumping Brosa and Friendly Fungi on coffee plants were such a huge help to the local farmers who expressed their gratitude for our many hands making light work. What we did in a few hours would have taken them weeks without our help! For those who purchased bags of Green Communities coffee, it is such a great piece of Providencia to take home and share not only a cup of coffee, but also to be able to say you were a part of making the dream of organic coffee farming come true.
I loved seeing everyone challenge themselves in new ways and take on leadership roles and really step up to be the amazing leaders that each one of you holds within. Your reflections and ideas mixed with a desire to learn about yourselves and the world around you make this group truly inspiring! Since I’ve been home, I’ve implemented some of the changes we talked about in activities and discussions, for instance taking shorter showers, checking food labels to buy locally-made products, and picking back up being Pescatarian (kind of like a vegetarian, except I’ll eat fish every once in a while). How are your goals going? Have you made any other changes above and beyond the promises you set out to keep?
As I reflect back on the weeks we shared together, I’ve been thinking about how being a part of GLA isn’t just about what we take home, but what we leave behind. Your time there left memories and positive impacts on everyone you came in contact with – from the organic coffee farmers and Green Communities and Juan’s family, to your Adopt-a-Gringo host families and your Spanish instructors, to the local and international staff here at GLA. These memories and experiences will be remembered for years to come. There are also concrete things left behind…you guys literally built a road! What’s more, the road was built using recycled materials from the plastic bottles and trash used to make Eco-Bricks. Maybe it wasn’t the most exciting job in the world, but so many creative games and songs were made up to keep it fun, and it turned out to be a great opportunity to talk and share and learn more about someone who arrived a stranger and left as a friend.
I hope everyone’s transition back into the swing of things went smoothly! I am so proud to have met each of you, and am excited to see where your next adventure takes you!
My favorite memories:
- Riding in the back of Jonathon’s truck
- White water rafting (Go Tigres Rapidos!)
- Trying salt on my watermelon and pineapple
- Costa Rican cookies…Chiky & Yipy deliciousness
- Our very detailed tour in Manual Antonio (so much wildlife to discuss)
- Multiple celebrations of Anna’s birthday – “Happy Birthday, Anna!”
- The Egg Race in the swimming pool
- The Quetzal guide who was really a waiter
- Singing along to ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Shut Up and Dance’
- All the cute dogs and puppies
- “Pizza, pizza. Pizza, pizza, pizza”
August 2 – August 22, 2015
It’s funny how sometimes I look back on our time in Costa Rica and it seems like it just happened and other times I feel like it was so long ago. Kaylyn and I both felt so sad when we returned to the Best Western after taking Shekinah to the airport. It was so quiet here! Luckily we both have so many fond memories of this group that we were laughing so hard thinking about some of them:
-Andre bringing that huge moth downstairs on our first night at Cedrela
-Ben putting tortillas in his toes and feeding the fish during rafting
-Karol’s class spelling out LOVE with their bodies when Esperanza left
-dip dip dip, dippidy dippidy dip
-It’s stupid ninja time
-Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me an A. Give me an N.
-I lost the game
-Memo’s hot chocolate
-Team Nacho and Team Javier
-My new perfume, Bocachi for Her
-A very competitive game of musical chairs
-Canela, the dog, and her epic chase of our van as we left Provedencia
-The ghost(s) of Cedrela
-and although I never ever said it during the trip: that’s what she said
You all made such a big impact in San Bernardo and Zapotal and were an absolute pleasure to work with. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to finish off the summer with or a better way to close out my own GLA experience. I wish all of you nothing but the very best in the future and encourage you to keep exploring both at home and abroad.
Until our paths cross again…