Hola mis amigos!
“The real voyage of discovery consists not with seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” -Marcel Proust
My last hours at Hotel La Isla bring with them the opportunity to see this beautiful place with new eyes. I still flinch and slap at the bugs, inch closer to the breeze of the fan, and scrunch my nose at the smell of the sewer (someone must have flushed toilet paper again…).
I still gaze in astonishment at our beachfront backyard, laugh at the monkeys screeching at each other (and at us), and delight in the taste of fresh picked coconut. And yet the last hours also enable me to see novelties that I unfairly took for granted. I realize that a conversation with a friendly stranger along a dirt road is less likely once I leave. That closing my eyes to listen and feel the waves crashing on the shore won’t be mere stroll away from my room.
I know that upon returning home, you will use this experience to find new eyes in your own community. Your last day in Costa Rica was not the end of a journey; it was only the beginning. I challenge you to find unique ways to think critically and engage with different cultures. To see an issue within a community and engage in dialogue to create solutions. To be passionate and continue helping others.
I watched each and every one of you break out of your comfort zone to better yourselves and better the community which you came to serve. I urge you to continue stepping out of the comfort zone and into the courage zone. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable! Remember that you will only regret the things you don’t do, never the things you’ve done.
We made beautiful relationships while working with the people of Parrita, learning how to do service while following the lead of incredible people like Lulu and Mau. We examined views on international service that challenged our own to ensure that we left a positive impact on this community. And I am so proud to say that that is exactly what we left.
You guys built a garden table to supplement school lunches and increase government funding through the blue flag program. You joined forces with a woman’s group to reforest a riverbank and farm with unemployed community members, lead by one of the coolest Ticas known around these parts.
You painted beautiful murals for local schools, astonishing the teachers at your artistic talents and making the community proud. You constructed colorful tire playgrounds so enticing that the kids couldn’t even wait until they were finished to start jumping on them. And you combated the effects of climate change by working on a nursery to stop erosion on Isla Palo Seco.
‘Pura Vida’ has now been tattooed onto your hearts. Never forget that it is much more than simply a saying – it is a way of life. Farewell and good luck on your journey.
Some of my favorite memories:
~Mowing an entire soccer field at Isla Palo Seco
~The alarm piercing our ears while rain began to pour at Escuela Lourdes
~The MASSIVE rain storm on the last day flooding 3 students rooms (yes, you win the ‘Rainiest Session Award’)
~The story slam moving into students’ rooms on the last day
~Callie’s music playlist rendering her the coolest mentor
~The joyous emotions accompanying star power
~Eating fresh cut pineapple while tubing through the jungle down the cleanest river in Costa Rica (Rio Savagre) #CIRCLEOFCIRCLES
~Never forgetting to write it down: “plays loud music” #indirect
~Laughing at attempted techniques during bucket of dreams (maybe we should have called it ‘Box of Paper’ to be more accurate)
~FINDING YOUR PASSION FRUIT