Greetings students of Costa Rica Beachside Service Adventures 2018!
Your dedicated team of directors and mentors – Callie, Daya, Michael, Carlitos, Bridget, Sam,
Sophie, Chanel, Bethany, Ila, and Kasia – would like to reach out and reflect on some of the
unforgettable moments we shared living together in Junquillal. We hope the ten days we spent
as a group were as meaningful for you as they were for us. Each service site had a unique story
and presented enlightening challenges, and each one of you adopted that story as your own
and grew because of those challenges.
Those of us at Escuela Paraíso tackled a handful of projects in the local schools with Chanel
and Sam. We painted la huerta (the orchard), built a playground from scratch (including a
makeshift tractor made of painted car tires), and painted a mural for the kindergarten. We didn’t
forget to have fun along the way – in the morning we sang the Paraiso song we wrote ourselves,
and got to spot howler monkeys at the service site.
Kasia and Ila led team Marbella Escuella, where the students worked ceaselessly to paint the
schools murals and signs raising awareness about the environment and beach cleanup. We had
a satisfying and rewarding last day of service, when we got to meet the kids we’d been working
so hard to support. Other highlights from our service days include playing with the dogs on the
site, perfecting our “Marbella Estrella” cheer, and drinking Lori’s Lemonade.
Carlitos led team Marbella Reforestation, during which we planted and watered trees for the
local community (the community has a system where for every tree you cut down, to build a
house for example, you have to plant two!). Like Marbella Escuela, they got to enjoy iced
lemonade made by Lori, a wonderful Italian woman who’s been living for many years in Costa
Rica with her family. And one of the best memories of the session – students dancing to the
Brazilian song choreography!
We also had the chance to start a new service project with Bridget at the Vida y Salud Organic
Farm. Here, we learned about sustainable farming practices that benefit the environment and
make use of local resources, made fertilizer from leaves, and weeded. It was all worth it
knowing that it supported Rodolfo and his family, particularly his child Saul, who quickly became
a celebrity among our group.
All working with Beth at Restoring Our Watershed (ROW) had the opportunity to look at and
understand more deeply some of the most prominent environmental challenges that Costa Rica
faces today. For example, we learned about the importance of Vetiver grass to the prevention of
soil erosion and water retention. We painted signs and bins at schools to encouraging recycling
among students, learned alongside local high schoolers, and even teamed up with Verdiazul to
facilitate a day of learning for local students at Rio Seco.
Finally, at Verdiazul, an organization dedicated to sea turtles and beachside
reforestation,Sophie led her tireless team to dig holes and put posts to build a fence along the
shoreline. Building the fence was an important achievement, as it will help prevent the public
from parking on the beach and destroying the plant life that’s so essential for protecting against
erosion. When we weren’t laboring under the hot sun, Verdiazul group got to know our local
leaders, Pan, Valerie, Bryan, and Dani, and with their help planned fun activities with kids from
the local community.
When we weren’t laboring away, we got to drink coconut water straight
from the coconuts, practice our Spanish, pand have great bonding sessions by the pool.
From the meaningful moments: sharing stories of self, reflecting on what it means to be a
responsible tourist and effective leader, participating in our final appreciation circle…to the
thrilling: Sea kayaking! Canopy ziplining! Trying gallo pinto and dragon fruit!…to the downright
fun: fire twirling, playing soccer against a local women’s team, bus ride dance parties, beach
yoga…Sin duda, we will remember our ten days with you for years to come. We hope that
wherever you are (perhaps someplace just a little bit colder?), you are able to look back on your
experience with GLA and use what you learned to be the change you want to see in the world.
Now if you would all put your hands over your heart, and repeat after us: “Voy a reír, voy a
bailar, vivir mi vida, GLA la la la la…”
And dude… Where’s chicken?
-The GLA team