Greetings students of Costa Rica Beachside Service Adventures!
Although our session has come to a close, all of us still here at Junquillal – Callie, Daya,
Michael, Carlos, Bridget, Sam, Sophie, Chanel, Bethany, Ila, and Kasia – would like to reach out
to you one last time to reflect back on some of the unforgettable moments we shared. We hope
that the ten days we spent together as a group were as meaningful for you as they were for us.
It was incredible to watch you grow among the five available service sites. Each had a story of
its own and presented unique challenges that were enlightening and enjoyable in their own way.
Those of us at Escuela Paraíso divided and conquered in the local schools with Chanel, Sam,
On our first day, we caught a glimpse of a school-wide celebration before students went
away for 15 days of vacation. Some painted a large marine themed mural that featured The
Little Mermaid, while others worked in the orchard or “la huerta” constructing gardening boxes
from scratch. At the kindergarten CenCinai, Ila’s team really shone – with sweat all over their
backs. They were responsible for weeding, adding soil, tilling, and planting Martita’s garden,
who encouraged them each day with a friendly smile and delicious fruit during their breaks.
Kasia and Carlitos led team Avellanas, where we contributed not only to the beautification of
Playa Avellanas, but also the health of the local ecosystem that has been damaged from human
development. We also left our mark on the beach with the signs made of wooden boards that
we sanded ourselves. And don’t forget our signature hand clap and work song (“Limpieza de
playa, en Avellanas, con mis hermanas, vamos a hacer”)!
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 Verdi Azul to
to facilitate a day of learning for local students at Rio Seco.
Finally at Verdi Azul, an organization dedicated to sea turtles and beachside reforestation, we
helped clear out an area for future turtle eggs. Sophie and Michael lead students as they
passed buckets of sand down to a pile and dumped them out to let the ocean take the sand
back. It was hard work under the sun and in such heat and humidity, and we were rewarded for
our labor when we all got the rare change to witness baby sea turtles being released into the
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: Jellyfish stings! Canopy ziplining! Trying gallo pinto and dragon fruit!; to the downright
fun: fire twirling, nightly games of UNO, bus ride dance parties, Zumba/T25 at 6 am…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