As we hopped on the bus for our first of many three-hour rides to Liberia airport, we were anxious to meet our first 23 session one students! The steady stream of blue shirts started to flow through the arrivals gate and the students began to exchange greetings and chat amongst themselves, not knowing how close they would grow to each other in 21 days and the tearful goodbyes that would happen in that same spot three weeks later. Once all 23 students had arrived, we loaded onto the bus and the students met our beloved driver, Steven, for the first time. After a traditional lunch at a nearby soda, we began the bumpy three-hour ride back to our home base in Nosara. There was a lot of energy on the bus and very few moments of silence the whole way to home base. When we were about 30 minutes away, the students asked Sergio “how much longer?” “About five more minutes!” he replied. This was the moment we all learned not to ask Serg for timeframes. After covering some basic health and safety tips, including all things poop-related, we arrived at home base and were greeted by Kim and Junior, our fabulous chefs that cooked delicious meals for us during our stay at the B&B.
Our first days in Nosara were filled with orientation activities and town tours. On orientation day, we covered health and safety talks and took a short walk to the beach to go over beach safety. Our natural born actors had a chance to shine when we acted out our code of conduct skits. The group then came together to make a “team flag.” All of us traced our hands onto paper and cut them out, writing five things we value on the fingers and posting them all on our flag, creating a sense of unity and connectedness. Our first beach day was the day students really bonded and got to know each other while enjoying the sun and swimming together. Fortunately, there were no rip tides this day. Those would come later. On our third day, we headed over to the school in the nearby town of Santa Marta for an orientation to learn about the service work we would be doing. This is the first day we met Alvaro, our local service coordinator, who would become a dear friend to many of us and one of the most tearful goodbyes on the final night. Alvaro showed us around the school and salon, or community center, and we realized we would need to work hard to get everything done in three weeks! By the end of our three weeks of service we had created beautiful murals, re-painted the majority of the school, and updated the school’s playground. We sanded and painted (3 times!) many tables in the community center, painted signs to hang around the school, created a game of memory for the kids, and completed numerous updates around the soccer field. Our hard work paid off as we finished all of our tasks just in time on the final service day. An epic service celebration followed, complete with face paint, lots of food, and a piñata! We have a lot to be proud of!
In addition to service, our days were packed with numerous cultural activities and adventure! From bread making workshops to traditional dances and (exhilarating) ox cart rides, we dove into the Costa Rican culture and learned a lot about traditional ways of life for Ticos in Nosara. Adventure days were filled with surf and paddleboard lessons, horseback riding, zip lining, and whitewater rafting down the Tenorio river. Evenings were often time for mentor groups, where we connected deeper and had a space to share our experiences in a smaller group setting. Some evenings even ended with a lights-out rap lullaby and many ended with late night chats. Highlights included our open mic night and capstone presentations. It was so inspiring to listen to each student share their lives with the group and share how their time in Costa Rica had changed them.
By our last day of service, the school at Santa Marta, specifically the kindergarten classroom, had been transformed. It wasn’t just the school that had transformed though; each of our lives had changed being here in Costa Rica as we learned to embrace and love the Pura Vida way of life. The culture, the friendships, and the hard work we put in transformed us and impacted our lives in ways we never could have imagined. This group bonded like a family and the memories of these three special weeks spent together in Costa Rica are sure to live on for years to come!
From beautiful ocean breezes in the pavilion to kale chips and bleached clothes, we admittedly knew nothing in the beginning but had the most amazing time with our session one trial run 😉 Mom, Dad, and Tio Gio will never forget you guys! Lots of love and Pura Vida!
Ava H – Our humanitarian. Your spirit of service was inspiring as well as your plan to take home what you’ve learned and make a difference in your own community
Ava G— YOOOO. Your sarcasm brightened my days. As a matter of fact, it was…exhilarating
Caleigh – Our hottest tamale. You were always singing and dancing and making sure everyone was having fun!
Carly – You will forever hold the title of Alpha of the Apes and Elephant Rats. Just remember, “don’t be a crab raiser if you’re not going to raise them right!”
Christina – You truly learned the meaning of how to live the Pura Vida lifestyle. I see a lot of surfing in your future!
Bella – Mujer. 70. Deborah. OG of the salon. Our bus DJ, our line dancer. Remember the Alamo.
Izzy – Our most athletic. Showing off your soccer skills on one of the first days of service as you slid on the field and ended up covered in mud was quite a moment to remember!
Jacob – Our favorite break dancer. We will never forget the red hair. Can’t wait to see your upcoming TED talk after that Capstone!
Madison – Our best storyteller. You were the first one to arrive at the airport on Day 1. I will always be laughing when I see Bienvenidos signs, because… Bienvendos. I hope your Welome home was everything you hoped and more.
Natalia – Our best dancer. You seemed a little shy in the beginning, but we knew there was more to it when you started dancing at Lisbia’s dinner party!
Sophia – You are so sweet and thoughtful and you were always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed help. You were a shining example of servant leadership!
Adeline – Our best silent laugh. I will never forget our impromptu Shoop rap in the middle of dance lessons with Willy! #momentintime
Caroline – Our most genuine. You always had a smile on your face and encouraged those around you. I hope to see you again soon when you return to Costa Rica!
Kenzie – Our most inspiring. Thank you for inspiring us all by sharing your amazing poetry! I look forward to hearing more of it in the future!
Isabel – aka Magic Michelle. Dancer. Model. Surfer. Thanks for always laughing at my dumb jokes!
Julia – Sassy pants! We loved all your witty one-liners. I hope you’re still working on bettering your ugly selfie game. I still don’t think you are actually capable of taking one ☺
Marianna – Our most artistic. Your brainchild mural came to life beautifully with the help of all the other students. Your other sketch has now become a permanent reality too… frijoles forever!
Liv (or Liz?) – Our entertainer. You have quite a bit to add to your acting resume now, from a rip tide to Scooby Doo, you obviously have a bright future in acting! I have a case of anti-humectant if you’re ever in need. Oh and Chika says hi.
Sanaya – Our coolest cucumber. I will never forget the ox cart ride and the “souvenir” you got to take back with you on your leg!
Sasha – Our best smile. You always had a smile on your face and that smile was contagious! Don’t forget to throw down those peace signs. Anytime. Anywhere.
Trudie – Life of the Party. From your crazy party tricks to your caffeine overload, you really came out of your shell and became quite a legend. I’m still waiting for the Trudielofe YouTube channel to become a reality…
Ethan – The other OG of the salon. You always had such a positive attitude in whatever you were doing. Without you and your hammer skills, our (3 times over) renovated tables wouldn’t be the same. You also have some pretty sick dance moves.
Zoe —Our future outdoor camp counselor. You spirit for adventure was evident in all you did. You always had a smile on your face and a positive attitude to go with it!
– Kelly (Mom)