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Brooklyn Latin School Costa Rica 2023

April 14, 2023 

The start of a full day in Costa Rica, since I barely looked at the itinerary I wasn’t sure what was happening today but I was excited for what the day had in store for us! We ate breakfast at the inn (rice, beans and eggs) and we were then told what was happening! Our group would be split into 2 groups, one that will hike to San Gerardo research station and the other to make cheese on a farm. I got placed into the cheese-making group, I was familiar with the process of making cheese from milk but not the specifics of the steps. Thus we embarked on a 2 hour journey up the mountain, stopping by a market in San Ramon which had cool snacks that we wanted to try out—cheesy takis and chocolate bars filled with nuget— really awesome snacks that were just better than American snacks!

We finally reached the Cheese making farm and we grouped up in the back to eat a home cooked lunch. It was weird walking through someone’s house but the family was very hospitable and the food was muy delicioso. Afterwards, we were briefed that we would be making cheese in small groups and I volunteered to be the first group. We entered the small room with a metal table on an incline to funnel excess “milk”. The man in charge of making the cheese with his wife explained to us how they test the milk with a chemical to see if it’s good to turn into cheese (if there is bacteria present or not). Then they would heat the milk and over time its fats would clump together; it didn’t taste like cheese but it did at the same time. After hours of waiting (which we didn’t have to do since they prepared it for us), they drop very refined salt into a bowl of boiling water and the “non-cheese” which will form the mozzarella cheese we all love…a bit too much. The last step is to roll the mozzarella cheese into balls with a specific twisting technique towards yourself. The man in charge said that my ball was great which made me feel proud and think about pursuing cheese-making as a career but just for a second. As we waited for the other groups to go through the cheese making process, we played football (soccer) with their children and it was so much fun. Sometimes being a visual artist, I find it hard not to feel regretful not taking my camera and documenting everything but in that moment it was nice to just embrace the culture of Costa Rica.

With heartfelt goodbyes we departed from the farm to the research station, Pocosol! It’s named little sun since it resides in the cloud forest where there are lots of clouds moving through and tall trees blocking the sun. The ride there was a bit scary as there were many ups and downs like a roller coaster but I was comforted by the funny stories I heard on our journey there. We finally arrived at Pocosol after, what I thought was, a long day but apparently it was not long enough. We ended the day with a nature hike full of various sounds from the animals. We spotted hummingbirds, other bird nests, places where bats ate, warthogs, red crested birds a part of the turkey family apparently, tiny frogs, similarly sized tadpoles and leaf-cutter ants moving on a highway to their ant colony. Additionally, we learned about the rich agricultural history of Costa Rica. We talked about the continental shift of the island from the Galapagos area, moving land to bridge North and South America. Lots of Costa Rica’s territory is water connecting to its primary volcano. Lots of earthquakes occur and the country exports coffee (best grown at high altitudes) which is best for Costa Rican families as it cycles within the economy. Our hearts were so filled from all the things we did and on top of that I was able to expand my Spanish vocabulary a little bit more. It’s only the beginning and I can’t wait for what’s in store tomorrow.

Pura Vida!

Peter and Nikita

April 15, 2023

On our first full day of work at PocoSol, we started our morning with an amazing breakfast provided by the kitchen. Overall, every single meal that we had at the station was incredibly nutritious, and we all left satisfied, some even taking seconds. One of the most memorable parts of our meals in Costa Rica has been the freshly pressed juice with each meal. Unlike the juices that we have in the US, these juices have no added sugar, were very refreshing and crisp, and left us ready for work.

After breakfast, the group was split in two for our service projects. Our guide Chalo took one half of our group to maintain a trail while the other half helped to restore fencing in our lodging with Marcela. Our work consisted of working with tools such as shovels, pickaxes and sacks (the names of which we were taught in Spanish; palas, picos, and sacos) and clearing material into these sacks. This material was then used further up the path and packed into the soil to help restore another section of the trail. During our break, which Chalo was diligent in reminding us to take, he taught us some terms in Spanish, especially Costa Rican slang. One term that stuck with us was “acachete”, from “cachete,” referring to full cheeks and thus satisfaction and wealth. Every time someone asks how we are, we often respond with “¡acachete!”

Throughout the day, we elected to take many hikes around the PocoSol area of the BEN (Bosque Eterno de los Niños; the forest we were stationed in), and though some of us were quite winded afterwards, being able to see sights such as the volcanic sulfur springs and the various wildlife that spring out at night (ants, moths, toads, birds, and many more!) were extremely rewarding and paid us back tenfold for the soreness that followed.

During the night hike that closed out this day, Chalo had us turn off our flashlights when we got to the lake after teaching us a bit about how carbon is cycled and how we need to take care of our environment (a topic we recently covered in our Biology class); he had us take in our environment to the fullest—the sounds, the smells; everything that surrounded us. After moving around so much for the whole day, being able to take in one space so fully gave us a newfound appreciation for the entire forest; every square foot of space goes to the sky, and could be studied for an entire day. The forest felt so empty yet so full; you could hear its music, peaceful yet so loud, forest surrounding us. The forest is a vast place, and made us realize how we as humans are only one part of something much bigger. Chalo’s earlier speech helped us take in each of these thoughts, and just like the juice that refreshed and filled us at the beginning of the day, we were left feeling ¡acachete!

Pura Vida!

Sandra and Malachy

Group 1 at San Gerardo woke up to an amazing breakfast at 7:30 which consisted of pancakes, eggs, rice and beans, plantains and pineapple. After, the group got ready to do our service work on the trails. We were split up into two groups: group 1 was in charge of raking the leaves on one trail and group 2 was in charge of making steps on another trail. Group 1 was able to get through almost half the trail and did an amazing job raking the leaves and moving them off the trail. Group 2 dug up flat patches of dirt, and hammered boards onto it making useful steps on the trail. We all returned and were able to eat a delicious lunch of chicken, rice and chips.

After we were able to rest and have leisure time. Some of us decided to soak up the sun, others played soccer and frisbee and some took naps. Mid-day we were surprised with desserts like brownies and tres leches, which was amazing. Then for dinner we ate rice and pork with chips and throughout the day had different fruit drinks like coconut and fruit punch.

After dinner some of us got ready for a night hike and we were on the lookout for any type of animal. During the hike, puma eyes were caught on the camera and we were all full of adrenaline. 45 minutes later, we were back at the house and had popcorn waiting for us. For the rest of the night we were able to hangout with our friends on the hammocks and got to enjoy the bright shining stars.

Pura vida,

Serena C.

April 16, 2023
Our day started with rising at 6:45 to get ready for breakfast. We ate fresh fruit, bean and cheese empanadas, and had coffee and orange juice. After, we went back to our rooms and got ready for the service projects we were doing over the day. Half the group went to paint fences that we had prepped and sanded the day before. We applied a first coat of black paint while we listened to music and got acquainted with each other. We had to paint a total of 4 railings and did 2 at a time. While 2 were drying, we painted the other 2 and kept doing that process until it was completed. When we were done we hiked down to the river to meet up with the other group and start on a hike together. At the river, the other group had been in el Bosque Eterno de los Niños to dig out rocks and sand in one of the rivers in order for the water to flow better. We split up into pairs and took turns using the shovels to dig out the sand and place it in the sacks that the other person was holding. The water was running down, mud was getting all over us, mosquitoes were biting, but we kept on working knowing it was for a good cause. Honestly it was so much fun working all together surrounded by the sounds of wild animals under the canopy of trees and plants. After loading up the sacks a few people went down the trail to unload the fort and start patting it down in order for the path to be leveled and easier to walk on.

Once we were done working, we had some downtime before the other group arrived for our hike, so we rewarded ourselves with some fun and relaxation while talking with friends. The second group had finally arrived and so we embarked on our 2 hour long hike to the waterfall. It was so pretty and such a different experience from walking through New York City. We took the time to appreciate the nature including the different plants and animals that our guide Chalo was showing us. After quite a while we reached the waterfall, watching as it flowed from its base down into the river. We got our pictures in and started our way home. It was hard and steep but we were ambitious to make it and had good vibes, as Chalo would say, that the difficulty of it didn’t matter at all. After what felt like forever we finally reached our lodges, all of us about to pass out, just in time for lunch. The beef, rice, and beans was an amazing last meal to end our trip in PocoSol with.

We then went to pack up ur stuff say our final goodbyes to the rangers and got in the busses on our way to Heliconias Lodges. As we were driving up the hill we saw the hotel in the distance and it look beautiful. We arrived, signed in, got our bracelets, and were instantly attracted to the huge soccer field. My friends and I split up into teams and started playing until we collapsed. As the second big group arrived we were reflecting on the past couple of days and what we learned from those experiences. It was nice to sit down with our group and talk about how we all got closer and gained more relationships with each other. After reflecting we ran down to our friends, who we hadn’t seen in 2 days and regrouped, jumping and hugging, while talking over each other about our times at the stations. After catching up we got assigned our groups, refreshed ourselves and went up to the restaurant for a delicious dinner all together. Announcements were made for the next day, good nights were passed around and we slowly made our way back to our rooms to relax, get the lights out and get a healthy rest for our busy day to come.

Pura vida!

Brianna D.

At 5:00 we woke up to watch the sunrise on the patio hammock. After about an hour the rest of our group woke up. At 8 we came down for breakfast which was pancakes, tostones, rice and beans, and fresh fruit. We then cleaned our rooms and got ready to head out on our 2.5 kilometer hike back up the mountain. On our way back we encountered a pizote on the hunt for insects on the trail.

Once we finally reached the end of the hike we got on the bus for a three hour car ride to La Fortuna. We stopped to get lunch at restaurant/souvenir shop. In which they had a large array of foods and drinks. We were able to buy a large range of souvenirs from necklaces to stuffed animals. Lastly we arrived at the Heliconias Hotel in La Fortuna. After getting our rooms and getting dinner (salad rice beans and fish) at the hotel. Some of us played futbol while others returned to their rooms. At 9:30 we were all in our rooms and by 10:00 it was lights out.

Pura vida!

Nia P.

April 17, 2023

Today was a very memorable day. This was our first day of service work at a local high school. The students and the staff at the high school were very thoughtful and friendly. When we first arrived, we were welcomed by a dance and a performance by their band. The dancers were dressed in traditional clothing in the colors of the Costa Rican flag (red, blue, and white). They delivered a beautiful dance while the song “Me Ilamo Costa Rica” played. The performance by the band was also very impressive as they used a variety of traditional instruments. The performances were delivered with such passion and enthusiasm that some of us visiting got very emotional.

After the performances, it was our time to work. Our job was to clean the desk frames by sanding, washing, and then painting the frames with gray paint. Everyone quickly got to work in the lobby. While we worked, we also got to know the student guides. Even though they were able to speak english fluently, it was frustrating for many of us that we weren’t able to converse with them in spanish. One of the student guides I met was Santiago. During our conversation, I learned that it was his dream to live in another country such as the U.S. or Canada. I also learned that he went to Disneyland in Orlando just a few years ago. Another student guide I met was Emily. She was very helpful and came to help us right away when we seemed to need help. I learned from Emily that she’ll be traveling to London next summer for an exchange program.

After we sanded and washed the desk frames, it was time for lunch. The lunch at the school was incredibly delicious and nutritious. We had rice, beans, mixed veggies, a salad, and juice. After we finished our meal, we had the option to grab a mango or a guava. It was funny how much we struggled with eating the mango. After we finished our meal, we took out a deck of cards and taught Slap Jack to some of the student guides.

When the break was over, it was time to paint! We divided into pairs to paint the desk frames. The painting process was very therapeutic and while we painted, we also chatted with the student guides about their hobbies and future. We were able to find common grounds in the music we listen to, and we shared instagrams and music artists with each other. We were also able to connect through our love for anime. But most importantly, they talked about their dreams with us, about how they wanted to travel, learn, and experience many different things from many different countries around the world in the future.

As we wrapped up our project and got ready to leave, a lot of us didn’t want to leave. We wished the students goodbye and good luck, before we boarded our vans and meet up with the other group at the local primary school.

The other group did physical labor, such as repainting the ground and flower pots, building a new bathroom, mixing cement, clearing the fence, and transporting bricks. When we arrived they were mostly done with everything and was playing soccer with the primary students in the backyard. We arrived just in time for tortilla making. We were able to learn how to make tortillas. After the tortillas were out the pan, some of us formed a “tortilla factory” making empanadas with tortillas and different fillings such as beans, eggs, and cheese. Everyone got to eat at least one of the empanadas while some of us had four plus.

After we filled up on empanadas, it was time to say goodbye to the students and wrap up for the day. We thanked the principal and the staff for their support and we hopped onto the vans and headed back to the hotels. Overall, this was a very meaningful day, not only from the hard labor but also from what we accomplished and what we learned, but also from the friends that we made ¡acachete!

Eunice E & Chenyi A

April 18, 2023

We started out the day by visiting a high school. The kids were extremely friendly and I exchanged numbers with a few new friends. We asked some of them what they thought of the school, and they said that they enjoyed it but that the food was bad and that it was too hot. This was interesting to us because, coming from New York, we thought that the weather and food were fantastic compared to our school. This gave me a new perspective on whether or not our complaints about our own school were really true or exaggerated.

Afterwards we went to a nature preserve which held rescued animals such as beautiful macaws and fantastic white faced momkeys. Our guide told stories about how the rescued animals were not properly treated, which were disappointing and sad, however it opened my eyes to how easy it is to mistreat animals out of ignorance. My sadness was contrasted with the hopefulness of the preserve and it’s mission to rehabilitate the animals. At the end of our visit we made toys with food inside that allowed the animals to work for their food, like they would in the wild. Although I was upset about how the animals had been mistreated, I left the reserve feeling like I had helped in something important.

Xavier C

April 19, 2023

We woke up today to a breakfast of pancakes with chocolate sauce and locally sourced pineapples and bananas. A chipper Heliconias staffer took our plates with a smile and a “Pura Vida”— the slogan of Costa Rica.
Then, we piled into the buses for zip-lining. During the ride, my dawgs and I discussed what it would be like to live as girls, the terminal velocity of humans, and the best football boots.
Our conversation “zipped” closed as we arrived at Sky Adventures and strapped on our harnesses. At the top of the tram we took pictures with a big “we are on our honeymoon” sign and then clipped ourselves to the first of seven zip-lines.
We shot through the sky to the metallic hum of the harness sliding along the cable. The sun baked us, our shrieks broke the ambience of the forest beneath, and we reentered the buses red-faced and windy-haired.
Lunch was delicious: chicken, pork, rice, and beans, topped off with colorful ice cream in little white bowls. In the afternoon we made our way to various souvenir shops and bodegas to get mementos for our families.
Dinner was quesadillas, and after devouring them we sauntered back to our rooms and fell into our beds.
On the cusp of sleep, I smiled at the pleasant drowsiness the finished day had brought.

Lucas L.

On our second to last day in Costa Rica, our group went zip lining through the forests by the Arenal Volcano.
I was looking forward to this activity the most
because I’ve never been zip lining before, and with the location I was extremely excited to be able to see the scenery and an above view of the forest
It didn’t take us very long to get to the zip line place from the La Fortuna Lodge, but I was able to squeeze in a quick nap before the excitement.
Getting out of the van, I was greeted by the humid rainforest heat that I’ve grown semi- used to since the last week of staying here on Costa Rica. By the time I was done putting my bag in one of the lockers provided to us and applying my sunscreen, I felt my shirt stick to my back from the sweat.
While waiting in line, the excitement had only set in further: I was going to zip line through the forests of Costa Rica, right by a volcano. The thought seemed so repetitive in my mind but it really was so bewildering how I was able to this on a school trip nonetheless.
I was quickly given my equipment, which consisted of the harness, gloves, helmet, and handle bar.
Just before we entered the lift up the mountain for the first line, we had a staff give us a basic safety guide for the zip line. He told us how to brake, and certain signals staff would give us and what to do when signaled. One of the signals were if the staff waved their arms out horizontally, we would have to spread our legs as far as possible and brake. To brake, we would turn the handle bar right to left, three seconds on each side.
On the lift, I saw a few kids around me get nervous, but I found myself getting more and more excited. It didn’t take us long to get to the top by the lift, but looking back, we couldn’t see the platform of where we left off.
My group was the second to last group to get to the top, but we were able to see the last few people from the previous group go down the first line.
The first line was a long one, overviewing a valley and the nearby lake. We had to do a short practice line, which gave us a taste of how to brake and how to land at the end of a line.
After what felt like forever, I was soon being clipped onto the zip line, however I had to go with another person due to a precaution of my weight, and I might be too light to make it properly across. The staff gave me and the person and starting push, and I felt my heart drop a little as we quickly picked up speed over the valley. It was in the very best way, exhilarating, and as we sped across, the scenery was so beautiful. It’s really hard to capture or put into words the awe I felt as the wind was rushing in my ears and I saw the forest all below and beyond me with the lake in the horizon.
The rest of the lines went by quickly, with the second to last line being the longest as I zipped through the trees of the forest. This activity really solidified my kind of like, respect for the people who were able to preserve such an expansive reserve of these rainforests.
For the last week I’ve only been given the ground view of the forest and the beauty it provided within it, but this zip-lining activity was able to give me a birds eye view of how expansive the forest was.
I feel really lucky to have been able to go on this trip and experience the beauty of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest.


April 21, 2023

Today we woke up to eat our last sweet breakfast at the Heliconias Lodge at 8:00.

It was filled with sweet pancakes, chocolate, and pineapple juice. We then boarded the bus on the way to a cacao farm to learn about the origins and make chocolate. We learnt more about the native process to create chocolate and how it’s created with modern methods. We even got to see many other trees such as plantain trees. After this we went to lunch in a city area. It was filled with rice and beans, fried chicken, and many fruit juices. Then we went to a souvenir shop next door where I bought many bracelets for myself and family. Next we all boarded the bus for a hefty 2.5 hour ride to the La Dehesa Hotel where we first started our Costa Rica journey. After landing we got straight to prep for our final diner in Costa Rica. Once we got there we ate wonderful meals of burgers, fries, pasta, and bread. Then we put our dance lessons to work doing variations of salsa and bachata to the faint music in the background. We ended the night of with a reflection on all the new things we learned during our time in Costa Rica. We also said our final goodbyes to our Global Works team, especially Randall. Our final night in Costa Rica was filled with reflection and excitement. Pura Vida!

Shekinah G