All Posts

Costa Rica Children and Community 1B: June 28- July 12, 2021

June 29, 2021
What up families! The first full day was absolutely incredible. We ate a good breakfast to get all the energy for the long eventful day. After breakfast we got to go to an amazing zip lining place. There was a total of 7 zip lines but the first one was the biggest which was called “oh my god!” You can’t totally see how high up are until you get past the few trees and the view is incredible. While on the zip line you can look to the side and there is a beautiful lake and a massive volcano.
After the zip lining we went to a restaurant for lunch and ate the classic chicken, beans, and rice. After we got the opportunity to walk around the town called La Fortuna where we got to shop and eat delicious ice cream. After, we headed back to the hotel and had free time where we swam and got to know each other better. Then we ate a delicious chicken and rice dinner and had great conversations about our lives back home.
Then we went to this little place with a roof and wooden floor called something I don’t remember. Maybe kazoo or gazebo, I don’t really know. We played a few of the games that you play on the first day of school to get to know everyone, I’m sure everyone can relate. Yeah, that was the day, 10/10!

– Dylan

June 30, 2021

Hey fam! This is Kayla and Thomas. Today was another great day. We woke up to a lovely breakfast and continued to build group connections. We drove 15 minutes to the Crisley cheese farm and factory. We learned about their history and they served the most amazing lunch. I think everyone can agree it was the best meal yet. We then got to make their famous cheese and the process was fascinating. First the cheese was separated and all curly. Then we cooked it and it was folded until it became more combined. We then rolled the cheese into balls of a perfect 400 grams. We got to try the cheese we made as well as the other types of cheese the factory makes. It was so fresh and really tasty. We played soccer with the kids who lived there, and Sebastian, the youngest, was super funny and was practically running the game. There was no hope for winning. We were destroyed. We got to walk around the farm and see everything they grew. We also saw pigs and chickens and some of us even got to hold them. We headed back to Heliconias and swam in the pool with everyone. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of stir fried rice. We hung out and talked and we all passed out. Another great day! We miss you!

– Thomas and Kayla

July 1, 2021

Hey everyone, it’s Jenna and Claudia. Today we woke up early and walked to the restaurant for a nourishing breakfast and coffee. Then, we went back to pack our bags for a travel day to the nature lodge. It started with a long bus ride in which we played mafia and learned about each others stories and experiences from home. We were lucky enough to have a visitor come along with us: Wesley, the son of the cheese farm owner, Crisley. We’ve been learning how to better communicate with him (he only speaks Spanish). Being with Wesley has been a great opportunity to learn about what life is like in Costa Rica and practice conversational Spanish. We stopped at a restaurant in town and had a really good and filling meal together. Then we headed to the hike. It was much longer than expected, but we got to be in the clouds and explore nature and bond as a group. When we arrived, muddy and sweaty, all we wanted was a nice shower. Unfortunately, there is no hot water here. So, taking cold showers definitely made us appreciate what we have. After a long travel day, we got a chance to unwind and also have a fun gymnastics session with our favorite gymnasts (Karli and Grace). We ended the night with loads of laughter and screams from all the bugs that have crawled through the holes in the wall. Buenas dias!

– Jenna and Claudia

July 2, 2021
Hey families! Today was a very tiring day. We woke up in the lodge and had an amazing breakfast to fuel us for the day. We had two projects planned which we did with the help of the rangers here (David and Armando). One group hiked about 20 min out from the lodge and widened the trails for the ATVs. The other group went onto the other trail to build handrails and help stop erosion by building trenches. Both projects required hard work and strength. For lunch we had the usual, but tasty, rice, beans and chicken to fuel up for the second phase. After lunch, I (Chase) got to use the pick axe to widened the trails which was super fun.
By the time we got back we were all sweaty and super tired, so we took showers in the ice cold water. We played group games, relaxed and rested before dinner (rice, mashed potatoes, pork and salad). We ended the night with a nightly meeting and bonding games. We also had an interview with two of the rangers here (Pablo and Adam), who have been helping us. We spent time learning about their lifestyle, which we realized has big differences compared to ours. For example, they enjoy spending 5 to 10 days alone in the cloud forest maintaining the area. We also learned about the lodge, San Gerardo, we have been staying at. We are very grateful to have been able to learn from Pablo and Adam. So ready for bed!

-Chase and Mikaella

July 3, 2021
Hey guys, it’s Karli and Emma here. We started the day with an exceptional site. Fab woke us up at 5 am to see the volcano that is usually blanketed by a thick layer of clouds. Don’t worry though, we went back to sleep after. We woke up to delicious empanadas and pancakes for breakfast. Then we got ready for our gorgeous hike to the waterfall. Once we arrived we all got in the water. The water felt amazing and was a good way to cool down. We then took pictures and began our scenic trek back through the jungle. Towards the end we decided to walk solo and silent through the forest so that we could enjoy the sights and sounds individually. Once we got back, we had lunch, which consisted of brown chips, rice and beans, and salad. In the afternoon we got to sit in the hammocks, read, and chill. It was nice to have down time. We also divided into groups to work on presentations of our choice. We researched about a Costa Rican related topic that interested us, and learned from each other about pumas, snakes, and butterflies. Next was dinner, which was crazy good. We had rice, steak, and vegetables. After dinner we went on a fascinating night hike, led by our amazing guide Adam. We found a number of cool animals and enjoyed listening to the rainforest come alive at night. Lastly, we had our nightly meeting where we shared our favorite, most memorable moment from the day. After playing some late night card games together, we called it a night. More to come tomorrow, families!
Emma and Karli

July 4, 2021
Hi everyone, Finn and Sophia here! After three nights, today was our final day at the rainforest. After a delicious breakfast, we said bye to the park rangers and got ready for our trek back to Heliconias. With backpacks on, we started our uphill 4km hike in two different groups. With the view of the Arenal Volcano in the background, one group saw “red pandas”, shared stories, played contact during our breaks, and gave each other lots of encouragement. The other group tried to power through the extremely arduous climb with as little breaks as possible to try and get it over with as quick as possible. We also gave each other words of encouragement and carried each other’s backpacks to help with the pain. Once on the bus, we headed straight to lunch, where many got to try a new strawberry candy. We stopped in the Monteverde town to pick up some snacks and souvenirs. Then, it was time for our long bus ride to the hotel. As we drove through the lush Costa Rican landscapes, we blasted songs through the speakers (lots of One Direction, Taylor Swift, and more favorites) courtesy of Karli’s iPod. Unfortunately, with an hour or two left in the drive, a mudslide occurred due to the heavy rains a little ways ahead of us, causing a traffic jam. Thanks to Fabulous Fab, we were able to clear one side of the road and we resumed on our way. We finally arrived back at Heliconias at around 6:30, with dinner shortly after, and said our goodbyes to Wesley. To celebrate the Fourth of July, we had our very own pool party with music and games.
Goodnight XO,
Finn and Sophia

July 5, 2021

Greetings earthlings, and hello real world from off the grid, we have been given the task of informing you on how our July 5th went. We ate a hearty breaky of pancakes (not rice and beans). Then we left and went to a school in the town of La Lucha. Upon arrival we were given a tour of the school and introductions to all the staff. Then we split up into groups of gardeners and painters. The gardeners spent their afternoon using hoes, shovels, and rakes to create a community garden, while the painters intricately painted flower shaped tables. After the painters were done with the flowers on the tables we ate lunch. For lunch we had beef, rice and beans (no surprise) and a yellow vegetable that none of us know the name of. After lunch Fab and Allie cemented their friendship with a BFF photoshop. After hours of painting and intense labor in the sun we were becoming very tired. Anyways, because we were sweaty from all of our hard work, we used the hose to cool off. We also played with water balloons, which Fab provided. Then we went back to working. We finished up some painting and then went to the back of the school to finish up gardening. I’m convinced that the shovel was the cause of my current swollen ankle (Amen). I’m fine though, don’t worry. After we finished up the garden, we packed into the van and drove back to Hotel Heliconias. We were all very hot so we immediately changed into swimsuits and went to the pool. We ordered some virgin margaritas and daiquiris and relaxed. After that some of decided to dress up for dinner. It was really nice to see everyone dressed up. I vlogged after dinner in the dining area while we sang and danced to songs that we all knew. Then we went back to the pool after a meeting. Talia and Carissa were made the leaders for the next day by me (Amen) and Diana. We did a couple of activities, went through announcements, and picked new secret angels for everyone. Secret Angels, if you don’t already know is when each person gets another person secretly by drawing their name. Then you must write nice notes, or do nice things for that person, and everyone has one. After all this, we chilled in the pool some more. Then, it was lights out and we all went to our own rooms and went to sleep. Also, Happy Belated Birthday’s to Grace’s dad, and Dylan and Kayla’s dad, and Happy Birthday to Mikaella, hope it was a good one!
Signing off,
-Amen and Diana

July 6, 2021

Hello everyone, today we woke up at 7:30 and had the usual rice and beans. Directly after we headed to the school in La Lucha to begin our work for the day. We began by painting the tables and working on the sidewalk.  We also helping our friend David in the garden. It was very hot today and we had a fun time hanging out with the staff, who we practiced our Spanish with. Once we were done working, we got to talk to the staff about how they started working at the school and what a normal day looks like for them, and also the kids. After that, we had a good conversation about how we are really lucky to have the opportunity to be in Costa Rica, and that we should try and help as much as we can, wherever we can. At 6pm, we started dance class. We learned how to Salsa, Merengue, and more. After that, we had our usual meeting, and told our most memorable and impactful moments of the community service at the school. It was a really good day for everyone, we will see you guys soon!
-Carissa and Talia ❤️

July 7, 2021
Hey everyone! It’s Grace and Ma’Taya, this morning we woke up early for pancakes before heading back to the school in La Lucha to finish up our work. We worked hard in the morning to finish painting the tables and chairs, start planting vegetables in the new garden, and to clean the classrooms so they are ready for the kids to come back in. Once we were done, some of the staff members of the school surprised us with a tortilla making lesson to thank us, and to share more of Costa Rica’s culture with us. When we finished making them, we got to eat them with some of Chrisley’s cheese (the same kind we learned how to make with him at the beginning of the trip). After that, we got a chance to explore the community a little and really see how different life for people from La Lucha is from life at home. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared for us by a few members of the community. Then sadly, it was time to say goodbye to everyone that we worked with at the school. We got back on the bus and went to an animal rescue place called Proyecto Asis. This center was different from a zoo because their goal is to help the animals and eventually release them when they are ready. We got a chance to see all kinds of animals including parrots, parakeets, macaws, toucans, peccaries, coatis, margues, and three different kinds of monkeys (spider monkeys howler monkeys, and white-faced capuchins). It was so cool to see these animals up close and to learn more about them. Once we saw all of them, we helped to prepare food for some of the animals. We also got to watch Carlos (our guide) give the food to the animals. When our work there was done, we went to the store. We got all sorts of snacks, including ice cream, and then enjoyed some music on the way back. Once back at the hotel we enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken and rice. Then we had our team meeting and Flora gave us Oreos. Although the day was filled with hard work, we all had a great time doing it. Goodnight!
Grace and Ma’Taya❤️July 8, 2021

Wassup beaches! We’re coming to you live from an early morning in Dominical to let you know what we did yesterday. We started off by waking up at 6am to beat the traffic of the strikes going on that day. We all dropped off our bags at 6:30am and turned in our room keys before we continued up for breakfast. We all ate pancakes with syrup and some fruit. Then, we all helped put our bags on the bus and all hopped in. We headed off to our new adventure at the beach. We stopped to see some crocodiles and see local town living.  Then we stopped for lunch for about an hour. After that, we drove for about 2 hours until we arrived at our hotel. We all decided to go to our rooms for 30 minutes then come back to all go to the beach. Going to the beach was an amazing experience and one of the most fun things we’ve done. We got to watch a beautiful sunset and float among the waves for about 2 hours. Then we all went back to the hotel for dinner. After dinner, we were given time to chill before our nightly meeting. At the meeting, we announced new leaders, talked about highs and lows (and ways we could grow for the well being of the group), and did an appreciation activity that left everyone feeling very loved. Then everyone headed off to chill a little bit before we all headed off to sleep. Now we’re super refreshed and ready for our surfing lesson today. Sending love!
-Amen and Jenna

July 9, 2021
Hey families! Sending love from Uvita, Costa Rica. Mikaella and Tomás are writing this to update you on our day. First, we woke up to a healthy breakfast, then headed to our first surfing lesson! We spent hours falling and getting back up. We all enjoyed the new experience. After surfing, we headed to a nearby restaurant for a delicious and much needed lunch. We then went to Dominical to enjoy the beach town and shop. We loved the pretty views and community. In the evening, we returned to our hotel and rested for a bit before dinner. As usual, we ended the night with a daily meeting. We were so exhausted and ready for bed. So excited for day two of surfing!

Con Amor,
Mikaella and Tomás