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Costa Rica Children & Community, Session 1

June 28-29, 2022

Hey guys it’s Sophie! The start of our adventure has been amazing! After my 5:50am wake up in Nashville to a 8pm arrival in San José, my first day was long but filled with so many great things. I think I may have been the first to arrive, but I got there early enough to be in the airport for a little before I met up with the leaders. I got to meet Sofia at her gate too! I met the group and everyone is as nice as I expected! The flight was easy and right when we got to San José we went to an amazing dinner. I had a chicken quesadilla. Because of the slippery roads due to the great amount of rain, we had to change plans a little and stayed in a hotel that was closer to the airport.

Our second day was more traveling too, but now we are at Pocosol in the Costa Rican rainforest! To start the day, we drove to get breakfast this morning about an hour away from the hotel. It was great, I had gallo pinto and scrambled eggs. We then drove another 2 hours but got stopped by some construction which probably delayed our trip about 30 minutes . Finally arrived for lunch although no one was too hungry, but it was so good that everyone ate it anyways! Then we drove on rocky pavement for 45 minutes to Pocosol! It’s been raining here but it’s so pretty, with a purple sky as the sun went down. We had our first meeting and set some goals for us as a group and for the rest of the trip. I’m so excited to make more memories in the next days of the trip! Oh also, one more thing. We are already learning to be flexible and go with the flow…now we are on Tico Time!

June 30, 2022

It’s Claudia and Daisy! Today we had an early wake up at 6:30 and had a delicious breakfast of waffles, eggs, and fruit. Then we met in our lodge and heard from Fernanda about the ecosystem surrounding us as well as the many kinds of animals, such as leopards, frogs, and fish that live in the forest. Interestingly, we learned that the forest was saved by kids from Sweden. Then we hiked down into the forest and went to the lagoon. We volunteered with park staff by moving displaced soil and rocks to another location. There were frequent rain showers but they were quick and didn’t stop us! We took a lunch break after two hours of work. We enjoyed fried chicken and vegetables and had rest time where we played card games. After this, we hiked back through the forest to continue our service. We filled up bags with rocks and soil. We saw frogs and a duck family in the lagoon. Some of us thought it would be a good idea to go swimming in the lagoon so we changed into our swimsuits and our group went swimming and played frisbee in the water. It was cold but very refreshing. We returned tired, so we rested up before enjoying dinner outside during the sunset. We all loved the spaghetti with salad. We then had a service meeting discussing what community service we have done and what it means to us. We finished the night with cards, music and mafia. It was a fantastic day. Thanks for reading!

July 1, 2022

Hola amigos!

We’re Amelia and Hailey and we’re writing the blog today, Friday, July 1. When we woke up, we were excited to see the watermelon and Nutella toast at the counter for us for breakfast to energize us for our long day at work! Once we had eaten, we quickly prepared for our trail-making adventure! While we were walking down to the lagoon, we were surprised to see a spider monkey family of four! We paused our hike to watch the baby monkey and its family swing from the trees. When we arrived at the lagoon, we continued our work from yesterday of making paths to and around the beautiful Ceiba tree! We realized that our work would be more efficient if we worked together so we created an assembly line. Pretty much all of us got completely covered in mud and sand from the process. After long but productive hours of manual labor, we decided to clean off and refresh ourselves by jumping into the lagoon fully clothed, rain jackets and all. Soaking wet and laughing, we hiked back to the lodge for a delicious lunch of chicken and fried rice. Because of the heavy rain of El Niño, we were given the choice of continuing our trail work in the afternoon or helping to cook dinner. The guys decided to keep working outside and the girls chose to stay clean and dry in the kitchen. We made cakes, cinnamon rolls, and plantains, and we also sorted silverware and peeled garlic cloves. After saying goodbye to the rangers who helped us throughout our project, as this was our last day here, we ate a delicious dinner. We had fish, potatoes, and rice and beans, along with mango and apple. Dessert was the cake and rolls we made earlier in the day. We then prepared for our homestays, which we’re going to tomorrow, by learning important phrases and making skits of possible situations. We finished out our day by playing games all together!! ¡Buenas noches, hasta luego!

July 2, 2022

Hey guys, it’s Sofia and Sophie. We woke up one more time in the beautiful Costa Rican rainforest. Today, we were the leaders of the day, so we lead a meeting explaining the details of the day. After the meeting, we packed all of our stuff and got ready for a hike deep into the rainforest to see a waterfall. Although the hike was hard and steep, the gorgeous waterfall at the end made it worth it. We then enjoyed lunch on the patio and we said goodbye to the biological station at Poco Sol. After a short drive, we arrived at our homestay community and we each met our new host families. With the community, we learned to Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. We then said goodbye for the night to our Global Works crew and we went off to our home stays. In our homestay there is a 17 year old girl also named Sofia. Having three Sophie/Sofias In one house can be a little confusing. The three of us played soccer and then we played bingo with the whole family. After that, we had a typical Costa Rican meal with chicken, plantains, rice, and beans. After dinner, our homestay family painted each other‘s nails. Although it can be hard to communicate at times because of a bit of a language barrier, we are all getting out of our comfort zones by speaking a lot more Spanish than we ever have in the states. We can’t wait to continue practicing our Spanish and getting to know our families even better during our time here.

July 3, 2022
Hola amigos, it’s Nate and Richie. Today was an action packed day with many events and activities. It was our first full day with our homestay families in our homestay community. We woke up at 7:15 AM and had breakfast at eight. We had rice with beans papaya and sausages. It was a lot of food but extremely delicious. At 9:30 we left to go to the community center and had a tour around the town to see the impact Global Works has had in past years. We were also shown what our major project will be for the upcoming week. We will be building a paved platform connecting the two church buildings. After the tour we visited the bull riding arena where we were lucky enough to see actual bull riding. Then we went back to our homestay houses to eat lunch. We had fried rice with tortilla chips and beans.

When we finished eating lunch, we took our homestay brother to meet up with the rest of the group and many of the community members to play soccer. It was exhilarating but extremely exhausting. The locals were very good but we were able to keep up. When our soccer game finished, some of our host moms had already prepared snacks for us and some team games. The games were really fun even if we looked totally ridiculous doing them. Finally, we all headed back to our homestays for dinner and to rest up before starting our service here in El Futuro.

July 4, 2022

Hola amigos! Today it’s Kiran and Sam writing the blog. We had our first day of service here in El Futuro, our homestay community. After our breakfast of pancakes and what can only be described as an incredibly large tortilla chip, we started service for the day. We collected dozens and dozens of rocks in wheelbarrows and dug holes for fence posts. The rain started in and we took a break, but none of us minded a little rain so we got back to work and started lining paths between important community building using the rocks we had collected. Once the paths were lined, we filled them in with pebbles and the whole area looked completed different than when we had started!

After we finished, we took shelter in the community center and our homestay families brought us lunch. We went back home for a quick rest and then back to work again to do some painting in a learning center for the kids in the community. Some of the local kids joined us as we painted the barred window openings. After that, we met the rest of the community in the community center for a shared celebration of independence. We learned about the Costa Rican Día de Independencia traditions, which happen in September, which were really interesting. Then we told the community about our 4th of July traditions in the States. We ended the night by dancing and playing games with the community members (Cotton Eyed Joe! Chacha slide!). It was a great day and we are looking forward to the rest of the homestay and tomorrow — zip-lining!

July 5, 2022

Amigos, it’s Daisy! We woke up extra early today in our homestays. My homestay mom made a delicious breakfast of an omelet and grapes. At 7:15 we were on the bus heading into our day of adventure. We arrived at SkyTrek, the zip lining place and immediately fell in love with the amazing rainforest views. We suited up with harnesses and gloves and then headed up in a gondola to the top. We learned how to slow down, stop, and stay safe. We took 7 different zip lines and they were all so much fun and super beautiful. We zipped over the trees and lakes until lunchtime. We enjoyed a really delicious outdoor lunch where most of us ended up eating chicken fingers! After a short ride on the bus, we arrived at a waterfall where we climbed down more than 500 stairs!! It was worth it to get to see the breathtaking waterfall and swim in the chilly crystal blue water. After the treacherous hike back UP all those stairs, we headed into the town of La Fortuna for some gelato and milkshakes. Then we explored some local stores. After a long day, we drove back to our homestays. For homework we had to cook or bake something with our host families. Our family took us to the store to buy ingredients and then we made cinnamon rolls. It was a great day and we can’t wait to sleep in tomorrow!

July 6, 2022
Hola amigos, it’s Elle and Amelia. Today we woke up with a breakfast of eggs and yuca . At 8:45 we all met at the community center to walk to Crisley’s cheese farm. Crisley also works for Global Works! At the farm, we learned how to make a type of mozzarella cheese and we got to try it. We had lunch there too: chicken, mashed yuca, rice, and salad. Then Crisley gave us a tour of the farm which had SO many animals. We saw cows, chickens, and pigs. One pig was so big that it weighed 300 pounds! We also saw a beautiful frog little red frog with blue legs — that’s why it’s called the blue-jean frog! The rest of our afternoon was spent doing more community service, finishing up our project from yesterday of painting the window bars at the community center. At 6:00, all the families got together for a potluck-style dinner. Each family brought one food dish and explained its importance to us. After dinner, we all played bingo with plenty of prizes, including some favorite Costa Rican cookies – Chickys! After our long day, we fell asleep as soon as we got home.

July 7, 2022
Hi everyone, it’s Claudia and Olivia! Today was our last full day with our homestay families in El Futuro. After breakfast with our families, we went to the community center and painted the metal bars that we had sanded the day prior. After all our hard work at the community center, we enjoyed lunch together, provided by our host families. It was MUY bueno!

Next, we visited a local animal sanctuary that is focused on the rehabilitation of animals. We saw parrots, toucans, parakeets, spider monkeys, and white faced monkeys as well. Our tour guide, Carlos, gave us an explanation of each animal and why they are at the sanctuary. Some of them had been kept as domestic pets in houses even though they are wild animals, while others were in the wild but had been hurt, often at the hands of humans. Our final part of the visit was to feed the animals. We learned the importance of using enrichment tools, which keep the animals stimulated and also ensure that each animal gets an equal access to the food. It was an extremely special experience but our day wasn’t over yet. Next up on the list, after getting back to our homestays, was to shower and get all dressed up for our final “despedida” (goodbye) party to the community. There was music, authentic Costa Rican food, and dancing. We ended the night with a piñata too! The day was jam-packed but it was a great way to end our epic homestay adventure. Tomorrow we are off to the beach!

July 8, 2022
Hola amigos! Hello from Henry and Gaspard. Today was a travel day but still exciting since we were headed to the beach! We started off by having our last meal with our homestay families. All of our families gathered to say goodbye to us and saying goodbye was really hard. Yet we all felt a sense of accomplishment after helping their community and learning so much from them. We then started out 7 hour (!) bus ride to the Pacific coast. We stopped along the way to eat a delicious lunch buffet-style, and many of us grabbed smoothies for dessert. As we continued our ride, we sang songs and all took some much-needed naps. When we arrived at our final destination near Playa Uvita, we reflects on our community service work. Following our discussion, we had a spaghetti dinner with salad. To end our day, we went for a late night swim and some of us worked to create our own whirlpool. Tomorrow we get to go whale-watching and surfing!

July 9, 2022
Hola amigos! It’s Gus and Liam checking in from the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Today was a very eventful day. Our first expedition of the day came with lifejackets in our arms, and cameras armed-and-ready. With Michael as our guide, we set out to see some whales all together on a boat. Spoiler: we did not see any whales. But after a few dolphin spottings (right up against our boat!) and a 20 minute swim, we were more than satisfied and ready to eat lunch. Afterwards, we made a quick market run and chowed down on some snacks while watching women’s tennis on TV.

The next expedition started with a cult like circle on the beach and ended with sore shoulders and chests and new surfing skills. Our surf instructors gathered us around to teach us how to paddle and stand up, before dividing us into small groups to start surfing in the water. An afternoon of surfing left everyone feeling fulfilled, but exhausted nonetheless. With two hours left until dinner, many of us gather to watch some soccer and patiently waited until dinner. After dinner and another run to the market, we gathered around for some time together. More than a few poker games later and a “quiet down” from Chalo, we were sound asleep, ready for the next day.

July 10, 2022
Hi everyone it’s Sofia and Sophie. Today, we woke up early for our second surf lesson. The waves were stronger than yesterday, so it was harder to surf, but we kept at it and felt proud of our progress. After the lesson, we swam and avoided being crushed by the big waves. We then went home, had lunch, and tanned for a bit. The UV must have been really high because we all ended up a little red, even though we ALL applied and reapplied our sunscreen! Tired from the sun, we napped for two hours. After we all napped, we walked back to the beach, hung out, played soccer, and swam some more. We watched the beautiful sunset on the beach, soaking in some of our last moments together before the end of the trip. After the sunset, we all showered, which was much needed. We ate dinner together and wrote reflection letters to ourselves, which will be sent to us in around half a year. Then, we gave each other awards, anonymously, which was funny. All the girls then had an ice cream party in one of our rooms. We packed up, and got ready for our long drive back to San José tomorrow.

July 11, 2022
Hi everyone, it’s Reba and Elle and today was our last actual day in Costa Rica. We woke up at 8:30 and had pancakes, eggs, and of course gallo pinto (rice and beans…because what would a Costa Rican meal be without gallo pinto?!). We packed up our bags and got on the bus for our long 7 hour ride. On our way, we stopped at the same souvenir/buffet place we stopped at earlier in our trip on our way to the beach, but this time it was time to shop. We got many souvenirs to bring home as memories and to give to our family, and we had a great lunch. Around 4:00, we pulled into our final hotel and even though it was raining, we’ve gotten used to the Costa Rican rainy season and wouldn’t expect anything less. We hung out until dinner. Then we went to dinner at a restaurant sitting on the top of a large hill called El Mirador, which was the best way to end our Costa Rica experience. It had a beautiful view of San Jose where you could see all the lights in the dark. We are now getting ready to get on our flights back home we are so excited to see our families but we’re going to miss this amazing experience.