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Costa Rica Children & Community, Session 2

July 14, 2021
After finally falling asleep at 4:30 AM, we started off our first day with a 9:30 breakfast. We had eggs, maduros, toast, rice, and some much needed coffee.

Before packing up to go to the Crisley Farm, we learned our word of the day: chunche(s), which means “things,” and happens to be one of Randall’s favorite words.

We arrived at the Crisley Cheese Farm around 12. Crisley gave a presentation of the history, culture, and the process of making cheese. Before eating lunch, we had the opportunity to try the family’s amazing homemade cheeses and yogurts. AMAZING. We had a delicious lunch of chicken, rice, beans, and cooked vegetables. Crisley then gave us a tour of the entire farm. We saw pigs, cows, chickens, and various trees. Starfruit and nanches are two of the fruits we got to try, fresh off of the trees. We went back to the specialized kitchen where they prepare the cheese and each had the opportunity to watch, as well as attempt to make, balls of mozzarella.

We returned to the hotel with 2 hours to relax, which we spent playing cards, reading in our hammock, and listening to music on our MP3 player. #vintage After relaxing, we had a dinner of arroz con pollo and salad. As a little treat, Randall surprised us with cookies before bed!

About an hour before bed, everyone met at the gazebo to discuss and draft a contract for the duration of our trip. We all signed a very cutely decorated paper which outlined our expectations of respect, safety, and kindness for the trip. It was placed in a sticker-covered time capsule for our 10 year reunion.

We are now trying to fit 50 different outfits into one backpack to prepare for the fun days ahead. Wish us luck!

Day one ✅

-Ellie and Bella

July 15, 2021

Today we had an early start to the day at 6:30 for breakfast at 7. We brought our backpacks which we successfully packed with all our gear for Poco Sol, the biology station. Breakfast was pancakes, syrup and fruit and we had a pretty of the picturesque jungle and flowers around Heliconias Lodge. We hopped into the vans and headed to zip lining by Arenal Lake. Lake Arenal, the biggest lake in Costa Rica, stretched on forever and had many islands in it. After getting our equipment we took a tram up through the jungle canopy to the starting platform. There was a big hand statue that we could stand on and took pictures there and on the platform with the lake in the background. The zip lining had seven cables, including a practice one and many longer cables. The jungle dropped away once we got on the cables and we were afforded an amazing view of the green rainforest and the lake. We could see Arenal Volcano but it was covered in clouds.

For lunch, we drove into La Fortuna and ate at a typical Costa Rican restaurant. We had pineapple juice and sour sap to drink, a chicken soup, and a dish with rice and beans and a few options for protein: pork, chicken, beef, and veggies. The waitress had a traditional Costa Rican dress that was long, white and with blue designs (see picture). Towards the end of the meal the waitress brought out the coffee grinder and we watched her make fresh coffee.

Before going to Poco Sol, we drive to the nearby supermarket to purchase snacks. Many of us picked out new snacks from Costa Rica that we had never heard of before. Then we hopped in the vans to begin our hour ascent to Poco Sol. Even if the vans weren’t all wheel drive, it didn’t matter because we had to navigate steep rocky roads on the side of the hill. One of the vans’ wheels popped and we all heard the hissing as it flattened, but thankfully it popped near the Station.

Once we arrived, we toured the station, which is committed to preserving nature for future generations, and got our rooms. We had some free time which we spent in the common area playing games, journaling, and talking or taking naps in our rooms. Dinner was at 6:30 and we had rice with zucchini, a vegetable purée and plantain chips. After dinner, some of went on a night hike to explore the surrounding jungle and the creatures within. We saw small but venomous snakes, different types of frogs and spiders, a bird, and tons of bugs. The night hike lasted an hour and a half and took us near streams and the lagoon. Tomorrow, the other half of the group will go on the hike. Those who stayed back hung out and played games. When everyone was back at the station, we took showers and got ready for bed for the early start of a long day tomorrow.

Pura Vida,
-Sophie and Claire

July 16, 2021
We woke up at 6:30 for a 7:00 breakfast consisting of traditional rice and beans, scrambled eggs, sausage, plantains, and fruit. We collected our stuff for our first day of work, filled our water bottles, put on our rain boots to hike the trail to the work site.

After breakfast we had a 20 minute meeting which we learned key Spanish vocabulary terms for the work we’d be doing. For example, we learned the work for rake is “rastrillo.” The hike lasted about 15 minutes to arrive to our worksite, which was at a stream in the middle of the rainforest, 4 people from the group split off to help reconstruct the trail while the rest of the group shoveled dirt and rocks from the stream into bags that the rest of the people carried onto the “carreta” which is the wagon attached to the ATV.

We returned to the Poco Sol lodge for lunch in which they served rice and beans, salad, and mixed veggies. Then back to work!

After 2 hours of hard work we returned back to Poco Sol to have some free time and hang out/ play games with everyone while we took turns calling home (there was one rule: NO BOYFRIENDS). Then we got called for dinner, which was breaded fish, mash potatoes, rice, mixed veggies, and chips. Yummy!

As we finished dinner, we had a meeting to discuss our roses, thorns, and buds in regard to the trip. After, half of the group went out on a night hike in the forest even though it was pouring rain; they came back soaked but they had fun! While they were out hiking the rest of us who stayed played cards and hanged out with each other until it was time for bed.

We can’t wait for tomorrow!
-Stephanie and Lily

July 17, 2021
We woke up at 6:30 and the sun was already shining bright. However, it started to rain heavily. For breakfast, we had pancakes, fruit, and coffee. It was delicious and everyone loved it. We proceeded to walk down the trail to where we were going to work for the day. As we all dug and filled bags with dirt and rocks to make a road but it began to rain heavily. This did not cause a stop in our work, however the leaders said it was time to walk back. After a bit of free time we had a lunch of soup, rice and veggies. We then had a presentation where one of the workers from Poco Sol, Luis told us the history of Poco Sol and how it started. Luis told us that kids from all over the world contributed to help protect the forests in Costa Rica! After, we learned how to dance Salsa, Merengue, and Batchata. Randall led all the dances and then after we danced with partners. After dancing, we had more free time. During that time, many slept while others played games, listened to music and learned how to dance cumbia led by Emma. We then went down for a delicious dinner of spaghetti, pineapple, meat and salad. After finishing dinner we played three rounds of mafia which everyone enjoyed. Soon after it was time for lights out.

– Jared and Samantha

July 18, 2021

We woke up to a later breakfast before cleaning up and heading home from pocosol. For breakfast we had eggs, fried cheese, rice and beans, sausage, and fruits. After breakfast we cleaned our rooms for the staff so they would have less work and then sat in the common area for a little before boarding the busses and heading back to hotel heliconias. On the way back we listened to music and talked. It was an interesting ride back because there were some bees in our bus we had to get out. The ride back felt much faster than the ride up. After getting back to the hotel we had an hour to relax wind unpack before heading into fortuna downtown for lunch, laundry and shopping. We dropped our clothes off at the laundromat and headed to lunch. We all had a variety of different foods ranging from hamburgers, pasta, chicken, rice and beans and for desert we had vanilla ice cream. We also celebrated Emma and piper’s birthdays by singing to them. After that we were given an hour to explore downtown and the shops. We all bought souvenirs for ourselves and our families. We then headed to the laundromat to grab our clothes and then to the grocery store for some last minute snacks. Then we took the bus back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. For dinner it was rice and chicken with tortilla chips and salad. We then we’re able to relax for a little while before meeting back up as a group to prepare for our English lesson with the children at the school. We prepared lessons in small groups and discussed how to teach them. Then we headed back to our rooms to get ready for bed.

-Erika and Alexandra

July 19, 2021
Hey everyone!! Today we woke up at 7:30 for a breakfast of pancakes at 8. After we ate, we took a short bus ride to the community school that we will be working at for the next few days. It was super fun to meet the kids and we all got the chance to teach some English lessons. The group split up between teaching the alphabet, numbers, and some basic English phrases. The kids were adorable but a few might have fallen asleep at our attempts. Once we finished with our lessons, the group had the usual lunch of rice, beans, and chicken with a pineapple juice on the side. Halfway into our lunch we were pleasantly surprised with some white faced monkeys who decided to visit the school. We unsuccessfully tried to feed them bananas. After lunch, we got right into the service work at the school. We split into two groups, some of us painting the front wall of the school while the others did digging in the vegetable garden. Finally after many ant bites we got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel. Some of us went to the pool and hung out there for a while, and others enjoyed some quiet free time in our rooms. Dinner was at 6:30 and was pasta (everyone’s favorite). After eating we had our usual end of day meeting and ended up seeing a bat in the meeting spot. Shortly after we all headed to bed. It ended up being another amazing day in Costa Rica, we can’t wait to see what comes next!!

-Anna and Patrick

July 20, 2021

Hola! We started off the day with delicious pancakes and honey at 8. Then we took the bus from Hotel Heliconias to the community school. We had a little karaoke to Someone You Loved by Adele and Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. When we got to the school it was very sunny. But don’t worry, we put on sunscreen! We started painting the fence until Patrick, Wyatt, Jared, and Cassidy went to the garden at the back of the school. The holes we dug yesterday we filled in with concrete. Later a couple more of us took a break from painting and joined the effort in the garden. At 12:30 we had lunch of beans, chicken rice and pink salad, as well as watermelon juice. After we all took a break from our jobs we worked together to finish painting the front side of the wall in brown and white. Then we went into the cafeteria to make our own tortillas that we later had for dinner. We went back to the hotel to cool down and some of us went to the pool until it started raining. At 6:30 we had dinner and watched soccer on the TV. Dinner was plain rice, carne con salsa, chips, and our handmade tortillas. Then we had a meeting to discuss the day, and now we are writing this!
Pura Vida 🙂
– Cassidy and Sevilla

July 21,2021

What’s up!😜Today was a super interesting day. Breakfast was at 8 and we had toast eggs and bacon. It was muy delicioso. After breakfast we went to the community elementary school and finished painting the school wall. It was so cool to see it completed. While we were there we got to feed some of the wild monkeys bananas. Then we had lunch which was rice, fish, potatoes, and veggies. We went to the local grocery store and everyone got a few little snacks. Then we drove five minutes to the Proyecto Asís. We got a tour of the place and learned lots about how animals ended up there and why they should never be kept as pets. Then our guide gave us some snacks and coffee while we took a break before prepping food for the animals. We paired up and measured out the food. The animals have a healthy diet🐵. Finally we dropped the food off at each animals cage and watched them eat. Our favorite to watch was coco who walked like a human at an airport. Then we got on the bus and headed back for a quick break before dinner. Dinner was at 7 and we had pasta with Alfredo or marinara sauce. Then we finished off our day with a gathering to discuss tomorrow’s plans and what we enjoyed today.

Piper and Salyn

July 22, 2021
Hey! Today was a super fun day full of surprises! First we started out by having a delicious Costa Rican breakfast of rice beans and eggs. After everyone  had their coffee and was satisfied, we loaded into the van and headed to our last day at the school. We started off finishing painting the school, and even though we all thought we were sick of painting we still had fun. Lunch was a special treat and everyone got to get what they wanted and was happy. As a fun little parting gift to the community La Lucha, we all got to paint on canvases what we thought represented Costa Rica and the U.S. The best surprise yet was the little key chains and notes that the the principal gave us that was from all of the kids and community. Although it was hard to say goodbye to all our hard work and new friends at the school, we all needed a rest a big night ahead. For dinner the community at Hotel Heliconias threw us a karaoke party with kabobs, chips, and dip and lots of talent was shared throughout the night. We ended the night with soccer and volleyball on the field, and late night dip in the pool. What a great way to leave behind a great part of our trip!
Best wishes 🙂
-Wyatt and Libby

July 23, 2021
Hola from Playa Chaman!! Today was primarily a travel day, with some stops to further explore Costa Rican culture and stock up on such much needed souvenirs as well as rice and beans. We started off the day with some last minute packing accompanied by torrential downpour. Delicious pancakes made up for the wet walk up to the restaurant. Shortly after, we loaded our bags into the bus and bid farewell to Hotel Heliconias (we will miss you). Windy roads took us through mountains, small towns (or, as the Costa Rican’s would day, pueblos), and coastal areas. The group compiled a playlist packed with a variety of road trip songs — rap, pop, country, Disney, and a little Mamma Mia mixed in. An hour or two into the ride, we stopped at a souvenir shop/restaurant called Orotina in Putarenas Providence. That pit stop lasted a total of two hours, which was — perhaps just as Goldilocks would like it — just the right amount of time to fill our bags with gifts for friends and family as well as eat some delicious buffet cuisine from the adjacent restaurant. No one would argue that the cake was the best part of the meal. The windy roads continued as we drove along the coast, weaving our way through more towns, mountains, and coconut farms. At long last, we arrived at El Tecal, our cute hotel nestled in the forest just a quick jaunt from the beach we will soon be surfing at. This might be the only above ground pool we’ve ever seen, and it exceeds expectations. After taking an hour to rest and recuperate, we ate dinner as a group and talked about our exciting day tomorrow. Although we are nearing the end of our time in Costa Rica, this excursion to the beach has garnered much excitement from the group as a whole. Pura vida 🙂

~ Grace and Cassidy

July 24, 2021

We woke up a little later today for an 8:30 breakfast which consisted of fruit loops, which were a big hit, rice and beans, eggs, coffee and juice. We then had a quick meeting before heading off to the beach for our surfing lessons. The beach was a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Once we arrived we received a quick tutorial about how to surf and then we split up into groups with instructors and jumped in the water. The water was really warm, salty and there were huge waves. Everyone had a blast surfing and also finding shells. We surfed for about 2 hours before heading back to the hotel for lunch which was chicken, pasta, and sauce. After lunch everyone showered and relaxed for a few hours. During our free time people played cards, talked and went to the grocery store. We then had dinner which was pizza and then capped the night off with a meeting and headed to bed.

~ Alexandra G. and Patrick C.

July 25, 2021
We started our day bright and (relatively) early with a 8:30 breakfast of Fruit Loops, toast, eggs, fried plantains, and LOTS of coffee. The groups separated into two smaller cohorts: the surfers and those who wanted to stay behind and rest. The first group spent two hours surfing, well mostly falling, while the others played card games, walked to the market, braided hair, and took a nap.
The whole group met at 12:30 for a lunch of fish, rice, salad, and fruit. We had just a few hours of free time before our sunset walk on the beach, we headed back out around 4:30. On the way, Randall treated us to some giant ice cream cones. Steph and I both got the fresa. SO YUM. We spent an hour taking photos, talking about the trip in its entirety, and the memories we have made so far. Everyone was hungry, again, of course.
We had our last dinner at El Tecal at 6:30. Many were relieved to see a break in our rice and bean diet on the table – hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, fruit, veggies, and jugo de piña y sandia were on the menu for tonight.
We are all now relaxing and preparing for our last few adventures tomorrow:)))

¡Hasta mañana!
Bella and Steph