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Costa Rica La Pura Vida (Session 1)

June 25, 2017

On Sunday we went to a farm in Costa Rica and were shown how to make cheese. They showed us how they stretched the mozzarella and rolled it into balls to sell. Then, we had a tour of the farm and saw their pigs, cows, and chickens. Their family, who was so friendly, made us lunch and rice pudding which was delicious. Later, we got to milk a cow ourselves, although the owner of the farm was much more efficient at it. It was very fun to learn about their plants as well; he showed us their sugar cane and various fruits and let us try them. Later in the day we had a dance lesson and learned some very cool salsa dance moves with a very nice and enthusiastic instructor. We even asked to turn the music back on after dinner because it was so fun. It was so interesting to be immersed in the culture of the farm and experience Costa Rica for the first full day!
-Annika G.

June 26, 2017

On Monday, we spent the first half of our day zipping through rain forests and taking in the beautiful views around us, especially the Arenal Volcano. All of us had a really good time and even conquered some of our fears! After eating a plate of traditional Costa Rican food and doing some souvenir shopping, we headed to the homestay where we were greeted by some of the nicest people I have ever met. We played some games with some of the smaller children and were accompanied by some of the community leaders. There was also some dancing, which all of us were shown up by the kids. Everywhere we go, people dance; it is amazing how much it is apart of their culture. The children especially are very interested in our group and love to come close to try to communicate with us. It quickly got dark around 6:30. Once we were introduced to amazing homestay families, we made our way to their houses and settled in. We are all sharing rooms. It is amazing the way that the families structure the houses in order to prepare for the heat or rain. The lifestyle and way of life is so different than any type that I have seen in the U.S. Although I have been uncomfortable with the changes, we are easily adjusting to our new way of life with help from the families and other travelers. It has definitely been a full past few days but I am looking forward to our next adventure and the more we learn!
-Ava L.

June 27, 2017

We woke up and ate breakfast with our host families. After that we met at the community center to start our tour of the community. We saw all of the houses where our team is staying and looked at the surrounding flora and fauna. We got to reflect on our time so far and everything we have learned. We finished a bit early. So we got to go back to our host families to help make lunch, hang out, and eat together. We started our work today at the community center by constructing the bathroom wall and sweeping out the sections of the floors. While we were working we got to talk and play with some niños. The school had a music class by our worksite while we were working so we got to enjoy their music! We finally headed home, ate dinner, and met up one last time with the group. We reflected on the past couple of days and planned our activities for tomorrow’s game night with our families!
– Kate N.

June 28, 2017
We had work scheduled for most of the day, first in the morning we laid more cement- Lorenzo’s favorite job. A few of us worked on digging out the drainage ditch which was completely full of dirt. Personally I enjoy that kind of difficult yet satisfying manual labor. After lunch (Lorenzo and I had tortillas again, it’s amazing how many different things taste good with those) we continued clearing the ditches. After playing some soccer with the local kids, we stopped for some heladitos (literally small ice cream) which basically are popsicles. Once everyone got home, it started raining so instead of going out to play field games we all stayed at home. Lorenzo and I played cards with our host family. Other people in the group played Jenga, watched novelas and sang karaoke. Being the rainy season here, it proceeded to rain all night and only slightly let up this morning on the 29th.

Kate N.

June 29, 2017

Today we had a double work day. We started work at 8 am. First, our group cleaned roofing for the salon and then we painted it blue. Our group has made a lot of progress on the roofing of the salon since we first arrived in Costa Rica. We finished the bathroom this morning with the help of Jorge and Jose. Our morning shift ended at noon and we went home for lunch with our families. A typical Costa Rican lunch consists of rice beans and chicken. We went back to work at 1:30 and started mixing cement for the pillars that hold the roofing of the salon. We have finished two out of four pillars for the roof. After we finished the hard mixing, we went to our houses.

At home we ate dinner with our families. After dinner, we met at the school and did crafts with the children in the town. We made bracelets with directions en español. We also played cards with the kids. The children here are very friendly and have positive attitudes and love to spend time with our group!


June 30, 2017

Today at work we split into two groups to cover both painting the root materials and mixing concrete for the roof supports. We are trying very hard to complete the bases for the support before we leave because the salón comunal really needs a roof to fend off the rain. We already helped finish the walls and roof of the bathroom portion of the building. All the people in the community are so nice and the food is absolutely amazing. Our moms always makes sure we aren’t hungry. We had karaoke night tonight with a menagerie of Spanish and English songs. There are kids in the community who are really talented at singing. After an eventful evening of singing and games with the kids in the community, we all walked home with our home stay families.

-Carolyn L.

July 1, 2017

Today we slept in and spent some time with our families in the morning and then met up as a group to play some games and make some bracelets. After, we went back to our houses and ate delicious lunches with our families. We met back up and walked to Santa Rosa, the nearby town, to play pick up soccer. It was really fun. The local guys we were playing against were very good. It was nice to have a break from mixing cement! After we went to Colin and Lorenzo’s house to learn how to make tortillas. As the Costa Rican school children just started a 2 week break, we had to say goodbye to some of the friends we have made during our stay who were going on vacation.

-Kaitlyn O.

July 2, 2017

Sunday did not go exactly as planned because of the rain. We got to sleep in again and spent the entire morning with our families. Everyone did different things but my house watched a movie and got to meet our mom’s daughter, her husband, and their baby. We also got to eat lunch with our families and then met at the soda(local little restaurant) to head to Eliza’s house (where Allison and Carolyn are staying). There, we watched Jurassic world, made bracelets, played ukelele, and had group time. We headed home for dinner. After, we all met at the salon communal for a bonfire with our families. We made s’mores and took pictures. We headed home with our families to finish off Sunday activities.

-Kate N.

July 3, 2017

Monday, we woke up and had breakfast at home with our families. After, Carolyn and I walked to Yoavanis’s house. First we debriefed and then worked on creating an eco trash can with recycled bottles. We finished around 11:00 and returned home to eat lunch and rest a bit. In the afternoon, we met at Rita’s house to write cards to our families and prepare for the despedida. Then at 4:00, we headed home to get ready. At 5:00, Carolyn and I headed to the cancha (field) in a taxi. There, we said our goodbyes, danced, played soccer and volleyball, and read our letters to our families. We took photos with our families which was a bit sad because no one wanted to say goodbye. Tears were shed, but the music lightened the mood. Once our goodbye ended, we headed home to pack and get ready to leave el refugio in the morning.

-Alison C.

July 4, 2017

We left our homestay families and I have to admit that I cried a lot. I had formed a unique bond with my family and the community. I woke up at 6:30, had breakfast and left. We had a six hour bus ride to our next destination which I mostly slept through. We had lunch at a restaurant which seemed a bit touristy with a gift shop. Most people bought souvenirs. The fact that I left my family here in Costa Rica made me sad and a little off the whole day. We arrived at a hotel near the beach. It is a cluster of cabins in the mountains with a rain forest. We had dinner and a Fourth of July celebration where we talked about America and Costa Rica and played games. I passed out almost instantly after the long day.

-Lorenzo S.

July 5, 2017

We woke up early and ate breakfast at the hotel and then left for surf lessons. After a bus ride to Playa Uvita, we spent the morning surfing. We took a break for lunch at a local restaurant. Before we went back to the beach, we did some shopping at stands and bought bracelets, shirts and other souvenirs. After our shopping spree we went back to the beach and hung out in the water. After dinner we played games, hung out and talked as a group. I think it’s fair to say that we all miss our families, both our host families and our real ones. But we are having a great time at the beach!

– Kaitlyn O.

July 6, 2017

We had our usual breakfast at 7:15 and left for our second day of surf lessons at 8:00. During the lesson we all learned new skills. After we took a 5 minute bus ride to a restaurant. We had a plate with salad, French fries and arroz con pollo. After we drove to a beach called Playa Ventanas with caves and large rocks. Everyday gets a little bit harder knowing I am going to leave the friends I’ve come so close to over the past two weeks. The experience of a different country has impacted all of us in different ways and it is going to be a lot harder to leave than I expected.

-Ryan O.