Costa Rica La Pura Vida (Session 2) 2017
July 9, 2017
Our first full day in Costa Rica was highlighted by a trip to a family farm. The farm predominantly sells dairy products, including fresh mozzarella and more traditional Costa Rican cheese. The head of the cheese-making operation, Crisley, made a point out of describing how 12 families in the local community are involved in the cheese-making process and make a living from involvement in Crisley’s business. In a presentation similar to that of a Food Network show, Crisley showed us all the required steps to produce mozzarella, including testing the milk for bacteria and adding certain agents to make the cheese stretchy. After eating a delicious lunch, we took a tour of the farm. We tasted starfruit, sugar cane, and limón dulce, and were able to see the pigs, cattle, and chickens that roam the farm. One aspect of the tour which we found particularly interesting was that the cheese-making process is incredibly cyclic–the “suero” (the leftover liquid from the cheese-making process) is used to feed the pigs, and the gas which the pigs produce is collected and used as the fuel to heat the milk to produce cheese. Very little is left unused on the farm–that’s different from what some of us see in United States. Perhaps the greatest bucket-list experience checked off on our trip to the farm was milking (ordeñar) a cow. After a few nervous giggles and uncomfortable glances, everyone in the group succeeded in getting a little milk into the bucket. However, in a remarkable display of technique and years of experience, Crisley sat down and promptly tripled the amount of milk that we milked in seven minutes in just a matter of seconds. It’s amazing for our group, composed of students from the United States, Italy, and Costa Rica, to share a common goal to learn about each other our diverse values and customs. We can’t wait for tomorrow!
July 10, 2017
During our second full day in Costa Rica we got up early to go ziplining. The drive there was about an hour away from the hotel we were staying at. On the way there we played “my/mí animal” which is a game where you have to spot animals and whoever sees the animal first gets a point. It was difficult at first because some people in the van only spoke English and others only spoke Spanish, it was nice that I was able to help explain the game to the poeple who only spoke Spanish. After everyone understood the rules of the game and how to play it was incredible to see the language barrier just dissapear. The people who only spoke English were being competitive with the people who just spoke Spanish because language wasn’t necessary to play the game. Once we got to the ziplines we got geared up then headed onto a gondala to get up to where the ziplines were. The first zipline was the highest and the view was incredible. It was raining a little bit at first so the first three-two ziplines hurt a little because of the rain, but after that it was super smooth and fun. The last one was the longest and that one was my favorite. After we finished going on all the ziplines we got back on the vans and went to a restaurant in town and ate amazing food typical to the region (casado) and also drank an INCREDIBLE mango smoothy. After that we stopped by a grocery story and bought some necessary stuff. Then we went back to the hotel and got packed up to go to the home stay. Once we arrived we went to the town center to meet our families. After we all got with our families we went home with them and ate dinner and got to know each other. After that it was pretty late so we went to sleep.
July 11, 2017
Day three was our first full day with our homestay family. We started the day by touring past Global Works projects in the town. It was really cool to see the impact groups like us have had over the past 14 years in Pueblo Nuevo. Projects included additions to the school, church, communal kitchen, and community center or salon. Next, the group walked to each of our homes to see where we are all living. Along the way we saw lots of adorable stray dogs, butterflys and grasshoppers. One of the family’s dog’s actually just had puppies which were just fun to play with. Each family was very welcoming and it was really fun to see all the different homes people in our group were staying in. We all went back to our respective homes for lunch. In the afternoon we began our service work. We split into two groups of six and six. Half the group worked on digging a designated area behind the school and the other sanded the benches for the church. Half way through, the groups switched jobs. After our tiring first day of work, we all walked together down to the river to collect flat rocks that could be painted for our upcoming art night. At home before dinner, many of the neighboring kids came together to play. We played soccer, basketball, and volleyball with the kids across the street for a solid hour and a half before returning home for dinner. It was amazing to see how the kids loved being outside and playing together, much different than the tech-savy, TV-loving kids I babysit at home. Specifically the kids in my house were jumping in piles of mud and having the time of their lives. At art night, we set up tables for drawing, painting, nails, paper origami and friendship bracelets. Despite the language barriar, I taught many kids how to make different types of friendship bracelets. By the end of the program no one wanted
July 12, 2017
Today was a work day! We split into 2 groups, each including 6 people. One group worked on sanding benches in the morning and another digging a trench for irrgation of the water from the kitchen. Then in theafternoon we switched projects. After the morning work session, Kayley surprised us with an interesting water game to practice Spanish. She had us surround her in a circle and then she told us a category and we had to guess the thing she was thinking of in that category. Tilden was the first to guess the answer, and in return he got a splash of water in his face from Kayley. Then, Tilden went in the middle and he came up with a category that we had to guess what he was thinking of.It was a nice refreshing break from the hot day. Once we went back to our work our jobs switched up a bit. Now a group of six painted thechurch, and the other group finished the trench. When it started raining we all ditched our jobs and played a quick game of futbol. When the rain became too heavy, we moved to the saloncito, a smaller version of the salon (a big warehouse that we hold nightly activites in). We played tap, a game of throwing and catching a ball. We then proceeded to play an exciting game of Bang. Eveyone stood in a circle and someone went to the middle and called out a name. The person who’s name was called had to duck and the two people standing next to the “ducker” yelled bang. Whoever was the slower at any of the jobs became the person in the middle. After this, Kaylee handed out these yummy chocolate wafers called Yipys. Sarah thought these tasted like butterscotch kit-kats. Then we walked home and ate dinner with our familes. We had 3 hours to hang out with them and play various games. After dinner we went back to the salon and had game night. Our host families joined us and we challenged them to all sorts of games such as Uno, Jenga or Twister. Then Randal taught us bachata (a type of dance) and we watched some of the local boys play soccer (they were so good!). Finally we cleaned up the salon and ended our day with a walk home, all tired from all the dancing and hard work.
July 13, 2017
We began today as we did every morning with a quick game at the salon before starting our work. Today we went around in the circle and shared a good thing about the previous day, our rose or “rosa,” and a not-so-good thing that had happened the day before–a thorn or “espina.” Many of the roses included playing with the local kids and trying new types of exciting foods. All the thorns were pretty minor and were centered around having lots of bug bites or not being able to communicate with our host families as much as we would like to be able to. In addition, we also gave “props” to certain people in the group for something especially great they did or for just having an overall positive attitude. NIck & Tilden received lots of props for being such hard workers and Isaac & Lorenzo got props for being brave enough to come on the trip, despite knowing little to no Spanish. After our game, we split up into different groups and began working. A group of six began weeding the soccer field and were given directions by one of the fastest Spanish speakers any of us had ever encountered. The rest of us sanded tables & benches for the school and moved dirt by the newcommunal kitchen to level out the ground. After working for a while, it began raining and we all moved inside the saloncito and continue sanding as a group. When the morning’s work ended, we all went home to our houses for lunch. We returned in the afternoon to continue working on the previous projects, but got interrupted again by the rain and all had to move into the saloncito for sanding. When the day’s work concluded, we returned to our host families and many had a merienda or snack, at coffee hour. At my house, we drank coffee and ate some of the most delicious pancakes I have ever tasted. They were very similar to the types of pancakes we eat in the U.S., but instead of eating them with syrup, they spread a sweet sticky cream on it similar to condensed milk. At five o’clock, which really ended up being 5:30 because we are on “Tico time,” we all met as a group with our host families to learn how to make tortillas in the community’s kitchen. We all played with the kids in the front room while the host mom’s disappeared into the back room and made the dough. After the dough was made, we all received asheet of plastic material in the shape of a circle, similar toparchment paper, and a small sphere of dough. We were instructed howto roll the dough and spread it in the correct shape and thickness of a tortilla so it could be placed in a pan above the fire. We all made several of these and when they were done cooking, received a tortilla and were given a variety of options as to what we could put on it. There was a rice and potato dish that was very delicious, as well as eggs and sausage. After going back for seconds or even thirds, most of us were very full and we continued to play and talk with the local kids. They taught us a hand-slapping-game that they played during recess in school called “Chocolate.” At first we were all pretty bad at it, but with some practice we got much better. We taught them a popular hand-slapping-game that we played as kids in the U.S. calledslide and we played both games for almost an hour. Tilden, Isaac, and Lorenzo began arm wrestling each other and the local kids soon joined in. The kids loved the arm wrestling matches and Matt lost in an epic match against all of the local kids at once. When it was time to leave, we all formed a big circle and did a big game of Chocolate before going home for the night with our host families.
July 14, 2107
Hoy nos levantamos a las 7:00am y nos alistamos para trabajar, luego desayunamos y a las 8:00am estabamos en el salon listas para trabajar, se hicieron 3 grupos para trabajar en distintas actividades, se trabajo en cosas como sembrar pasto, lijar algunas sillas y mesas de la iglesia, y movimos tierra para rellenar alcantarillas, luego nos dijeron que en la tarde no ibamos a trabajar, ya que nos tenian una sorpresa, todos nos fuimos a las 11:00am a donde nuestras familias al almuerzo y a la 1:30 todos estamos reunidos para la sorpresa, tuvimos que caminar por casi 4 kilometros y una perro llamado king nos siguio durante todo el camino, cuando llegamos al lugar adescubrimos que nos llevaron a una aguas termales para pasar un lindo rato y disfutar con el grupo. Estuvimos ahi durante casi 2 horas disfrutando, y luego nos preparamos para caminar nuevamente 4 kilometros para llegar a nuestras casas. A las 6:15 llegamos a a las casas de nuestras familias, nos baňamos y comimos algo ya que a las 7:00 teniamos una fogata donde nos reunimos todo el grupo y personas de la comunidad, compartimos entre todos y pasamos un buen rato, comimos marshmelos con galletas de chocolates y estuvimos ahi hasta las 9:00pm y luego nos dirijimos a nuestras casas con nuestras familias a descansar para el siguiente día.
Today we woke up at 7 and got ready for work. We ate breakfast and at 8:00 we were at the Salon ready to work. We divided into 3 separate work groups to accomplish projects like planting grass on the soccer field, sanding benches and tables for the local church and moving dirt to fill newly constructed ditches. Later Kayley and Randall told us that we wouldn’t be working in the afternoon as previously planned, but to come prepared for a suprise. So after lunch we all met up wearing our bathing suits and began our long walk. One of the family’s dog, King, followed us the whole way. When we arrived, we discovered that they had brought us to Aguas Termales, thermal swimming pools as a reward for all of our hard work. We spent two hours as a group enjoying ourselves in the different pools and then prepared for another long walk with our companion. At 6:15, we made it back to our homestay houses, showered and ate dinner quickly because at 7:00 we had a bonfire with the families and community members. We hung out around the fire, ate Costa Rican style smores- marshmellows with a chocolate covered cookie named Chiky- and around 9:00 we headed back to our houses to rest for the next day.
July 15, 2017
First we had to work on moving the dirt pile in the morning for a few hours. Then after we had a picnic with our families in the soccer field. We played futbol against the local children and a game called drip drip drop, or in spanish, gota gota catarata. All the children loved it and it turned into a giant water fight. Some of the kids got their moms and dads involved. After dinner we had dance lessons with rambo (Randall) and learned salsa, bachata, merengue and swing criollo.
July 16, 2017
This Sunday we were given the entire day to spend time with our families. Sarah and I started the day by sleeping in until 9:30 and starting breakfast at 10:00. Our homestay mom prepared our favorite food, tortillas with pineapple marmilade. After we finished eating, we relaxed as we waited for Steven (one of the two boys in our homestay) to come home from fishing. Sarah and I suggested walking to the river as a family before lunch, so with a backpack full of fruits and water we made our way over. We spent about an hour by the water enjoying the food and cold water at our feet. We decided it was time to leave once Andy accidentally dropped his favorite sandals into the water and lost it with the current :(. Once we were home and showered, Sarah impulsively let me cut off four inches of her hair. Even though I have never had experience with cutting hair, it ended up looking great. Once we finished our lunch, Yaudi (our homestay mom) asked us to join her, Steven and Andy (the youngest of the two boys in the homestay) to
walk to the super market to bread. We returned to the house just in time for the group meeting at 6:00. We met at La Salon for a break from Spanish and to write our letters to our homestay families. When we walked back to the house, we made bracelets and read with the family. In the group meeting we all shared what our families did during the day. All of us enjoyed being able to sleep in later even if the sound of the roosters made it difficult. A few families also went to the river, others went to the pool. We all agreed that it was really enjoyable getting to spend the entire day with the family rather than being limited to meals and late evenings. It was a great day to strengthen the bonds with our families and learn more about them.
July 17, 2017
After eating a delicious breakfast with our host families, we headed to the salon to begin our final day of work. Once there, Randall, Kayley, as well as other workers from the association informed us of the daunting tasks that we would be doing one last time. From 8:00-12:00, (almost) all of us shoveled dirt into wheelbarrows, and then transported it across the street. There, a few men worked on enclosing pipes to help transport runoff during rain. At 12:00, we all returned to our homestay families for a delicious lunch, and to our surprise, the sky darkened, and a 6-hour downpour began. The lightning was blinding, and the thunder sounded vehement, a deep, piercing grumble. Afternoon work was canceled, and we got to spend one final
period of time with our host families. Around 6:00, all students headed to the salon to help prepare for the despedida, or goodbye party. We set up tables, stools, and chairs for the residents of Pueblo Nuevo that were attending, who would arrive near 7:00. The atmosphere, with tables, DJ, lights, and piercing music, seemed really inviting. For dinner, everyone was served arroz con pollo (rice with chicken), vegetables and fresh pineapple juice.
After eating, the fun truly began. Children, couples, and Global Works students danced, mingled, and played games to commemorate our hard
work put into the service projects and to celebrate a magnificent, eye-opening week in the town. Around 9:30, Kayley, Randall, and us arrived at center stage, and read thank you notes to our homestay families, all of which were spoken with sincerity and from the heart (in Spanish, of course). The association responsible for our service projects also presented Randall and Kayley with special plaques to recognize them for their contributions. Overall, today was a sad, but rewarding day.
July 19, 2017
Woke up to Randall calling our room to come down for breakfast. Although this was the first morning in the hotel, that won’t be the last time considering that my roomate and I don’t have anything to tell the time. A perfect buffet style breakfast was ready for us including eggs, bread and a variety of fruits. Soon after breakfast around 8:00 the group was to meet on the bus with a bag packed with anything they wanted for the day, whether it be a book to read on the beach or extra suncreen for surfing. The bus ride was energetic as everyone was anticipating what our first day of surfing would be like. The ride was only 30 min so it went by pretty quickly. We were greeted by our main guide for the day, Diego. After applying the sunscreen and putting on the rash guards they gave us, we were given an on-land tutorial on how to surf. It seemed easy enough… it wasn’t, but after many falls staying low and maintaining your balance was the key to sucess. Only an hour and a half later most of the group including myself were ready to call it a wrap and rest. By resting I meant on the bus ride to lunch, at lunch, and again on the bus to the other beach. At this beach we were able to swim, walk around, or just chill doing whatever. After an exhausting beach day nothing felt better than the ice cream place we stopped at. Everything seemed to happen quickly from there, we went home, showered, then ate dinner. To end the night card games were played while med-checks were being done and before we all went to bed we all hung together and bonded. Today was a nice full day of activities that I’m sure I’ll always remember.
July 20, 2017
After a fun day of surfing, most of us woke up ready to start the day. We had a delicious breakfast including home-made jams and tropical fruit. Soon after we all gathered in the bus ready for another day of surfing. The bus ride was fun as always because of the conversations going on and the the music playing via Randall’s phone. At the beach we went over the basic rules and were split into different groups to surf. Today most of us were surfing without the instructor’s help and were able to catch some waves. We all had a fun time swimming while some of us went back to surfing. After lunch we went back to the same beach to swim some more- although some slept. We also went to the Dominical (a little beach boardwalk) to do some shopping. After a quick shopping trip because it started raining, we made a pit stop at the same ice cream shop we went to the day before. During the car ride back to the hotel we had a very fun time singing karoake. At the hotel we had some time before dinner so we just hung out or showered. Dinner was good as always but it was bitter sweet because we were realizing it was one of our final days together. We’re just trying not to think about it. We also sang some more karoake before heading back to our rooms to pack. Rather than packing most of us just having fun playing games. Today was definitely a fun day filled with excitement and joy but also sadness because although no one wants to say goodbye our trip is coming to an end. We only have one more complete day together and then we head back home.