Costa Rica La Pura Vida, Session 3
July 21, 2018
After getting off the plane in Houston, we met most of our group. We waited until they called us onto the plane that would take us to San Jose. The plane ride was long, but we were very excited for Costa Rica. After we all got off the plane we went through customs and grabbed our baggage and headed out of the airport. Once we got outside we met two other people who were also going to be on our trip and then we waited for the bus to take us to our hotel. We got on the bus and passed some snacks around and then drove to the hotel where we would spend the next two nights. When we got out of the bus, we walked through the rainy night to get to our bungalows. My bungalow overlooked a beautiful forest of banana trees and other tropical plants. After we unpacked, we went straight to bed to be ready for the adventure in the following day.
July 22, 2018
I woke up early in the morning to the sound of rain on top of the bungalow. We all got ready with plenty of bug repellant. For breakfast we ate beans, rice, plantains, eggs, and toast. After breakfast we loaded two small buses that would take us to a local cheese farm run by Crisley, Global Works’ country director. When we arrived at the farm we were soon taken to milk a cow. Along the way we saw lots of chickens and even saw a small white kitten named Copo de Nieve. Once we got to the cow, we each got a chance to milk it. Milking the cow was definitely an interesting experience! Then we headed back to Crisley’s house to make cheese. Crisley introduced himself and gave us a lesson on the history of his farm. It turns out that this farm was actually founded by accident! It started as just providing cheese for his family, then evolved to selling to his neighbors until one day a man came through and put in a big order. This was when his family realized that this could be a full-fledged business. After a brief history lesson, our immersion group dove into some name games…we had some fun! Played Ninja and a group game of rock, paper, scissors. We also had an amazing opportunity to see and help actually make some cheese! Crisley started by pouring the milk into a machine that rotated fast to separate the milk and the cream. Soon after he pulled some cheese from the pasteurizer and we helped separate the big chunks. These chunks were then put into some water that was boiling hot! Aaah! This softened the cheese and allowed us to stretch it out into long strands. He used a knife to cut the cheese which allowed us to begin rolling the cheese into cheese balls. Mmmm yummy (: We got to try some cheese throughout this process and oof it was muy delicioso. A funny thing that I think a lot of us have noticed is that there is a lot of beans and rice (called gallo pinto here in Costa Rica!)… Our lunch was so great though. We had some salad, some chicken and of course, beans and rice. The farm was such an amazing experience, I highly recommend it! Our adventure has not finished quite yet. We come back to our hotel to some salsa dancing! Randall is a fantastic teacher and seemed to give everyone a blast! There was a lot of movement in the hips and a lot of spinning which made us a little dizzy…after our dance lesson we got to have a sweet dinner! Our hotel provided some chicken and some yummy vegetables and of course rice but, no beans this time! Overall our first day in Costa Rica was spectacular! We can’t wait for the many experiences to come.
July 23, 2018
¡Hola families! My name is Lily L. And I’m coming at you live from Costa Rica! Today was a day filled with adventures and forming new relationships. We started our day with a traditional Costa Rican breakfast: rice beans, eggs , toast, and plantains. After breakfast we packed our bags and said goodbye to Hotel Heliconias. Everyone loaded into the bus and we started driving to Sky Adventures for ziplining. Our drive was filled with lush green views and we even saw a pineapple farm! The drive also gave us some time for group bonding and we got to learn what life is like all around the US since we’re all from different places! After an hour, we arrived and were ready to zip line. We met with friendly guides who helped us get into our zip lining and told us what to expect. It was the moment we have all been waiting for!! After standing in line, we got to the zip lines. It was so beautiful!. There were eight zip lines in total and they all had amazing views of the forest and lake that was surrounded by beautiful trees and plants. After the final zipline, we felt so accomplished and were in awe of the fantastic experience we had just had.
After ziplining, we went to a nearby restaurant where I enjoyed rice and vegetables. Our trip leaders talked to us about homestays and we got paired with a family and a house mate from our group. Tara and I received a letter form our host family and we were so happy! Finally, we got on the bus and headed towards El Refugio, where our homestay families live. Once we arrived, we were greeted by families and welcomed into the community center in the town. Tara and I are staying with a family that includes a mother, father, and six-year-old girl. We met them at the community center, as well as other families, and got to watch a pick up soccer game outside. I also played Costa Rican hand games with the younger girls. After we ate and played frisbee, Tara and I drove home to our host house and got to know our family better. We talked about where we live and even played cards. My favorite was a Coasta Rican game called “Tanto.” After talking to our family for a long time, we went to our room and settled in for a good nights rest. The rain soothed us to sleep as we got ready for another day. I’ve had such a great time so far and can’t wait for what’s next. ¡Pura Vida!
July 24, 2018
We started the third full day of our trip to a breakfast of beans, rice, sausage, and milk. We were surprised to find that the milk was very sweet, and we remembered what we learned at the cheese factory: that the milk we are used to in America has none of the cream that natural milk has. After breakfast, we said thank you and goodbye to our host family and made our way to the community center. There, Randall explained the history of the center and that the town, El Refugio, means “the refuge.” It was home to refugees of the Nicaraguan Civil War and families used to be packed into the building we were turning into a community center for the town. Then, we started our work: four of us mixing cement together with shovels so we could smooth out the space that used to have windows. While we waited for the cement to set so we could use it, the rest of the group and us painted parts of the wall. After several spills and thoroughly paint-splattered bodies, we managed to paint a decent amount of the wall.
When the cement was ready, the four of us started our other messy job: splattering cement at the wall and smoothing it out. By lunch time we were covered in sweat, cement, and paint. We learned the hard way that the paint didn’t go away very easily. After a filling lunch we went back to work for a couple more hours until the local children came back from school. We played some soccer and then came home where we helped prepare dinner. At our homestay, Logan, Jerry and I made pancakes out of dough to make tortillas and cut up some vegetables. We then ate with our homestay mother and sister and then played cards until the long day of work caught up to us.
– Owen D.
July 25, 2018
On our second morning at our homestays we woke up to a delightful breakfast of rice, beans, cheese, and sausage. We said goodbye to our homestay families and made our way to the community center. Before starting work we shared what we did last night with others. We helped our family cook papaya chaiyote and tortillas for dinner, and in return we learned that two of the other groups went to a festival celebrating Costa Rican independence. There were people giving speeches in Spanish and a little bit of dancing at the festival. After sharing, we began our day of work. We split up into groups and started to paint the outside walls of the building white. We also removed the rust at the base of the outside pillars and then we repainted them a solid blue. Three hours of hard work later, we went back to our homestays to eat lunch. When we arrived back at the community center we finished painting the outside wall. All the work for the day finished, we took a trip to the nearby supermarket. There were many off-brand snacks, drinks, and candies. For the evening we invited our families to a bonfire at the community center. Everyone enjoyed eating s’mores and we took a beautiful group photo with all the people involved. Afterwards they invited us to watch a soccer game at the public soccer field. The field was smaller than a regular soccer field and there were only five people on each team. We enjoyed watching a hard-fought game of Costa Rican soccer before returning to our homes and settling in for the night.
July 26, 2018
Hola! This morning our host Mom Cina let us sleep in a bit and Lily L. and I had breakfast around 9:00 with our host Sister Sofi. She didn’t have school today because it’s a Costa Rican holiday celebrating the province of Guanacaste. After breakfast, Lily, Sofi, and I played card games like Tonto, go fish, and start it. While watching the Disney Channel, Lily and I found it pretty interesting how some movie titles were translated literally and others we could not even recognize. After a delicious lunch of pasta with vegetables and salad, Lily and I went to the old age center to meet with the rest of the group. There, we taught the elderly members of the community how to make friendship bracelets. The elderly people were really excited to learn and they asked lots of questions about where we were from and what we thought about Costa Rica. They also told us about how much they liked going to the center every day instead of just sitting at home alone. After the activities, we watched them dance and Taylor and Perri even joined it. We also met a man who is 111 years old! In the afternoon we continued our work on the community center we painted more of the outside walls and weeded around the stairs. In the evening we had dinner with our family and played Jenga. We made a Jenga tower 34 stories tall before it finally fell! For reference, the starting tower is 18 stories high. Our family loves movies, so after Jenga we watched one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, though I’m still not sure which one. We were so tired after the movie that we fell asleep right away.
July 27, 2018
My day started off with an interesting breakfast, rice and beans. After our morning had kicked off, we headed to the community center. Slowly, everyone trickled in. We started by putting a base coat of white on the kitchen walls, and soon after we added a very vibrant blue. I have noticed that when we all contribute it really brings the community together. You can see kids from around the neighborhood helping day in and day out. Later this morning we worked on shoveling the mud and clay from the cracks in front of the community center. While some did this, others helped to pick up garbage around the community center. Our day followed with a yummy lunch of chicken soup! Once we had finished our meal and played some cards, packed up, put our suits on and all headed over to meet the group. The group then headed over to the pool! On our walk there, we saw a toucan, parrots, and vultures. The pool was a blast! It had two huge waterslides and some cool lounge chairs in the water. Me personally I got a little chilly, but some of the others kept swimming awhile after. The pool was fun, but it had to come to an end. We headed back to the village with a quick stop at the supermarket. Jerry got some yummy wafers. We headed home once we were done at the market. After a delicious dinner of rice, beans and eggs we headed over to Gabe and Owen’s house to soon be involved in an intense Jenga game. Awhile after, my homestay family hosted a fun movie night so we had Owen, Gabe, Amanda, and Lily U. come over! We watched pretty scary movies…yikes! A couple of movies in we had to head home for the night, so our friends went back to their homes and Owen, Jerry and I headed to bed and geared up for a fun and eventful workday to come.
– Logan D.
July 28, 2018
We started our day with another nice breakfast made up of…you guessed it! Rice and beans! After breakfast, we made our way to the community center to start our work. First, I got the job of power-washing the walls clean (probably one of the most satisfying things of all time) so that we could cement parts of the walls flat. The power wash got me pretty wet, but on top of that I got cement in all the wrong places. We took a lunch break after a couple of hours, where we ate with our families. We then went back to work on the cement. A couple more hours later, we came back home to shower and get ready for the tortilla party. In our house Jerry, Logan, and I showered and then blew up some balloons for the party. Our baby brother, Damien, really enjoyed babbling and playing with the balloons. When it was time, we made our way over to the community center for the party. I played frisbee for a little while with one of my Tico friends Yandel until it was time to make tortillas. In the process, I made a new kind of tortilla with the hole in the middle – the Donutilla (trademark) – as an experiment. We ate the tortillas with picadillo de papaya. The Donutilla (trademark) was especially good. We also drank some mango juice. We then watched a traditional dance and even joined in. After, we danced and hung out until all the tortillas were eaten up. Then, all of the kids came over to our house to watch a movie. We spent a while actually finding a movie, which reminded me a lot of movie night at my American home, but in the end we found a horror movie. The movie was so bad it was funny, and the only times everyone screamed was when someone would pop one of the balloons we had blown up earlier. After the movie, everyone left and we went to bed after a long day.
And now, a haiku:
Rice and beans, beans, rice
Rice and beans and beans and rice
Oh, and rice and beans
July 29, 2018
Hola!! Today was our family day with our homestays. Since it was Sunday, our host parents didn’t have work and we got to spend most of the day with them. In the morning, we slept in a bit and watched Cinderella with our host sister Sofi. For breakfast we had toast and eggs with cheese and rice and beans. Around noon, the whole group met at the community center for a scavenger hunt. Our families were invited also but they were very busy preparing for lunch. For the scavenger hunt, we had a list of things we had to take pictures of in our teams. The list included five dogs, four different colored houses, a person who has lived in this town “El Refugio” for more than 10 years, and a picture of us in a pyramid! We had a lot of fun running around though I think we ended up confusing a lot of the locals. After the scavenger hunt, everyone came to our family’s house for burgers. We played Jenga for a while and then watched the first Incredibles movie. After that we had a piñata and ate the candy when Gabe broke it open! After all the other kids left Lily and I accidentally took a nap in the living room. When we woke up, our host mom was FaceTiming her mother to wish her a happy birthday so we all sang Happy Birthday to her in Spanish. We were also introduced to our host Mom’s brother, niece, nephew, and father via FaceTime. Our host Mom’s mother was really happy and started crying. Next, we went to dinner at a restaurant in town where I tried a new dish called Chifrijo. It consisted of rice, beans, tomato, and pork. It was really good. The only problem was that I didn’t realize you were supposed to mix it all together so it tasted really salty at first. After dinner, we ran back to the car in the rain and drove home to get to bed.
July 30, 3018
Today was our last full day in our homestays. While it was really fun, we were also really sad to have to leave because we love our families so much. My morning started with a breakfast of waffles and delicious Costa Rican coffee. After breakfast, Tara and I headed to the community center for our final workday. We split into groups and Tara, Gabe, Owen P., and I went to play with the kids at the daycare center nearby. The kids were all really sweet and we had a great time playing with them and talking to them. When the kids left for snack, the four of us went back to the community center and I started painting a small mural. The mural said Global Works 2018 and served as a fun reminder of our time in the community. Then it was time for lunch. Tara and I walked home and our host mom prepared Rice, beans, salad, and plantains. Lunch was delicious and was followed by an awesome nap. After our nap, we went back to work at the community center and the other group went to the daycare. I worked more on the mural, with help from Owen P., and finally finished it. When the mural was done, everyone in our group signed their names next to it. Because it was our last work day, we made sure to clean up all of our supplies in the community center. When cleanup was done, we all got ready for the “Despedida” or a goodbye party. It took place in the community center and was a really wonderful gathering of the community. Tara and I gave a speech to our host family and we also gave our host mom a card and flowers for Costa Rican Mother’s Day. We ate some really good food and enjoy the final night in the company of our homestays. After the despedida, we went home and packed. Finally, we went to sleep and got ready for another amazing day in Costa Rica. I miss my homestay family already. Pura vida!
July 31, 2018
To some, today may have been empty. But to me the day was so full to the point it would leave those shocked or surprised.
It was full of colors. Green from the grass, the wind blown trees, then ending in the color of our bedsheets. Pink, which filled the design of the sunrise to the flower petals to the sunset. And clear gray, seen in the stormy skies to stormy eyes which cried as we said our goodbyes (to our host families).
The day was full of sounds. Sound from the goodbyes to new hellos. Sound from the laughter to chatter. Even sound when we are at the natural state of not talking at all. Sound from the stomping patter of pouring rain to the side and claps of thunder. Then, the loud hazey sound created by all the insects, frogs, and animals which blends the many voices together. Near the beach, in the jungle, we now hear them all.
The day may have been filled in unexpected ways, but no day is empty. They all have something to say.
August 1, 2018
When we woke up this morning, I could somehow excited everyone was about surfing. We all ate breakfast, then got on the bus heading for the beach. When we got there I could hear the outside break calling my name as I paddled to it. The fact that we were in Costa Rica surfing was enough to keep us happy. Overall, the surfing was a blast and we all enjoyed it very much. After lunch we all walked out to the Whale’s Tail where we waded out in the water to get to the end. After, we went swimming in the ocean for a while and then hopped back on the bus to go back to the hotel where we enjoyed swimming in the pool and sitting down for a delicious dinner. Today had to be my favorite day in Costa Rica so far. We will see how the rest of it goes!
August 2, 2018
Today we woke up bright and early again and I had a breakfast of toast. After that, we all got on the bus and headed to the beach. Rushed to the water and immediately started surfing. It was really fun to hang out the second day and we all started to get the hang of it, which made it even better. At around noon, we pulled ourselves out of the water and headed to lunch at the same spot as yesterday. We had rice, chicken, and salad, and then we went to the center of town to shop for souvenirs. There was some really cool stuff and almost everyone got something. It was getting late, so we went back to the hotel and chilled at the pool until a dinner of pasta and vegetables. Then did a circle of appreciation where we took turns in the middle of the circle with our eyes closed and everyone said positive things about you. We knew it was going to be a very early morning on Saturday in order to make our flight, so we all went to bed early in preparation for tomorrow night when many of us may stay up super late!