Costa Rica La Pura Vida (Session 3)
July 21, 2019
Title: We Made It!
It’s been a long two days, but we have all happily made it to the beginnings of our two week journey in Costa Rica with all of our new friends and surroundings.
We began our trip convening at the Houston Airport, which had its own happenings. Gates were switched, flights delayed, it was a tense time of trying to all make it to a new place. We quickly found each other though at Gate 43, just down the way from a Subway and across from a brightly lit surf shop. There we bonded over long flights and hunger as we waited with baited breath to get on the penultimate leg of our travel from all over the United States and Mexico to arrive in the luscious and beautiful San José, Costa Rica.
Once on the plane, we all quickly learned that filling out customs forms isn’t as easy as it seems when our parents do it. However, with teamwork, light from the little personal lights, and help from the people around us, we figured out how to get the correct information out on the paper. We landed rather smoothly in San Jose a little bit after 9pm, and quickly shuffled off the plane into the humidity and new experiences.
After arriving inside the airport, we made our way through immigration and picked up our luggage with ease, as people began to notify home that they’d made it safely to their final destination for the next two weeks. We made it through customs and on to the bus with warm spirits as we acquainted ourselves with our new friends and leaders. Snacks traded hands as the bus lumbered along slick and dark roads to our hotel for the next two days.
We made our appearance at Heliconias Nature Lodge after a two hour bus trip – with one stop – as the adrenaline faded and people settled into their new environment. Room keys were distributed by Randall, Perry, and Eric under the glow of floodlights and the heavy patter and splatter of rain, as a heavy breeze lifted our raincoats we’d hastily thrown on. Everyone splintered off to their rooms, the day’s travel heavy in their bones as we found heavenly beds and soft pillows. And with that, we tucked our bodies under the covers and settled in for a long awaited sleep.
July 22, 2019
At 8:30am the following morning, everyone shuffled out of their rooms and congregated in the restaurant, eyes crusted with sleep and yawns still echoing. We settled in at tables to a lovely breakfast of pineapple, watermelon, and a new dish called gallo pinto – rice with beans – and scrambled eggs. We all happily dug in and filled our stomachs with the delicious food. We quickly grabbed our backpacks at 9am and headed out to Crisley’s cheese farm, where we spent our morning and early afternoon. Whilst there, we learned of the family’s history – like that the family had been given the farm and land by the government to farm and raise crops and animals – and how they make the dairy products they produce.
In the hot little room where they make all their products, we learned about how Crisley’s family produces sour cream, a form of mozzarella, and sometimes other cheeses like ricotta. While some cycled through and learned about the history and technicalities with Randall, some followed Eric and Perry to see the farm and the animals housed there, like a mare and her baby, as well as cows, cats, dogs, and chickens. Once back, everyone got a chance to see how the cheese is separated from the leftover milk, stretched, then rolled into balls to be sold at the market (of course we sampled it, and we all concurred it was insanely delicious and that Crisley definitely knew what he was doing). After a delicious lunch of vegetables with chicken and rice, many went on a hike to see the rest of the farm, finding pigs and holding chickens.
Once we said our goodbyes and squished back into two buses and a car, we dispersed back to our rooms to get changed and spend some time by ourselves or at the pool. For those at the pool, there was a brief downpour but it didn’t dampen any spirits. Many relaxed in the warm half of the pool, floating and chatting. Others preferred to do flips and talk in the cool side of the pool. After cleaning up and showering off, we all met back up at the restaurant for a brief dinner of spiced chicken, vegetables, rice, and beans.
During dinner we chatted and went back over our days, recanting our favorite parts and lamenting missing our pets, all of our fluffy labradoodles and retrievers and more.
We then circled up and stretched out, releasing the tension from the past two days and winding down a bit, doing yoga and touching our toes. From there we asked questions about how to say things in Spanish, like the difference between perdón and perdóname and odd colloquial phrases. After that, Perry and the rest of the leaders told us the rules and regulations of the Homestay and how to be the best we could be while staying there. The absolute most anticipated part was finding out who would be our Homestay partners, and that we would all be close together.
On the agenda for tomorrow is an early wake up call and breakfast in the restaurant, zip-lining, and then heading to our homes for the next week.
We all send home love and well wishes, and we can’t wait to see what comes next.
Your kids in Costa Rica (penned by Annemarie C.)
July 23, 2019
To start our day off we ate breakfast at the Hotel Heliconias restaurant and had some delicious pancakes with scrambled eggs. Then we ventured off to go zip lining with views we couldn’t believe. The thrill of the zip lines not only included amazing views but a rush of adrenaline, speed, and up to half of a mile long of fun. There were eight zip lines total and all of them offered a different experience. After that we headed to the town of La Fortuna. We ate lunch at a restaurant in the town which had a wide variety on their menu. They had hamburgers, Fettuccine Alfredo, and an amazing traditional Costa Rican dish with rice beans and vegetables. After, we had time to explore the town of La Fortuna and got the chance to buy gifts and chocolate. We got in the bus one more time to be dropped off at our final destination of our homestays!! Upon our arrival the moms had a nice welcome sign and huge smiles. We split off into our families and enjoyed the rest of the night getting to know them and settling in. What a wonderful way to end a very eventful day!
Riley R. and Annie A.
July 24, 2019
¡Hola! Today was our 4th day in Costa Rica. Our day started off with us hanging out with our host families- we (Aanya and Stephanie) are living together, but because everyone is in different houses some of what we did today was different too! A typical dish we eat for breakfast is arroz con frijoles (rice and beans). We ate that with eggs and watermelon. Then went off to our first day of work! We started by sharing how our first day with our host family was, everyone had great stories. One of our most memorable moments was staying to play Jenga with our abuelita y mama. It got intense quickly and we definitely need a rematch later. Next we started to work on our service project. We painted trees white to avoid insects from destroying them outside of the community center. Then we cleaned both ourselves and the supplies used to paint. Then we took a break and all went to our host homes for lunch. After, we went to la escuela en La Lucha to teach the children numbers, colors, and greetings as well as other things in English. It was amazing to see the children’s eagerness to learn. We also played many games including soccer with 2nd and 3rd graders. We had an amazing experience with our little friends. Then we went home to spend time with our families. In our home we taught our family how to play ¡UNO! after a delicious dinner of tilapia, beans, and rice. It was fun to teach our families a new game that they instantly fell in love with as much as we did. Lastly, we met at the community house outside the community center to participate in arts and crafts like friendship bracelets and flowers. ¡Buenas Noches!
Stephanie and Aanya
July 25, 2019
Today we ate breakfast with our families and spent some quality time together. Next we went to the soccer field to paint the fence to prevent rusting. After we painted for about an hour or so, we went back to our families for lunch. We then went back to the field to continue painting. About 30 minutes into vigorous painting it started to rain very hard. Randall decided that we should stop early because the rain would just wash off the paint while we worked. Many of us students then played rainy soccer in the field we painted with many of the local kids soon after. Later that day we all went to a dance performance and watched local children and local older people show us their Costa Rican dances and tradition. We then went home to socialize with our families. All in on it was a great day where we learned more Spanish and had a lot of fun.
July 26, 2019
Hey families and friends! I’m sure you have been waiting for the blog to come and lucky for you, you have the best bloggers writing this here blog! Its Margot and Sierra coming at you from la casa de Marta en La Lucha. So far we have had a great time on our trip. Lots of Spanish, painting and fun adventures and we are only excited for what’s to come. But here’s what you all have been waiting for: a moment to moment description of our last two days in Costa Rica.
At 6:02 in the morning we were awoken by the heat of the sun blazing through our window. Exhausted, we turned our heads and closed our eyes once more to fall into a slumber that was the best of the trip. At 7:55 we awoke to our alarm that was lodged deep underneath our bed. After Margot fished it out from under the bed, we got ready for the day. For breakfast we had a delicious plate of beans, rice, and eggs while watching the crime statistics on the news. We had many delightful conversations and laughs with Mama Marta and then we were off to continue painting the fence around the soccer field. We all began to paint the fence and soon it was time to return home and eat lunch. We returned to our house down the road and ate a delicious lunch of rice, beans and eggs with green beans. We hung out with our family and made friendship bracelets with Carlita (our host sister) and Valeria (the neighbor). We headed back to work but our labor was interrupted after about an hour and a half with a surprising rain shower. We couldn’t paint anymore, even after the rain had past, so we decided to play some soccer with the local kids. We split up into teams and our very own Margot was chosen to be the goalie (big role for her). Margot blocked every single shot coming her way with every part of her body except her hands and feet. With all Margot’s success, she pushed her luck and attempted a handstand, only to fall directly onto her entire back. But she took the fall like a champ and resumed her position. Sierra had a high moment of being in the right place at the right time and scored a beautifully timed goal with perfect precision and form against the opposing goalie, Bryan. After playing soccer, we all headed home to relax before our dance lessons with Randall. When we were home, all we could think about was the upcoming talent show. We were quaking with excitement while brain storming ideas. At 5:00 we went to the community room and began our dance lessons. We learned three different latin dances and had a great time doing so. Everyone had a great time laughing and dancing together and it ended with nothing but smiles. We walked back home and had a filling dinner of tortillas and fried eggs. After dinner, we played many card games with our family, including Go Fish (which we had previously taught them) and a new game that Margot and Sierra pretended to understand but never fully did (Margot won and we don’t know how). After a long day, we went to bed at the reasonable hour of 10:30 with our heads filled with fun memories and hopes for a great next day.
– Margot & Sierra
July 27, 2019
Beep beep! Our alarm rang through our room at 7:55 and Margot and Sierra sluggishly opened their beautiful blue eyes. We got ready for another day of painting and ate more eggs, rice, and beans for breakfast. Margot also ate a mystery meat that was real tasty for her taste buds. Then we went to meet everyone at the town center at 9:30. We painted the last few parts of the fence while scoping the ground for ant hills so we wouldn’t be malled like the previous days (Sierra was successfully not bitten for the first time this trip). We finished the fence early and ate lots of cookies in the extra time we had. Then we all played a game with animal sounds. Tonight was the talent show, so we had the afternoon off to practice and get ready. Margot and Sierra still had to choose between their many talents. Should we belly dance? Should we sing? Should we act? Should we do kung-fu? Acrobatics? Vantriliqui? We just couldn’t decide. We had a delightful lunch of black soup (sopa negra) that had beans, rice, and eggs in it. We sat with Mama Marta and conversed about our free day with each other tomorrow. We will possibly be going to the river (stay tuned). Then Margot and Sierra decided to go on a walk in the town and gets some snacks and popsicles to cool down and then return to practice for the talent show. Soon it was time and Margot and Sierra were nothing but excited to show their dance that they decided to do. The talent show began at 5:00 and it was filled with songs from Hamilton, paint brushing, magic tricks, dancing, and drinking coca cola. Then we returned home for the night to spend time with our families and write these blogs.
That brings us to now. We had a great dinner of eggs, rice, beans, and french fries. We are currently having a great time writing this (obviously we are writing with pleasure and enthusiasm). Hope you enjoyed our blog and miss us a ton. Love you all.
– Margot & Sierra
July 28, 2019
Today, we were given the opportunity to spend the entire day with our host families. Since my homestay mom didn’t go to church, I hitched a ride with Mama Rita, her husband Jorge, and Emma. We drove to the neighboring town of La Tigra to go to 10 o’clock mass. After a sweltering service full of prayer and singing, Mama Rita rewarded us with tamales, torta, and two tortillas overflowing with arroz con pollo.
Upon returning from mass, I took a quick siesta to sleep off the food and escape the heat wave. After the siesta came una gran fiesta; Doña Julia invited the Global Works group for cake and carmelitos or caramel popcorn. The ten of us that could make it crowded together on the living room floor to play a lively game of cards and chatted about our families and our days.
Afterwards, we went to the plaza to play frisbee and fútbol with some of the local kids. I was horrendous at frisbee, but luckily, the only casualties of our frisbee game were some of Brian’s Cheetos. Playing with Natalie, one of the schoolchildren I taught the Wednesday past, and Evelyn, a fifteen year old with an impressive grasp of English, I was able to get some fresh air along with a view of the gorgeous mountains surrounding us.
Once the fiesta ended, Annie and I hosted another guest: Doña Julia’s neighbor, Hillary. After an exchange of friendship bracelets, Hillary and I became fast friends. We amused ourselves by translating Spanish words into English, and when the time came to say goodbye, I made sure to invite her family to tomorrow’s tortilla night.
And so, my day of celebration ended; after shrugging on my PJs, I grabbed another slice of cake, read more of A Storm of Swords, and got some much needed sleep to prepare for the coming days ahead.
July 29, 2019
Waking up on the morning of our second to last day of service, I realized that I was so wiped out from church the previous day that I somehow missed my 3 AM wake up call from the roosters. As I woke up a little late, I had to wolf down breakfast and I rush to work. Today we had transitioned into a new project: focusing on sanding down and painting the tables and stools in the communal kitchen. Arriving at 9:30, we got right to work. There were 3 large tables to sand, and around 15 stools. With about 5 people sanding each table, we managed to get all the sanding done before lunch.
Robeson and I returned to our house for a fulfilling meal after lots of sanding in the heat. Replenished, we returned to paint all the tables and stools. Although is was very hot and the paint wasn’t working too well, we had a lot of fun cracking jokes and talking about our days. After we finished, we all returned home to rest and prepare for tonight. Tonight, one of my favorite nights, was tortilla night.
Around 5 we all returned, accompanied by some of our family members, to make traditional Costa Rican tortillas. We each received a ball of tortilla dough, and with a little help, began molding them into the tortillas we would be eating later. With a little trial and error I grew to become quite efficient at making them, and we had a great time learning and making them. After we finished, we waited around and talked while the food was being prepared. With Eric playing some great music, the food was finally ready. There was two different types of tortillas being served, one being a orange looking mixture of different plants and seasonings, and the other being a tortilla with a mystery meat that I still don’t know what it was. However, both tasted amazing, and felt good knowing we were the ones who had formed and made the tortillas we were eating. With great music, food, and friends, it was a great way to end a day of hard work.
-Robeson and Dylan
July 30, 2019
In the early morning Emma arose from her deep slumber. She blearily looked around the dark bedroom with eyes barely open, and sleep evident on her features. It only took a few moments for her to get out of bed. After eating a good breakfast, she anxiously waited outside, filled with anticipation for the FINAL DAY of work. Soon, Emma and Perry found themselves heading to work.
During the later morning, The group (including a very excited Randall) began their final day of work. Within minutes they were chipping away at the dirt with shovels. Emma took small steps with her feet ever so slightly, as to avoid crashing and falling on the rainforest floor. With trees in hand, the Global Works team planted tree after tree in order to hide a path from view. After a while, Emma and Randall sat by a small pool of sorts, created by water from the earth. Randall jokingly held up a poison dart frog and the young adult laughed. It wasn’t long before the team finished the work and headed home for lunch.
In the evening, a fun and sad goodbye party was held in the kitchen. Many tears were shed over the idea of leaving the host families that the Global Works team had grown close to in the last seven days. Emma found herself crying in Rita’s arms, not ready to say goodbye. She glanced over at her teammates, most of which had gone to hug their families, and took a deep breath. She knew it would be okay and that it wouldn’t be hard to visit her host family again. She went to bed with a not so heavy heart.
July 31, 2019
After waking up for the final time to the sound of 20 roosters and many dogs, we sat down to eat our last meal of eggs, rice, and beans with our host families. We left our home of the past eight days accompanied by our host brothers, Jean Carlos and Kilroy. We then met up with the rest of the group at the bus stop before saying tearful goodbyes.
We then began a seven hour journey to destination Playa Uvita. We made a few stops along the way: first to a Costa Rican Walmart, where we bought some of our favorite foods like rambutans, Chiky cookies, and aloe drinks; then to a lunch and souvenir spot, where we ate a huge traditional meal and picked out great presents for our families.
We finally arrived to our new hotel at around 5, where we settled in briefly before heading to the beach. We took the five minute walk to the beach, where we took a quick dip and admired the beautiful colorful sunset. We came back to the hotel, where we took showers and ate a wide variety of foods like quesadillas, nachos, pasta Alfredo, and more.
Finally, we returned to our air-conditioned rooms and fell asleep quickly after a long and exhausting day of travel.
– Gemma M. and Amelia W.
August 1, 2019
We woke up to a beautiful day at the beach. A number of us chose to wake up at six, intending to see the ocean sunrise, but discovered that the sun had already risen by the time we got to the beach. Taking advantage of being there, Gemma and some of the other girls decided to take a quick run on the sand, while Amelia and others took some quality photos of the beach and themselves.
Then, we returned to the hotel to eat a breakfast of pancakes (yummy yum!), eggs, and fresh tropical fruits. After suiting up for surfing and covering ourselves in mounds of sunscreen, we made our way down the path to surf school (yayyyyy!).
At the beach, we met our surf instructors, who took us through the basic stances and techniques (“chicken leg”) to help us pop up like pros. We caught some gnarly waves (glorious waist-deep whitewater) with varying levels of success for around an hour before taking a short break. We made sure to hydrate and eat delicious cookies, and group leader Eric cracked open some fresh coconuts to allow us to sample its fresh water and meat. We then returned to shhrrred some more waves. Many of our group members, including Amelia, got absolutely smacked by both surfboards and water, but found some quality blue water to hit. By the end of another hour, everyone had managed to stand up at least once.
Then, we exhaustedly made the trek back to Hotel Nido del Halcón for a poolside lunch of ham, sausage, pepperoni, or vegetable pizzas (no cheese option for Amelia :(). We took a little free time to relax before we returned to the beach for some suuper fun recreational wave jumping (essentially getting schmacked by some maaaaasive rollers and being bitten on the buttocks by bite-sized shrimpy-shrimps). After a few hours chilling at the beach, we went back to the hotel to scrub the sand off of ourselves (all except Gemma) in the shower.
Little did we know that we would be returning to the beach for the fourth time to conduct a self-reflection activity: we walked single file spaced 15-seconds apart pondering what we have learned over the last two weeks (and considering how to avoid getting our newly-showered bodies wet); we stood separated by palm trees (with ginormous coconuts waiting to fall on our heads – fun fact: more people die each year from a coconut falling on their head than from shark attacks!!!) and thought more about what we will take away from this memorable experience; and finally huddled together on the beach to share some of our reflections, when, out of nowhere, a wiiiiiilllllld tropical storm rained on our parade, forcing us to flee the premises.
We ran back to the hotel (dancing in the torrential rain, obvi) where a power outage awaited us (whoop whoop!). We broke out our headlamps and screamed and clapped rowdily.
We then came to dinner and ingested some BLTAs, Caprese salads, and more nachos. Next, we wrote down our previous reflections onto index cards, which were promptly taken from us (still don’t know where those are!).
Finally, we retired to our chambers and watched some “Naked and Afraid” (only show we could find in English) and enjoyed each other’s company.
Pooped, we passed out onto our beds and froze to death in our 16-degree Celsius room (maybe we over did it on the luxurious AC, but it was better than sweating), stoooooked for another day of blastin’ the barrels and livin’ the Pura Vida life.
Peace out brodoggers! Love y’all!!
– Gemma M. and Amelia W.
August 2, 2019
We woke up in the morning to the chirping sounds of harmonious birds. The golden sun was pouring through the windows, and we jumped out of bed eager for another day of gnarly surfing. We threw on our bathing suits, coated ourselves in thick sunscreen (SunBum 50+), and headed down our gravel path to enjoy the sun and the waves at the beach. Before this, however, our wonderful guias thoroughly checked to make sure we stayed hydrated and had our water bottles. When they got to Annie, they noticed that something was missing: her water bottle. “Annie, where is your water bottle?” they asked. “Uh… It’s broken,” Annie replied hesitantly. We then sauntered off to the beach full water bottles in hand: yes, including Annie. As Colorado girls living in a land-locked state, we have been inspired by the euphoric feeling of surfing (“Gnarly”-Annie A.), to move to a non-land-locked state where we can experience this feeling every day. Adios Mom and Dad. Attempting to carry our colorful surfboards through the wind, we finally put our toes in the warm, warm water. We were a little nervous though of the water lizards, or as non-surfers might call them: crocodiles. The waves were perfect, and as I got up, I looked to my right and saw Kendal grinding on the same wave. (“Party wave!” -Annie A.) At approximately 10:16 am, we went to grab a healthy snack of manzanas. As professional surfer gals, there is no challenge we cannot face so we ran, not walked into the waves even while it was raining. (“It was muy tuanies,”-Kendal L.) We walked out, tired but accomplished, with incredible amounts of money beneath our feet (sand dollars). We swam in our pool, waiting for lunch to come. We were thrilled to see volcanoes of guacamole, a variety of chips, and perros calientes (hot dogs). Then we hopped on the bus, giggling with our coolest friends, and headed to the adorable town of Dominical. We purchased some handmade acai bowls, fruit smoothies, and milkshakes. On our way home, we visited a local supermarket and purchased a plethora of things: ice cream, cookies, and Kendal’s favorite fruit, rambutans. Once we returned, we enjoyed the delicious ice cream and wrote this wonderful blog. What will happen this evening we do not know, but we do know one thing, “it’s going to be gnarly and radical” -Annie A. and Kendal L.
Kendal and Annie