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Costa Rica Language & Leadership 2017

June 27, 2017

Today we journeyed to a family owned cheese farm. We got to help make cheese, eat it, then learn about the owner’s life and how he became a cheese farmer. The farm was full of animals such as chickens, cows, pigs, and dogs. Around noon, we feasted on a fantastic lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, rice, and homemade star fruit juice, which was amazing. After lunch, we found a poisonous dart frog and learned about it. Our last activity at the farm was milking cows. The cheese farmer showed us the hand movements and how to milk them correctly. We were able to buy fresh coffee for only $3 at 250 grams. After the farm, we had about an hour to relax before learning salsa dancing with Randall. After dancing, we had a great dinner then did a group talk about rules, planning, etc. I personally think the highlights of today were the lunch, which was amazing, especially the star fruit juice, and getting to eat the cheese we had just helped to make ourselves.
Pura Vida!

– Josh K.

June 28, 2017

Today we woke up really early to begin our exciting adventure. As we neared the rafting place, the anticipation began to grow in our bodies. We had a hardy breakfast of typical Costa Rican beans and rice. We continued upon our journey as we trekked down a winding hill. As we reached the bottom, we were greeted by a rushing, rapidly, roaring river. I felt the cold spray of the water spritz my face. We strapped on our life vests and helmets (safety first) and embarked on our aventura. The water was calm…too calm. We continued slowly down the tranquil water in nervous anticipation. Suddenly we were blasted in the face by a raging flurry of water. The boat rocked, threatening to tip at every rock it conquered. It was non-stop fun! We then arrived at our campsite for the evening, took a walk to a waterfall where we swam. It was muy bonita!
Pura Vida!
David R.

June 29, 2017

As the morning sun shines softly on our luxurious tents, the group wakes up to another beautiful day on the Pacuare River. The early birds gathered at 6:30am to start off the day with some body-waking yoga. The rafting guides kindly boiled tea and coffee, and prepared delicious breakfast for us. The morning fog slowly faded away, and the sun peaked its head out of the clouds. While doing yoga, we took in all the fascinating scenery around us, the chirping of various birds, and the alluring smell of plantains being cooked. Everything felt so peaceful yet so lively at the same time. After yoga, we played some games that were quite tricky. There was one called “black magic”, and another called “ball”. It seemed challenging but once you figured it out the answer seemed so obvious. The games came to a halt as soon as breakfast was ready, and everyone enjoyed some delicious pancakes, potatoes, plantains, fruit, eggs, and packed our bags, put on live jackets and helmets, and headed out. “Los rápidos hoy van a ser muy divertidos”, our guide told us. On the river, we talked about a lot of interesting things with our guide Jorge – from the origin and similarities of languages to the discrimination in Costa Rica, we listened carefully and learned more about our guide, Costa Rica, and the Spanish language. The rapids today were fast and wary, we sometimes had to get down in the boat, it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had and the best rafting trip I’ve ever been in. When we were approaching the end of the route, everyone jumped in the water and just floated with the river. It was so relaxing to lay there and enjoy the wonderful nature around us. We thanked our fabulous guides (Jorge was the best one) and boarded the bus with our bags and unforgettable memories. We stopped on the way for ice cream, and played some more games on the bus. After four hours, we arrived at the hotel, which is nice and cozy. We walked to a nearby diner for dinner, then settled in our rooms. Today was yet another day filled with laughter, fun, and getting to know each other. I cannot wait to see what is next to come! 🙂
Pura Vida!
Linda C.

June 30, 2017

Once again, we awoke to the early Costa Rican rising sun. Greeted to a scrumptious buffet style breakfast, we feasted upon rice & beans, eggs, toast, and orange juice. After packing, we placed our suitcases in our bus and began the five hour drive to the cloud forest. Along the way, we stopped at El Caballo Blanco for another buffet style meal. We had a wide variety of choices like beans, rice, chicken, potatoes, eggs, salads, and so much more. After another ride on the bus, we arrived at a lodge in Monteverde where we stored our large suitcases. We boarded the bus with our day packs, and completed the drive to the forest lodge parking lot. We began the 1 hour hike to the lodge, and it began to rain halfway through. Luckily, we made it to the lodge with only a few people slipping along the way. We were presented with donuts, tea, and coffee when we arrived, reviving us from the strenuous walk. For dinner, we feasted upon spaghetti before playing a language game that had us all laughing, going over tomorrow’s logistics, and reflecting on our time so far in Costa Rica before finally going to bed.
Pura Vida!

Owen H.

July 1, 2017

Today we split up in two groups to start our service project in the forest! We had to dig channels in the forest so that when it rains it will go down the path that we dug. We worked for about 2 hours and then we came back for an amazing lunch! After lunch, we went back out to collect all of the trail signs so that could repaint them. It was hard work but it felt good to do something good! After that, we had a nice donut and a weird kind of cornbread that was so good. Then we ended the night with a really good dinner and then a really cool night hike where we saw some cool bugs and frogs! Overall it was a great day!

Pure Vida!

Molly M.

July 2, 2017

Today we woke up to really loud thunder and a lot of rain. After a breakfast of empanadas, we split up in our groups to do more service work. One group went to flatten and widen a trail and add more drainage systems to it so water wouldn’t ruin the newly redone trail. The other group helped clean up the shed by organizing the tool closet and helping rebuild the shed’s roof. That group also got drenched by the hose while washing the signs we picked up yesterday. After finishing our service work, we had birra, or pulled beef, for lunch. There was a bit of rest time before setting out on a long, beautiful hike through the rainforest to see a huge and quite cold waterfall. The brave ones went for a swim under the waterfall while the others looked at the nice scenery. After the hike, there was some time to relax and eat corn bread before dinner, which was before having our group meeting prepping for our departure for the homestays tomorrow. The second group went on their nature hike and after, the group came together jamming out to Mama Mia. It was fantastic!

Pura Vida!
Charlotte S.

July 3, 2017

Costa Rica is truly enriched with the beauty of natures finest. Everyday I find myself being introduced to a plethora of new angles: from the forever green forest reshaping my curiosity, to an expansion of “How” and “Why” questions. We began our day with fresh, delicious plantains, fruit and rice for our breakfast. After breakfast, we parted ways from the kind staff of Bosque Eterno de los Niños (Children’s Eternal Rain Forest) and began our two mile hike. My fellow group-mates and I, climbed the thick, slushy mud of the hills. Where the taste of our breakfast was replaced with taste of victory when we reached our paradise on wheels (bus). The A/C greeted our body heat with complete bliss; which remained for the duration of the 6 horas (hours) ride, despite the many restroom stops. These were very complimenting, because the pit stops took place at food friendly places where my stomach was contento with limón y sal plantain chips, and a bucket of ice cream and brownie brittle that we all shared. After multiple sing-a-longs and games, we had lunch at 1pm. We ate fruit, rice, and the option of a variety of meat and extra sides to add to our satisfied stomachs. We then returned to the bus and finally made our way to the homestay community where kind families with smiling faces awaited us. When we arrived to meet our host families, the atmosphere was filled with warm hugs and sweet cookies. I loved every single moment of it. We were then paired with partners to share a host family. I am paired with Linda and our host family is Marie and Roy. They are the parents to five beautiful kids named: Yasmin, Ken, Kevin, Yari, and Yaquilin. It has only been a few hours, but I already feel at home. I cannot wait for what tomorrow brings us.
Pura Vida!
Kaitlyn M.

July 4, 2017

Today we woke up for our first homestay breakfast. I had fresh fruit, mangos, watermelon, pineapple and plantains. It was so good! Then we walked to the town center. It is a long walk from some homes, including mine, but we pass a really pretty waterfall, so it is worth it. Then, we split up into two groups. One group (called the “Puras”) took a tour of the coffee factory, while the other group (called the “Vidas”) started to work by digging away earth on a hill to flatten land in order to extend the bodega. Then it started pouring, so we all come into the cafeteria where our mothers brought us lunch. Since it was raining and we couldn’t work, we played with our families. It was really nice because the kids were coming out of their shells. We then celebrated the 4th of July with the Ticos, who made hamburgers. We spent the rest of the night with our families. The parents are all so loving and always want to help us, and the kids always want to play. I can’t wait to spend more time with such great people.
Pura Vida,
Charlotte S.

July 5, 2017

This morning I woke up in my homestay and had a delicious breakfast consisting of a sweet tea drink called agua dulce, a filling pastry called arepa, and fruit. We all met at the work site and half of us started digging and evening out the ground while the other half went on the coffee tour. The digging and pic-axing was extremely tiring because of the immense number of rocks in the dirt. We worked for about an hour then some of the other group came and helped us with it. The other half of the group was cleaning the coffee processor and having water wars. At lunch we were all tired but felt good because of how much we accomplished. After lunch, we walked to the fútbol (soccer) field and played a fun game of soccer. Some of the local kids joined us which made it even more enjoyable. We all played for about an hour and the team I was on won 9-7. We were all exhausted after the game so we all went to our homes and spent the rest of the afternoon and night with our homestay families and some went to mass with them. It was a hard but fun day and I am so happy I got to spend it with such amazing people.
Pura Vida!
Chloe S.

July 6, 2017

Today I woke up at 6:30am, had a nice breakfast with my family and embarked on the long walk uphill to our daily meeting place. My body has been sore and tired, but I’m in Costa Rica, so who am I to complain. We were split up into the two groups we were in the day before. One group went on an apparently grueling hike, which I’m so looking forward to tomorrow, while my group worked in the trenches leveling mountains (or at least felt like it). I was working in the trenches digging up dirt with a pick axe. Whoevers idea it was to trust me with a sharp pick axe was not in their right mind. 😛 In all seriousness though, our whole group worked hard while taking breaks for water chugging and musical number breakouts. Then at 12:45, we stopped for a delicious lunch provided by our loving mothers. My family got French fries with our meal. After lunch we had free time until 4pm. Since my house is a really long walk, my family and a few others stayed at the worksite to play UNO and cards. Then we got to make our own tortillas. We cooked them and then ate spaghetti tacos, they’re a lot better than they sound, I promise. Afterwards, we made our way home and played more UNO with our family. My fellow homestayers broke out the ukelele while we had warm milk and cookies. Then I went off to bed after another long, beautiful day in Cedral, Costa Rica.
Pura Vida!
Ava G.

July 7, 2017

Today I woke up at 6:30am and went to eat breakfast with our homestay family. We had pancakes, fruit, cereal, and tea. We arrived to the work place, splitting up into our groups from yesterday. One group stayed to work, while my group went on a beautiful hike to see where Cedral, Costa Rica got their water from. It took us a while to go up where we found a cabin and took photos. While the hike was tiring, it was worth seeing the beautiful scenery. When we arrived back at the work place, we were greeted with a homemade lunch from our homestay families. After we finished our delicious meal, we played a lot of card games. After that, some of us decided to go play football. At 4:00pm we gathered together to make clay sculptures for a garden close by. When we were all finished we played a few more games until it was time to go back to our houses. When we returned home, it was time to watch the soccer game, Honduras vs. Costa Rica. We were all cheering for Costa Rica and Costa Rica won! After a long day, we headed off to bed.
Pura Vida!
Isabelle R.

July 8, 2017

Today I woke up at 7:30am to a delicious breakfast made by my homestay mother. Here breakfast is my favorite meal and I am always excited to see what my homestay mom makes us. Today we had a bowl of watermelon and papaya, hot chocolate!!, and freshly baked pastries. Then I headed to the worksite. Luckily my home is right by the site so I got to sleep in. Before working, a group of us played a stressful card game to wake us up. Today, I volunteered to dig and pick ax. For the past few days a group of us have been working on leveling out the ground. After working hard for 3 hours, we returned back to our houses for lunch. Lunch was beans, rice, and potato chips with ice tea to drink. It was amazing. Next, I played a card game with my homestay brother. At 2pm we all headed down to the field for a soccer game. Ticos vs. Americans. We somehow won with two Ticos on our team and with the winning goal being an own goal by the Ticos. All of us then attended a Zumba class where we used our last drops of energy. After a long hike back to the house, I ate dinner, talked with my family, and went to bed. It was a fun but extremely tiring day!!
Pura Vida!
Saya S.

July 9, 2017

Our days at our homestay community are making this trip go by so fast. Everyday we have activities that occupy our time and make it fly by. There’s a huge fulfilling feeling when I think about all the hard work our group has accomplished so far. Today was especially fun, we had our rally with the community, families from all over Cedral organized and created obstacles for us to surpass, some more challenging than others but overall a very memorable experience. I really liked going through the mud crawl and getting to wash off in the river afterwards, the water was so cooling and its temperature reminded me of the rivers in Oregon. The rally finished off at the plaza where my group, Los Salvajes beat the other group that finished off first in a game of tug-of-war. Then the whole Global Works team went against Los Ticos of Cedral. It was hard to determine a winner but everyone ended it off with a good laugh. We played a strange game with balloons where we had to smack them into a goal with our hands. Once more it was Global Works vs. Los Ticos. Afterwards, we did a water balloon toss where my partner and I totally failed on our 3rd or 4th try. Our final activity with the community was an intense game of fútbol. Although I am not that great at the sport, I can definitely say I did my defense position better than the past times. My team lost but it’s all good because in life we learn to take L’s. Overall, it was a great day because I am taking notice on how my physical endurance is improving and hiking up various hills is now much easier than before. It’s Sunday today and we leave Cedral on Thursday. I wish we could spend more time here, the people are so friendly and my homestay family is really nice too. Due to the fact that our time left in Cedral is so short, it makes our time spent here even more great and precious. I will definitely miss Costa Rica!
Pura Vida!
Jenny R.

July 10, 2017

Today was one of the best days we’ve had so far. I woke up this morning where I was greeted to an amazing breakfast of eggs and fruit. After meeting up with everyone we set out on a hike to an abandoned house that had an incredible view of the village. We were chilling and enjoying the view when we set off to go higher. When we reached the top the view was better than I imagined. People were taking pictures, but I set off on my own up a bit higher to get a better view. While I was taking in the view, I realized how lucky I am to be in an amazing place with some of the best people I’ve ever met. It’s hard to think that we’re only six days away from going home. Even though I’m excited to go home, I’ll never to forget the experiences I’ve had or the friends that I’ve made. One of the main reasons I came on this trip was to get out of my comfort zone. I feel like I have accomplished that goal. You would never find me wanting to go hiking or work at home, but throughout this trip I’ve set my expectations high and enjoyed every minute. I also didn’t see myself connecting with people here, but during this trip I found myself connecting with almost everyone. Tonight by the fire was special. The bonds and friendships I’ve made over the past two weeks are so strong. Talking with members of the group, it feels like I’ve known them forever. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to everyone in a few days, but I’m looking forward to the memories we’ll make in the time we have left.
Pura Vida!
Matt S.

July 11, 2017
Today, I woke up later than usual at 6:30am to eat a delicious breakfast of a melody of colorful fruits and homemade tortillas. Then embarked on a long but fun walk to work. Then we gathered to watch a pig get slaughtered for our despedida fiesta tomorrow. Although a pig died, it was really cool to see how Cedralians prepare meat. After reflecting as a group on the experience, we got back to work. My group repainted a wall with handprints on it. It was fun, I really enjoy paining. Then we broke for lunch that our homestay mothers made and it was good. Then we were planning to play soccer, but we did not because it began to rain Instead, we sat around and played cards until 4pm. At 4pm, we got to taste a bunch of different types of coffee, it was really good because they made it right there and served it to us right away. Then we went back to our homestay where we had a celebratory dinner of cake and ice cream with our homestay family friends for our homestay brother Angel’s birthday. We hung out, practiced Spanish, and kicked around a soccer ball.
Pura Vida!
Carly K.

July 12, 2017
Today I woke up at 7:15am which is late for Costa Rica because the sun rises so early. We had a wonderful breakfast of bread and a lot of fruit. After we ate, we went to our final day of service work. Half of the group went on a hike and my group painted and finished up the work. After we worked, we all dispersed and went to our houses to eat lunch, spend time with our families, and and get ready for the Despedida!! Even though everyone is very sad to leave, we were super excited for the despedida because we got to eat the pig from yesterday, dance, and have fun with the community. When we arrived at the despedida, we practiced the song we were going to sing to the community, laughed, danced, and reflected on the fun times we have had with our Costa Rican families. When the time finally arrived for the party to start, we were all very excited. The whole community and our group danced to Costa Rican music and then feasted on pork and ribs! Then we told our families that we would miss them and how much we appreciated all they did for us and sang them the song we prepared for them. We will all miss our families and remember them forever! Even though everyone is sad to leave Cedral, we are also excited for the adventures that lie ahead!
Pura Vida!
Lindley W.

July 13, 2017
This morning our homestays come to a sad and emotional end. Everyone was hugging their families goodbye and a few tears were shed. As excited as I was about the beach, I found it difficult to leave the Cedral community without a heavy heart. The experience was just amazing and extraordinary, but I also knew the surf lessons to come would be just as amazing and exciting. We left for the beach around 8am and arrived by 11am to our hotel. The hotel we’re staying at is gorgeous and the food is muy deliciosa! Lunch was lit, we had fries. Then we left for the 30 minute drive to “whale-tail beach” (Parque Nacional Ballena Marino). The lesson started off rocky for me, but once I stood up for the first time, standing became cake. It was deciding which wave to attempt to ride that became the main issue. Three hours and 3 pairs of red, irritated, salty eyes later, the lesson ended. Of course I look down to see an injury in my toe, I’m accident prone, and of course it was so bad we had to have an emergency amputation beachside. My right big toe will forever be missed. RIP JUST KIDDDING MOM!!  We returned to our hotel by 6pm for a delicious dinner of spaghetti and chicken by 6:30pm. Afterwards, we all met up at the pool for games and hanging out. By 8pm one of our trip advisors gave us a presentation of Spectacled Bears that was actually pretty interesting. To end the long, tiring day, a few of us squeezed 8 people around a four-person table and played cards. Today was a great day and has only left me with even more anticipation for the excitement tomorrow will bring.
Pura Vida!
Ibum O.
July 14, 2017
As our time together comes to a close, it is important to reflect on our time here in the beautiful country of Costa Rica. After a day of thrilling zip lining through the forests and past the sloths (checked that off my bucket list!) and more surfing and soccer on the beach, we all sat to remember our last 3 weeks together. Dave summed it up when he said, “It could be yesterday when we all walked into the airport together not knowing anyone, yet at the same time it feels like we have known each other our whole lives.” From Crisley’s farm, to the rapids, to cloud forest, to our homestays, and finally, the beach, this trip certainly has been jam packed with first-times and gorgeous sites. But something else to remember are the times in between our planned activities. One of my favorite memories, for example, is our long bus ride to Cedral, when Michelle played 2000’s jams that we all knew the words to and harmonized for a whole two hours. Of course, though, the experiences here, ending with surfing (which, despite me being terrible, was also one of my favorite things), have been opportunities that I will never get on another trip. To sum that up, everything was memorable, whether it be card games to pass the time or working in our communities. For me, leaving is bittersweet. I miss things such as my family and the comforts of my own bed, but I will miss the relationships I (and we all) have made here. Along with that, I will bring back values that will change my outlook on my life back in Denver, as I’m sure we all will wherever we are from. I will be more grateful, and realize that my problems are minimal compared to many others. I will try to be more relaxed, and go with the flow. I will be conscious of the use of my phone and realize that I don’t need it to have fun. And, I will go home with lasting friendships and support from each person I met here just a call away. As we travel on, we will miss you, Costa Rica.
Shay N.

July 15, 2017

Pura Vida! A motto that symbolizes the ‘pure way’ of living in Costa Rica is something I will sincerely miss.

In a plethora of ways, Costa Rican Pura Vida taught me that every day is a fresh beginning, hence we should posiitively embrace every moment, every breath, and/or challenging task we may face in life. Of course by doing this one must step outside their comfort zone, which I believe everyone did on this trip. Gaining new perspectives every day, new skills and hobbies, such as my new found love for surfing and being surrounded by an open view of the ocean, but most importantly discovering such kind, creative and diverse friends whom will hold a special place in my heart.

Today is our last day in Costa Rica, and the feeling is both sweet and bitter. The sweet memories of our adventures will forever remain, but there is a bitter taste now because of the thought of it coming to an end is really a reality none of us want to face quite yet. As we begin our day, we are served fluffy eggs, juicy fruit and delicious jam toppings, each one possessing its own diverse twist within the taste, which in an odd way reminds me of each individual in the group in terms of diversity. We each have our own unique style, that made this trip even better!

Ava, the comedian of the group, would lighten the mood, making everyone burst into a song of laughter. Her easy going personality and confidence made the entire trip feel comfortable like home. Jenny, although may appear shy at first, do not let the look fool you. Jenny is a humble, saucy dancer and kind person and a great listener. Ibum is confident and her great singing skills made the road trips less of a ‘road trip’, which made our six hour ride back to San Jose very pleasant.

Along the way, we took a pit stop at the beach, for lunch. Molly and Ava both catching the group at our best angles with their cameras. We went to a shop. As the journey continued, we had a fun activity where each of us was given a name of a particular person in the group, for whom we had to present a ‘paper plate award’ to. Owen, my bus journey neighbor made a joke about the activity that made my sleepy eyes widen with spark.

In the activity, I had to award Saya. I awarded her with ‘the most likely to swim in a pool of sugar’ due to her love for an excessive amount of sugar she would add to her coffee. After we presented the awards we headed to the grocery store where Matthew bought a finger spinner and I bought a plethora of fruit. When we arrived at the hotel ‘La Dehesa’ some of the group were determined to stay up until we had to get the bus to the airport at 3.30am.

We stayed up whilst being quiet in our rooms and I almost survived the night but fell asleep. Shaina and Chloe were inspiring me to stay awake, but I couldn’t. I will miss everyone. Josh’s inquisitivity, David’s humor, Carly’s great soccer skills, Charlotte’s positivity, Linda’s creativity and lovely spunk. Although it has only been three weeks, I feel as though I have known everyone for months. The trip overall has helped me improve in many ways. My skills and positive perspective on life, the Pura Vida life! I recommend that anyone who wishes to travel to just do it. Do not hesitate! Enjoy life and live it to the maximum!

Pura Vida!

Kaitlin M.