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Costa Rica: Language & Leadership (Session 1) 2016


Hola a todos!

Chalo and Kayley here, your leaders for your upcoming trip to the land of Pura Vida. Soon enough you’ll be eating gallo pinto for breakfast and learning how to hablar como los ticos. We are so pumped to meet you all and start our adventure! Chalo is in Costa Rica right now making sure everything is ready to roll. If you haven’t heard from Kayley already, she will be calling you in the next few days to chat. In the meantime, feel free to reach out with any questions at

Here we go! See you soon!

-Kayley & Chalo

June 28, 2016

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. this is the sound that 10 teenagers woke to on an otherwise normal Tuesday morning. For some of us, this came at 3:00 am; others were lucky and got a few more hours of sleep. But one way or another, eight of us ended up in Atlanta to wait (and wait and wait) to board the flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Eventually, after a delay that was prolonged by waiting for a fuel truck, we got there. Only one person lost his luggage but he did end up with a cool complimentary toiletry bag (The bag later arrived). It did make the wait at the airport longer but we talked a lot and got some good bonding in.

One two hour bus ride later, we arrived at the hotel. Many students fell asleep during those hours on the dark and windy road but the night owls talked or stared into the darkness. Once we’d arrived and found our rooms it was only a few minutes before the group had given in to sleep. After all, a day of international travel is exhausting.

-Kaiya S.

June 29, 2016

Dear Blog,

Today we started off by swiftly sliding out of our beds. The typical Costa Rican breakfasted called Gallo Pinto made me float from my room to breakfast. After eating a delicious breakfast at Hotel Heliconias, we trotted over to our rooms for a 1 hour nap. After this it was time to get down to business. We spent a few hours mastering each other’s names before jaunting back to our rooms for a little before our spaghetti lunch. Then we went to a very elegant farm to explore, eat delicious fruit, milk cows and make cheese. We came back to the swimming pool and finished the day with a scrumptious Latin dinner.

-Dan G.

June 30, 2016

So here we are in the children’s eternal forest. After an hour long bus ride and a quick stop at a local market for snacks we stood at the bottom of the biggest challenge yet. A hike that would not only test our physical strength, but our emotional endurance. The incline was intense resulting in many necessary breaks. The group split into two- the first that flew up the mountain in less than an hour and then enjoyed some good old fashioned card games up at the lodge. The second group took their time looking at the views and taking pictures. Either way, both groups found ways to bond and make the best out of the worst. After the hike, we all made it to the lodge to eat a delicious lunch. Later, we went to the Laguna and it was fun while it lasted, but maybe 5 minutes later it started pouring rain with thunder and lightning. It wasn’t cold rain so we just took cover and walked back in our swimsuits when the storm was had passed. The day has so far been great and we’re all excited to start our service work tomorrow.

-Izzy H.

July 1, 2016

Day two at the Children’s Eternal Cloudforest consisted of an early breakfast at 7. Starting the day off with a delicious cup of coffee we had no idea what was in store for the next couple of hours. Luckily, the guides allowed us to borrow some rain boots because they knew what was about to go down. After hiking 30 minutes, we arrived to this beautiful spot to view a waterfall. The not so beautiful past was carrying bags of sand and pieces of wood down the trail in the mud. It was a great bonding experience. We ate lunch around 12. Exhausted from our work, some took quick power naps while others played cards. The time came and we headed back out to finish the job. Knowing we were able to jump in the lagoon after gave us the motivation we needed. As we finished, all that went through our minds was jumping in. All the work had paid off after the first jump. We hiked back to the cabins for a delicious talapia and potato purée dinner. A quick rest and then back out for a night hike. With flashlights in hand, we searched the trees for everything and anything. There were numerous frogs, spiders, and occasionally a ginormous cricket that would land on someone causing a moment of terror followed by laughter. Also among others were snakes, butterflies and bioluminescent mushrooms, which were personally my favorite. Blisters and exhaustion started to set in so we headed back. Completely drained from the day’s work, our showers were quickly followed by bed. Knowing we had completed the hardest work today, we were anxious to see what tomorrow had in store.

-Chessie B.

July 2, 2016

Dear Blog, what an early rambunctious morning. We woke around 6:45 in the morning for a delicious pancake breakfast. It was raining so hard I swear I saw a few cats and dogs. Because of the powerful pouring rain we had to change plans and paint metal grids to use for the Mirador lookout for the waterfall. The paint got everywhere, but it was still an awesome time. Shortly after we had lunch. Let’s just say the chicken was divine. After lunch we were out to the trails. We takes up some leaves. After dinner we learned some Costa Rican slang and saying and played group games.

-Dan G.

July 3, 2016

Muddy boots. Frizzy hair.  Welcome to Poco Sol. Although we encountered many obstacles, including rocky trails and hauling bags of sand, It was overall a very rewarding experience. My personal favorite part was the night hike and seeing exotic animals. This morning we got to sleep in (7:30!) and breakfast was the Costa Rican staple: Gallo pinto. We raked leaves as the work which was fun and relaxing but requires a good amount of elbow grease. To be completely honest, I was dreading the hike back down the road to the bus, but I found myself cheering up and talking with friends. On the way back we stopped at a small market and bought so much food. At the hotel, we had dance classes (pictures to come!). I really stepped out of my comfort zone and danced like nobody was watching. Dinner was fantastic as per usual arroz con pollo (rice with chicken). Then we saw an excellent performance of traditional Costa Rican dance. The kids were adorable. Today was an eventful yet relaxing day. To conclude I just need to say this : peace love “Tico” time

-Sarah B.

July 4, 2016

Rise and shine, bright and early- the twelve members of Global Works in Costa Rica eagerly awaited a day filled with white water rafting, bonding, and new friends (also known as our raft guides). After a 3 hour bus ride, we arrived at the point of the river where our “splashin’ fun” water journey would begin. Our group separated into 2, so the rafts were even with 6 people in each plus a travel guide. After an important safety debrief, we embarked on our two day water-rafting trip. Time flew by and we quickly got to our camp site. In our free time, many people bonded over making friendship bracelets, while others relaxed in the hammocks. The travel guides prepared a delicious dinner consisting of chicken, rice, and vegetables. We were able to practice our Spanish with and even teach them a new card game. In the blink of an eye the day was over and 11 Americans + Chalo slept peacefully in their tents. Time has seemed to fly here, but the memories will forever remain especially with a day like today in beautiful Costa Rica, 🙂

-Erika S.
July 5, 2016

After sleeping through my alarm, I woke up next to Dan. We got up and had a fanciful breakfast of pancakes and some tropical fruit. We started the day off pretty lazy and rested before going rafting again. The day on the river began with a cold wet start in a class 3 rapid which quickly evolved to class 4’s. 30 kilometers later we were pulling up to the end of our rafting adventure. After all of our goodbyes to the guides, we headed out on our bus for a 2 hour ride with astonishing views. We took a break in Chalo’s hometown and bought some starfruit and bakery items. At our B&B Dehesa, we played uno until dinner, ate a fresh coconut and played presidents. A chill end to a good day.

-Ben W.

July 6, 2016

Today was the day we’ve all been anticipating: the day we get to meet our homestay families with whom we will share the next 8 days. After another typical Costa Rican breakfast of Gallo Pinto, we headed off on the bus for a 4 to 5 hour ride. We drove through the city of San Jose and through beautiful mountain towns on winding roads. Along the way we stopped to load up on some of our favorite Costa Rican snacks and to enjoy a late lunch. Finally we arrived in the mountain town of Cedral. Population: 200. After a delicious snack of homemade cake and juice, we were introduced to our families for the first time. The group nervously, but excitedly, headed off with our host families for our first night in Cedral. Through there were some funny moments that first night as we practiced our Spanish, we are all excited to get to know our families even better.

-Ileana K.

July 7, 2016

After surviving the first night with our homestay families, we all woke up at 7 in our respective homes for a delicious breakfast. After we all met in the cafeteria to further go over our projects and learn about the local coffee cooperative and sustainable tourism operation. We then took a tour of all of former projects Global Works has completed with the community over the last 8 years. After the tour we split into groups to begin our service projects: redesign a rock with the new cooperative logo, paint poles for tourists to use when they come on horse tours, and start the floorboard for a new cabaña. After hours of hard work, we were able to break for lunch which thanks to our house moms, was delivered to the cafeteria. Delayed by a typical rainstorm, some played bananagrams in Spanish while others slept. After we planned our English lessons and finished the cabaña floor. The neighborhood then planned for all of us to make tortillas with them. After we all walked back to our homes for a relaxing night with the new fam.

-Chessie B.
July 8, 2016

We woke up for our second day in the homestay to enjoy a wonddrful breakfast sharing with the families. Some got to go on a coffee tour to see the process for coffee berry to ‘cafe oro’ while others dove straight into our hard work. We continued to build a small cabaña, paint posts, and even some rocks. We then all got to return to our homes to eat a lunch with our families and rest. After an afternoon working, we had a pasta class where we got to make and try an assortment of pastas. We also got to bond with the community by singing guitar songs and playing with the children. The night ended with a warm walk to our homes and smiles on our faces.

-Kat CD

July 9, 2016

I think today was the first day that I wasn’t eaten alive by bugs. Instead I found myself embracing Costa Rican culture. After working on our service projects in the morning then playing cards with the group, Erica and I were summoned to a fiesta. Upon arrival, I immediately heard the loud pounding music, and my first glance was a group of ticos dancing under a white tent. We exchanged looks and we knew that it was bound to happen: we were going to dance. We found ourselves on the dance floor with some other girls from our group dancing the fast paced merengue and salsa. The community requested an American song and we ended up singing karaoke: Justin Bieber. We got a thunderous applause. While we were at the birthday party, the rest of our group went to visit their grandparents house. I think today was my favorite day so far because I got to experience authentic Costa Rican culture and bond more with our host families.

-Sarah. B.

July 10, 2016

Today was El dia de Actividades in the homestay. For many of us, we got to sleep in another hour which was extremely necessary. We had delicious breakfasts at our homes then trekked down the hill to the soccer field for a big game with members of the community. From toddlers smaller than the ball to father’s returning to the game, many members of the community made an appearance. Though many of us Americans were not able to keep up with the agile feet and well practiced skills of the locals. Regardless of the undeniable skills difference, the game was a really fun bonding experience. After lunch with our families we all met up to start a Scavenger hunt throughout the town. We split up into 4 teams mixed with people from Cedral and our GW group. The clues took us all around every nook and cranny that we would have never seen other wise. After some fun activities like tug of war, a talented girl named Cheryl did a zumba class for us. Even though our hios did not move in the same way, we got to practice our moves. At the little party, we got to just hang out and experience the culture more from a casual perspective. Our activity day was really fun and we got closer to the people and the culture of Costa Rica. After all, that’s why we came here.

Izzy H.

July 11, 2016

With only 2 full days left in Cedral, all 10 of us (plus Chalo y Kayley) worked hard to finish a few of our projects. Chessie and Sophie completed a beautiful rock with the image of their coffee coop. Izzy, Ileana, Kaiya, Kat and I painted signs for the coffee tour. Dan, Ben and Sarah helped out with the construction of the cabaña. Lunch time rolled around so all of us scampered to our houses for more authentic Costa Rican food. Five members of the group eagerly awaited teaching English lessons for the kids in the community. At 1:30 we left for the classroom and rehearsed what we were going to say. Eight children came to the lesson excited to learn some nee English words. We started off with an ice breaker game and transitioned to practicing the days of the week. We also played a fun game of ‘simon dice’. The two most exciting games were Bingo and Charades. All of us walked back go our casas and relaxed with our families. It is almost time to say goodbye, but the people of Cedral will forever hold a special place in our hearts.

-Erika S.

July 12, 2016
Our second to last day in the beautiful town of Cedral began with a hike in the mountains. As we made our way up the path, our guide found an orange tree and the group had the opportunity to try the fresh picked fruits. Later in the hike, we arrived at the first house ever built in Cedral. It was over 70 years old. We spent awhile enjoying the view of our homestay town and determining the ‘fog level’ of the sky. Lunch was once again spent with everyone’s family and in the afternoon the second group taught an English lesson. The group did an excellent job teaching words and phrases that were geared towards helping the community to able to speak to coffee tourists. After our group and a bunch of local kids watched the movie Zootopia in Spanish. The homestay moms made us cookie milkshakes and popcorn. Everyone returned home for dinner and an evening with their families. overall, the day was filled with many fun memories that will last a lifetime and I know everybody is looking forward to the days ahead.
Sophie M.
July 13, 2016
Our last full day in the beautiful town of Cedral with a morning of service work. Since we won’t be doing anymore work after today, we worked to finish up some of the things we started throughout the week. Some of the group continued to work on the cabin (which now has a roof and two walls) and others put up the signs we made for the coffee tour. It was extremely rewarding to see the results of our hard work from this past week. Before we returned home for lunch, we had the opportunity to buy local coffee and other gifts like bracelets, keychains, and hats for our friends and family. After lunch we wrote thank you cards to our families and did the thing we’ve all been excitedly awaiting: painting our hands and leaving our handprints on a wall. Along with the handprints of global works groups, ours will remain in Cedral  for many years to come. We danced the night away at the despedida, enjoying our last night in Cedral with the members of the community. It was bittersweet knowing it was our last night, by we are all excited for the days to come.

-Ileana K

July 14, 2016

Saying goodbye to something you love is hard. After all the fun memories here in Cedral. It was time to say goodbye to our homestay families. Early in the morning, the GW group and homestay families of Cedral gathered together to send us off on our next adventure. We presented our surprise gift to the community (a beautifully painted plaque made by Ileana) and drove away. The ride was about an hour until we stopped for snacks and a delicious pizza lunch in the city. After lunch, we drove another 45 minutes to our new hotel near the beach. Everybody settled in to new rooms and relaxed until dinner. Following dinner, we had a group meeting to discuss our thoughts and best memories from the homestay. The meeting was a great way to end the night and reflect on all that’s happened this past week. Though the homestay is done, we are all super excited for the next couple of days of the trip.July 15, 2016

Surfing through gigantic waves was difficult at times but an absolute blast. As soon as we saw the beaches everyone was in awe. The mix of emerald green and sapphire blue ocean was gorgeous. During our short surfing lesson everyone quickly learned the basics of how to surf. We separated into two groups to try to reduce the risk of injury and quickly departed into the refreshing waters. A surprising amount of us stood up and caught the waves. We took a break from surfing for fresh bananas and some bars. We quickly got back on our surf boards and surfed for a few more hours. After surfing, the 12 exhausted members of our GW trip ate delicious quesadillas.
-Ben W.
July 16, 2016
Today overall was the best day this whole trip even though it started as any other. We had breakfast at 7:30 and all piled into the bus for surfing part two. It was incredible. We all laughed as we stood up and wiped out. At lunch we got to see all the great wipe out pics from the last two days. We were then off again to the zip line course. It began pouring rain and we were all soaked head to toe as we slid through the forest. We even spotted some monkeys and sloths. After this long and eventful day we all go to relax as a family and talk about the journey we’ve all taken together as the last 3 weeks and the everlasting bonds that have been made.

-Kat CD

July 17, 2016

Our last day in Costa Rica was filled with a six hour bus ride. We left at noon after a lazy morning of packing and about 2 hours later we stopped to look at some crocodiles who looked like wingless stone dragons. After this, we proceeded to eat lunch. Souvenir shopping followed our lunch and let me tell you, it was expensive! Two hours later, we arrived at our dinner restaurant where we took beautiful pictures that used the twinkling city lights as a backdrop. Dinner soon arrived and when we were done, we got snacks at the supermercado before driving back to the hotel. Once we’d dropped our stuff off in our rooms, we all went out to the common area of our hotel. To end the night- and our trip overall- each Global Works participant wrote a loving message on a paper plate for everyone else, spreading the love all around.
-Kaiya S.