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Costa Rica: Language & Leadership (Session 2) 2016


Hola Costa Rica Language and Leadership Crew!

This is Chalo (your Tico leader) and Ari (your Colorado native) writing!  We are so excited to share with you all the beauty and culture of Costa Rica and the Tico people!  Both of us will be leading trips prior to our group’s and will be in the full swing and rhythm of the Global Works season.  This trip offer so many amazing opportunities, such as rafting and living with our amazing host families.  We know that the time we spend together will be unforgettable.  Feel free to be in touch and we look forward to seeing you all in Costa Rica!
Hasta Pronto,
Chalo y Ari
July 20, 2016

It’s the first day of many and the group could not be more ecstatic. The day started off with a slightly later start, frankly a godsend for the students who had been traveling late into the night before, and the team was greeted with a traditional Costa Rican meal of gallo pinto, or rice and beans, accompanied with fresh fruit.

After breakfast, the group easily conquered the challenges of team-building through Frisbee-throwing-question-games and a brief overview of each member’s hopes, fears and goals for the rest of the trip ahead. A start to the teams “Contract”, or a code of moral conduct that outlines how they will be able to meet their goals, was sandwiched in between more team-building activities to put the groups fears at ease, and they then easily transitioned into the first adventure of the day, a tour of a Costa Rican farmer’s land.

The group was greeted with open arms by both the landowner and his beautiful wife and children, and everyone had a blast learning about the diverse wildlife and plant life on the farm. Of course, the puppy that they instantly bonded with most definitely didn’t hurt. Everyone got a chance to try some exotic fruits that were growing on the farm as well as to milk a cow for some homemade cheese!  The group was then able to celebrate the farmer’s wife’s birthday through a cake and conversation.

After the tour, they were then able to finish their contract, making sure to add “Make Mistakes” on their list in relation to the attempted (and oftentimes successful) Spanish conversations they had embarked on earlier.

After returning to the hotel, we ate a lovely lunch of chicken, mashed potatoes, rice and beans, and then transitioned into a more interesting topic, dance! A wonderful Global Works dance instructor attempted to knock some salsa, merengue and bachata into the team’s clumsy moves, and by the end of the lesson each person was able to semi-successfully follow the beat. A dinner of spaghetti followed, after which, a dance group came to show the team how it is done.  It was group of young local dancers who preformed traditional folkloric dances.  It truly was an amazing first day!


July 21, 2016

For the second day, we woke up very early, 6:27 to be exact. The bus embarked at 6:30 for a day of adventure. The bus ride lasted 3 hours and 16 minutes, with breakfast and snack stops in between. We were introduced to a new kind of fruit called lychee that looked like a very large prickly raspberry.  When we arrived at the river, we were introduced to our raft guides and taught all the paddling and safety commands.  Then we set off rafting! On the river, we paddled though huge rapids and saw amazing canopy of trees. We also saw wildlife of birds and bugs. We continued our adventure down the rapids until we reached our camp for the night. It was a beautiful camp in the middle of the jungle where we stayed in really nice tents. We played games with Roberto (our raft guide) and ate a wonderful dinner. We also did a few more icebreakers with the group to get to know each other better. After hitting the hay at 9:28, we fell fast asleep for the morning ahead. It was truly an amazing second day!


July 22, 2016

After waking up from our luxurious sleep in our tents with the cicada sounds filling then night, we ate a delicious breakfast consisting of eggs, pancakes, and toast. Then we headed back out onto the Pacuaré River at 9:01. The rapids were wayyyy more intense then we thought they would be. They were class tres y cuatro (three and four). But by today we were better paddlers and we excited for the thrill.  We stopped at a beautiful cascada (cascada = waterfall). It was fun and looked like it was out of a post card! J Then we went back out on the rio.  We stopped for a lunch break on a small beach and we ate fresh burritos that were muy delicioso! We finally got back to the Exploradores base, which meant we were going to start our 3-hour trek back to the hotel. Dinner was a tasty pork dish with rice, salad and mashed potatoes.  What a full third day!

-Jordan J.

July 23, 2016

Today we woke up in Hotel Heliconias, after a breakfast consisting of omelets and toast; we said our final goodbyes and embarked for the next hotel. We made a couple necessary stops; including one for lunch at a restaurant called Caballero Blanco.  People ate sandwiches or a typical plate of meat, rice and beans.  This was accompanied by a fresh fruit juice.  After another short bit of driving we arrived at the farm/hotel where we would be staying the night.  It was called the Demonstrative Center for Sustainability.  The family who owned this hotel was incredibly welcoming and gave us a tour of the grounds, which included a petting zoo (puppies, donkeys, pigs, toucans,  etc.), gardens, and a homemade playground with very creative games!  After our tour, we went across the street for dinner at the “fair”. Everybody chose their own meal and we payed using Guacimales- a currency created only for their town. The town is very active as a community and looking to protect their rights to the river against large agro-businesses.
It was awesome to get to eat local food and mingle with the community. A few of us even joined in for a community dance class.  Once we finished dinner we sat down and enjoyed movie night watching a classic Costa Rican movie called Mikal Yordan.  It was a full day and we are all feeling more like a family.

July 24, 2016

Today we woke up and ate a wholesome breakfast consisting of gallo pinto (rice and beans) and agua dolce (sugar cane and water). After we were filled up on food we walked with the family who owned the hotel we were staying in to a farm and saw pigs, sheep, water buffalo, and cows. We also went to a beautiful spot on The River Guacimal and swam around a bit.  It was a hot day and the river was very refreshing.  We took turns seeing who could swim furthest against the current and chatted with the local family more about the history of the town.  Before leaving the river, the family treated us to a juice and empananda snack!  We walked back to the farm and a few of us ate some really spicy peppers resulting in regret and much laughter! After that we ate some cashew apple hamburgers for lunch that were prepared by women who work in the local market. Then we said goodbye to the family, the kitten (Mariposa), and the puppy (Fleas). The group hopped on a bus for a an hour ride to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. It was about an hour walk down a jungle trail through the cloud forest to the big house where we ate dinner, showered, and went to sleep.

– Hana

July 25, 2016
Today we woke to a peaceful song (blurred lines) at 6:45 am. We made our way down the steep stairs where breakfast awaited. We ate a great breakfast of rice and beans, eggs and mango. We put on our boots and began our first full day of service work.  Our project was to fix a water treatment center that the ranger station uses to naturally treat their grey water.  By using rocks and plants, they are able to clean the water without releasing any chemicals into the environment.  We needed to dig up all of the plants and rocks in order to break up the grease and roots so that the water could once again flow as it is supposed to.  We shoveled away, digging a trench – it took all day but was fun to be working.  By the end of the day we fixed the problem. We finished work and played some sports. First, an intense soccer game with the family living here.  Next, our whole group dueled it out in a volleyball game. After dinner (burritos!) we went on a night hike and saw some frogs, many bugs and a snake. We played a ton of cards when we got back and then went to bed. It was truly an amazing 7th day.

– Stuart

July 26, 2016
This morning we woke up bright and early at 6:15am. The light was beautiful outside and clouds were moving in and out over the volcano. We came down stairs to pancakes and fruit. It was delicious! Then we got ready and set out for the day. Our service work started with carrying rocks in sacks down to the grey water treatment center. It was a huge pile we had to move. It was tiring, but well worth it in the end to finish the project. Then we took a break, played cards, and drank fresh squeezed juice from a tropical fruit called “guananbana.” We then started on our next project, which was to dig a really long ditch.  The purpose was to create a rain drainage ditch around the workshop so that it would not flood when it rained. When we finished it was very rewarding. Then we ate lunch (beans, rice, and chicken) and afterwards we enjoyed relaxing, talking, and swinging in hammocks. Some of the group and I went on a hike in the jungle to a waterfall. Walking in the jungle was so beautiful and surreal; it felt like a scene out of a movie. The waterfall was amazing and the water was refreshing. Then we hiked back and relaxed some more. After that we ate dinner prepared by the great cook, Ivana, and drank hot chocolate for dessert. We taught one of our leaders, Chalo, some new words and had a homestay orientation that included funny skits. We packed and organized our stuff and went to bed. Costa Rica is super beautiful and just gets better everyday. I love it here and never want to leave!
July 27, 2016
We woke up early to eat breakfast and get packed for our seven hour ride to our homestay. We hiked out of the children’s eternal rainforest which was a steep, grueling, muddy treck in the rain. However in the  end it felt great to have  conquered it. Then we started our seven hour bus ride which consisted of music, games, chatter, laughter, and arts and crafts. Time seemed to pass by quickly and we arrived at our stop for lunch.  We were offered a buffet of Costa Rican food to each choose from. Then we got back on the bus and sang along to music. As we drove along the coastline we saw beautiful views of the ocean and caught a glimpse of the daily Costa Rican life as we passed by each town. Then we stopped for a bathroom break and saw another Global Works group!  We introduced ourselves and talked for a little bit. They we’re awesome! We stopped one last time for snacks at the mega super. After about an hour we finally made it to Cedral – what would be our home for the next week and where our homestay families awaited. We met them in the center of town and we each introduced. We then left with our new families! We ate dinner (rice and beans with some kind of meat for many) and went to bed. Even while driving on a bus for seven hours there are so many ways to see and observe the culture here . Our homestay families are so nice and took all of us in like we were one of their own daughters/sons. I am looking forward to getting to know my family better and experiencing a week in their life.


July 28, 2016

Today we woke up in our homestay town of Cedral. We all ate breakfast with our home stay families and then met in the town’s small coffee shop. We heard a presentation about the community’s coffee cooperative and about all the work past Global Works groups have done. We toured the coffee farm and saw where they produce the coffee!  Then we got to work on digging a small path at the  communal coffee plantation. The purpose is to make it safe and accessable to tourists so that tourism can come more to the small town. At 12:00 we returned to our respective homestays and ate lunch. After, lunch some of us explored  Cedral a little bit. At 1:30 we returned to work but this time, making activities that will help teach 3rd graders English as we will be teaching in the school! (more on that tomorrow ). Dinner consisted of home made tortillas that we all learned to make with an assortment of toppings such as potatoes, green papaya, and yucca root. The group taught some locals a card game called “screw your neighbor” (our favorite and most commonly played game) after hanging out and playing with   we all retired to our homestays for a wholesome nights sleep.
-Hana (grape emoji)
July 29, 2016
We all had a wholesome breakfast with our respective homestay families consisting mostly of gallo pinto (rice and beans), fruit, eggs and sweet bread.  We all met at 8am to continue our service projects for a few hours before going to teach English in the local school.  Most of the group continued to work on the trail through the coffee tour to make it more accessible to tourists.  We dug up the path and hauled a ton of rocks both small and large to fill and line the path.  Others got to learn how to grout tile in the coffee center in the tanks where the beans are washed.  At 11am we all changed and headed to the local elementary school.  Our first activity with the kids was playing a quick game of fútbol with them during recess.  Then we joined the third grade class and in two groups,  taught English class! Our lessons surrounded food and cooking as that was the topic of the day, and our activities ranged from Pictionary to charades.  The students loved having us as visitors and it actually seemed like we taught them a good bit of English!  Our next activity was to help the English teacher as she taught the third graders how to cook the typical dish called gallo pinto with all the vocab we had used in our lessons.  It was a lot of fun and we got to eat lunch with the students.  Our afternoon consisted of hiking to a beautiful waterfall and taking an afternoon dip in the cold water.  Upon arriving back to town, our homestay families were waiting for us with a photo presentation of all their families over the years and even gave us a treat of ice cream and jello! After this everyone headed to their own homes for dinner and family time.
July 30, 2016
Yesterday we had a day of rest. Our day started off with a 8 am wake up call. Followed by a healthy breakfast. The rest of the day was very relaxing.  As it was Sunday, the boys all went to church with their families. Some of us girls played cards while other made bracelets. After church there was a soccer game with the local kids of our community.  We have several guys who are very good at soccer.  But one is so good all the local kids have started calling him Messi!  We ended the day by doing arts and crafts with our families and watching a movie all together.  The families loved learning how to make bracelets with us!  We settled into bed and had a restful nights sleep.
July 31, 2016

Today started off early with another delicious breakfast in our homestay. The team then gathered at CoopeCedral’s Cafeteria to squeeze in a few card games and last before our mid morning hike to Alto La Gloria, a little blue house in the mountains that was named for an elderly and beloved community member named Gloria. With full water bottles and high spirits the group set of lead by our fearless leaders Chalo, Ari and Froilan, line up into the mountains. As the team move through Costa Rica’s scenic hills and thick underbrush they began to separate into two distinct groups, the three girls and everyone else. The boys shared funny and lighthearted conversations with the leaders while the girls pushed ahead, inevitably taking a wrong turn.  In our defense, we were following a cow that looked like it knew exactly where it was going! Chalo quickly came to the rescue and corralled the girls back to the rest of the group who were around the corner.Needless to say it was a picturesque. The old blue house that on the edge of a breathtaking hillside view of the  sprawling towns  below. Here the team was able to see relax and  unwind through card games, books and dooodling on the lawn. A short while later our leaders gathered the squad to insight a discussion about our goals for the next week as well as discuss what service work means to us and why we choose to do it. It was very interesting to hear all the different opinions. This discussion slowed to a stop as we all revved up our metaphorical engines for lunch. We hiked over to a river side where we each ate our respective packed lunches, courtesy of our host mother’s, which were packed in banana leaves!

I ran out of ways to say beautiful, so I may as well just say it.  It was beautiful.  As was the had me back to town where we donned our work clothes and headed out to continue refurbishing trails and tiling coffee bean basins. Many hands translated to light work and we finished the days to work in 3 hours. Afterwards we were given the afternoon off to roam Cedral and to play a soccer game with a few of the local athletic prodigies. The team finished off the day with a delicious dinner with each respective host family and with a good old-fashioned card game. It was truly an amazing day.

August 1, 2016
Today was a full day of work. The group met at 8 am after each having breakfast with their homestay families. We set off on different projects. Half of the group continued the hard work of clearing the past for the trail of the coffee tour. After the trail was clear, we used the wheel barrow and move loads of small rock to cover the trail. The other group worked on a grouting tile in the coffee plants so that the machine will stay more clean in the future. It was hot out and we all worked a lot. After work we gathered with our families and other members of the community in the cafeteria. We learned different recipes for spaghetti and pasta. We all ate together and played games. After our meal, we went out separate ways home for the night. It was a full day and we are feeling tired and sore but very satisfied with our work and getting used to living in Cedral.
– Stuart
August 2, 2016
On the 2nd of August, we woke up and had breakfast with our host families with a variety of fruit. After that we all met up at “La Cafeteria” and went straight to work.  It was going to be a full day of work.  Some of us painted rocks, while others moved heavy boulders in a wheel barrow, and grouted a coffee tank. We were getting very close to finishing all of our projects and the results of the tiled coffee tanks and the manicured coffee tour trail looked amazing. Then we had lunch after the long morning (probably ate gallo pinto and meat) and finished up the afternoon with more work and painting of the coffee processing plant to make it look nicer for when small groups of tourists come.  After this, we played games with the people of Cedral. It was funny trying to explain some of the games in Spanish and it took a while for everyone to understand, but we all got a good laugh. Then we all learned how to cook a classic bread called pan casero with some help from the locals. After eating all the bread (it was so good fresh!), we went to our homes to have one of our last dinners with our families. It was a great day to be in Cedral!

August 3, 2016

We woke up early and started to work. Some people grouted tile, some people painted fences, and others moved rocks to border a trail. The last bit of service work we had was to all paint one big rock and put our name and handprint on it.  These rocks will eventually go along the trail we created as the community wanted to remember us!  Later we went home for lunch and showered. After lunch was over we gathered into the cafeteria for a very eye opening environmental talk. We learned about how the coffee cooperative it trying to do environmental education in schools and it was sad but motivating to hear about all the pollution that is happening around the world.  When the talk was over we went home and got ready for the goodbye party!  We all gathered with our homestay families and many other members of the community at a local restaurant where we had a big barbeque prepared by the families.  There we ate delicious fresh pork, rice, and potato salad. We played games with local children and laughed until we cried. A group of local men all played guitars and traditional songs.  The Global Works group wrote heartfelt letters to our families, which we read in front of the community. It was the perfect way to wrap up our time in Cedral! When we got home we spent the remainder of the night with our families before falling soundly asleep.

-Hana J.

August 4, 2016

Today we had our last breakfast with our homestay families. We then said our last goodbyes and got on the bus taking us to our new hotel near Uvita beach where we will be surfing. Before arriving at the hotel we stopped to buy snacks then walked around the town of San Isidrio. In order to wrap up our homestay experience, we sat down at a nearby park and we each reflected on what we learned and experienced during the homestay. It was cool to see the bustling streets of the city after being in our quiet homestay town for a week.  Shortly after, we walked to a restaurant called “Bazooka” to have lunch.  Everyone was excited to get some variety in food such as hamburgers and salads. When we all finished, we got back on the bus for about 2 hours until we arrived at the hotel. Our afternoon at the hotel consisted of a fun time in the salt-water pool (it was extremely hot outside!) and an amazing dinner of chicken, salad, lentils, and pasta. Lastly, we all went to bed early in excitement for the next two days of surfing and ziplining.

-Jordan J.

August 5, 2016

We woke to an amazing breakfast of homemade jellies, eggs and toast.  Also, we cannot forget the fresh squeezed mango juice from our Polish host, Sabina.  After breakfast we took off to Uvita beach for our first surf lesson.  Everyone in our group was a natural surfer – some had surfed before and were quickly catching waves.  Those who had never surfed before had some good falls and then were catching consistent waves too!  We had a much-needed lunch of hamburgers and fries, and then walked to a beautiful beach to spend the afternoon relaxing.  One of our surf instructors, Carlos, joined us as the lifeguard.  It just so happened that he was also an expert in opening coconuts!  As soon as we had arrived to the beach and set our stuff down, he had already peeled and cracked open a coconut by hand! We were all amazed and thrilled to learn ourselves. We spent the rest of the afternoon cracking open coconuts, drinking the delicious water, and splashing in the waves!  When we returned to the hotel we were exhausted from surfing and scarfed down a delicious meal of fish and veggies. Everyone had gotten a lot of sun, waves and thrills today. We all happily passed out.  It was a great day!


August 6, 2016

The day started with a delicious breakfast buffet and a slightly later morning, with breakfast at 8 am instead of our trademark 7:30. We all piled on to the bus shortly after, slightly sore but ready and excited for the day of surfing and zip-lining ahead. After arriving at Uvita beach, the team carved choppy waves and bested the ocean by each standing up multiple times on our longboards. We then took a break from the waves to drink from some freshly opened coconuts, relax and eat our lunch beachside. The food was superb, and we quickly changed out of our bathing suits to catch the bus that would bring us to our next adventure; zip-lining. Our ride to Hacienda Baru, where we would be zip-lining, was scenic, as was the park itself. The team made sure to don copious amounts of bug repellent before hooking on our gear and venturing out into the jungle. The park guides led us through winding dirt paths up to the platforms, stopping along the way to point out natural attractions such as sloths, leaf cutter ants and toucans. We flew through the trees on eight different cables, the breeze whisking away most of our sweat from the humidity. We finished off the day with a quick dip in the hotel’s pool and yet another delicious dinner. We finished the evening with a closing ceremony of our trip full of laughter and memories. There we all went our separate ways after a game of “Presidents,” the boys heading to “tea time” with Chalo and the girls going back to their room to make coconut chips. What a great trip!

-Lila J.