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Costa Rica Pre Med and Public Health Session 1

June 22, 2021

Today we woke up bright and early in the morning with a good breakfast of fruit, eggs and rice with beans after a short but restful night sleeping at the hotel. The weather has been humid and tropical but not too hot which was perfect for our day trip to the Doña Rosa coffee farm. After a productive welcoming meeting in the morning, we all headed into the bus for a 2 hour ride to the farm courtesy of our bus driver, Geovani. The ride went by quickly because we were all looking at the interesting scenery and amazing views, also wondering why there was a KFC that offered a chicken pizza which is just pizza with chicken as the crust.

Once we arrived at the farm we started off with some team building discussions and games that helped us all keep the good vibes (or buenas vibras en español) flowing. At the farm we got a wonderful tour from Rodolfo where we were able to try fresh herbs and fruits as well as learn about the many biomes and unique plants. He let us try some awesome miracle berries that made anything sour taste super sweet, so we enjoyed some orange limes.  We were able to sip some fresh sugarcane juice after learning how it is extracted using cow labor and other old practices. After our romp around the farm we were all treated to a very tasty lunch and we headed to learn about the process of growing, harvesting, roasting, and grinding coffee beans fresh from the farm. It was super awesome to be able to learn all about the coffee making process and cultural impact of growing and drinking coffee. We ended it all by drinking some fresh ground coffee and eating traditional pastries before the bus ride home.

Celia B.

June 23, 2021

Today started off with a wonderful breakfast of pancakes, gallo pinto (beans and rice), cantaloupe, and eggs. For the rest of the morning, we enjoyed listening to Dr. Hernandez talk about the importance of public health in different countries. She explained that she worked with Habitat for Humanity in helping establish clinics in various countries including Nicaragua, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Mexico. Her stories about the people she had helped really inspired us to take action, so after a filling lunch we took to the streets of San Joaquin to observe public health in the real world. We looked at the different clinics and schools in the area and discussed how the environment impacted the way people lived. We stopped for ice cream on the way back to the hotel where we relaxed and had a spontaneous dance party in the rain. We quickly changed out of our wet clothes and began learning how to stitch up wounds with Dr. Thuell. Once we were done playing doctor, we powered through dance after dance of Zumba class before hopping on the bus to sing songs on the way to dinner.

Sarah McG.

June 24, 2021

Today was a relaxing yet reflective day. We have lost track of the days surrounded by endless laughter and captivating experiences. In the morning, we interacted with a physical therapist who demonstrated various techniques commonly used in his medical profession. Our amazing leader of the day, Zach was the first volunteer who experienced electrotherapy on his calf. I also tried it on my neck as we were both experiencing forms of muscle tension. It felt as if millions of ants were crawling on my skin, so cool!
Experiencing these things truly opened up new doors and possibilities for future careers in the medical field. Afterwards, we headed to the market to pick up some local fresh foods to make a home cooked meal. It was delicious! Some of us enjoyed laying on our towels in the grass soaking up the Costa Rican sun. Later, Dr. Thuell returned again to teach us the basics of injections, and we practiced by injecting Fanta into oranges. We then implemented stretching which the physical therapist´preached by doing acroyoga. We lifted each other in the air, learned new poses, and finished with a relaxing meditation. Finally, we all hopped on a bus to head to dinner and many tried new foods stepping out of their comfort zones. We enjoyed cas juice, a native fruit we all were unfamiliar with and it was amazing!!! Overall, today we bonded more through singing and making string bracelets. We all are intrigued by Costa Rican culture as it has opened up a new perspective of the world!!

Amelia E.

June 25, 2021

We started off the day by enjoying our usual homemade breakfast, including empanadas and fresh fruit. Doctor Hernandez arrived soon after to teach us about the Costa Rican medical system. She compared the strengths and downfalls of the Costa Rican system to those of the United States to help us understand the complexities of a stable medical system. We then quickly hopped on the bus to begin our 3 hour drive to our next destination. We bumped along windy roads with beautiful views of mountains and waterfalls listening to good music. Upon our arrival to our new hotel we were greeted by vast sprawls of greenery and bright colored flowers. Nestled in between the thick blanket of plants were our glass bungalows that sported a resort feel and hammocks on their back porch. Almost immediately after setting down our bags we threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool. We wrapped up the day by sitting in a lighted gazebo and swinging on our hammocks in the rain.

Martha F.

June 26, 2021

Hola Hola! Today was another wonderful day in paradise. We awoke at 8am to the sounds of chirping toucans and humming bugs, surrounded by luscious flora and fauna in hues of pinks and purples. We made our way to an outdoor/indoor breakfast at the hotel of panqueques, pineapple, and eggs. We then departed to a fresh dairy farm where we learned about the impact of farming on the Costan Rican community, and the story of a family owned farm whose precision and love comes through in each slice of cheese. We met local children and maintained conversation in Spanish. Charlotte taught a Costa Rican girl how to make string bracelets, and Olivia interviewed some locals to understand more about the community. We even got to make our own cheese, sacrificing our lactose intolerances for the occasion! After a delicious lunch of fresh chicken and vegetables, we took a trip to the farmers market to see our cheese in action! We bought ice cream and natural products, returning to our bungalows in Heliconias in Pocosol. We then took part in bonding exercises by reflecting on ourselves and sharing with the group, additionally reflecting on the inequities in the developing world. Some of us then retired to the pool to swim our troubles away and others walked around and took in the sights. We all unified for dinner time while blasting karaoke hits including  “Good Old Days” by Macklemore and Kesha and  “Vivir mi Vida,” an all time favorite. We ended the night with an exciting soccer game and a debrief to unpack the lovely day we experienced together.

Penelope S.

June 27, 2021

The day started bright and early with a 7:30 breakfast where we were able to expand our Costa Rican cuisine or have a taste of home with pancakes. After breakfast we had a quick 20 minute bus ride to the La Fortuna waterfall. We unloaded, washed our hands, and wrote our names in the logbook, before crossing a bridge to enter the park. After being surprised by the 70 meter waterfall view, we started the trek down 500+ steps to reach the turquoise pool where sheets of water collect after their fall. The group spent 2 hours exploring the pools and climbing mossy rocks up and down stream. We captured many memories through pictures before departing for lunch. The walk back up the many flights challenged us but we were rewarded with a delicious pizza lunch and refreshing spearmint lemonade. The bus ride back was a highlight with much laughter and singing to bring us into our first day of the Wilderness First Aid course. We learned and got to practice CPR and how to perform the heimlich maneuver with dummies, babies, and each other. All of us are tired, but excited, to continue the course tomorrow and jump in the pool a few more times!

– Olivia D.

June 28, 2021

Whats up guys, welcome to another day in paradise. This morning we all woke up bright and early at 6:30 am (at least, everyone but me and Penelope) for an early start to our day. We ate a delicious breakfast at 7. At around 7:50, we headed towards the pavilion to start the second day of our Wilderness First Aid course. We did everything from learning about cuts to lightning strikes. We played over different scenarios to figure out how to treat different patients in different situations. For example, a group of victims would pretend to have some sort of impalment from a plastic spoon fight and we would learn how to treat it as if it were a real injury. At around 12:00, we ate an amazing lunch consisting of fish fajitas and other delicious dishes. At 1, we resumed our first aid and continued the lecture on various types of illnesses or incidents, such as hypothermia or strokes and how to treat them. Soon afterwards, Nohelia treated us to some ice cream, which gave us a much needed cool down and a delicious snack. At around 5, we finished the class for the day and headed off to the pool and took a dip in the sun for a bit. At 6:30, we came back to the restaurant for another tummy filling dinner, mainly consisting of tostones, vegetables, and rice. Soon after dinner, we played charades, in which we had a word written down in Spanish and we had to act out what it was for our team to figure out. It was a long learning day, but a very fun and engaging one.

– Olivia St. C.

June 29, 2021

Hello and welcome to today’s wonderful adventure! We had an early wake up at 6:30 am. We ate breakfast at 7 to start right after with our last day of Wilderness First Aid. Today was full of learning about the different animals and insects that could be lurking in the rain forest with us. After the lecture we got to put our training into practice as we had to go take care of our trip leaders in a fake scenario (great acting by the way). After we got our certifications we quickly rushed over to the front of the hotel to get on the bus with our to-go lunches in hand. We were on the bus for about an hour but what felt like five minutes as we were eating and singing on our way to… ZIP-LINING!!

After we got off the bus we waited for our group’s turn to go up to our zip-lining course. We had very great instructors that told us everything we needed to know. We were all a little nervous but overall excited we lined up and one by one went down the 7 zip lining ropes. BTW the view from the ziplines were stunning. After an eventful afternoon we loaded onto the bus to head to Fortuna to explore the city and look at the surrounding stores. As the evening was approaching us we got to the hotel and had a little wind down with a salsa dancing class. Afterwards, we walked to the dining hall to have a filling dinner. We re-grouped after to have a reflection on the day and to see how grateful we were to have such an amazing group. It was a full day but we had fun with every activity. We are all very tired after today but ready for tomorrow!
From our adventurous group, goodnight,

– Diamili

June 30, 2021

Hello family, friends, and strangers-
We woke up to a rainy sky before heading to breakfast, where we had eggs and pancakes. We then left for Proyecto Asis, a local animal refuge. Our guide (and magician), Carlos, showed us all the animals that have been taken in and are working to be returned to the wild. We saw spider monkeys, macaws, parrots, white faced capuchin monkeys, and many more. After learning about the animals, we prepared games for them involving their meals. We hadn’t seen any sloths yet until we manifested it and saw two at our hotel! After lunch we hung out and had fun in the pool, meeting other global works groups, and being grateful for our group. There were many laughs and smiles. After our chill afternoon we had a delicious dinner before having a surprise dance party, which was super fun. We paused our dance party for our talent show which included a magic show from Martha, Dia, and I and music sung and played by others. Overall, it was a good day of adventure, nature, and relaxing.

Eva H.

July 1, 2021

After a fun-filled night of karaoke, we woke up, packed, and some of us were lucky enough to get a ride from Jorge in a golf cart to a yummy breakfast. Then, we headed out on the bus to Monteverde, the Cloud Forest. It was a semi-long, 3.5 hour, bus ride through windy mountain roads, but we had fun passing the time listening to Spanish pop music and seeing the beautiful Costa Rican scenery all around us. We saw toucans and monkeys chilling in the trees and the best way I can think of describing the view is like the lush greenery in movies like ‘Rio’. As we got closer to Monteverde, we were basically at the level of the clouds which was super cool, and we had a few glimpses of the Pacific Ocean on the left as well. When we got into Monteverde, we ate a delicious pizza or sandwich lunch, depending on what we wanted, and then had some time to explore the ‘city in the clouds’. We had fun feeling tourist-y as we walked through souvenir shops and took pictures in front of cool murals before getting back onto the bus and going to our new hotel, Historias Lodge. Historias is such a beautiful place with so many plants everywhere and all of our rooms are close together, which is really nice. We then had some time to relax and get settled in. Our rooms are homey and one is more like a house with three floors and two balconies which is a great place for everyone to hang out together. It’s so different being at such a high elevation and actually being in the clouds where sometimes we can see far off into the distance and the next second, thick fog that’s actually the cloud has covered everything. After a while, we regrouped in the mansion of a house and made our way to the bus which took us to a cute cafe for a healthy dinner of smoothies, salad, and pasta. Once we were finished, we got back to Historias where our bus driver reversed perfectly into the parking lot and went to our rooms for an early night so that we can be ready for another day of fun and learning tomorrow.

-Bridget V.

July 2, 2021

Hello everyone! Today was a relaxing day. We woke up with the sunrise to a breakfast of fluffy pancakes, eggs, and toast. Almost immediately after, we hopped onto the bus and began our windy and gut wrenching ride to the Sustainability Demonstration Center. Our hosts Maria Jose and Veronica taught us about natural and alternative medicine. Together, we reinforced our connection to nature by extracting essence from plants. After that, we created our very own plant based remedies by filling spray bottles with water, alcohol, and various plant oils, while drinking some lemon balm tea. Next Maria Jose’s son, Stewart, took us to their local farm, where we ate lunch and played with all of the animals. After our visit, we went back to our hotel to rest, settle ourselves, and reflect. We regrouped with a meeting and had a thought-provoking discussion about how to maintain both our physical and mental well being. We left some time in the evening for a little bit of souvenir shopping before eating delicious tacos for dinner. We are looking forward to the beach!

– Zack

July 3, 2021    
Today we enjoyed more heath and wellness activities. We started with an early fruit and pancake breakfast, asking for extra plates of papaya and “digestive” tea to counter our recently heavy diets. A short bus ride took us to the beautiful ArteSana, the magical home and garden of Ana Ovares, where we spent the majority of our day. Ana and her energetic dog Alaska welcomed us with a tour of the property’s sacred natural spaces. We followed stone lined paths across her father’s corn and bean field, around a ying yang labyrinth, under a large white flowered tree, through the woods where we spotted leaf cutter ants and a healing Ficus tree, by the creek, and into a medicinal herb garden, guessing the names of plants by smell. Hung on branches in each space were homemade ceramic signs with inspiring quotes that reminded us to stay present, appreciate our surroundings, and remember that we were entering what belongs to La Pachamama, Mother Earth. As we explored the gardens, Ana described what each plant represented and empowered us with her wisdom and feminism. She illustrated the connection between the Earth’s natural cycles and the cycles of human life and gave us time to sit in silent reflection to honor our individual feminine and masculine energies. An important new mantra for all of us to tell ourselves is “Lo siento, perdón, te amo, gracias.” “I’m sorry, I forgive you, I love you, thank you.” Continuing with our theme of health and self-awareness, we practiced yoga upstairs with Ana’s friend Hilda. We all admired the house’s art and decor, and after yoga we sat out on the deck to enjoy the beautiful forest view, a swing in the hammock, and a glass of ginger-kombucha limonada and a healthy lunch. Before we left, we partook in one last lesson, where we burned incense and hesitantly rubbed each others feet with oil to explore reflexology. Our day ended with a quick souvenir shop and dinner in Monteverde, and an exciting night hike with amazing guides, Andrés and Sergio, who found us two venomous snakes, a sleeping Motmot with turquoise feathers, a three wattled bird, raccoon, a sloth, and crazy insects to look at through night vision binoculars and a telescope.
– Charlotte D.

July 4, 2021

Happy Fourth of July everyone! Today was a long but exhilarating day. We began our 5 hour journey to Uvita at 6 in the morning in hopes of enjoying more time later at the beach. During the trip, we stopped for breakfast, a plato típico and a smoothie, and paid a temporary farewell to one of our trip leaders, Nohelia. 🙁 We rocked out to a thrilling playlist, which everyone contributed to, while admiring the breathtaking first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. Upon arriving at the coastal town of Uvita, we settled in our rooms with new roommates and had a delightful meal of tacos. Immediately after, we headed to the beach to catch some huge waves and enjoy the beautiful sunset. Despite being overseas, we ended the night by celebrating Fourth of July with some delicious s’mores. We can’t wait for our surf lessons and another beach day tomorrow!
– Jessica Q.

July 5, 2021
Today we all woke up energized and ready to head to the beach and start catching waves. Starting with a classic breakfast of fruit, pancakes and eggs we took a short walk to our local beach where we met 3 experienced surf gurus who immediately taught us all the best surf tips and tricks. It was scary at first, but after a bit of practice our group really got the hang of riding the gnarly waves. We spent the majority of the day surfing and soaking up way too much sun. Once we got back and had some lunch and rest, it was back to the beach for a romp in the rain. We all had such a fun and freeing experience playing beach volleyball and taking cool pictures. We concluded the night with a delicious and filling dinner at our fav Mexican restaurant and some wholesome bonding and reflecftion of our trip.

Celia B.