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Costa Rica: Service & Sand, Session 2 2023

July 15, 2023

This morning we had breakfast at 8:00am. We ate typical Costa Rican breakfast: rice, beans, toast and scrambled eggs. Then we took the bus to finca doña rosa were we tested medicinal plants, varieties of fruits and we learned the process of making sugar cane juice and tried sugar cane ourselves. We discovered the magic fruit, which changes the taste buds and make everything you eat sweet. It was a very interesting experience for all of us! Then we roasted fresh coffee, ground it ourselves, and explored the plantations. At 1 PM, we had lunch, chicken and potatoes and delicious salad. After lunch we had the chance to taste the coffee and tortilla con natia. Then took the bus again to go back home and chill before dinner. Some of us jumped in the swimming pool in the rain. It was so much fun! Then we did some games to introduce ourselves to the group, and made a bunch of agreements for the trip. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

-Margot and Joseph

July 16, 2023

Hola amigos,

We started day 2 with an extremely early wake up call because we had a fun and full day planned. Although the group wasn’t very excited about waking up at 5:30 in the morning it was all worth it for the amazing day of rafting. Because of a traffic detour on our route our bus ride to the Rapids took about 3 hours!! Upon arrival we were served a delectable meal of fresh fruit, eggs, and rice and beans, which we are becoming very used to. After breakfast, we got back in the bus and drove for about 30 minutes to where we started the rafting. We learned the rafting techniques and the hilarious guides helped us have the best experience. Halfway into the rafting trip all of the guides pulled out a fresh pineapple from their bags and we were able to eat pineapple while floating in the river. We experienced up to class 4 Rapids and even got to swim in the river. The scenery around us throughout the entire trip was picturesque and indescribable. There were all types of waterfalls, greenery, different types of birds like macaws, and it was overall a beautiful Journey. After our extravagant experience, we enjoyed a delicious lunch of burritos, and then we took the 3-hour ride back to our hotel. The 3 hours was mostly filled with post Malone and Drake on the speaker, friendship bracelet making, group members attempting to sleep and erratic Costa Rican drivers. After we finally made it back to the hotel, some of us went swimming in the pool While others showered before dinner. We had a feast of salad, pasta, and bread for dinner, and then played three rounds of Mafia on the deck outside with a twinkling view of the city of San Jose.
Hasta pronto.

– Kyra and Cavanna

July 17, 2023

Today we had a long adventure into the rainforest. The journey started in San Jose where we packed our bags and hopped in our travel bus. The bus ride was split into two parts, the first part was about 3 hours to lunch and the second was around 20 minutes to the entrance of the forest. We drove along some beaches and through the windy mountains. We saw cattle and goats along our drive. For lunch we had two options, chicken quesadilla or arroz con pollo. After a successful lunch we started to prepare for a hour long hike. About 10 minutes away from the rainforest we realized it was raining, and by the time we got to the entrance it was pouring. We only had one choice, which was to tred through the rain and lightning. The trail was all muddy and slippery. Once we made it to home base everyone was soaked and then we settled into our new home of three days. Everyone was immediately fascinated by the hammocks and we played around in them enjoying the beautiful view. Everyone was also very excited to seeing the pingpong table which we have all been playing with since we first came in. We then ate dinner which was spaghetti with beef and tomato sauce, bread and some vegetables. After dinner, we played some games with the entire group and worked on team building. We are excited for our first service day tomorrow!

– Sebastian and Asher

July 18, 2023

Today we were awoken by the sweet sound of birds chirping outside. When everyone got up we ate a delicious breakfast of rice, eggs, and fruit. After we were all fueled, we suited up and went to the trails to enjoy some intensive physical labor of digging out and throwing heavy rocks into the rainforest. While working, we took this opportunity to joke around and improve our Spanish skills with our nice guides, Armando and Antony. After a hard days work we returned back to camp and replenished our lost nutrients with some crispy pork belly, rice, fruit, and salad.
When lunch ended we enjoyed some fun free time where we continued to grow closer to each other through some funny stories. As free time ended, we gathered and learned about the surrounding rain forest and about the program “Bosque Eterno De Los Niños” or The Children’s Eternal Rainforest. We then gathered again and learned some important phrases for the homestay portion of our trip. After that we enjoyed a delicious steak dinner with potatoes, vegetables, and fried rice which we were all very excited for. We are now making brownies and can’t wait for another day in the cloud forest tomorrow !

– Dylan

July 19, 2023

Hey amigos,
After seeing the cooks various sunrise photos, the group decided to wake up for sunrise. 5am wakeup call for no sunrise, just clouds. After, we went back and laid in bed for a little while (around 2 hours) and Sydney and Bella decided to go join the cooks in making empanadas for breakfast. After chefing up some brownies on day 4, the cooks invited us back to the kitchen. After breakfast, we marched out and faced the trials of the day. Our community service for the day consisted of mainly trail maintenance, where we widened an existing trail. We arrived back at 1 pm for a scrumptious lunch of Costa Rican cuisine, the bomb. Rice and beans with shredded chicken and a stewy chickpea sauce. THE BEST MANGO EVER was also included in lunch, as well as passionfruit juice that lived out the pura vida expectations!!! After churning out lots of friendship bracelets and too much ping pong, Bella and Sydney became professionals chefs (the chefs even admitted it) with secret donuts that put Dunkin Donuts to shame. The hammocks have become the newest hangout spot with all of us playing lots of games. We ended the day with a delicious dinner, followed up by receiving our homestay partners and our new families, as well as handwritten letters from each family!! We are so sad to to leave tomorrow, and plan to cook with our new amigos, the chefs, for 1 last horrah!! Thanks for tuning in to this episode of pura vida ❤️🤙

– Bella and Sydney

July 20, 2023

Today was day 6 out of 14. We started off the morning with a delicious breakfast of rice, beans, eggs, and fresh fruits. We then had to go upstairs and pack because we were leaving the station that morning. We had been there 4 days and today we were leaving for the homestay. We left at 9am and began our hike out of the rainforest. Even though it was only a 4km hike, it was really hard because it was pouring rain and the whole hike was uphill. After 1 and a half hours we finally made it out of the rainforest and we were all exhausted. Because it had been all uphill, it felt twice as hard as the hike down. We got in the bus and we all had to go in our socks because our shoes were muddy. That made the bus smell horrible and the bus smelled for the whole bus ride. On the bus, we listened to Randall’s playlist the whole time and sang along to the lyrics. After an hour and a half, we finally made it to lunch. We got lunch in a roadside cafe that had a buffet. I got rice and beans and plantains. After, we found a place with horses and bulls and other animals. That was really fun and we got licked by some of them. Then we went back on the road and went to our homestay. When we arrived in “Pueblo Nuevo” which is the name of the town, we were greeted by all of our soon to be families at the community center. We introduced ourselves and got to know each other before we headed off to our houses. All of the families were extremely welcoming and enthusiastic about our stay! We became familiar with our accommodations and learned a lot about our families. They treated us to delicious homemade dinners which we all ate happily. After that, we went to our new rooms and finally got some rest after that long and tiring day of travel.

-Wendell and Luca

July 21, 2023

Today started off bright an early with a delicious breakfast with our homestay families at 7 o’clock in the morning. The early breakfast paid off as we got to leave on time to visit an animal rescue center called Proyecto Asis, or Project Asis. When we got there, our guide, Carlos, began to show us around reservation and the animals that resided inside.
We began with many birds such as maccaws, parrots, and parakeets. Many of the birds had been illegal pets beforehand or had some sort of accident which was the reason they were at the reservation in the first place, many of the birds wings had atrophied due to lack of flying and others had their feathers clipped to prevent them from flying as well. They had to be rehabilitated as well as you could not have a bird in the wild that would sit and pose for pictures for random groups of humans. We also saw many monkeys, an animal called a coati, a speckled peccary which is a type of small boar, and a Margay which is a type of wild cat. Many had been pets before the reservation but some others also had dangerous encounters with cars and other humans. The Marhay had actually been taken out of the wild by someone who thought they were saving it. We also saw a crocodile and a turtle as well.
After watching the animals we got into pairs and began to prepare the food for the animals. This food mainly consisted of fruits and vegetables like mangos, bananas, corn, pumpkins, and some other foods like sweet potatoes. After preparing the food for the animals, we then had to put them in little containers and put leaves in them to deter the animals and make them work a little bit. Since there is a strong social hierarchy in whiteface monkey culture, one of the lower ranking monkeys got their food robbed from them by a higher ranking one. Our group almost stormed the cage.
Following the interactions with the animals, we went home for a great lunch with out homestay families. We then returned to the salon, the meeting place, to call our families and play soccer in the rain. After the rain got too much we played in a futsol arena right inside the salon.
At last, it was dinner time and our group and many of the community members got together and made tortillas. We then put filling in the tortillas to make them more flavorful. While we were eating, Harrison and Lilly had a very intense staring contest that lasted far longer than I would have expected. The game ended when Harrison claimed that he accidentally blinked. After the tortillas, we roasted marshmellows and went back with our homestay families for the night. See you tomorrow!

– Will

July 22, 2024

Hola Familias!!
Yesterday we started off our day bright and early with a delicious breakfast from our homestay families. After, we began our service project in the local community by painting the communal kitchen, as well as making custom tire planter boxes to go around the town. We went back to our families for lunch, had some afternoon rest time before our big surprise later! The leaders surprised us with a relaxing trip to the local mineral spring pools where we enjoyed a refreshing swim and some sweet treats. We returned back to the village for a quick shower before we took an exciting dance class with the famous Randal. Afterwards we had a late dinner with our homestays and went to bed to get a good nights rest for our ziplining tomorrow!

– Eliza and Issa

July 23, 2024

We began the last full day with our homestay families with a breakfast of tortillas, queso, and a huge Tupperware of tropical fruit that our mom had cut for us. Led by our seven year old homestay sister, we met up with the full group and hopped on the bus to learn about a family-run cheese production business. As we cuddled with the fluffy farm puppies, the owner and Global Works Costa Rica director shared the history of his business. We also had the opportunity to make some of this locally famed dairy product starting from milk. The queso was warm and salty, and it was so good it had us wanting to commit customs crimes to bring it home. Surely the highlight of the day was the zipline tour, which consisted of seven unique and lengthy lines. We suited up and enjoyed the view as we gondola-ed to the top of Volcan Arenal. Incredibly, as we made our way down the mountain, a troop of wild monkeys swung over our heads. We made our way back to the homestays, stopping to buy souvenirs, shoutout to my mom! The day ended with a goodbye fiesta with the entire town that we’d gotten to know and love. We all danced, some (Mason) better than others. My homestay family ended the day with a drive to get ice cream and we said buenas noches babyyyyyyy!
Mucho amor.

– Cara P.

July 24, 2023

After a hearty breakfast consisting of rice, beans, eggs, and cereal we packed our bags and headed to the salon, the group’s meeting place. After many hugs, handshakes, and some tears, we took pictures with our families and said our goodbyes. On the bus we made a group playlist, listening and talking as we passed the time. In three hours we arrived at El Jardin where we ate and then visited the souvenir store. The last hours of our road trip consisted of a scenic drive near the coast. Excited to be done with our drive, we took to the pool. Much to the delight to the group we had chicken tenders along with salad and rice for dinner. After the amazing dinner we met to discuss our likes, dislikes, and what we took away from our homestays. Although everyone had different answers most people learned the importance of being grateful for what you have.

– Harrison and Drew

July 25, 2023

We woke up this morning in an air conditioned hotel, a luxury we have missed in the homestays. For breakfast we enjoyed the traditional rice and beans, eggs, and waffles, with a side of fresh fruit. Shortly after, we loaded into the bus equipped with bathing suits and cameras to embark on a whale watching expedition. After only ten minutes and a quick sea turtle spotting, we encountered not only one humpback whale, but two: a mama and its baby. After hanging out and snapping pictures for 30 minutes, we thought nothing could beat that…but then we saw some spotted dolphins feeding on flying fish. One of them seemed particularly friendly and kept circling our boat. After a quick stop by some dramatic Costa Rican caves, we got our own chance to swim in the salty, warm waters. A taste of fresh fruit complemented the refreshing dip in the sea. After a quick lunch of rice, chicken curry, and vegetables, we were back in the ocean for a surfing lesson. We went over the basics and tried our best at some totally tubular waves. We all had different experiences, some more successful than others, but everybody improved, and more importantly, everybody had fun. Halfway through, we got some more refreshing, juicy, flavorful fruit with a side of gnarly sunburns. We went back in the water with clear improvements, almost as clear as the water. After a couple hours and 22 showers, we all walked to the nearby supermarket and bought some Costa Rican snacks. We hung out at the hotel while we waited for dinner which turned out to be delectable chicken alfredo, salad, and garlic bread with an ice cold glass of watermelon juice. Before turning in for the night, we laughed and hung out while playing group games. We are all looking forward to another day of surfing, spending time together, and of course, some more fresh fruit. Pura vida!!

– Audrey and Harper

July 26, 2023

We woke up early in the morning for an amazing breakfast. We ate rice, eggs, and waffles which was really good. Then we went back to the rooms got dressed and got on the bus to go hike up and swim in a beautiful waterfall. At the start we all each planted a tree to help the environment. We started the hike and it was very rocky and wet, when we got there we got in the swimming area and we enjoyed the time we had while swimming before we had to go. When we got back to the hotel we had a good lunch, and after that we got to chill for a while before we hit the waves. We walked over to beach got our boards and ran right out to the water for the best time. We started riding the big waves, as we all fell a bit we learned that some of us had never surfed before and for some people it was just another day on the waves. While we were surfing, it started to pour rain and thunder so we had to end our time surfing shortly. Everyone was really disappointed because we were having the time of our lives surfing, but we walked back to the hotel and we hung out in the eating area while talking to the friends we have made over the weeks. We got to rest before dinner with our friends. It became dinner time and we had a delicious meal of rice, chicken and ribs, and vegetables, so shoutout to the cooks. After dinner we went to a hang out area and played some group games with the group to connect with everyone and laugh and have a good time. We ended of the night with packing our bags and heading to sleep for a long bus ride tomorrow.
– Fletcher

July 27, 2023

Our amazing two week journey was coming to an end. With a final group breakfast of eggs, waffles, beans, and rice we said our goodbyes to Uvita, surfing, and sunshine. After packing up the last of our things, We started are 3 1/2 hour drive back to our first hotel, Casa Cielo Grande. The bus stopped for lunch at the familiar El Jardin. We spent the remaining time buying our last souvenirs for family and friends. Once we returned to San Jose, the group spent an hour relaxing before reflecting on our incredible journey. First, the group wrote a letter to themselves to focus on the highs, lows, and learning experiences of the trip. Next, we took time to appreciate every member of our amazing group by writing heartfelt messages to be carried out of Costa Rica. We celebrated our final dinner with a pizza party, drinking coke and blueberry tea. Finally, we reviewed each day of the trip and the experiences we will remember forever. Overall this trip was unforgettable due to the amazing friendships and excited energy of each member of the new community we made together. Tomorrow, we say a bittersweet goodbye to Costa Rica and return home. Pura vida!

– Mason and Lilian