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Costa Rica Wildlife Adventure, Session 2 2023

July 11, 2023

Hola amigos!

The day began with the soft buzz of everyone awakening and slowly mingling out of their bedrooms. Once everyone was semi awake we all gathered for buffet style breakfast. Our hostess (Flora) served us a traditional Costa Rican breakfast. Wooh! This included rice and beans, scrambled eggs, fresh watermelon, fresh pineapple, and orange juice.

After a filling breakfast we packed anything we thought maybe necessary for a trip to a local coffee farm. The bus ride was our first real encounter with the Costa Rican culture: the roads and different style of driving, the language and billboard, people watching, and beautiful scenery. The different style of driving in Costa Rica was a bit of a culture shock as people tend to be more aggressive on the roads.

Further on in our hour drive we began a climb up a mountain which revealed beautiful green lush ranges. Costa Rica never ceases to amaze people by its stunning views, even our Costa Rican counselor Dian was in awe. Some areas if it’s not to cloudy you can spot the ocean off in the distance along with Costa Rica’s magnificent ranges. Many campers were snapping shots on disposable cameras and go pros.

Upon our arrival, we were met with a scenic five minute hike to the farm. We were informed to not pet any of the dogs because many are strays and it’s just a good idea to keep your distance no matter how cute they are.

Our tour guides name was Rosa. He was very funny and welcoming from the start. We were brought fresh mango and watermelon, which we enjoyed before the tour. Before we left, he actually asked us if we knew what eggs were as he was holding them in his hands and threw them in the air for us to catch. Luckily they were just plastic, but we all shared a laugh.

The most memorable moment (in our opinion) of the tour was when we stopped at a beautiful tree named “Ceido Peeudobombax Septenatum.” People all made guesses on how old the tree was. Guesses ranged from 200 to 50 years old due to the trees’ height and width. To our surprise it was only 25 years old and that is was quite special to Rosa as he planted it himself. He informed us that this tree and the name of the farm we all in remembrance of his smart, strong, hard working mother. She worked till she could provide enough money for her children to finish university.

As our day went on, we observed more and more of the Costa Rican culture. Our counselors reminded to challenge ourselves on this trip – whether that be learning Spanish, trying new foods, or being mindful of excess waste. The culture we observed embodied this message. (1) We watched as citizens encourage, embrace, and are grateful for our emersion and acceptance of their culture and language. – Today I challenged myself to give thanks in Spanish to the staff who served us while at the coffee farm. The smiles they responded with to my Spanish speaking resembled the acceptance and appreciation they gave for embracing a new culture. (2) The welcoming atmosphere created by citizens in order to make visitors feel at home is truly special to Costa Rica. (3) The focus on sustainability throughout the country (e.g. a coffee roaster made entirely from recycled materials) brought light to the privilege we have to live in the U.S. and gave us an appreciation for the excess of resources available to us.

Finally as our came to a close we pulled off on the side of the road for an unexpected stop. We took a moment to observe a church that hadn’t been used for a century. There was a reason for this, which Dian explained. The church sits on a tectonic plate, so there is no reason to save the church as an earthquake could easily shatter the foundation of the church.

Our day ended as we greeted new arrivals, all going to bed knowing we had an early start the next day for rafting.

Pura vida,

Pen y Bria

July 12, 2023

Hola amigos!

We had an early wake up to start our travels to white water rafting on the Parquare River. The most beautiful rio in Costa Rica. Once we arrived at the main base we enjoyed a yummy breakfast and we prepared for a fun time rafting. We tackled class 1 and 2 rapids and although a few people fell out we had a blast! We loved spending time with our rafting guides who led us through the river. We stopped along the river at a beautiful river camp where we slept in raised tents. We had a delicious lunch and dinner and enjoyed the scenic and peaceful atmosphere. It started to pour right around bedtime and continued to rain 12 hours straight, welcome to the rainforest! Lol!

Rikki, Maya T. y Paloma

July 13, 2023

We woke up at around 7:30 to a light drizzle and had a delicious breakfast curtesy of our wonderful hosts. Unfortunately due to rain we couldn’t continue along the same river so we had to make a trek in a truck up the mountain whilst sharing space between 13 people, a bit of squish but a bonding experience! Once we reached the next river we loaded back into our rafts and had a true blast on class 3 and 4 rapids. We even saw a sloth hanging on a branch! We ended our rafting adventures back at the base with a lovely lunch before a 2.5 hour drive to our hotel for the night. On the way we got to stop at a supermarket and pick up some snacks! We made it to our beautiful hotel and tomorrow we are off to the cheese farm!!

Rikki, Maya T. y Paloma

July 14, 2023
Hola amigas,

Today we woke up at the beautiful rainforest hotel at 7am. We had a wonderful pancake breakfast that was decorated with chocolate sauce and syrup. We also had watermelon and pineapple as our choice of fruit. We departed for a cheese farm around 9am which took around 10 minutes to get there. When we got there we were greeted with a presentation on the history of the cheese farm before splitting into 2 groups. The first group went into the cheese making room where they learnt about the process, and production of cheese. The second group was able to hangout with the very adorable farm puppies. Once each group was finished, they switched what they were doing so everyone had a chance for everything. After that was complete, we went for a walk around the farm on a tour. We were able to see many fruit trees and animals such as adorable pigs, cows, and roosters which we got to hold and pet. We made our way back to the tables were we had a delicious lunch of beans, rice, and salad. We also had a chance to buy some bracelets and cheese created by the family. We said our goodbyes and thank you’s to the farmers and puppies, and then started our trek to the biological station were we will stay for the next couple of days. The journey was intense from the bouncy off-road car ride, to the 2.5km hike uphill. We all pushed ourselves to the limit today hiking and enjoying the wonders of the forest. Upon arrival we received a briefing of some of the species present and some of the work we will be doing. We also played a matching activity in order to strengthen our knowledge of the animals all around us. We had some downtime before dinner in which we could choose what we wanted to do. We met for our evening chow circle where we had some great shoutouts for each other and played some games. For dinner we had pork, beans, rice, papaya, and vegetables. We packed for the next day of community work, and hit the hay around 9:30pm.

Pura Vida!
Brigitte y Paloma

July 15, 2023

This morning we woke up at 7 am and had Costa Rican empanadas with cheese for breakfast. We circled up and spoke in Spanish to our guides for the day from the biological research station. We took a 10 minute walk down to a beautiful lake with a stream of deposited sediment. For the next 4 hours, we vigorously shoveled dirt from the stream into bags that were transported up the road to another site where we were working to fill in a water damaged road. It was really tiring and strenuous but very satisfying to see the product of our hard days work. Then we went back to the lodge and had grilled tilapia, rice, beans, salad, potatoes with rosemary, and fruit juice. We rested and played card games, then regrouped and headed back to the work site. We shoveled dirt for the next 3 hours and competed for a smoothie with our newly found shoveling skills. We all ended the day soaked in lake water and covered in mud and we were very happy to get back to the lodge and shower. We snacked on coffee, hot chocolate, crackers, and corn tortillas with melted cheese. It started pouring rain, and we all sought shelter and played card games and read. On our way down from our rooms to dinner, a huge bolt of lighting shook the building and lit up the entire valley. Dinner was pasta, mushroom sauce, ground beef, salad, and fruit juice and we ate it to the sounds of an amazing rainstorm. We all headed back to our rooms for a well deserved night of rest!

– Maya G. and Annabel

July 16, 2923

At 6:30am, we began routine wake up calls for breakfast. Everyone gathered at the main station to eat before we started our second day of community service. We were split into two groups and spent the morning performing trail maintenance. Once the groups joined in the forest, everyone hiked back to the station for lunch. We had some free time, and chose to split up into different activities. First, everyone participated in a card game tournament. Shortly after, one group went on a hike, one played cards, and the other had some reading time. Before dinner, Dayana taught us about the different types of forests in Costa Rica. This was followed by a group activity where we created animals relating to Dayana’s discussion. We (Diego and Haley) led our chow circle before dinner. Our night walk took place right after dinner, where we looked for animals and hiked to the lagoon.
After seeing some cool frogs and insects we went to have a well deserved rest.

Keep in the loop with us for more adventures in CR.

-Haley an Diego

July 17, 2023

This morning we woke up with an early wake up call at Poco Sol Biological Research Station. We had waffles, eggs, watermelon, and papaya for breakfast. After a long couple days of service work in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, we packed our bags and headed back to Heliconias Nature Lodge. The afternoon was spent learning all about the different endangered species in a rehab center. We saw many animals including macaws, parrots, toucans, spider monkeys, white faced monkeys, caimans, and a marguey. We were taught all about the danger of exotic house pets and the associated black market. The main cause of the endangerment of these animals is their purchase on the black market as house pets. We talked about the ways to preserve and protect the animals living in this amazing country. We learned new ways to play our part to protect the endangered animals we saw today. We returned to Heliconias Hotel and spent the evening split into groups to prepare for a Spanish talent show. The talent show is our way to incorporate the Spanish language into something we are familiar with. As a nightly ritual, we gathered at 6:15 for our chow circle where we play games, do shoutouts, and share announcements with the group. For dinner we had fried fish with sides of beans, rice, salad, and plantains. To close out the night, we all joined together to swim in the pool and play games before we rest for the day ahead of us full of zip lining and a visit to the hot springs.

– Lily and Pippa

July 18, 2023

We woke up at Heliconias inn for a late breakfast at 9am. We had a delicious breakfast of pancakes, fruit, and local juices. We then circled up and packed into the vans and drove to the local grocery store to stock up on snacks. We then headed over to the zip-lining course. After a short safety demonstration, we headed off on seven different zip lines that took us over the trees and rivers of the rainforest. It was beautiful and exhilarating. After we all finished the course we drove to lunch at a small restaurant on the side of the road. We dined on quesadillas, burgers and nachos. After lunch we headed over to a nature resort to swim in hot springs and go on some waterslides. After a couple hours there we changed and went back to Heliconias. When we got back we had a delicious dinner of fried chicken and salad and had our chow circle. We then headed to bed to await our next day. Xoxox.

– Amelia and Josie

July 19-20, 2023

After celebrating Maya’s birthday with gifts, cake, and singing last night, we woke up ready to travel to the sea turtle conservation site. We went on a 1 hour bus ride and arrived the take off point. We left the doc by boat and started our 2 hour voyage. During the ride we saw turtles, crocodiles, and the mangroves. About 2/3 of the way to the island, we left the mangroves and entered the Pacific ocean. After we got to the island we walked to the main space where we were to stay. After a rest period we set off and had an orientation followed by a quick swim in a river. There was a small cliff where we were able to jump into the water and it was so much fun. We trekked back and there were monkeys and macaws in the trees. As the sun set, we gathered to watch on the beach. Next we had dinner and currently we are about to have free time before we go to bed.
– by Anna and Jared

July 21, 2023

Hola Familias!

Today we woke up early for a 7 am breakfast of toast with jam, cereal, eggs, and lychee fruit. We quickly got to work clearing rocks from a hiking trail along the beach. We also carried huge logs to build bridges along muddy sections of the trail. After that, we filled a wagon with rocks to take to another section. We finished our service with some time to spare, so we headed back to our lodging for some lunch. We had rice, garlic bread, and pasta. After lunch, we had the afternoon off and decided to take a short walk to the beach and swim in the ocean. The beach was beautiful and the water was super clear. We saw rainbow parrots flying overhead and came extremely close to several spider monkeys. Then, we came back and constructed a massive bonfire from fallen trees and sticks but couldn’t light it just yet as it had started raining. So instead, we covered it with a tarp. Afterwards, Emma hosted a bonding activity, where we shared things that anchor us. The rain began to pick up and there was a lot of thunder and lightning. We then had our chow circle and ate a delicious dinner of fish, potatoes, and rice.

Erin and Abby

July 22, 2023

We had another early wake up to be ready but 7 am to eat delicious breakfast and start service. We then gathered and split into three groups. One group spent a good part of the morning working hard in the garden and the other two collected and unloaded rocks to be used in the garden. We then broke to eat lunch which was delicious stir fry rice with chicken and beans and some pasta salad. We also enjoyed lemonade which was sweet and refreshing. Afterwards, we got started on painting and drawing on two different walls in the restaurant of the hostel. We drew and painted the walls blue and added adorable and beautiful sea creatures. We worked for almost the whole afternoon until dinner since it was so much fun! When we were done we cleaned our brushes since we would use them the next day and a bit later ate dinner. It was rice, beans, and soup. We hung out either around the restaurant, the hammocks or our rooms for the rest of the night before going to sleep to prepare for painting tomorrow!

Brigitte y Paloma

July 23, 2023

We woke up at 6:30 for a yummy breakfast at 7. We had eggs, cheese sticks, cheese and tortillas. After breakfast we headed to the nearby school for our day of service. We broke off into groups that would be the best for painting the interior and designs on the outside. It took until around 11:50 to finished all that we needed to. We were all hot and tired from the job being well done. We headed back to the hostel for lunch. We had a delicious burger filled with cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and more. We also had plantain chips, and veggies. We changed after lunch so that we could head for a refreshing swim in the ocean. We walked to the swim area and hopped right in. The water was beautiful and very relaxing. We walked back around 3:20 and had free time for the rest of the afternoon. Many of us read, played cards, and relaxed on the beach. We had dinner at 7pm which was amazing chicken, rice and beans, and veggies. After dinner we had our daily chow circle then went off to bed. Most of us went straight to bed for the early wake up the next day.

Brigitte y Paloma

July 24, 2023
Buenas noches!
Today we had an early wake up call at 5:30 to go on a canoe tour to a waterfall. We ate a breakfast of pancakes, and an assortment of jams, mangos, and pineapple. We hiked to the starting point in a lagoon where we hopped in 5 canoes and a guide paddled us up the canal for one mile. We got to an impassable part of the river and all jumped out in life jackets and floated down. We stopped at a waterfall on the float down and climbed up some rocks so we could swim behind it! On the way back to the hostel, we stopped at the beach and hung out for an hour there. Lunch was lasagne with cheese and red sauce, salad, rice, and fruit juice. For the next 3 hours we rested, napped, read, and played cards. We then finished our mural from the days prior and made necklaces out of miscellaneous beads. We watched the most gorgeous sunset yet and danced in the waves. Dinner was salad, plantain fritters, and shrimp fried rice with a side of lemonade. During the night we started preparing for our journey back to civilization tomorrow, goodnight!
-Maya G. y Annabel

July 25, 2023

After leaving the Life for Life program, we took a 2 hour boat ride off the island. We saw turtles, mangroves, and the beautiful views of the ocean on our way back. We stopped at the Finca 6 museum. We saw spheres and how the indigenous tribes lived and created the spheres. The rest of the day consisted of hanging out around the hotel and spending time together.

– Pippa, Lily, and Jared

July 26, 2023

Starting the 26th off with a late breakfast at 8:30, we prepared for surf lessons. We learned all the basic techniques and split off into groups with each instructor. After surfing all morning, we walked back and enjoyed lunch at the hotel restaurant. Soon after, we headed out to walk on the beach and see the Whale Tail. Unfortunately, it unexpectedly poured on us and a storm brewed. We took shelter on the beach and headed to the ranger station as the storm got worse. A bus finally picked us up and took us back to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon, we had free time playing cards and hanging out around the pool. We had chow circle and concluded our day with dinner.

– Pippa, Lily, and Jared

July 27, 2023

The 27th, we had another late breakfast and it followed with a hike to a beautiful waterfall. On the way to the waterfall we planted 8 trees! We continued walking and a lot of us slipped on the way down. The waterfall was a great experience even though it was quite cold. We headed back to the bus and had a snack that consisted of watermelon and pineapple. We went to a new beach and stayed there for an hour or so, then headed to shop for souvenirs. We headed back to the hotel and got ready for a nice dinner out at a restaurant overlooking the beach. We headed back to hotel to have a group movie night all together!

– Pippa, Lily, and Jared

July 28, 2023

Hola amigos,
Today was the penultimate day in Costa Rica. We started off the day by waking up at 7:30 to have a delicious breakfast of rice, fruit and waffles. We then boarded the bus to go to our whale watching tour. We got on the boat and took off to explore the Pacific Ocean for humpback whales. Our guides were so kind and were able to show us four different whales, including a mom and baby!! We finished our tour with a swim by a small island off the coast. We then boarded up the bus and came back to the hotel for a lunch of burgers, nachos and quesadillas. We took a short walk to the beach and spent the next few hours surfing and sustaining ourselves with banana, pineapple, watermelon, and fresh coconut. We came back to the hotel and cleaned ourselves up before heading off to our final chow circle. We all said our appreciations for each other and wrote letters to our futures selves. It was a great way to close out the trip. We then had a delicious dinner of tacos and nachos and headed off to bed. xoxo.
Pura vida!

– Amelia y Josie

July 29, 2023
Today we got up early in the morning for a six forty five breakfast and we left at 7:15. We then left for our four hour bus ride. On the way we stopped at the souvenir shop to buy any last minute items our heart desired. We continued our journey and then later stopped at a mall to chow down on some yummy food! This included pizza at Dominoes, Taco Bell and McDonald’s! Delicious! We continued and then we stopped Sibü Chocolate for an enticing, tasty and amazing experience. After that we got back on the bus and listen to more music and sang a lot. Super fun! We got to the hotel and we’re able to get our phones back before we had a break period and then got dinner. We ended the night with a pool party! Everybody in the group flies home tomorrow so thank you Global Works for an extraordinary trip!
Pura vida❤️
Maya T. y Jared