Costa Rica: Wildlife Research & Sea Turtle Conservation, Session B
July 6-7, 2021
Hello everyone! After a long and bumpy bus ride, we finally arrived at Hotel Heliconias at 2:15 in the morning. We were so tired from the day full of traveling that we crashed immediately, just to wake up bright and early to get gallo pinto (eggs, beans and rice) or pancakes. We played some get-to-know-you games before catching the bus to Sky Adventure. We drove way up into the mountains with beautiful views of the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Then we got an even closer look of the flora and fauna ziplining through the trees. We even got to see eyelash vipers. After coming down from the trees, we stopped in La Fortuna for an authentic Costa Rican lunch. We were given the option of arroz con pollo (chicken fried rice), nachos, hamburgers, or chicken nuggets. The strawberry juice was AMAZING! Before departing we got to take turns grinding fresh coffee (Kalle and Ayla are not coffee drinkers but they thoroughly enjoyed it).
We came back to Hotel Heliconias to begin our group bonding experience in the gazebo. After the group contract activity, we all walked back to our rooms in the fourth rain storm of the day. We took naps, relaxed, read books, painted nails, braided hair, and more during this free time. Then we gathered in the pavilion for salsa dancing lessons with Randall. We also learned merengue and bachata steps. It was a real workout. Next we headed up to dinner and had arroz con pollo, with mango juice, chips and a colorful salad on the side. After dinner we had our nightly group meeting where we discussed our plans for tomorrow and answered any questions our fellow travelers had. We had a quick frog scouting mission, and everyone else headed to their rooms to pack for the next few days as we write to you!
Hey mom and dad! I’m having so much fun already. I cannot wait to tell you about all of the amazing things we’re doing! Love and miss you, tell Millie and Auggie hi for me. Love, Kalle
Hi mama and papa, Sammy, grandma, and Harper 🙂 I got your little note, We have already seen and done so many things, I can’t wait to relive it all when I tell you all about it. Love yas, Ayla Jeanne <3
-Kalle and Ayla
July 8, 2021
Hey Guys! After a later start to our morning at 9:00 am, we went up to the restaurant at Hotel Heliconias and had a good breakfast of pancakes and syrup. It was a fun time and offered another opportunity to bond before our journey to Poco Sol. We went to a biological research station which happened to be so beautiful and everyone found it adorable and fun. We split into 2 cars and began our scenic journey on some bumpy and winding roads. The larger van had to stop for gas right before the trip, but came back better than ever vibing and blasting music. The smaller van just drove right up and got there early for some exploring and hanging out in a smaller group. The drive was so scenic and green, and had some beautiful waterfalls and mountains. It was just thriving. After the 2nd group arrived everyone settled into our rooms with the girls in 2 rooms and the boys in their own. Once everyone came out of their rooms we all communed in a large porch area on the 2nd floor and just chilled until lunch. We ate in the cafeteria a meal of beans, rice, chicken, and a sort of coleslaw like salad. An idea of a stretch got brought up which turned into an amazing group stretch. A sock sliding competition then came about on the slippery wood finished floors. Bryan was the winner both ways (shout out to his family reading this), but it was really fun for everyone participating. Even the leaders got into it! It was so hype and everyone was cheering everyone on. Felix was our only fall but it was very minor and we all laughed with him. After sock sliding we got ready for our beautiful 4 mile, 3 hour hike.
Our ultimate destination was a towering waterfall that we got to see from above. Although our destination was the waterfall, the walk there and back was thoroughly enjoyed. It had some very steep steps up and down and was a great work out. It was such a great thing to do as a group and we learned so much about the forest. We also saw about 3 howler monkeys! For a lot of us that was our first real find so it was very special. Towards the end we had the choice to go directly back or go around the lagoon and we got to finish the hike as a group as most of us chose to go the longer route. When the hike was finished we came back to the porch and played games like Bananagrams and started a game of Uno. There was also a collection of songs to add to the big playlist. Dinner was then ready and we all headed downstairs to eat some pumpkin soup over rice with added zucchini and chips. Per usual a group circle was held and we discussed the rose, thorns, and bud of our day (highlight and lowlight of the day as well as what we are looking forward to). We also discussed community and got to share and hang out. The leader of the day was picked, and we started some group hand games like down by the banks and returned once again to our porch. A separate group branched off into the night with Felix and brought us 2 small snail eating snakes and a red eyed tree frog. We got to hold the snakes if we wanted to, it was epic. That brings us to the present where we are playing a big group game of Uno and i’m writing this! It was an amazing and eventful day in which we all got a lot closer. Everyday is a new amazing experience and tomorrow we work! I hope you are all doing well at home!! Buenas Noches 🙂
(P.S. Hi mother and father hope ur doing well <3 Tell Harper, Jackson, and perhaps Aidan I miss them! Also I’m at the Caribbean side right now yay. See you soon.)
July 9, 2021
Today we had a much earlier start to our morning, where everyone met for breakfast at 7:00 to enjoy a delicious meal and once again have a fun time getting to know each other. After breakfast we all got ready for the hard work waiting for us in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. Our project for today was restoring parts of a trail, to make it more accessible for everyone. We were split into two teams, one shoveled the gravel out of the creek and put them into bags, and the other dumped the bags in a specific area and packed it into the ground. It was a lot of hard work, but everyone had a fantastic attitude and great work ethic which made it a lot of fun to do. After about 3 hours of working on the trails, we headed back to lunch where we all relaxed for a bit. Some of us also competed in epic battles of arm and thumb wrestling! Once we all rested for a bit, it was back into the rainforest for some more work. We worked on the same project for about 2 hours again, by the time we were all finished we definitely got our dose of dirt and mud for the day. Before we left the site, some of the girls were able to make paint out of the rocks in the creek, so we ended up painting everybody’s faces. By the time we were done, everyone was covered in amazing color and decorations (even our favorite park ranger Luis haha)!!
After trekking back to our camp, we all cleaned up, hungout, and had a mini dance party until dinner was ready. Dinner, as with every meal I have had here, was amazing! Picadillo with rice and beans and patacones (fried plantain chips). A bit after we were finished eating and reflecting on the day we had just shared, Felix and Luis were kind enough to take any of us who wanted to go on a night hike. Walking through the forest was such a unique experience that I am sure many of us will never forget. We were very lucky and were able to find many different frogs, toads, sleeping butterflies, a snail-eater snake, and even another red-eyed tree frog!!! Once we got back from the hike everyone was so tired from the long day we had that we all just went straight to bed. It is hard to believe that it has only been 3 days from all the amazing experiences we all have shared! I am very excited for the days to come and for us to be able to share more with all of you! I hope you all enjoyed reading this =]
(Hi Mom! Hi Hailee! I miss you guys so much! Be prepared to get tired from the sound of my voice when I get home because I have so many fun stories to tell you haha. Also tell Jude I miss him too =])
*The daily blog is written by the group’s self-chosen Leader of the Day. Each night, the current day’s Leader passes the bandana to another student who encompasses qualities such as kindness, communication, leadership, friendliness, and inclusiveness throughout the day.
July 10, 2021
Hi! This morning we again woke up a little earlier than usual to get a good start to our day. We had a similar day ahead of us, continuing out service project helping out the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. A lot of us were sore from yesterday but I can definitely speak for everyone when I say that we were excited to get back out there and get as much done as we could. Before that though, breakfast was scrambled eggs, squeaky cheese, pancakes with honey, toast with peanut butter and granola, papaya, and orange slices. Every meal we have had a different kind of juice so this morning it was orange juice.
Once we got into the rainforest, we organized ourselves very quickly, switching our jobs from the day before. We all knew what we were doing from yesterday and knew what worked and what did not so we moved very cohesively. We were able to pack down and lay new gravel on a good stretch of the path that needed it and even laid some big rocks in the very muddy parts to help the four-wheeler and cart get back and forth. Then we made our way back up to the lodge after our part was finished. For lunch, it would be the last time in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest so I think it was a bitter sweet moment. Lunch was mashed potatoes, broccoli-califlower-green bean mix, breaded fish, and bananas and orange slices. The juice was pineapple. We did another group exercise expanding our minds with a list of our own questions that we wrote in silence and separate from other students. We were encouraged to have no filter and write down the first thing that came to our mind. We came back together to share a few of our many questions together. Some were able to find answers, others were not. Then we had some free time, got our makeup done by Jaden, played cards as a group, and just bonded more with our fellow travelers. For dinner we had pasta and meat sauce with salad on the side with mint lemonade. We all said a huge thank you to Jimena and Fabio for cooking us meals and their hospitality and headed to the sleeping quarters for more card games, time to talk, and free time.
The Children’s Eternal Rainforest is truly an amazing place that allows all who come to enjoy the rainforest and all of its creatures. The rangers here are so knowledgable and so enthusiastic about sharing what they know with people that want to learn. Back at my home, I live in the woods so the lodge here is a very comfortable place for me, but I am excited for what’s next.
(Hey family, I have already made so many great connections here not just with the group but all of the nature surrounding us, the night hike was incredible with the things we got to see. I even got to hold a brilliant forest frog! I hope Sammy is having a great time wherever he is this week 🙂 and that you guys and Harper don’t miss me too much haha, talk to you soon, Love AJ ⅗, ⅗, ⅗, 24).
– Ayla F.
July 11, 2021
Hi everyone! Today was our last time waking up Poco Sol! We got an early start on the day once again to make sure we got to do everything. We had our last delicious meal made by Jimena and Fabio while enjoying the incredible view of the mountains and trees. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, homemade tortillas with sour cream, squeaky cheese, bananas, toast, watermelon and orange juice. We then bought our souvenirs, so a ton of us have matching shirts now! After that we did a group clean up of our cabins and packed to leave our home for the last few days. Although we were sad to leave such an amazing place, we were excited to continue our adventures!
We headed down the bumpy and winding road while singing and dancing to great music. We saw some cool animals while driving, including some monkeys and a rare white hawk! We arrived at a cheese farm that is run by the Global Works Costa Rica Director, Crisley. We started off with a presentation about the history and logistics of the farm. It was super interesting to see Crisley’s perspective and it was fun to hear all the questions we asked him. We were super lucky and got the opportunity to make ‘Traveler’s Cheese’ or Queso Palmito in their industrial kitchen! We got to taste test the three different cheeses they make (queso palmito, farmer’s cheese, and aged mozzarella) and delicious mango and strawberry yogurt. Mango yogurt is not common, so Crisley and Patricia make the mango honey themselves to flavor the product! Crisley’s wife Patricia made us all a fantastic lunch, with honey barbecue chicken, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. After lunch we took a tour of Crisley’s whole farm. We got to taste some star fruit fresh from the tree to begin the tour and continued to see all of the different crops- yucca, avocado, rice, beans, and fruit trees. We then went on to see all the farm animals, like turkeys, chickens, pigs (one huge momma), and cows. We were also lucky enough to see some awesome wild animals too, like two scarlet macaws (paired for life, aww), and a few poison dart frogs! Crisley was so nice and it was great to meet him and his family!
We headed back to Heliconias, the hotel where we stayed the first few nights. We all swam and played some games for a little while before our DANCE PARTY! We danced to cotton eye joe, the macarena, cupid shuffle, and the cha cha slide! We ate dinner with the sound of torrential downpour. We had chicken, salad, and some french fries. Overall it was such an amazing day, and we all learned so much! We are all super excited to learn and explore so much more of the country!
(Hi family! I’m having such a blast here! I have to say, the cheese was so much better here than Cabot at home! Can’t wait to tell you all the stories! Love you guys! – Ashley P!)
July 12, 2021
Hello! Today we woke up for our last morning in Heliconias. I was in a new room with all four boys, and luckily Bryan brought an alarm which woke us all up with a cheerful tune. After quick showers, we brought all our bags into the cabin denoted by a picture of a sloth above its door and headed to breakfast. Alejandro brought us each a delicious plate of pancakes, and all 17 of us said a sorrowful goodbye, clambered into Jimmy’s bus and set off for new adventures.
After a quick, conversation-filled drive, we arrived in La Fortuna, ready for some shopping. We all split off into groups of three (for safety). If one person gets hurt, it’s good to have two extra people so that one can run to get help while the other stays with the hurt person. After an hour of shopping, in which I bought three hackie sacks for juggling, we met back up in a grassy park area. A friendly Costa Rican salesman offered to play hackie sack with us, so a group of us kicked one around with him for a little while. He turned out to be really genuine and fun, and Grant bought a toucan okarina from him and learned to play the wild west stand off song. Meanwhile, the rest of us ate lovely, chicken quesadillas given to us by Heliconias. Loki, a cute dog, also came to play with us, and was very excited to be thrown a hackie sack. He was so excited that he ran off across the street with it into a spa. Luckily, he dropped it in front of a local Costa Rican who nicely threw it back across the street to Asher. They were also only $2 each, so it would’ve been worth it just to make Loki happy. Later, Celia taught many how to make an owl sound using cupped hands, while others screeched with grass.
After another quick bus ride we arrived at Proyecto ASIS and met Carlos. Carlos was like Felix’s long lost twin brother, bringing the same amount of energy and enthusiasm. He made the tour really entertaining, and we could tell he loved what he did even though he likely gives the same tour every day. With enthusiasm, he informed us of how some of the animals in the enclosures came to be there. All of the creatures we saw had been rescued by Proyecto ASIS after either injury or being kept illegally as pets. Carlos and Proyecto ASIS aim to rehabilitate animals so they can be released back into the wild. We got to see a range of animals such as Macaws, Parrots, Parakeets, Monkeys, Toucans, Peccaries, and Coatis. The two Macaws that live in Costa Rica are the scarlet one and the green one. We got to see both, even seeing a hybrid. The monkeys were also really fun to see, including a menacing, white faced monkey who took Bryan for the alpha and tried to poop on him to assert dominance. After the tour and information, we prepared food for all the animals, and we put the monkey’s food into puzzles to keep them entertained. Then we watched the monkeys craftily get their food out of the puzzles, played some hackie sack with Carlos, and waved goodbye to Proyecto ASIS from inside the bus. The bus ride to La Dehesa was long and full of conversation, including a loud sing along at one point. We also got to see a beautiful, pink clouded sunset.
The day had mostly gone by at this point, and we arrived at La Dehesa hungry and a little tired. Dinner at Super Snack picked us back up. The portions were definitely super sized, and my table got some tasty strawberry fruit juice as well as Hamburgers and Tacos. We finished the night, as usual, with a casual group meeting where we reflected together on the highlights of the past day and went to sleep satisfied.
July 13, 2021
After our first night at La Dehesa and a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, rice and beans, and eggs, we made the one hour trip up to Volcan Poas National Park. In our matching yellow helmets we took a little trek up to the volcano’s viewpoint. Although we could not see much because of the massive amounts of fog found in the Paramo life zone, we could definitely smell the sulfur of the volcano. Eventually, we did get a quick glimpse of the beautiful light bluish water of the volcano and the massive crater below, although it was short lived as the fog returned quickly. Also, on our walk back to the park’s main building we found a beautiful blue and green hummingbird. Then with Chicho, our amazing bus driver, we made our way to the strawberry-themed restaurant with the best fresa (strawberry) and mora (blackberry) juice and a very cute garden where we saw more hummingbirds and practiced our grass whistling skills.
Back at La Dehesa, a lot of hair wrapping and friendship bracelet making took place, so pretty much everyone knows how to make one now. Felix’s friend Marco also came to visit with his amazing shirt designs and inspiring brand based on the goal of protecting Costa Rica’s wilderness and all the magnificent creatures that are a part of it. After our traditional American meal of pizza and soda and a good amount of practicing that may or may not have annoyed our neighbors, we had our Global Works talent show featuring a lot of juggling by Ashley P., Annie, and Charlie, dad jokes galore by Ashlee D., and a very intricate parent-trap inspired handshake by Kalle and Janie. However, our winner was Asher and his ability to read minds (which Bryan can also apparently do) with Jaden’s fabulous make-up look on Ayla being runner-up. We were all very tired from the busy day before, so we were all sound asleep soon after.
Hi Mom and Dad! I love you guys and tell George, Lily, Thomas, and Louie I miss them!
July 14, 2021
Today we woke up at La Dehesea for a quick and delicious breakfast before heading out to Dona Rosa coffee farm for an interactive tour and lunch experience. The bus ride went quickly because we had some colorful friendship bracelets and lanyards to work on while talking and making more connections. Once we got to the farm, our awesome guide Alfonzo showed us their amazing selection of herbal plants, amazing fruits, and a very cute horse named Pinto. We were able to learn the process of extracting sugar from sugar cane from start to finish, and we got to make and try some delicious sugar cane juice with fresh mandarin limes. We all enjoyed trying the Miracle berries, after eating the berries we tasted the limes that suddenly were super sweet. After our tour of the luscious farm we headed in to have a delicious lunch that prepared us to learn all about the coffee process. We learned about how the plant is grown, the beans are dried and roasted and turned into delicious coffee that we were then able to enjoy with a side of traditional Costa Rican pastries. We all got a bit sleepy after the bus ride back and we spent the rest of the day hanging out, drawing and continuing our friendship bracelets and great conversation. We also celebrated Celia’s 18th birthday with a decadent chocolate cake and some great festivities. Tomorrow we have an early start to our morning as we begin our overnight rafting adventure- woo!
The group will on the river for July 14-July 15. They will have limited Wifi access. We will post the next update as soon!
July 14, 2021
Hi everyone! Today was a spectacular day. We were finally able to hop on the rapids which is going to be a 2 day journey. Although we did have to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to take a 2.5 hour bus ride by the Exploradores rafting company, it was well worth it. After navigating up and down the various hills and valleys as well as Costa Rica’s only tunnel we arrived at the Exploradores base camp and promtly fed a nice and hearty breakfast consisting of Gallo Pinto, toast, and coffee for a day of hard work ahead. We were able to store our bags in lockers at the base camp so that we could travel with smaller bags to our jungle camp. A 45 minute bus ride and a 2 mile walk led us to the beginning rapids. We were joyously greeted by three of the amazing rafting tour guides. My tourguide was nicknamed Devil Fish, and it is said that he got the name from swimming the rapids! The other tour guides: Nela, Roberto, and Pandulce, were also very experienced and great to have leading the other two groups down the rapids. As soon as we got onto the river, we began practicing commands that would help us traverse the white water later on. The first part of our rafting experience led us through class one and two rapids which will prepare us for the supposed class three and four rapids. After about an hour and a half we pulled our rafts aside to the Refuge of the Jaguar Camp. From the start of our arrival at the jungle camp we changed into dry clothes and ate a nice burrito lunch prepared for us by the river guides themselves. As agreed upon when we arrived at the camp my group was in charge of doing the dishes for lunch while the other groups had the oppertunity to do them after dinner and in the morning. After lunch we were able to hangout in a very nice gazebo like structure with a few hamocks. Following a delicious chicken with mushroom sauce, we had our group meeting under a candle lit top floor of the gazebo. We talked about the highlights of the day and the details of the days to come. After the meeting some people stayed up at the gazebo to play games, talk, and hangout until we went to bed in our previously set up tents.
P.S. Emilie would like it if her parents could water her plants.
July 15, 2021
Hey! This morning we woke up at the beautiful jungle camp, the Refuge of the Jaguar. The sound of the river and lush view of the surrounding trees was incredibly soothing. Ashlee and I woke up early for bird watching and a quick dip in the eddy next to the river with some other early risers. Felix showed us some cool pictures of the birds he saw on his morning walk. At 8 we had a delicious breakfast of pancakes with condensed milk and fruit with some coffee prepared by our amazing guides Devilfish, Pandulce (Michael), Roberto, and Gold Medal (Nella).
After stripping our tents and packing our backpacks, we put back on our rafting gear and got back onto the water. Today we went on rapids that were class 3+ or 4, the most intense level of rapids. Thankfully our practice from yesterday and the directions of our guides helped us stay mostly afloat (aside from the one boat that got stuck and the one person who fell out). We stopped at a waterfall and took a small hike up to swim. Although the rocks were a bit slippery, the waterfall was very beautiful and we had fun jumping off of the seat behind it.
Our rafting trip lasted a total of about 3 and a half hours. We landed back at the base camp and ate a delecious burrito lunch. While eating, we spotted a sloth in a nearby tree and took some pictures. The sloth was super cute! We changed into some dry clothes and said bye to our amazing guides. We will definitely miss them, but we are excited to continue on our adventure! (We will probably also hear ‘Forward! Alto!’ in our dreams for a few nights).
We then drove to Cano Blanco to take the boat ride to our next destination, Parismina. On the way we passed by a banana plantation and Felix told us about the history of fruit companies in central America. Fruit companies arrived in countries like Costa Rica approximately 200 years ago and cut down much of the rainforest to create banana plantations. They developed some infastructure and built many roads, however, they employ various unethical practices. For example, the employees of the plantation must sign a form affirming that they will not take legal action against the company even if they get a disease or become infertile due to the chemicals used on the bananas. The water in the areas surrounding the plantation is also considered contaminated due to the extreme amount of pesticides and chemicals used. Due to the amount of people the plantations employ and the influence of the fruit companies, they operate as a government and exert control over the country. At Cano Blanco, we loaded our luggage into one boat and got into another small boat that drove very fast across the river. Charlie, who was sitting in the back, got a bit wet. When we arrived at Parismina about 10 minutes later, we were greeted by some dogs. We got our room assignments and explored the island. We ate some of the coconuts on the island and then listened to a presentation by Mako about ASTOP turtle conservation. He informed us about the two types of turtles we would be seeing: green turtles and leatherback turtles. We learned about the conservation initiative that began 20 years ago and grew into a larger project with homestays and volunteer patrols. A large portion of the community is involved in the turtle conservation effort. We will be helping by patroling the beach at night to search for turtles coming up to lay eggs. To protect eggs from poachers, we will either carry them back to the hatchery or bury them so that they are difficult to find. After Mako’s presentation, we ate a dinner of beef, rice and beans, salad, and lemonade. We were all very tired after the long day of rafting and traveling. We had a brief group meeting to reflect on the day and then went to sleep tired and happy.
(Hi Mom, Dad, Jake, and Lexi! I miss you guys a lot. Please give Lexi some extra treats and tell her I miss her too. I love you guys!!!!)
July 17, 2021
Hello everyone! Today we got to sleep in until 9:00 am, for breakfast we had the classic eggs, rice and beans with a side of fruit to fuel ourselves for the tour of the small town we were staying in called Parismina. The only way to get here is a 10 minute boat ride. A local Gringa named Vicky showed us around throughout the morning. As we walked we were being followed by a pack of community dogs that had stuck to us like the mosquitos here since we had arrived. Vicky was originally was from the US (Florida) but came here as a Peace Corps volunteer nurse. She married a local named Gabriel, and raised three boys here; she has lived in Parismina ever since. Over the course of the tour we saw various government project buildings, some new and some old. We also saw the elementary and high schools for the community- in total they serve about 80 students. The high school is brand new, and although it looks attractive from the outside, the contractor used cheap materials that will quickly corrode from the salt air. The elementary school students, along with pregnant and nursing mothers in the community, is provided food and dairy products from a small governemnt operation located right in the middle of town. We saw a few pulperias, which are tiny convenience stores, peppered throughout the community. We also finally got to see the ASTOP patrol building, which will be our headquarters for turtle night patrol over the next several nights.
After we had finished the tour we had an amazing lunch consisting of fried fish, rice, beans, and a yummy salad cooked by our friend Yesenia back at our cabins. Once we had finished our lunch we had an hour of down time to relax and prepare before getting some practice for night patrol that we would be attending later that night. During the practice with one of the ASTOP guides Carlos, we learned more about the turtles themselves and how to track all the information and data. We practiced measuring, clipping tags, and tracking everything given to us on the informational sheet of paper that we would have to fill out if we did have luck to see a turtle coming to lay eggs during night patrol. In a very exciting end to our practice patrol, Carlos found a baby tutle emerging from its nest in the hatchery. We were finally able to get an up-close look at a baby leatherback turtle. It stayed in the bucket for a few minutes in order for its blood to warm up and for it to prepare for its long journey across the beach into the sea! We were able to watch the baby safely make its way to the ocean.
Once we were done with our practice patrol we stayed at the beach because everyone was so eager to get in the water even if we could only dip our legs in. Everyone loved the cool refreshing waves and we played on the the beach until dinner time. We then headed back to the place we are staying to eat dinner, we had pasta, butter bread, and salad. Then it was time to put our patrol skills to use, we started the potroll at around 7:00 pm and we walked the beach until around 10:00 pm. Although we did not get to see a turtle on our walk, when we arrived we got to see freshly hatched baby turtles! About 30 of them. They were so cute and so tiny! After the patrol had ended the whole group was tired, ready to get a good night’s sleep in preparation for the next day’s activities.
Sunday, July 18
Hola Familia! We started our day off with eggs, rice and beans. After breakfast, we split off into 2 groups and headed off to 2 family homeshere in Parismina to learn how to make empanadas! My group made empanadas in Seylin’s house. We made empanadas with cheese and beans. First we made the masa with white cornmeal and chicken boullion. We added water to make the dough. Then we each patted out a disc for our empanandas, and filled the circle of dough with cheese and refried beans. Then we sealed the empanadas and Seylin friend them in oil on the stove. They were delicious! While making our empanadas we got to practice our spanish by talking to the family about pets and life in Parismina.
After finishing our empanadas we headed to a local shop, Olga’s Soda, and got smoothies. Half of the group got mango and the other half got mango and strawberry. Olga was very kind and excited to invite the group into her funky restaurant. We then had lunch and took some time to rest before we set off on our boat canal tour. On our tour we sped through the canals of the Tortuguero National Park, and stopped to see Crocodiles, Spider Monkeys and Roseate Spoonbills. We stopped at a part of the forest to go on a short hike, walking up a ton of stairs to be rewarded by a beautiful view of Tortuguero National Forest and a hawk soaring over the hot air thermals. As we got back from our tour, we had dinner and then went straight to our night patrol. 2 groups split off onto different parts of the beach and 2 people stayed behind to watch the turtle hatchery. On the night patrol it started pouring rain and everyone got completly soaked! Doing this gave us a lot more respect or our guides, because they have to this this every night! Conservation is not easy, pretty, or consistently rewarding. We then got back to our rooms and had a nice long sleep for our next day.
(P.S Hi Mom, I miss you! Please give the cats and Groot a hug for me :))
July 19, 2021
Today we Woke up at 9 after a late night yesterday. Breakfast was very good this morning. We had very big and fluffy pancakes with syrup, sweet bananas, and fried eggs. The coffee here has also been very good and always available. We were going to have a dance class this morning that ended up not being able to happen, so we had extra time to chill after breakfast and finalize/discuss mural plans and begin working. We Worked on the mural for a good while, it looks dope, with a big leatherback turtle in the middle with panels for each person around it. Each design is nature/Costa Rica-based and was descriptive of different aspects of our trip so far. Everyone here was a surprisingly good artist and even though we aren’t finished yet, it is already so colorful and detailed with so many unique designs to look at.
At 2 we left to get Smoothies, pineapple- strawberry- guanabana flavors at Soda Olga. The portion size is massive and the price is very cheap (1000 colones or a bit under 2 dollars). The weather here is very hot and sweat inducing, so the smoothies are very welcome. After that we headed to the Craft fair- which had super cool handmade jewelry and other handmade designs. I got a turtle bracelet and coconut shell turtle necklace, evil eye earrings which are meant to ward off “evil spirits’ ‘, and a crochet bikini top, which was a small handful of the many unique designs on display. There were so many pretty designs and surprisingly good prices for the work put in. 10% of the profits made went to ASTOP and the rest helped support the individual sellers so it was a good cause.
For lunch rice, beans, salad and beef stew were offered. Afterwards, we went back and made significant progress on our mural, with almost all the individual designs finished and only the turtle in the middle left to paint. For dinner we had mashed potatoes, rice, and salad. After dinner we had a solid group meeting to discuss the economic, cultural, and social dynamics of Parismina and how they compare to each of our hometowns, which turned out to be a very eye opening and intellectual discussion. We discussed what we have seen, heard, and otherwise observed around town. We did some investigating into ASTOP’s role in town, and what other activities occur on a daily basis here in the Caribbean. We had an early night because we did not have night patrol. One more night here in Parismina before our journey to the Pacific- Pura Vida!
– Mae R.
July 20, 2021
Today we started the day with an 8am breakfast. It was delicious as always. We had pancakes, eggs and white rice. The main thing we had planned for the day was a beach cleanup which started around 9:30 – 10:00. We made sure to drink plenty of water before so we wouldn’t get dehydrated during the cleanup. We walked to the ASTOP station and there we split into two groups. One group stayed back to help pick weeds at the hatchery and paint a table inside the station. The other group walked down the beach and picked up trash. A few people found some really cool seashells along the seashore. Some of them had really cool spikes coming out and others had cool color differentiations on them. On our walk we also found a ton of tiny pieces of plastic, all different colors. We also found toothbrushes, mugs, plastic flatware, a jacket, a faucet, and other odd things.
We walked down the beach for a while and took a small break to rest. We got back up, walked for a while more and decided on a place to stop and rest again and turn around to come back. While we were sitting and resting under a small shelter two very nice men who recognized we were cleaning up the beach came up to us and asked us if we wanted some coconuts! We said yes and followed them a little bit into their yard where they started to knock coconuts off the trees with a big stick. One of the men started chopping the coconuts so we could drink out of them. There was enough for us all to have two. He looked just like a long lost relative of Adam Sandler. He was the same height, weight, face, and gave off the same vibe I think Adam Sandler would give off. The coconuts tasted very good and rehydrated us for our walk back. On the way back we got to see all of the great work we did. When we got back to the ASTOP station we were able to swim at the beach for around an hour.
We walked back to the camp at about noon and started finalizing the mural. We were all proud of ourselves for how well we did on it. Later on at 5pm we were able to go out to explore the town and find shops or just look around the town. We came back for a nice dinner 45 minutes later and gave our mural to ASTOP. They said it was the best they’ve seen. Before we ate, we all received a certificate for the volunteer work we did. For the kindness they showed to us throughout the time we were there we did the dishes for them. After dinner, the people from ASTOP gave Ashley P. a pinata for her 18th birthday! It was so much fun watching Felix move the pinata around while Ashley was trying to hit it. We talked about our favorite moments from the trip for a while and headed to bed so we could be ready for our travel day tomorrow.
– Grant L.
July 21, 2021
Today we got up bright and early to enjoy a light but delicious breakfast of Arepas (Fried Dough) and eggs with meat. After breakfast we loaded onto a boat to once again traverse the canal between Parismina and Cano Blanco. As we were gliding through the water, we all bid goodbye to a place none of us will soon forget. At Cano Blanco we efficiently moved our luggage from the boat to the bus and prepared for the long journey ahead of us, the final goal being our comfortable beds at La Dehesa. Following a quick pit stop for some delicious buffet style lunch at Sarapiqui, we continued our long drive while enjoying music from our communal playlist.
After finishing up our drive, we arrived at La Dehesa for a fun yet relaxed evening of activities, including frisbee, which had its own fair share of close calls with the frisbee almost landing on the roof multiple times. When dinner time came around, we decided as a group to head to a staple of the trip, Super Snacks! Following our generously portioned dinner, we made the walk back to La Dehesa, quickly stopping at a grocery store to each choose some interesting snacks. We got back to La Dehesa fairly late, with everyone deciding to relax and hang out before the long road to Uvita ahead of us the next day.
July 22, 2021
Today we woke up after a restful night at La Dehesa in San Jose for a breakfast of eggs, fruit and gallo pinto. After getting our stuff ready we all loaded into the bus for a travel day where we would reach our final destination of the small town Uvita on the Pacific coast. The bus ride was spent talking with each other, eating snacks and wondering about our surfing abilities. We stopped along the way at a great buffet called El Jardín for some comforting food and interesting souvenirs, we also ran into the other turtle group during lunch and got to have some interesting interactions. Everyone in our group is close and we all feel very supported, it will be tough to say goodbye in a few days. After our long and somewhat strenuous bus ride we finally arrived at our luxurious hotel and settled into our different cabins. The hotel is nestled into the mountains above Dominical. We all took a refreshing and very needed swim in the pool and had a great time before a filling dinner of spaghetti. Our group is looking forward to the awesome surfing lessons that we will have tomorrow. Pura Vida!
July 23, 2021
Hello people of America.
This morning we woke up at a reasonable hour and had an exquisite breakfast consisting of pancakes, cereal, and authentic Costa Rican fruit, prepared by the gracious staff at the Natuga hotel. We then set off on the bus driven by Ricardo, headed to Uvita beach. The beach is especially cool because its shape resembles a whale’s tale almost perfectly during low tide. At Uvita beach, we arrived for 10am surf lessons in swelling, salty seas. The waves were low enough to not be scary, but just high enough to carry a joyful surfer (about 2 ft). After surfing for an hour or so we took a quick break to reapply sunscreen and eat a delicious banana snack. The second round was tougher than the first. The waves grew by a couple feet, and while surfing itself was a breeze, trudging back through the onslaught of never ending waves was an exhausting process. After bracing one wave, another would be headed towards you at full speed, just hoping to knock you off your feet. We were forced to cease at high tide due to safety, so we sorrowfully walked back to the bus to head to a lunch muy rico.
Lunch was really delicious, and we got to choose anything from a diverse menu of options. I got chicken in mushroom cream sauce while others got fish, salad, and sweet drinks. After lunch we pursued the market down the street. It sold everything from bracelets to snacks to beautiful tapestries. Many bought T-shirts, bags, or flowy pants, and we then set off back to Natuga hotel for a pool party of sorts. Felix was the most excited, repeatedly sliding down the water slide and encouraging others to do the same. Some people just chilled in pool chairs and talked, and others took naps. Everyone had a chill, fun evening and then settled for a nice dinner, group meeting, and bed.
– Charlie M.
July 24, 2021
Today we had a pretty early start to our morning with our wake up call at 6:30 (Yikes!). We all got ready and then headed to a scrumptious breakfast which was eggs, fruit, and bread with orange juice. Once we were all fueled for the day ahead, we loaded onto the bus and headed to Ballena National Park for a whale watching tour!! When we got there we had to walk into the park and hop onto the boat to get started. Our guide, Lucia, was so nice and passionate about what she did, which made the tour way more fun. The first part of the tour was flora and fauna searching. We were lucky enough to spot two sets of a mom and calf humpback whale, who were a bit skeptical of being around all of the boats, and a very playful pod of spotted tropical dolphins!! After we saw the dolphins we drove to a spot where we were all able to jump out and swim in the open ocean. It was a tad scary but all of us had a blast in the end. Once we got back into the boat we headed back to shore for lunch. We had lunch in Uvita again and got to choose from arroz con pollo, chicken quesadillas, sandwiches, or salad with fish filet! We also got to get our extravagant drinks once more. The food was so delicious and just what we needed to head back to the waves for some more surfing.
When we got to the beach, we realized our surfing skills were going to be put to the test. It was high tide and the waves were much stronger than the day before. This not only made it more difficult to balance while standing on the board, but getting past the waves was treacherous. Every time you tried to get through a wave it would pull you back right to where you first started. Nonetheless, most of us put our best efforts in and tried to hangloose and ride the tough waves! After about an hour or so our guides had to pull us out because the tide was becoming way too difficult. On our way out some of the students noticed there were some stingrays in the water and got to see them! After we were done we went back to the hotel. Some of us had a fun pool party while others decided to go and catch up on some sleep! Around 7, we all had dinner, chicken and rice with some mushroom cream sauce, and then had our group circle. Annie had us do a fun activity, called Letter to Myself, where we write a letter to our future selves and then Global Works will send it back in a few months for you to read again. Once we finished we all headed to bed, exhausted from the exciting day we just experienced.
It is hard to believe that this amazing trip is almost over. We all have had such a great time and made so many memories with each other that we will never forget! Lo siento for dragging this blog post on for so long… See you guys soon!
– Ashlee D.