Middlesex School Costa Rica 2017
June 10, 2017
Today was our first full day in Costa Rica. We woke up painfully early today to leave the adorable hotel we stayed at last night and enjoyed delicious tea and coffee while we discussed our plans for the day. We drove for a little while to get breakfast and ate scrambled eggs with gallo pinto (rice and beans) – it was amazing. We left and headed to El Río Pacuare for our rafting adventure. Though it took a little while through a stretch of steep, windy, and narrow unpaved roads, the drive was worth it. We passed horses and cows on our way and the river itself was beautiful. Though we paddled for 18 miles, we stopped halfway to eat a delicious meal of burritos and pineapple (the pineapple was unreal). Nothing could compare to the journey down the river; the waterfalls were breathtaking and the homes of indigenous peoples were fascinating. The few times we hopped off the rafts and floated along were refreshing. Despite (some of us) being petrified of the rapids beforehand, we were all excited for the adventure and left smiling and laughing with our first big adventure under our belts. We returned to the place where we ate breakfast, then drove to our new hotel. We stopped halfway at a supermarket and loaded up on Costa Rican snacks. When we finally arrived at our new hotel after about 4 hours of driving in heavy rain, we were pleasantly surprised with how nice the rooms were. We regrouped and met for dinner and sang Happy Birthday to Chid (Happy 16th Bday!) and enjoyed delicious cake. We later had dance lessons that left us exhausted but happy nonetheless. We are now resting in our rooms and preparing ourselves for the day tomorrow!
June 11, 2017
Today we were able to sleep in a little bit longer than yesterday, and when we woke up we ate the traditional Costa Rican breakfast, gallo pinto. After a few minutes of relaxing, we headed to a Bosque Eterno de los Niños, a cloud forest, for a few hours where we learned about different animals, plants (including some fruits, which some of us found seeds for). Along the way, the scenery was sublime; there were numerous beautiful waterfalls. It was also nice to just close our eyes and listen to nature’s sounds. Next, we got our hands dirty a little bit. Some of us dug up dirt from the woods, some of us filled bags with dirt to help grow plants for the forest, and some of us helped paint the bathroom a brilliant green. We took a short break and ate a delicious lunch, with chicken and veggies, and headed back to work for an hour or so. Upon returning to our hotel, we cleaned up (because we were all muddy from the forest) and relaxed for a few hours. Some members of my group Facetimed their friends and family and took naps. We later joined to discuss the logistics for the next few days with our group leader, Michelle. We ate another delicious meal with “frijoles” and “patacones”, and after dinner we headed to the forest near the hotel with Alejandro and saw “glow in the dark” tree bark the sloths (perezosos) normally use. Finally we were able to relax again with our cabin mates before going to bed.
June 12, 2017
Everyone woke up to the sound of rain pounding on their roof. We put on our rain boots and walked up to breakfast which was American style – eggs, bacon, and a side of toast. There was also delicious pineapple that Señora Aldana repeatedly said, “Ohhhh son tan ricos!!” After breakfast, luckily, the rain had stopped and we once again loaded onto the bus to travel to El Bosque Eterno de los Niños. Today’s task was to shovel all the gutters on the path we hiked yesterday. We did this work to prevent flooding on the trails. It took us about two hours and by the time we were finished, everyone was ready for almuerzo! For lunch we has pasta salad, chicken and rice, and a side of chips and frijoles – delicious! After we ate, we played 2 Truths and a Lie and everyone had the chance to go. In the afternoon, the sun was shining and we continued our shoveling on a different trail. This time, the end of the trail led to a breathtaking view of the mountains. Descending the trail, everyone was tired, but proud of their hard work.
June 13, 2017
The day started out with a (late) breakfast composed of pancakes which put us all in a good mood! Following breakfast, we spent the morning preparing for our homestays and were excited to receive letters from our Tico families! The hot Costa Rican sun began to shine, so we threw on bathing suits and headed to the pool! We swam up until lunch time, and then chowed down on some nachos. A little chill and packing time followed lunch and at 3pm we were off to “La Lucha” (our beautiful homestay town). We were welcomed warmly by the students who attend the school of La Lucha. They accompanied us to our houses for the week. We settled into our rooms and got to know our families, and then ate dinner. It was so delicious! We can’t wait until tomorrow!
June 14, 2017
After another day of hard work, the 13 of us are now resting with our heart-warming Cost Rican families. This morning, we all headed out for our first day of work at Escuela de La Lucha, the local school in the neighborhood, consisting of grades Pre-K to Sixth grade. Before starting a long day of work, we all played games with the kids in Pre-K to third grade including Duck, Duck, Goose and Ring Around the Rosie. While the kids were heading back to class after about and hour of playing with us, we all split into two groups. One group was in charge of painting the poles and benches along with the sides of the school, while the other group began digging holes in the field beside the school. Our group was digging holes for greenhouses to be placed next to the school as part of a cultivation learning experience. As two hard hours passed, we all headed back to our homes for lunch with our families. After just having another incredible meal, everyone started back for a few more hours of working to help better the school. The two groups switched jobs as more of the younger students were getting ready to leave. More fun and soccer-filled hours followed while the afternoon was coming to an end. At about six o’clock, all the families gathered to eat dinner together and celebrate Riley’s birthday! Personally, this was my favorite part of the day as we met so many kids and even made some new friends. It’s going to be hard leaving these kids.
June 15, 2017
Today started well and ended better. We finished painting the front of the school and filled holes for the greenhouses with cement. I learned that mixing cement is hard work. It is a mix of cooking, with its specific recipe, and lifting weights. After all the cement was mixed and all the holes filled, we had lunch. After everyone ate in my house, I showed the boys of the house some wrestling moves. And after that, we went back to the school to work but it was raining hard so we couldn’t do much. So instead of working, we played some soccer in the rain with some of the kids. After playing outside, we went inside to teach some English. In my group we played hangman. After that, we returned to the house for showers and dinner, then back to the school for the talent show. Some danced, some acted, some did weird flexibility tricks, but we all had fun. Once everyone finished their performances, we had a little dance party to end the night. We came back to the house, ate empanadas, watched TV, drank coffee, and played monopoly, but then the lights went out, so we played monopoly in the dark. A perfect way to end a great day in Costa Rica!
June 16, 2017
Today we arrived at the school at 8am and continued to build the greenhouse. We finished the structure in the morning, all taking a turn with the drill! It was much harder than it looked! Then, at 11:30am we returned to our houses for lunch and to relax with our families. At 2pm, we returned to the school and got back to work. We then finished putting the plastic over the two structures we finished in the morning. After that, we began to dig the dirt for the beds in the greenhouse. We worked until about 4pm digging the dirt, then headed over to the field for a community soccer game! Middlesex, including Michelle, played against the “Ticos” or the people of La Lucha. We had about 12 players while they had around 25….they impressed us with a final score of a LOT to a little. Although, we did hold our our even though no goals were scored on our side. The game was open to the whole community, so many other kids outside the homestays joined us. After the game, around 6pm, we began to head home to eat, play, and relax with our families. Oh, and of course the most important part of the day here…shower! I have to say, the cold showers are a bonus after a long day of work in the sweltering heat. After fighting off a few bugs, we all settled into bed. A very productive day at both working and having fun with the kids in the community! Adios!
June 17, 2017
As per usual, our day began with an 8am start. Today, people must have been especially tired, for everyone was a little late! Unlike the previous days, no one had the option to paint, for as many hands as possible were needed to help build the greenhouses today. With the extra help of some local kids, today our main focus was relocating dirt into the beds that some students were building. With the temperature not too high but the humidity stifling, we worked in alternating groups so that we could get mini breaks in the shade every once in a while. Ms. Aldana constantly reminded us to beber agua and Michelle never allowed us to forget the shade. With a short day ending at 12pm for lunch, we ended our work in Costa Rica with cleaning the shovels and saying goodbye to the carpenter that guided us through the entire process. Immediately after, we went back to our homestay families for the next 6 hours to either rest, eat, or play with little muchachos. At 6pm, running on “Tico Time,” we once again met at the school to play games with the local kids. The games included hide and seek, freeze tag, and birdie on a perch. After about 7:30pm, however, when everyone finally lost his or her energy, we all went home.
June 18, 2017
Today we went to Crisley’s Lactose farm and got to explore his farm. It took about 10 minutes to get to the farm, when arriving there we got right to work. Crisley took us through the many interesting steps of making cheese and he allowed us to help him along the way, like rolling the cheese into balls as the final step. Once we had tasted the cheese we made, Crisley and his kids took us on a tour of the farm.We all got to eat some fresh fruit, including everyone’s favorite, star fruit! We also got to see the many animals on the farm like pigs and some cows. After the tour of the farm, we got a home made meal from his generous family who used some of the cheese we made to make delicious mashed potatoes, we also had a chocolate frosted cake from a local bakery for Daisy’s 15th birthday. The tour wrapped up as Crisley allowed us each to milk the cow, some of us enjoyed this more than others! Heading home to La Lucha, we were excited to get dressed up for our closing party at the school later in the night. At the party we got to relax and dance with our new friends that we will miss dearly. To close up the party we celebrated Daisy’s birthday with a piñata, Feliz Cumpleaños Daisy! And sadly wished our new friends good night, hoping for one last good bye tomorrow morning as we leave for the beach.
June 19, 2017
This was a very emotional day since we were leaving our families. Many of the children were crying as the fact that we were leaving for good began to sink in. After a sad 30 minutes of goodbyes and exchanging numbers, we loaded our bags onto the bus and began the five hour drive to our next hotel near the beach. At around 12:30pm we took a lunch break to break up our time in the car. After lunch we got back on the bus to finish the drive. When we reached the hotel, we settled down and had dinner at around 6pm. After dinner everyone played heads up 7 up and we reflected on our meaningful time in the community and then returned to our rooms for sleep.
June 20, 2019
After a nice sleep, everyone woke up and went to eat. Breakfast was an assortment of fruit, scrambled eggs, and toast. At 8:30am, we departed for our surfing lessons! The beach was beautiful and the instructors were so nice and very helpful. Some of us pros, others were…struggling! After the surf lesson, we went to a little restaurant in the nearby town and had arroz con pollo, a salad, and fries. Some of us walked around for a bit looking at shops and afterwards we headed to Playa Ventanas. There we swam and relaxed. After a long day of swimming and surfing, we returned to the hotel tired and ready to eat. Dinner was fish, rice, and salad. After our meal, we sang to Michelle (Happy Birthday!!), had homemade ice cream, and played Heads Up. At 7:30pm, everyone said goodnight and got ready for tomorrow’s adventures. Pura Vida!
Madeline G. And Emma M.
June 21, 2017
Bright hills mirror glass seas.
Twelve travelers and thirteen days.
Pure living for once.