Finding Beauty in the Small Things – Costa Rica Community Service

Buenos Dias from Costa Rica!

We’ve had an amazing time traveling throughout Costa Rica and are excited to share some of the in’s and out’s of our trip with you!  We arrived in Costa Rica, went through customs (alongside a local Costa Rican top level club soccer team…not a big deal) and then made our way to our hotel. The hotel is beautiful, tucked in between the Cordillera Talamanca mountains of San Jose. Once at the hotel, we gathered as a group for our first ever team meeting, where we learned about Costa Rica and “Pura Vida”.  In Costa Rica, “Pura Vida” translates literally as “pure life,” but for the people here (the Ticos, as they call themselves) it means so much more. “Pura Vida” means to appreciate what you have, to live life to the fullest, and to generally just enjoy the world around you! We embraced this mentality as we headed to sleep and prepared for our first push out of our comfort zones in the morning.

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Day Two was white water rafting day! We went rafting on the Pacuare River, which we were told was ranked a top five white water rafting destination IN THE WORLD. It did not disappoint! The trip took about three hours, as we rafted anywhere between class 2 and class 4+ rapids. The trip even included a lunch that was freshly made by our rafting guides, who were also local to Costa Rica, and included some of the most delicious pineapple any of us have ever had. As we made our way through the beautiful rainforests of Costa Rica, serenaded by the Cicadas up in the trees, you could tell that this group was growing closer together by the minute. We had a blast, but in the back of our minds, we knew the real reason that we had traveled down here was just about to begin.

Days Three through Five were service days. Our community service took place in a community called La Carpio, a neighborhood of San Jose. There, we worked with the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation. We heard from the foundation’s leader, who told us to “be ready” to do some really awesome work. La Carpio is an extremely poor community located in San Jose. To give an idea of the conditions that the people here live in – we were asked to play soccer with the kids. There was no field, so we played in the street. We were asked to paint houses. We painted aluminum “fences” that served as walls for their homes. We were asked to dig a walkway through a hill so that we could pour in cement so that the hill would not fall on a woman’s home. Okay, that one was actually very accurate. It was unbelievable to see our trip members’ reactions to these conditions – they embraced their surroundings and were eager to help.

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Our TM’s dove right into this work, doing everything imaginable – painting, coloring, digging, playing, donating, all with no regard for any of their personal things. It was fine that their shirts got paint on them, or that their shoes may have gotten a little scuffed up. Why? While our TM’s have done great work, we have all been inspired to do this work by the people who live in La Carpio. The people who live there have so little, but are pleased by so much. The TM’s LOVED playing soccer with the children in the street; the adults were so grateful for us just to be there, and any work that we did was just an added bonus. We did so much good work, and it was so gratifying to see the finished product and all that we had accomplished over the course of our three days there. As a group, we reflected and came to the following conclusion: our time in La Carpio was life-changing, showing us the beauty in the simplest things that life can provide us.

We will close this blog in true Costa Rican fashion, by saying…

Pura Vida y Hasta Luego,

The Westcoast Blogger

 

Surfing, Scenery & Service Beads in Maui – Hawaii Community Service

Where we last left off on our grand Hawaiian adventures, we had completed our first service project with the Boys and Girls Club of Maui. We have all started “service beads” where we each add a specifically coloured bead to a bracelet after each service project, a physical representation of the memories, connections, and fun!

After seeing the scenery in Maui, it was time to get more up close and personal with it with the help of our friends Nature Jay and Nature Ray. They have been working with our groups for years at a place called Twin Falls where WCC/360 has created trails, restored natural sites, and explored the natural side of Maui! We swam at three natural swimming spots (complete with breathtaking waterfalls for those looking for an extra shower), learned so much about the history of Hawai’i, and created our own fire pit in the midst of a beautiful rainforest! Nature Ray taught us about the land around us and showed us the plants responsible for bananas, pineapples, and avocados (all of which taste even better here!) and even showed us some plants we could eat right off of. We all had a great time snacking on ginger flowers we picked ourselves and the fresh sugar cane and bananas our guides provided. Everyone left this service experience feeling closer to nature and craving another fresh Hawaiian fruit.

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One of our fondest memories these past few days was the beginning of Gotcha. Gotcha is a game where everyone secretly has to try and make their assigned target say a specific keyword. It goes on for days and leads to hilarious conversations with everyone on edge about every word they say! Shout out to our Trip Members who were successful with words like Nature Jay, pineapple, waterfall, and mahalo (the Hawaiian word for thank you)!

As we left our Maui service opportunities reflecting about everything they made us think and feel. We had some amazing times at the beach, the movies, seeing sites such as Iao Valley, and experiencing quaint and adorable locales such as Kihei. Kihei provided us with a relaxing beach day, lunch at local food trucks and a chance to explore our entrepreneurial sides with one of our favourite programs, Trade Up. Trade Up is a group game where each group is given a paperclip and has to “trade up” with people they encounter attempting to get better and better items. Our groups got salt and pepper shakers, a scarf, and even a golf club! They are an impressive group of entrepreneurs.

Before we departed for Honolulu on Oahu, it was time for surfing!!!  A much anticipated event for everyone, and it didn’t disappoint. We went back to Kihei and everyone enjoyed a morning of wave riding and we couldn’t stop talking about it for days! Seeing everyone improve and get up on those boards was a testament to how hard they work and just how amazing they are!

Next stop: Honolulu on the island of Oahu, looking forward to more service, memories, and of course fun!  

The Westcoast Blogger

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Our Spirits Can’t Crumble in the Amazon Jungle! – Ecuador & the Galapagos Community Service

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Zipping into Rincon – Costa Rica Community Service

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The Gift of Giving – Costa Rica Community Service

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An Amazon Adventure

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Crusin Our Through Costa Rica – Community Service Costa Rica

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Costa Rican Adventures, Wildlife and Service – Costa Rica Community Service

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Adventures in the Amazon – Peru Language Immersion

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