Another update from Costa Rica Community Service!
The Westcoast Blogger
Today we traveled to Puntarenas. We spent the afternoon enjoying the weather, facilities and pool at our hotel. That evening we went for a stroll on the boardwalk where many vendors sold souvenirs, goods and snacks. Many of us got some fruit and ice cream that came in a frozen pineapple bowl. We ate dinner at a cute restaurant on the boardwalk and then spent the remainder of the evening planning for our upcoming Community Service and our next few days of working for Habitat for Humanity.
This morning we were greeted early by two members of Habitat for Humanity. They explained the project we would be working on, and explained how the house we would help construct was for a family that was in need. When we arrived on the site we had no idea how rewarding the work we were about to do would actually be. We were all involved in digging a huge trench for all the plumbing for the house. We stopped for a wee break to eat some watermelon, litchi and Pipa Fria. At lunchtime we stopped for a wonderful home cooked meal; prepared, in part, by the family whose house we were helping to build. It was delicious! After lunch we finished our projects and went back to the hotel to get ourselves cleaned up and ready for our evening activities. That evening we played some games and spoke a bit about our days work. Enjoyed another local meal and got another early night in.
Day 2 of our Habitat for Humanity project and the enthusiasm and excitement of many was so encouraging. Steve and Emma blew us all away with their hard work, maturity and dedication. Also impressive were Sam and Ada who worked at leveling the floor in the rooms of the house while others took shifts shoveling dirt and pushing the wheelbarrow. Another break, with pineapple this time and of course our beloved Pipa Fria (an entire coconut from which we drink the juice with a straw and then crack the coconut open to eat as well – Very Yummy!). We ate another great home cooked meal and then finished the day off digging a few very big holes in very hard slate to plant concrete posts that would hold the walls together. Digging the holes was some of the hardest work any of us had ever attempted. Thank goodness it was also the most rewarding experience for us as well. That evening we were treated to our first Salsa lesson.
Our final day with Habitat for Humanity was today. It was an extremely productive morning as everyone chipped in to mix some concrete and then we raised some posts and worked together atop a little scaffolding to slide in concrete slates that would be assembled to make the walls of the house. It was a very good morning and we had a chance to see the house really come to fruition with this added step. Again Steve and Emma deserve special recognition for their work that was exceptional. I was very proud of the group and thought we did a great job. That afternoon we went for a walk tour of Puntarenas, went for another delicious dinner and our had last walk along the boardwalk. A few of us went for a walk along the beach and that evening we all broke up into groups to resume work on our Zine.
Back on the road to return to Heredia – where we began our journey. Today we visited Poas Volcano National Park. For the evening we managed to get a hold of tickets to the new Harry Potter movie . Everyone got dressed up for our night out at the movies. How fun to see a movie with 15 friends. Max spent the whole movie cracking jokes with Paul while Harry Potter buffs like Emma and Alex were in an uproar about some of the filmmakers decisions.
Today the Humanitarian Foundation had a surprise for us. We got the chance to meet a Native American Healer who explained his ancestry, beliefs, and culture to our group. We got a tour of the grounds where religious ceremonies are held, smelled some traditional fruits and leaves that all had different medicinal purposes, and even harvested some sugar cane juice. Afterwards we were invited to participate in a protection ritual that only took a few moments and was such a new experience for all of us. Finally we ate lunch with the healer’s family and drove back to the hotel to hang out. DJ, Ari, Julia, Alex, Max, and Sam, took on the roll of party planners and spent part of their afternoon blowing up balloons on account of Robyn’s birthday. Everyone helped distract her as we filled the bus with balloons. We all had cake and sang happy birthday. There was a candle and a big card.
Today was our last day of service. We returned to La Carpio and continued to build bunk beds. Everyone worked so hard in the carpentry shop and delivering bunk beds. A few also ran the daycare in the clinic that the Humanitarian Foundation set up. It was another really productive day and we were able to churn out 6 bunk beds and deliver them to families in need. That afternoon we went straight to a Jungle River Tour. We saw monkeys, toucans, lizards, crocodiles, birds and a small, rare, Costa Rican frog. What a rush to be jet boating down a river exploring for really interesting wild life.
This morning, after a well deserved sleep-in, and were off to Cafe Britt where we went on a tour of the factory and plantation by some actors who doubled as tour guides. We all tried some ice coffee and it was a big hit. Many of us didn’t know much about coffee and it was a really educational tour. It even included a little play. That evening we went to eat making a little stop for anyone who needed more ice cream… Olivia… :o) That evening, during our debrief, we had a lively discussion and Jake, Alexis, brought up really interesting points. It went on quite late and we summed it up after a few hours of talking. It was incredible to see how passionate the group was about the important work we have been doing. This was also an opportunity to get some closure since this was the end of the community service section of our trip. To the beach!
Let’s go to Manuel Antonio! Along the drive we stopped for some litchi at a little market and we stopped at a bridge where we could see some gigantic crocodiles, some as long as our bus. We were told it was the most densely populated area or crocodiles in the world. Then we arrived at Manuel Antonio, beautiful beaches and a colorful town. We all headed straight for the ocean before eating pizza at a really charming restaurant.
We spent the morning in the Manuel Antonio National Park. Amazing! Animals were everywhere. In the park is a remarkable beach where most of us swam. Steve, Alexis, Rebecca, DJ, Emma and Alex all swam out to a large raft in the water that they could climb and stand on. From the shore it looked like they were standing on water. Max and Jake lead the way across a peninsula of rocks looking for crabs. They found plenty. Sam and Emma caught up a little later. Ada, Abby, Olivia, Miranda, Julia and Steph were more content spending time exploring the shores and running in the water for the occasional dip. Ari, DJ and Steve combed the beach to find some great pieces of coral. There were many monkeys and on our way back we saw a pelican resting in the forest. To be continued…