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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Finding Beauty in the Small Things – Costa Rica Community Service

Finding Beauty in the Small Things - Costa Rica Community Service 1

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