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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Lending a Helping Hand-Costa Rica Community Service


Some more information from our Costa Rica Community Service trip!  On the 11th day of our trip, everyone headed to the local school to finish the ‘new face’ of the school.  Jamie R., Taylor, Allie Y., Reid and Jamie We. worked on their arm and back muscles by first sanding down and then painting one of the side walls; Adam, Rebecca K., and Rebecca L. fine-tuned their mortar application skills and painted over the smooth wall they created while Mel and Courtney used their keen attention to detail to paint two iron gates; Ariel and Sarah G. gave the shop door a new look.  When we were done with the school, it looked like a new building! We were very proud of how hard each trip member worked during the project.

The next day we headed to Arenal and visited the famous Baldi Hot Springs! What an experience that was; the springs were beautiful!  Every member loved relaxing in the springs and exploring all of the different pools, Jake Si., Jake A., and Kyle even tried the hottest pool – at 113 degrees Fahrenheit! Jake Si. got in as far as his thighs before he had to bail, which was a feat in and of itself! Reid especially loved the chocolate fountain at the dinner buffet.

The next day we all headed canyoning, which is essentially a series of 4 platforms that you rappel from – two of which are into waterfalls – the highest one was at 168 feet.  Jamie Wa. and Dylan conquered their fears and jumped right into it, and were so pleased that they did it! Kyle attempted to clear one platform in just one jump, and almost made it, too, which even the guides were impressed with! Mel looked like a pro when she was rappelling, and was soaked when she jumped in the falls! Later that day we hiked to a beautiful waterfall located below 1000 steps, it was so pristine and crystal clear with a gorgeous blue colouring.  Sarah L., and Jake Sa. loved swimming in the water and spent the entire time we were there in the water!  On our way back to the bus, Rebecca K. spotted a toucan, and everyone was able to look at a wildcat taking a snooze in a tree! It was incredible! Seth was so enamored with it that he almost wouldn’t give our guide his binoculars back! That night we played a game of headbands, where Jess killed it by guessing that she was Picasso in 4 guesses! Allie F. managed to discover that she was Rebecca Black in less than 10, which was impressive.

The next day we spent some time in La Fortuna exploring, and then drove to the Central Valley again to meet Gail from the Humanitarian Foundation, who gave us a history of the foundation, and of her.  We spent the next day working on a house that had burned down in a fire digging a trench; a hole for plumbing; and mixing and pouring concrete.  Sarah G. jumped in when needed mixing the concrete, Courtney and Ariel were ‘painting-machines’ on the walls, and Emma and Amanda worked out a great system for sharing tools and work-load on the plumbing.  Sarah L. jumped right in with Jake Sa., Kyle, Jake Si., Adam, Seth and Jake A. bringing buckets of concrete from one location to another (we are pretty sure their arms are exhausted as a result!). We were incredibly impressed with everyone’s ability to work together, and have fun during the process.

The next day we painted the front of houses to beautify the neighborhood of La Carpio in San Jose.  Emma, Jake Sa., Rebecca L., and Jamie R. worked together to turn the front of one house from a faded brown to a pastel purple.  Gail had stressed to us how important it is to beautify the neighborhood to instill pride in the community and increase the self-esteem of the kids growing up in that area.  We then met some women from La Carpio and heard their stories on how they immigrated to Costa Rica from Nicaragua through some very tough conditions.  We watched a play depicting one woman, Fatima’s, struggle to support her family after her husband died in the war.  That night we headed to watch Spiderman 4 in the theatre for some much needed down time! Everyone managed to learn a few more Spanish words by reading the subtitles.

The next day, we organized a sports camp for some of the children growing up in La Carpio.  It was a rewarding, yet humbling experience.  The language barrier proved to be a non-issue as the kids showed immediate, unconditional love to all of our trip members.  Taylor managed to connect with a particularly shy child who wouldn’t leave her side; Sarah G. had a shadow who played tag with her almost the entire time; and Seth, Allie F., Dylan, and Jamie Wa. had the kids show them a very dirty game of ‘slide down this muddy hill on our bums’ which seemed to be a hit with everyone, as their shorts were covered with mud at the end!

Our community service days have been such a rewarding and eye-opening experience; our senses of community, being global citizens, and the importance of lending a helping hand when we can, in addition to sharing what we have been blessed with, have all been solidified as part of who we are.

The Westcoast Blogger