We arrived in San Jose Thursday morning and immediately began to break the ice and form our family. We were introduced to our guide, Mariel, and our bus driver, Alex, who chauffeured us over to our hotel. We walked in and were greeted by surroundings of lush greenery, colorful flowers, and a delicious lunch. After some our introduction to Costa Rica and some group activities, we ventured out for our first Costa Rican cuisine. The majority of our trip members tried typical Costa Rican food consisting of rice, beans, chicken, fried plantains and vegetables.
Friday we were up bright and early to head out for a whitewater rafting adventure. The rapids were fast moving and the trip members reported that it was exhilarating. Another highlight of our rafting excursion was seeing a sloth and some monkeys in the wild hanging out in the trees along the river. In addition, our trip members were excited to learn that the area where we were rafting is where parts of the movie, Jurassic Park, were filmed. After a day on the river, we returned to our hotel for dinner, and learnt about the organization we would be volunteering with during our time in San Jose. Gail, the founder of the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, came to our hotel to speak to us about our work, the community of La Carpio and shared some inspiring stories. She went on to explain to the trip members about the importance of giving back and how one simple deed can go such a long way.
Saturday morning we woke up and had a delicious breakfast at our hotel, and then drove to the village of La Carpio where we would be assisting with various tasks. We had a brief orientation about the layout of the community with Gail, and then split into two groups. The first group ventured out to play sports and do arts and crafts with the children of the community, while the other group set out to repaint and decorate houses. The children that we played with were so excited to receive attention and have people to do activities with. The group painting accomplished a lot in the morning, painting the outsides of multiple houses and creating a variety beautiful decorative designs to finish off their work. One of the most special moments of the morning came at the very end of our service activities when our whole group gathered in the classroom of the school with all of the little children to listen to Gail tell a story about the importance of personal hygiene. Then, all of the trip members helped the children to wash their hands with soap and water. In addition, the trip members had the opportunity to hand out toothbrushes and tooth paste to all of the children. It was an extremely fulfilling morning.
We were then taken back to the community center where we were given a homemade lunch. There was fresh watermelon, salad, and a mouth-watering pasta dish. It was well received after a hard day of work. When we arrived back at the hotel we had some down time by the pool and then headed out to another delicious meal. After dinner, we made a stop for some local Costa Rican ice cream at Pops. In the spirit of our ice cream treats, we did our first debrief of our trip called, “popsicle, poopsicle and dreamsicle.” Trip members sat in a circle to reflect on the day’s experiences by sharing their highlight of the day, their least favorite moment of the day and something they hoped for.
The trip is off to a great start, and we are looking forward to many more exciting adventures together!
The Westcoast Blogger