Sunday, March 28, 2010

Final Day

Yesterday afternoon we spent a luxurious two hours at the Eco Termales Fortuna, the hot spring site where we soaked and enjoyed strawberry and pineapple smoothies. After heading back to the eco lodge, we rested for a little while and then had a pasta dinner with various sauces. Then we brainstormed ideas for sustaining our relationship with the Linda Vista community. Pleasantly weary, we headed off to bed.

On Sunday morning, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of watermelon, pineapple, papaya and scrambled eggs and toast with homemade orange marmalade--the fuel we needed to swim below Catarata La Fortuna. This waterfall, tucked into the low hills of the volcano, was truly extraordinary.

After another almuerzo delicioso (arroz con pollo, frijoles, blackberry juice and tortilla chips), we geared up for ziplining through the rainforest canopies; our shortest line was 130 meters and the longest and highest was 980 meters, with a height of 100 meters! We looked fabulous in our helmets, pulleys and mucho carabiners.

For our final evening, we will dine on comida typical, followed by closing activities, which will include reflections on our 10 days in beautiful Costa Rica.

We board the bus at 7:15 tomorrow morning and head to the airport in San Jose, ready for a full day of travel. We hear that the weather is lovely---40 degrees and rainy. It will be a shame to leave the sunshine and 85 degree weather behind.

See you all soon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

La Fortuna!

Yesterday, we finished our service project in Linda Vista with a celebration of bingo and barbeque. There were some tears on both sides and exchanges of addresses and the hope to stay in touch. The bathrooms are nearly complete. We painted and primed and cleaned up the work site. By the time we left, the toilets were in and the doors were on.

We got up bright and early this morning and boarded a bus to La Fortuna, the town at the base of the most active volcano in all of Costa Rica, Arenal. We are staying at the Catarata Eco Lodge, and all were delighted to discover that there was a swimming pool. So, as soon as we dropped our bags in our room, we headed for the pool.

We just finished lunch at La Parada in downtown La Fortuna. The food was delicious and hefty. Some students ordered the Super Hamburguesas and almost finished them! We will spend the next hour souvenir shopping, and then we will meet up and head to the hot springs for a soak.

On the agenda for tomorrow, we will rise early, go and visit the waterfalls and then spend the afternoon zip lining from platform to platform in the rainforest canopy. It is hard to believe that we are on our last two days and will be leaving on Monday. The trip has been rewarding, exciting and filled with good life lessons.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Days 4 and 5

Yesterday was our second full work day, and boy was it hard!! We shoveled, filled in a septic tank, played soccer with the kids, and even taught them some English words, such as those having to do with animals, brushing teeth, supermarket items, and more. Afterwards, we traveled Doña Olga's home and tried to cook tortillas. Unfortunately, the corn was too soft and moist because the weather was not good, but we had delicious popcorn, bread, and cookies. It was very tasty!

As of today we have successfully finished the first half of our trip! The day began with more hard work, including the filling of a pit formerly used as a trash hole. We are also two-thirds of the way through the digging of a septic drainage trench. Since the school day was short today, the children spent the second half of their morning helping us with the work. To celebrate our hard work thus far, we had a celebratory lunch of pizza and Coca Cola, and are now on our way to swim in the Sarapiqui River!

Written by Ean and Elise

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Photos Day 3

Day 3

Today was our first day working at Linda Vista Escuela, the school near the Eco Lodge, where we are helping to build three bathroom stalls. We played some soccer first with the students, then some of us dug holes (3-4 feet wide, 3-4 feet deep) and in two different groups we went down to the Rio Sarapiqui to bring back sand to make concrete and river rocks to line the drain leading away from the toilets. This is usually the dry season in this part of Costa Rica, but today was our rainiest day so far, so much of the work we did was in showers, mist, downpours, and so forth!

We worked until noon and then took a ride in the back of Rodolfo’s cattle truck to his farm, where he grows ornamental plants (many of which we recognized from home!) among other things, and his property is extraordinary. Lunch was tilapia fresh from the pond twenty feet away along with fried plantains, yucca patties (a lot like latkes), and veggies. After lunch we did some leadership and team-building activities, then toured Rodolfo’s farm. By this time is was late afternoon, so, as the rain poured down, we planned some English lessons for the students at the school, and headed back to our homestays for the evening.

Tomorrow, we will arrive at the work site bright and early at 7:00 AM to continue our work on the bathrooms, and in the afternoon Berkeley Carroll students will teach English lessons, then have lessons of their own in traditional Costa Rican cooking at Olga’s and Barney’s house (where we will also meet their rescued baby anteater). We are looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Day in Costa Rica

Yesterday was full of travel. We got to school at 6:45 AM, few of us actually awake, got into vans bound for the airport, turned on the radio, and got stopped behind a garbage truck going down Lincoln Place. The plane ride was a grueling five hours, where we had to contend with such dangers as an alarm going off in someone’s luggage, a crying baby, and not having iPods. We landed in San Salvador just in time to leave, but not before seeing a beautiful mountain range. The plane ride to Costa Rica was thankfully much shorter in comparison to the first ride, and we quickly left the airport bound for a mall were we exchanged money. Then, we drove through the rain for another two hours, finally arriving at the Eco Lodge at 8:00 PM.

Tasty pasta, garlic bread, and guava juice were awaiting us, as were (thankfully) comfortable beds, into which most of us fell by 9:30 or 10:00.

So today was our first full day in Costa Rica, at the Chilamate Eco Lodge. Most of us woke up at six, some as early as five, and started our day with a big breakfast of fresh fruit, homemade banana bread, traditional Costa Rican food, and eggs. As we ate our breakfast, we were able to spot a giant spider, and some really beautiful hummingbirds. After breakfast we went white water rafting on the Rio Sarapiqui, which was lots of fun. Most people fell in a couple times, but everyone was okay. The rapids were amazing, and our breaks to swim in the calmer areas were enjoyed by all. We stopped about halfway through our 8-mile course for some more fresh fruit, which was a great way to fill up our now surprisingly hungry stomachs. We had a little competition of climbing back into the rafts, with Ms. Fogarty and Ms. Durham’s groups tying for first place. We also saw some pretty interesting wildlife including a toucan, an egret, an iguana, an exotic housecat named Kitty, and even some howler monkeys! After our rafting trip, we came back to the lodge and jumped back into the river for another swim, and then realized what a mess we had made of all our clothes – which are still completely soaked. We had a nice lunch of barbeque steak and potatoes, along with some fresh vegetables. The weather in Costa Rica has been more than a little unpredictable, with rain coming when you least expect it – in our case, after lunch. This didn’t help with the idea of putting our clothes out to dry in the sun. We’re now about to embark on a hike in the rainforest, which should be lots of fun.

Written by Josh and Amelia

Saturday, March 20, 2010

All of the students have arrived safely in Costa Rica and they are en route to the Chilamate Rainforest Eco Retreat! If you have any questions please feel free to call the office at (303) 679-3412.