Our group woke up bright and early to take a short drive to Puerto Jimenez and jump aboard the boat into Golfo Dulce. The environmental club from the school joined us for a morning of boating, snorkeling, swimming and dolphin watching. The ride toward the snorkeling spot provided no dolphin sightings despite all of our eyes on the water. It was okay because we were very grateful for the cooler temperatures in this area of Costa Rica. The time we spent swimming also provided us with a moment to cool off before having lunch and heading back. On the ride back to Puerto Jimenez, we saw plenty of dolphins swimming along side of our boat. The children were so excited and could decide which way to point to tell us where to look!
Saturday, April 16, 2016
On our last evening in Dos Brazos del Rio Tigre, the entire community threw up a farewell party for us that included dinner, a refreshing icy dessert (YUM!), lawn games, a DJ, dancing, and a huge community soccer game. It was by far one of the highlights of the trip for many of us because we felt like we formed friendships with so many children and adults in the town. You cannot ask for too much more when you surround yourself with loving people and great food. The evening ended with beating a piñata....it was quite hilarious to watch everyone attempt to hit it while the candy was falling out. The children were so happy, even if Kellen almost hit a few kids!
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
...be patient and wait for the locals on motorcycles with the proper tools.
Our truck was deep in the rainforest and on a dirt road, when suddenly it could not make it up the hill. The driver left the truck to get a signal at the top of the hill to call for another truck, but during this time multiple Costa Ricans stopped by on their motorcycles to offer any help. It wasn't until about 90 minutes later, the correct tools came around and the transmission box was fixed before we were on our way to Puerto Jimenez.
The students were happy as can be on the truck and playing catch on the road. Meanwhile, Javier, Sarah, Hagee and Ribaudo were singing Adele's song "Hello" with lyrics that went like this..."Hello from the rainforest!" Just another day.....Pura Vida.
"I am passionate about helping people because I know everyone will hit a bump one day. I really want to be there for them and hope somebody will help me when I hit my bump. I never give up because I've given up before and I regretted it so much. I owe it to my family who taught me how to deal with things.....I couldn't communicate with many people in Costa Rica, even my homestay mom. Even though we smiled, I was not sure we were connected, but when we were playing games, I felt like we were closer than ever...it may have been the spirit of sports or the laughs we shared...but at the end, I felt like we were no longer strangers." - Kelly
"My first goal of this trip is for me to make myself mentally tougher. This means I am going to tolerate the weather and complain less. With a higher tolerance level, it will be easier for me to succeed in the future. My secondary goal is to help the world. By helping to build a classroom, we helped the local people. Coming to a place like this allowed me to see a completely new place on Earth." - Jimmy
"Before this trip, I only wanted a hands-on job in the aerospace field because it seemed like a cool thing that would keep me active and interested in something I am passionate about. As a result of this trip, I know that I want to help others enjoy starting to understand the unknown as much as I do." - Bria
"I've always wanted to run my own publishing company and make a magazine much like National Geographic. After this experience, I want to make a magazine that showcases the positive sides of the world but also what needs to be fixed. I want to show the world the extreme poverty, the lack of education and lack of basic resources that exist in some areas. I am hoping my magazine will showcase the beauty of different cultures, but also the setbacks." - unknown
"I learned the dedication it takes to gain appealing rewards. When I first got to Costa Rica, I did not believe that I could survive 10 days in this heat. I learned that despite our bodies constantly sweating and becoming tired, mental state overpowers physicality. With a strong mind, you can overcome many obstacles even if it seems impossible. Although it is far from easy to maintain a strong mental state, this trip helped!" - Kellen
Monday, April 11, 2016
I am writing this somewhere over the Pacific during the final flight of our journey. A journey that started one day when Mr. Maher gave me the contact information of a woman named Erin from World Leadership School just before the year started. Emails led to phone calls, which led to Skyping, which led to information sessions at school with parents and Mrs. Hagee, figuring out who was going, getting everyone ready, preparing for takeoff and now….it is all over. I’d be lying if I said I knew what this trip was going to be like. I knew we were going to Costa Rica and we would be the first school group to visit Dos Brazos del Rio Tigre. There were a lot of unknowns, there were a lot of changes in the itinerary, and there were a lot of emails but even then, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I have a teacher friend named Isabel who has spoken about taking groups of students on service trips to Africa and Nicaragua. The trips she took were well over a decade ago, but she still talks fondly about them like they were yesterday. I have brought kids to many places, but never to a developing country. Regardless of how this trip was going to be, I knew, like Isabel’s tales, I would be telling stories and sharing memories well after we touched down at LAX.
Every year Isabel, myself and some other teacher friends from New York get together for a winter weekend in the Berkshire Mountains. The following week there is an email that goes around where everyone chimes in with their high and low moments of the trip. Well….here are mine:
When I was getting my Public Health degree, I was given an assignment where I had to compile photos that told a story regarding the differences in accessibility to healthcare and food systems between two neighborhoods in close proximity. It was called a photo essay…. there were no words to tell the story, only photos. Here is my (large) photo essay of our trip through my lens... Costa Rica: Part I and Costa Rica: Part II
I don’t have any. Sure, it was hot. There were bugs…many of them. We were clearly outnumbered. It seemed like we walked for hours on some days. There was a lot of rice and beans. Communication was hard at times. We didn’t have technology. We were not in our beds. We missed our loved ones. Our days were long. But you know what? All of these things were temporary. They were short lived and left no damage as far as I was able to assess.
In the spirit of ANCHORing, it is my hope you look back on this trip and make a promise to:
- Step out of your comfort zone once in a while.
- Open yourself to new cultures and traditions.
- Go to places you’ve never been and take in as much as you can.
- Skip the nap…sleep is overrated.
- Play more card games, less video games.
- Communicate with the locals; hand gestures can get you far and they know the good places to eat.
- Get up to watch the sun rise; I’ve never heard anyone regret this decision.
- Eat local food everywhere you go.
- Play with children; they keep you young.
- Listen to the stories people have to tell; they are far more fascinating than anything I’ve ever read or watched on a screen.
- Find your inner Javier and Sarita, and then strive to be ambassadors of the globe, fight for a cause and protect your land. We were all inspired by these two; keep their messages alive while you continue your journey through life.
It has been a pleasure to travel with all of you. You were warriors through it ALL and I could not be more proud that you all faced, maybe even conquered, your fears of flying on small planes, bugs, darkness, the unknown, really big bugs, trying new foods and getting to know new people. You have set the bar high for your classmates who will want to go on this trip next year. Be the leaders you are and show them the way.
After spending a day in Dos Brazos del Rio Tigre demolishing the old classroom, we woke up ready to meet the children of this village. We spent the morning going through the gifts we had brought, dividing them by age group. When we arrived, they were so grateful for all of the RHP/Ren t-shirts, key rings, toys, soccer balls, Beanie Babies and sunglasses we brought from the states. We almost wished we brought more.
After presenting the gifts, we went outside to play all sorts of games...soccer (futbol), frisbee, and duck duck goose (pato, pato, ganso!). It was clear the kids were having a blast playing all of these games and taking selfies with all of our cameras. The heat and drizzling rain did not stop anyone from having fun on this day.
We often complain about the AC not working at school, it being too hot outside, or not wanting to run around outside for PE...but on this day, none of that mattered. The language barrier was also nonexistent for these few hours because fun is a universal language. Students from both schools and their teachers were having having a blast. We almost did not want to stop for lunch with our host moms!
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Peter spent a lot of time writing in his journal each night in his native language. While many of us were not able to read it, he shared many of his sketches from different episodes that occurred throughout the trip. They are quite amusing! Thank you for sharing your journal with our community Peter!