Dear Bio Buds,
I am writing this somewhere over the Atlantic during the final flight of our journey. A journey that started one day when you decided to enroll in a class with a trip component to an unknown destination. With a ton of behind the scenes planning, a destination was chosen and you rolled with it all while not really knowing anything about the trip. After many emails, meetings, itinerary changes, we finally met at the top of the circle at 2:45am en route to Newark and now….it is all over. Having done this trip before, I knew a lot about the program heading into it. Meanwhile, there were a lot of unknowns for you and yet you still rolled with it.
I have gone on trips with my students near and far and this was the first time, students didn’t complain about something. Airports, security, long bus rides, blisters….you embraced it all! Sure, it was hot and it rained everyday….yet, you sang songs in the downpour. There were bugs…many of them. Spiders climbed in our beds, mosquitos bit us, and ants found some nutrition on our ankles. We were clearly outnumbered. It seemed like we walked for hours each day and it always felt like it was uphill. 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:
It has been a pleasure to travel with each 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 bugs, darkness, the unknown, really big bugs, trying new foods, language barriers 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.
Today was our last day in the community of Dos Brazos Del Río Tigre. We started off the morning with a nutrient filled breakfast and by carrying our extremely heavy duffel bags across a river and to the school which was quite exhausting. After we got there and dropped off our luggage, we completed our project that we started a few days ago by planting the hibiscus tree saplings. Working together as a team, we completed the job and these trees will bloom within the next three months.
Although planting the trees was very fun, our favorite part of today was the fiesta that the community threw for us. We started the fiesta by giving all of the children presents that we brought from the U.S. which included leis, beads, inflatable beach balls, stuffed animals and stickers. As we gave out these items the children’s eyes lighted up as they were so excited to receive these gifts. After this we all played with the children, throwing beach balls into the air, we watched a folk dance performance, and we used two piñatas that were filled with candy.
The party was so much fun, but the best part was the bonds we created with the kids; there was Steven who loved animals, Biemer who had spiky hair and who loved to give everyone hugs, Biron who loved to wear the clown nose and who rode around on his bike, Yanahi who was super energetic and loved piggy back rides, Nacha who loved to make silly faces and do gymnastics, Joyueli who was the littlest of them all, Celanchx who was the best dancer out of everyone, Ermer Jr. who was shy but eventually opened up to the group and played an intense game of soccer with us, and more. We had such a spectacular time creating bonds with each and every one of these kids and we miss them already!
After saying goodbyes to all of the children, our host families, and Ermer, we climbed onto the bus. Some were excited to get their phones back, while others let the teachers keep theirs. Everyone made sure to entertain Ms. Ribaudo with their hilarious jokes. We made a quick pitstop at a rest stop and stacked up on snacks. Sammy bought plantain chips, Kaia doesn’t even know what she bought, Olivia bought many snacks, and Maya was healthy and only bought one bag of chips. The rest of the ride was very fun as we slept, ate food, bugged Ribby, and listened to music.
That’s all for tonight but we’ll see you tomorrow!
Annabel and Sammy