After waking up from our last nights sleep in Dos Brazos, we ate a really yummy breakfast of eggs, rice and beans, cereal, and fruit. We then all packed up our rooms, stripping the beds and donating any clothes we didn’t want to take back to the US with us. We also made cards for each of the homestay moms as a thank you for welcoming us into their homes and cooking us lunch everyday. At around 11 we were all packed and ready to go. It was really sad saying goodbye to all the kind people at Las Ventanas who had cared for us the past three days (their son even cried). We then left to walk to our last ( :( ) homestay lunch. We all ate some really delicious foods and gave the moms the cards we had made and decorated. We were all surprised when they gave us gifts back. They (along with their kids) had painted pieces of wood with different designs for each of us. Some even had little messages written personally by the moms. We were really touched and didn’t want to leave. We all gathered at the school after lunch while the children were in class. We got to say our final goodbyes to the kids. It was really sad leaving because each of us had bonded so much with the children in so many different ways (whether through playing soccer, bingo, hitting a piñata, or even just talking). When they heard we had to leave they were also upset and didn’t want us to go. After some hugs, we got on the bus and headed on our way to San Jose. After about 4 hours on the road, all the cars ahead of us came to a dead stop. We probably didn’t move for at least half an hour. We found out it was because of protesters who were protesting new education laws that the new president of Costa Rica had implemented, making it harder to graduate high school. While we did move a little after that traffic jam, we didn’t get far. As I write this right now, we are stopped (and have been stopped for about 2 hours) in a parking lot of traffic. Most people are out of their cars, talking, playing soccer in the road, and hoping that we actually move more than 5 yards. While some of us are a little annoyed (and really need to use the bathroom) it has been a bonding experience that none of us expected and just another part of this amazing trip. Hopefully we won’t make it to our hotel too late and will still have time to get a good nights sleep before leaving for the airport tomorrow morning. We all can’t believe that the trip is almost over. We’re going to really miss being in Costa Rica!
After our peaceful night’s sleep at Dos Brazos that, for some of us, was disturbed by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake (we were literally shaken, but fine), we finally got to sleep in until 8 AM! We began our morning with a delicious breakfast, and then set off on a morning hike with a local birdwatching guide, Carlos, to a lagoon about 30 minutes away. He showed us a variety of different birds as we hiked, all brightly colored and relatively native to the area. When we arrived at the lagoon, we immediately climbed into the refreshingly cold water and swam out to a waterfall, where we all enjoyed talking and taking pictures of not only ourselves but of the teachers too! For lunch, we had an amazing picnic with our host families that also came to the lagoon with some of their children, who, like us, enjoyed playing in the water. Each of the lunches were served freshly wrapped in banana leaves, a common eco-friendly tradition! After returning from our hike, we had a small break before heading back to the school to help out with gardening work, mainly removing weeds to encourage the growth of the hibiscus plants lining the campus. Then, we played a fun but exhausting (and rather sweaty) game of fútbol (soccer) with the local kids, resulting in a final score of 6-1. After our long day, we returned to Las Ventanas de Osa (where we were staying) and enjoyed a very special dinner famously prepared by the cook Rosita, including homemade empanadas and a chicken-vegetable soup with rice (Mrs. Ribaudo’s favorite)! Everyone went back for seconds! We ended our night further discussing our plan to create a conservation club, coming up with ideas of short-term goals we could pursue soon after we return home. Tired but inspired, we were finally able to fall asleep without the rude awakening of another earthquake!
Good evening friends and family,
Despite last night's earthquake, everyone is doing well. Many slept through it and those who felt it thought it was just their bunk-mate moving around. All the girls slept in a little late today before going on a hike through the national park and then for a swim. The host moms brought us lunch in banana leaves and then we worked at the school to clean up their flower beds. Finally, we learned how to pan for gold with some locals and they are currently playing soccer with a few of the local kids who are playing barefoot.
All in all it has been a great day...hot, humid, and dry skies. I know Erin at WLS has been awesome in getting news to you, but I just wanted to make sure you heard from us!
Hope all is well!
Liz, Sahar and Tancee
Day 6 we have made it to Dos Brazos after a trek from Piro Research Center! In the morning, we got up just in time to have a nice goodbye breakfast, packed, and headed out by an incredibly small bus. While we made to Puerto Jimenez to restock some supplies, we drove over many thin bridges that left us shaking. After getting some snacks, we drove to the Kobo coco and fruit farm! There, all of us toured and ate our way through their acres of beautiful land and stopped for star fruit, pineapple (it was white!), jack fruit, citric lemon, vanilla, leches, and learned the process of chocolate making. Afterwards, we had a delicious feast featuring all of the fruits we tried and chocolate desserts. Then came the trek to Dos Brazos, and we arrived at the hotel called Las Ventanas to meet our host families. Everyone was split into groups of three and walked with their family to their home for lunch! We all thought it was delicious and afterwards we headed to the school grounds for a game of soccer with the local children. No matter our skills, everyone seemed to have a blast and enjoyed running around the field and communicating with the kids. Following the game of soccer, we headed to the community center to play bingo, and we’re happy to say Ellie and Jeslyn both won a round!! Now, we’re back at the hotel, showered up, and going to eat some dinner. Then it’s off to bed!
After a nice long night of sleep, we woke up to the calls of howler monkeys at 7 am. After a quick breakfast, we went to a module about reforestation and conservation in the forest. Then we set off on a 30 minute hike to the farm and tree plantation. We trekked through various interesting plants and stopped at a tree plot where we all planted some trees, which were mostly balsa plants. We learned that for each tree which we had planted that lives 8 eight years would erase our carbon footprint on the plane ride here. Although the hike there and back was long, it was worth it because of the reward of giving back to the environment. We got back just in time for lunch, which was very relaxing after the strenuous hike. Next, we listened to another module in which we learned about how to conserve rivers both in Costa Rica and the rest of the world. We then went to a nearby river where we found tons of cool microorganisms while testing the caliber of the river. Our guide informed us that our detectability of organisms was high and we had a successful first run. Soon after that, we took some time to reflect on the trip as a group. The idea of creating a conservation club at GA came up and we were all really inspired by the new possibilities. We ended the evening with some amazing pasta and spent the rest of the night bonding like ions #chemistryready.