Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday, Febuary 22, 2008

Trip highlights by Sue:

Even though we’ ve shared many of the same goals, challenges and joy of achievement, each of us has experienced a personal moment that is especially memorable-

Christina: is pleased about her ability to do the demanding physical labour, requiring strength and endurance.

Dennis: was thrilled when Elvin work site coordinator greeted him with “Muy Bien!!” –a job well done.

Jean: also felt that sense of achievement but especially enjoyed our time-out at the “Tree house” sharing our personal stories among us and our Costa Rican acquaintances

Mary Ann: is pleased about a “first for her- mixing buckets of concrete with a shovel!

Michelle: hoped to see monkeys so, when she fed bananas to them, this close interaction exceeded her expectations by far!!

Nia, our team leader, will never forget how we cheerfully walked up the steepest hill when our van was too overloaded to make it. She had a premonition then that we would be a very good team. We all hoped so!

Sue’s highlight is hearing Dona Nery’s “story” of growing in esteem, confidence and independence through membership in CASEM.

Mostly we all learned from each other Pura Vida!

Friday February 22th, 2008

Thought of the day:
"Don’t be ungrateful for what we don’t have, but be thankful and share what we do have. Last but not least have a safe trip."

Journal: Dennis

Knowing it was our final day we ate a hardy breakfast and then it was off to CASEM (Mary Ann, Sue, and Michelle) and Cebadilla (Jean, Christina, Emily and Dennis). At Cebadilla the first day assignment (erect 3 flag poles) was started and completed. The orangie brown wall was repainted with what turned out to be pink. At CASEM they priced all day to complete as much as possible. At both locations there were touching ceremonies and farewell gifts for volunteers. All but Christina went to a great tour of a coffee, banana and sugar cane plantation wile Christina enjoyed a well earned massage. That evening we had a farewell dinner at TRAMONTI.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday Feb 19, 2007

Thought of the day - Jean: "Live now. Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again."

Journal Michelle:

For those of us at CASEM, Sue Mary Ann and myself, we had a very exciting start of the day. When we arrived there were several monkeys looking for food. The owner of the grocery store was putting out his fruit for sale which attracted the animals> I bought 3 bananas and literally handed a banana to each one. It was amazing! They sat on the roof while they ate and everyone took photos.

The rest of the day consisted of changing prices from dollars to colones. I did speak with a man from Pennsylvania who was with an elder hostil group.

The group at Cebadilla wire brushed more walls of the building next to the school. Jean painted the door to the lunchroom. A couple of boys backed up into the wet paint by accident. In the afternoon, Elvin’s daughter, Elliet, told the crew it was too windy to paint so they started to shovel and more dirt to another area.

After work, the group from Cebadilla came to CASEM to shop. Some of us had coffee and pastries across the street at Stella’s Bakery.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday February 18, 2008

"Thought of the day: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." ~ Winston Churchill.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Feb 15, 2008

Journal: Dennis

We all enjoyed another wonderful breakfast at the hotel. Then with a planned assignment change with Emily and Mary Ann we were off to the work site Cebadilla and CASEM. It was a pleasant surprise (when Christina and Dennis were being driven all the way to the work site. A bigger surprise came when Jean, Mary Ann and Nia joined in the fun of mixing cement, rocks and sand with shovels on the ground. The concrete was then carried in buckets to be placed in the forms with welcomed help from their local volunteers, who were in fact in charge. A ride to Marlene’s house was very much appreciated where we had a very tasty and nourishing lunch. Afterwards, we walked back to the work site where three more young ladies had been added to the work force. More concrete work, I was concerned about not finishing, but was assured everything was ok. Avery tired crew returned to the hotel.

Michelle did pricing. Sue was busy placing items in their proper place. The sidewalk work was continued by others. After a fulfilling lunch Emily and Michelle walked over to the gallery.

That evening we had a meal prepared by the hotel, which we took with us up to Nia’s house where we enjoyed a great view of the Gulf of Nicoya and of the many islands and of we took a couple of sunset photos. After dinner and a house tour we returned to the hotel.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday February 14th, 2008

Thought of the day: "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." ~ Henry Thoreau.

Journal: Mary Ann
Mary Ann, Sue, and Michelle went to CASEM on a windy and rainy day. They were still having breakfast when we arrived, so we went upstairs to the classroom. Ileana said we needed to change prices from $ to colones, so the 3 of us spent most of the day sorting and reprising t-shirts and t-shirts. Michelle helped at the checkout as they were very busy with customers. We had another tasty lunch of stew, salad, rice, vegetables and cake. Dennis and Christina continued working on the retaining wall at the drainage ditch. Jean and Emily were painting at the school in Cebadilla at right Jean, Emily, Sue, and Michelle went on a night walk, while Dennis and Mary Ann went to Moon Shiva for a valentine’s dinner.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thought of the day:
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." ~ Unknown.

Journal: Michelle
Today was a fairly easy day (for some of us at least). Sue and I organized and priced a new shipment of t-shirts for CASEM. While merchandising, we both made sales to English speaking customers. That was exciting –instant gratification. Meanwhile, Mary Ann was outside helping with the sidewalk. She shovelled gravel of cement. Her and the other workers finished half of the sidewalk. I am planning on helping at least a little tomorrow.

At Cebadilla, the crew continued painting the fence and wall. Christina finally talked Dennis into letting her help. Apparently, she has become a pro at removing nails. She was continuing to work on her goal of wetting.

Five of us, including Nia, went to see “Little Miss Sunshine”. We all thought it was funny. That was a good end to a good day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thought of the day-Jean
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." ~ Unknown.

Journal -Christina
Today the four of us who went to the village- Jean, Emily, Dennis and I- were separated by sex. Dennis was taken to shovel mud to form a concrete retaining wall at the aquaduct. We heard as we trekked to the home of a villager for lunch that it is arduous work- the mud is heavy and there are rocks that must be dislodged with a prybar.

We stopped briefly at the one-room school, we were introduced to the class of primary school children, mostly boys. Their desks are grouped by grade; the same man teaches all grades. We understood that, on Thursday, one of us will spend some time teaching English.

From there, we returned to the building which houses the lunchroom with kitchen at one end. For the first two days of school, the children have been dismissed for the day at lunchtime, so we´ve been using the room as our base.

The kitchen faucet had been dripping steadily on Monday. No amount of turning the knob would make it cease. So, I got a large pot and put it under to catch the drips. Periodically, I transferred the accumulation to an enormous pot. The rabid environmentalists among us could not bear to see the loss of water and not do anything to rectify it. On Tuesday, there was a steady stream flowing, so the water accumulated faster than the pot could be emptied into the enormous one. This effort is a “drop in the bucket”. We use the accumulated water to flush the toilet which is in a closet adjacent to the kitchen.

Jean headed to the chainlink fence with a woman from the community where they began painting it something akin to silver Rustoleum. Emily and I were destined to MORE wire brushing, this time, it was to remove paint from the exterior of the cinderblock school. Our “ladder” was two desks with three boards of varying widths.

After “lemonade break”, the only officially-sanctioned break- I took others to consult my English/Spanish dictionary- Emily joined the fence-painting, making it now a CREW. Umberto and I, wordlessly at first, continued wire brushing. Presently, he began to speak to me in Spanish. I, of course, was without my dictionary, but gamely tried to reply to his questions.

By the end of the afternoon, we had completed painting one side of the school and 14 sections of fence. I am not certain WHAT Dennis did at the construction site, but it was arduous. At lunchbreak, I tried volunteering to join Dennis, who declined my offer. Since I know about his activities in the women´´s movement, I am not certain that he rebuffed me because he believed I can´t do the work. It is possible that he thought I shouldn´´t slog around in mud wearing shorts, which is what I was wearing before I started to paint.

One of my goals for the time I am here is to expend enough effort that I SWEAT . Michelle, Sue, Maryanne returned to Casem but they didn´t fill potholes today. I was told that Maryanne wheelbarrowed and the others did helpful things indoors at the coop.

If I am going to work off any of the good food I am consuming, I will have to persevere at persuading Dennis that I will be an asset, rather than a hinderance because she injures herself!

Christina - veteran of January 12-23, 2007 Global Volunteers Costa Rica Team in Los Tornos and First Global Volunteers Team to Australia (CAMU in Kennedy), Feb.-March 2004.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Thought of the day-Dennis
From the Tommy Sands (Irish) song The Last Irish Rose an eye for an eye until everyone is blind “says what is hopping in many places today. In contrast what we do here today may help break that cycle through love and understanding.

Today was the first day of immersion our respective sites. Five of us headed to Cebadilla for our project at the local school. The community and previous Global Volunteers had nearly completed the lunch room, a spacious, airy building next to the one room school which as of today and the beginning of a new school year has 19 students. I varnished baseboards and moldings for the interior of the new lunch room. Scraping the rusted chain link fence was the major and most difficult job.

The wind was blowing very hard and Dennis washed on the back site, mostly on a ladder, Elvin. In the afternoon Emily joined me inside to avoid the sun which by lunch was taking its toll on her and red was definitely her color. We finished two coats of varnish on the boards and if I understood correctly, we will be painting a school house wall ma/nana.

Lunch was delightful and delicious prepared by the local team leader’s wife. Ileana played the guitar, this children and grandchildren came in and out and his cute little black dog eyed us from just outside the front door. She, “lint” in English has three puppies just eight days old and cute as can be.

The CASEM group moved a “mountain” of dirt with shovels and pick axes loaded the wheelbarrow, this became pothole specialists in a morning.

They, too, had a sumptuous lunch prepared on site by the CASEM chef and her helpers. They the Global Volunteers readily asked to do kitchen duty to delay finishing their pothole project. Then saved by Nia, work lessened, coffee was served and work was suspended for the day.

All in all it was a very good first day. We had fun conversing with words, gestures and laughter and actually got quite a bit done thanks to Elvin and Ileana who were organized and ready for us.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thought of the Day-Mary Ann
"A tree is known by it’s freight, we by our deeds. A good deed is never lost: one who sows courtesy reaps friendship and one who plants kindness gathers love." ~ Saint Basil.


The cackling chicken announced the arrival of a warm sunny day in Alajuela. Our eight member Global Team, the 174th in Costa Rica, led by Country Manager, Nia Salas, gathered for a “tropical breakfast” prepared and served by our hosts, Robert and Alexandra formerly Canadian, now owners of La Rosa de America.

Our team is youthful 18-40+; while four of us are a bit more “seasoned”; we too are young in spirit! We started to “bond” even before Nia, effectively and efficiently, guided us through team building activities. As she reviewed Global’s philosophy of service –“Waging peace and promoting justice” she reminded us that “we are catalyst and our work is a vehicle”. Here in Costa Rica, we will first build relationships with our hosts, then we’ll begin the tasks they assign to us.

Many of us are in very early stages of learning the Spanish language and appreciate the magic phrase “pura vida” (literally pure life) which can be used in many situations, trusting we could absorb more though, Nia reviewed basic phrases as well as some “Costa Rican Spanish”.

Three of us will help at CASEM and our construction team of five will be at Cebadilla. After our “casado” lunch (every meal is a feast), Eric, our driver, arrived to load us and our luggage in his Mercedes van. With most luggages on top, safely secured with a bright green tarp we piled in eagerly anticipating our four hour ride to Santa Elena. We took the scenic route since all roads to S.E. are scenic. We began to gently ascend to the 4500 feet altitude paradise near the famed cloud forest via Aguacate mountain (all road trips in CR involve mountains). And we feasted again-this time a feast of nature: waves of green sugar cane, pochote(orange blooming trees) guachipelin (yellow blooming trees); the veraneras-summer flowers in magnificent iridescent hues; mango and plantain trees to name a few, sprinkled among lush and various shades of green vegetation where lean cows (like goat-cows) graze on the steep hillsides.

As the roads grew steep, and two attempts to make it up the steepest stretch, Eric announced there was too much weight so we opted to walk and leave the luggage intact. Even the Gail-forced winds didn’t bother us much since we spotted our first rainbow and had the sun-washed gulf on one side and the cloud forest on the other-Eric waited at the top of this “wicked stretch” of road.

The last 22 km. are white, super dusty and rocky-rugged is an understatement! And we were rewarded as we got our first glimpse of Santa Elena at sunset and a refreshing drizzle called “pelo de gato” (hair of the cat). The crowning glory of this journey occurred when we were very warmly welcomed by Irene, Karla and Rosita into their charming “chalet” hotel and a delectable meal. Our rooms are cheerful and the ever constant wind will lull us to sleep. After a very short discussion and review of our schedules it was very “early to bed” for all, to dream about all we’ve learned today-C.R.’ s beauty is unsurpassed, and it’s culture, food, drink and economy – have all , it’s wonderful people.