Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CASEM gets new kitchen

Casem gets new kitchen for the dinner , it will probably open in January.

Please notice the tables we have been working on hand in hand with them also have surfaced!!

Yeahh!! For CASEM!!

Latest Cebadilla school pics

The Cebadilla one room school looking good after complete renovation last december and touch up work from another team this year.

Thanks to all ! Bright shiny and under blue skies!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

3 Kings or Queens make it to Christmas Celebration

Our Three "Queens" of CASEM , Alice, Margaret and Roseann, surprise the team of volunteers with costarrican treats during Christmas/Goodbye to first weekers celebration.
They are hard at work supporting the local Womens´Craft Coop. Everything from culinary expertise in making plans for the café that is about to open, recipes , to gardening and pricing items.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 2010, First Team, Cebadilla ladies demonstrate tamal making for Christmas

First Weekers say Goodbye to Cebadilla

After a week of digging , Ryan says Good-bye to Minor and received a little token in appreciation of all his hard work. Sister Jess was here to support with major earth digging and rock placement for the septic tank system. Oh Canada!!

Emeline second time in Global Volunteers Service Program

Emeline Contreras lives in San Francisco and works in Palo Alto, California. She is now in her second volunteer abroad service in a consecutive year in Costa Rica with her 11 year old son! She helped dig and clear the community service in Cebadilla, she hauled wheel barrows of cement and translating spanish-english extensively!! Thanks Emeline and Zeke!

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 2010,First Team , the day of the dig

Team Journal Day 2


The two shuttles arrived on time to take us to the Cebadilla village and CASEM.

Group 1 consisted of Margaret, Alice and Rosanne traveling to CASEM. They were greeted upon their arrival in a very friendly manner. Their first task was sanding of the tables which were made from slabs of cedar, very rustic. A short while later they were offered coffee, tea and cookies. Then they were back to work putting sealant on the wood.

Their next task was becoming the cleaning crew for the shop, there was plenty of dust for them to clean. They had a lovely lunch, then walked to the cheese factory where they encountered a snake with blue diamonds on its back. They treated themselves to some ice cream at the cheese factory. They were then headed back to work where they priced lots of new merchandise and re-priced the coffee.

Group 2 consisted of Jess, Ryan, Jim, Sandra, Eric, Amy, Elle, Emiliene, Zeke, and our leader Nia. We headed back on our bumpy gravel road, we proceeded to drive to the village of Cebadilla which consists of 150 people. Elbin the Host Partner leader, described the project to us. The project was to add on one toilet, one shower and a special needs toilet to the community centre and church. After we understood the project we each provided any special skills we had that we could contribute to the project, many people were keen to do labour, painting, cement mixing, and anything else the community wanted.
We tour the school which had been newly renovated by previous Global Volunteers teams.

We got back to the site, Minor and Alvin mapped out the area to dig for the septic tank and trough. The septic tank area had to be 1 meter deep and the trough had to be 80 centimeters deep. Elle and Emily were working at the back of the community center removing dirt, clearing brush, and organizing the area. Everyone worked extremely hard digging and wheel barrowing, Erik’s wheel barrowing and Amy’s digging really stood out amongst the team.

We had one official break called by Nia and then stopped for lunch at 12:30. We went to a very nice home, had a great meal (rice, noodles, chicken and potato stew, salad, and fruit). We later had a nice tour of the garden and saw the nativity scene in their living room.

We took a shortcut back to work and continued our digging and wheel barrowing until shortly after 3. We did a clean up, wash down, and back on the bumpy ride to downtown Santa Elena for an ice cream treat.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 2010 , First Team of 2011, Arriving

On the left: Amy shows progress on the first day in Cebadilla Community Center.

Team Journal

Saturday 12-18-10: dinner reception

The adventure started with a nice sit down informal dinner at Las Orquideas. The night was pretty quiet, but to be expected because most people were jet lagged and none of us knew each other prior to this experience.

Sunday 12-19-10

9:00am: Orientation meeting

It seems as if the goals of the meeting were to start forming our team and to better understand the guiding principals and rules of this volunteer opportunity. It’s all about the people. The people on our team and the people we will be serving with. Whether talking about Global Volunteers or the local people, we are all learning about different cultures and their particular values on life.

We had about an hour to eat lunch and the food was good.

1:10pm: off to Monteverde

We are officially off on our “3 hour tour”. It was a beautiful day for the drive and not much traffic. The sky was so clear on the way up that Nia even let the driver pull over so we could be “tourists” and take the scenic photos of the beautiful landscape. And wow was it beautiful as we climbed the mountain! When we got to the gravel road, you could see and feel a little anxiety in the bus. We finally arrived at the hotels and had about 45 minutes to get settled in our rooms and/or adventure out for a bit.

5:20 pm: team meeting

We discussed team characteristics and did an informal Spanish lesson. I can’t believe how good Nia can speak English!

6:00: dinner

Dinner was brought to the hotel by a caterer and the food was great. We had fish, rice and salad. Rosanne had brought some delicious cornbread from Chicago and was gracious enough to share with the entire team. Delicioso!! With that, the night has ended. The real work begins tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Spring into Service

"Spring into Service” with Global Volunteers to receive a special limited discount offer for our March and April 2011 teams!

Four or more volunteers who apply by January 31 for any of these 28 teams in 16 countries will receive a discount of $200 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for one-, two- or three-week international programs or $100 off our standard service program fee, per volunteer, for USA programs. No other discounts apply.

Please encourage others to volunteer in our five fundamental project areas: education (especially promotion of girls education), labor and community infrastructure, health care, child care, and food and nutrition. Call me at 800-487-1074 for details and I’ll assist you every step of the way.

Our worldwide host communities can’t wait to welcome you!

Be a bridge of understanding and peace! As a Global Volunteers team member, you're a catalyst for local people's vision of self-reliance and prosperity. You can truly make a difference! Global Volunteers pioneered direct service-learning programs abroad in 1984, and has mobilized more than 27,000 short-term volunteers on long-term development projects in more than 120 host communities on six continents.

Costa Rica Service Program Dates, March & April Teams:
19-Mar-11 to 2-Apr-11
30-Apr-11 to 14-May-11

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vote for Global Volunteers!

From November 15 - November 21 the Star Tribune newspaper is holding a contest entitled 'Full Page Project' amongst MN non-profits and the winner will receive a free full page ad in the paper!

Please vote for us this week ~ you can vote once per hour!

Here is the link where you can register and then vote for Global Volunteers (please copy and paste the link):

We would also encourage you to pass this link along to your family and friends, and post it on your personal Facebook page. Let us know if you have any questions, and remember voting goes until 5 p.m. Sunday!

Thank you for your support.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Costa Rica Photo Contest Submissions!

This fall, Global Volunteers asked our amazing volunteers to share some of their favorite service program images with us. We have been thrilled and encouraged by the response, and have already used many of the photos on our website and in new printed materials!! Now, we would love to share with you, a few of our favorite submissions depicting our volunteer service program in Costa Rica. ENJOY & thank you volunteers!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

~All great things must end~

Thursday August 19th
Quote of the day—“Beauty is bread; it is food for the soul.”
Journal by Susan

Today is the last day of our work at CASEM. My hope is that we leave something behind (beside old t-shirts). I hope that we´ve made some kind of difference. Certainly, we´ve made some progress on the furniture for the diner, although someone else will need to complete the tables. While we came here to impact the lives of the people of Santa Elena/Monteverde, we realize that we will go away from this volunteer vacation more impacted than the people of CASEM. I want to spend this last day on the job absorbing every memory of the people and the place—the exuberance of Jose Pablo, the playfulness of Leidy, and the dignity of Nery.

We began our day at CASEM with a local rum cake contributed by Valinda. The only positive of the last day is that I will no longer be encouraged (demanded) to eat at least five meals a day!

The morning was spent alongside the local women, including Miriam who walked two hours to get to CASEM from a neighboring town, Maritza, and Edith. We worked feverishly to complete the sanding of the table tops. Although Valinda was ably attempting to use the power sander, our efforts were stymied once again at lunch by a persistent rain shower. Go figure! We spent a short time in the rain attempting to plant flowers, but to no avail. The last resort was an attempt to teach Edith, one of the non-English speakers, the proper technique for shooting a basketball. A picture, or in this case, a demonstration, is worth a thousand words! Even though we had no basketball, she seemed to get a kick out of practicing her form.

All great things must end. After taking turns purchasing our baskets of souvenirs, we participated in the traditional exchange of gifts and appreciation speeches. All were eloquent and heartfelt. It was extremely tough to say “adios amigos,” especially to the children.

The group of five headed out for the celebratory dinner at Johnny´s Pizzeria where we also celebrated Valinda´s birthday (on August 21st). Great food and reflections on the experience.

You never leave someone behind, you take a part of them with you and leave a part of yourself behind.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finishing things up...

Pciture: Artisan Gallery @ CASEM

Wednesday August 18th
Journal by Andy

Today was our second to last day at CASEM. The weather was pleasant up until the usual rainy afternoon and we got plenty of work done outside. Faustino was showing my mother how to attach the seats to the chairs and I was mostly using the power sander to smooth out the tabletops. Even with a mask, it has to be done in fairly short increments so that I don´t completely coat my lungs with sawdust.

Lunch was cannoli things whose name I believe was close to cannoli (cannelloni) and they were quite good. The food has been excellent since we`ve been here but I will probably need a break from rice and beans when I get back to the States. I picked out regalos for the rest of the people I needed gifts for and we cut the day short because the ladies were hitting the ziplines.

Tomorrow is the last day at the CoOp, and while I am ready to return, it will be incredibly sad to have to leave CASEM and all the amazing people I’ve met while I’ve been here. I genuinely hope to return one day and eat at the finished diner on one of Faustino’s fine chairs, and off of a table top that offers me the taste of the local cuisine, rather than sawdust.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Amigos Nuevos/ New Friends!

Tuesday August 17th
Journal by Pat

We enjoyed our usual casual breakfast. The conversation picks up gradually as we have our coffee. Interesting topics always emerge. One of the topics this morning was the effect of immigration on Costa Rica – mostly the downsides of being such a popular country.

So, as per usual, we left a bit late for CASEM – pura vida! The morning started out with clear blue skies so we were able to work outside on the table legs, and eventually, the table top. Initially, I worked next to Damaris. She was a perfect match for me. She knew enough English to help me learn some Spanish with occasional help from my Costa Rican Spanish book. Dennia could also speak English. Damaris learned English in school, Dennia, while working as a babysitter for an English speaking family.

The girls from the Coffee Coop and 2 American exchange students from Japan (Yoko and Yuri) were also volunteering at CASEM. I think they just walked in and volunteered to help. Yoko and Yuri went with Andy, Susan, Nia, and I to the Chocolate store. Once again, the rains came – surprise, surprise – and we were stranded at the Chocolate store where we had a delightful time drinking tea, eating chocolate, and visiting. Nia took advantage of the opportunity to plan a pretend trip to Japan, finding out where to shop cheaply and what to see. We finally decided to slosh back to CASEM in the rain to put in an hour of work before taking off on other excursions.

After work Susan and I walked to the Children’s Reserve where we were drenched once again. Alone we entered the dense forest with strange sounds – a little eerie. We were searching for monkeys and toucans – maybe next time. We did see Guans (big turkey-like birds) and coati (mammals with long snouts and long tails that travel in trees and on the ground).

Valinda went to the orchid farm. Andy chilled. At dinner we tried to tease him about his after dinner outing with the Coffee Coop volunteers to some unknown (to anyone) bar, but we couldn’t get a rise out of him. The rest of us spent the evening resting up for tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Returning to CASEM...

Monday August 16th
Journal by Valinda

After an eventful weekend and Sunday night, we settled back into our Global Volunteers routine. Three lovely women – Olga, Ivonne, and Mariaelcida – joined us. At first, we waited for Tarcisio, who is Sury and Ipsi´s father, to join us because he was going to show us how to use the power sander on the tabletops that had been cut from tree trunks. Unfortunately, he didn´t appear, so Pat, Susan, and I spent the morning labeling display shelves in English and Spanish. Andy and Susan also hung another set of pictures on the stairwell wall. Andy was bereft without los niños, who apparently stayed home to prepare for the return to school on Tuesday.

During the morning coffee break, we practiced Spanish with our new friends. Lunch was a savory chicken stew and a delicious rice drink called horchatas. After lunch, we had an interesting conversation with Patricia Jimenez, about U.S. politics and the Tea Party movement. During lunch, Pat and Susan´s new friends from Wisconsin (Annette and Cindy) arrived to see CASEM. I learned how to wash dishes in cold water.

The afternoon was filled with new activities. Some of the niños, including José Pablo, showed up, so Andy played a couple of futbol matches with them and Susan. Neidy joined in for a little while. The niños were pretty talented. Andy thought he would have had a much harder time if he wasn´t three times the size of the boys. Susan was a tough competitor, but she puzzled us by yelling jump ball at odd moments.

Back at work, Monica showed us how to use the electric sander and Andy and I had fun working with it on the table tops. ¡Power tools for todos!

After work, we were able to return to Los Cipreses to upgraded rooms with balconies – or what Nia called Beverly Hills. Dinner was a traditional Costa Rican soup with a spiced molasses-based drink (agua dulce), served hot. We had a spirited conversation about movies and dreams, with Andy trying to explain how we could have lucid dreams. Very Twilight-Zone-ish. We ended the evening with wine, cheese, and silly police t.v. shows. A good time was had by all. ¡Pura vida!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekend fun!

Weekend August14th-15th
Journal by Susan and Valinda

Off on a vacation weekend to Arenal. We made the “Jeep-boat-jeep” trip to Arenal, the site of the most active volcano in Costa Rica. What an experience! We traveled the extremely bumpy, pot-hole road in a mini-van with fabulous views of coffee farms and lush mountainous farmland.

The second leg of the journey was across Lake Arenal, the largest man-made lake in Costa Rica. It was created from a dam built after the disastrous eruption of the volcano in 1968. Pat and I were then transported to our hotel, La Pradera del Arenal, which had lush gardens and an inviting pool and Jacuzzi. After taking a power nap, we ventured out for a hike to Arenal with a personal guide named Yeode (Jody). While trekking through the lava fields with gorgeous views of the volcano and surrounding countryside, we encountered parrots, howler monkeys, and a bird called a yellow-tailed something-or-other! We heard several eruptions with one visual lava slide. Our guide had us wait until after dark to view a bright eruption after dark which never came, but we knew he was just buying time for our transportation to our next destination.

Andy and Valinda stayed on the other side of La Fortuna. Both the reception desk and the dining room were outside under a deep porch roof, and hardly anyone there spoke English. The owners put fruit out for the parrots, and Valinda saw a blue parakeet and a large yellow bird while she waited for Andy to get ready for lunch. They went into La Fortuna and ate at a neighborhood soda called Soda del Rio. Andy and Valinda also hiked around the volcano and saw some new wildlife, including a pair of toucans. They ended up at a different viewpoint, but saw much of what we saw – smoke from the volcano, lightning, a rainbow, and a brilliant sunset, all within about 30 minutes.

What a weekend!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My how quickly time passes!

Friday , August 13th
Journal by Pat

Quote of the Day: `We are not all called to be great. But we are all called to reach out our hands to our brothers and sisters, and to care for the earth in the time we are given.`

We started the day with Nia´s birthday watermelon slice and our 2nd rendition of "Happy Birthday." After our sad send off for Michelle, Art, and Daryl, our meager team of 4 headed for CASEM with our fearless leader, Nia.

I was actually rather proud of how we navigated the day. Maybe it was just my perception, but I engaged in more conversation with the associates and CASEM volunteers. I didn´t have Nia and Michelle to run to. Faustino started our 1st Spanish lesson by telling us about the guava jelly (jalea de guayaba) his 90 year old mother makes which he brought to share with us on crackers (soda).

Our attempts to complete the chairs was cut short by rain. We finally moved the chairs inside to dry over the weekend. We went to plan 2: Susan, Valinda, and I continued the task of straightening the shelves; Andy continued creating animals for the mural. I was slower completing tasks because I spent more time enjoying conversations with team members and associates, especially Patricia Jemenez who speaks very good English. She was very verbal about the plight of women in Costa Rica.

Andy, Valinda, Susan, Fio, and I walked to the cheese facory after lunch for ice cream. Valinda bought a tub of ice cream to share back at CASEM. Susan and I walked on to the Friend`s Meeting House and school. On the way back we followed a heard of cows.

Leidy taught Susan, Andy, Valinda, and myself to make balls of yarn. Leidy is quite a comedian. We laughed a lot as we fumbled with these little balls of yarn. Like most of the day, many mini Spanish lessons were injected into this simple activity. We were `loco catos.´

The evening went fine, though not as planned. Dinner was in town. We climbed the hills back home twice so we should sleep well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

~Feeling at home at CASEM~

Thursday, August 12th
Journal by Susan

Today was my day to contribute the thought of the day. I have been very impressed by the tranquility of the Costa Rican people and the patience of the women of CASEM, so I chose the Serenity Prayer. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Our days in the Global Volunteers CASEM project are chapters punctuated by meal-times—breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, siesta, dinner, and sometimes after-dinner. Today, after our 2nd breakfast, we continued on our project of working on the chairs for the diner—cleaning the sanded chairs, applying the 1st coat of lacquer, 2nd sanding, cleaning the sanded chairs, then applying the 2nd coat of lacquer. Pat and I agreed that neither of us have the patience to do this kind of project at home, but somehow it did not seem tedious today, especially working outside on our first sunny day! I enjoyed working along with Ipsi and Sury, two school girls who attend the Friends School and speak perfect English. Before the day was done, we had completed what we could thanks to lawyer Valinda´s checklist of completed tasks!

The day at CASEM ended with a touching ceremony honoring the three team members who are leaving after the first week. After viewing our first striking Costa Rica sunset, the group brought closure to a fulfilling week (and celebrated Nia`s birthday) with a scrumptious dinner at a Latin fusion café. Dinner was followed by a concert of Flamenco music and dance performed by Cardamomo, a very talented local band, at the Music Garden.

How have we managed to pack so much into one day, much less one week! Those of us who are staying another week will genuinely miss what our three departing compadres have brought to the team—who will be left to scrape the bark off the wood, to translate when our Spanglish doesn´t work, and to get Pat out of the bathroom?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Andy, Resident Artist!

Picture: Andy and Juan Pablo with their masterpieces!

Wednesday, August 11th
Journal by Andy

Today I went straight to work on my armadillo drawing and I soon came to the realization that I would be spending much of the trip doing artwork. I spent the first two days at CASEM helping Art and Daryl with plumbing as well as doing a bit of chair sanding. Once the women of the COOP found out I had attended art school, however, I was quickly put to work creating drawings for a large mural, as well as smaller cartoons to be used on shirts. With the help of Fio, Catalina, and Jose Pablo, I came up with several comical representations of native Costa Rican animals.

This is not at all what I expected from this trip and it brings me great joy to not only be able to reconnect with my visual arts that I have ignored for almost two years now, but to also learn from the other artists in the community, both young and old, and share skills and ideas.

CASEM is a wonderful organization and it is held together by some of the kindest, most talented individuals I have ever encountered. I am incredibly lucky to be able to work here for two weeks, and even though I must soon attend to my life back in America, there is a large part of me that wishes I could stay here for much, much longer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Plumbing projects, yes I can!

Picture: Faustino, the furniture extraordinaire

Tuesday August 10th
Journal by Art

I woke up in the morning with a headache, either thinking about the plumbing in the back bathroom at CASEM or just a lack of water. It should be gone after eating breakfast.

When we get to CASEM, as we make our way to the back room, we are introduced to Faustino, the artisan who made the chairs we are sanding. As we work outside, sanding the chairs, we talk with the other artisans or CASEM staff. We learn from each other, teaching Spanish and English and how to sand and scrape using local tools. Before break, I am working with Edith and Irma.

After break, I get the hose to fix the back bathroom. It doesn´t look the same as the old one but I tried it out anyway. SUCCESS – it worked! The headache is gone.

I continued working on the chairs with my little group, trying to understand Spanish. If I could not understand it, I asked Daryl for help.

Lunch was a great time for all of us to get together and “break bread.” We had salad, rice with chicken, black beans, and fruit punch. The food was great and it really hit the spot. After lunch, part of the group went to the cheese factory. As for me, taking a nap was better – a much needed rest after a big meal.

Back at work, Valinda and I were talking about the tools CASEM had to use. We shave bark off the chairs with old dull knives. We sharpen them with sand paper but some can´t be sharpened very well. We talked about stopping at the hardware store in the morning and buying a hand planer, if they had one. (Later, Nia explained that it would be preferable to continue to use the tools that the CASEM associates were used to working with.)

As we ended the work day (number 2), it made we happy that we had finished the work we had been asked to do.)

That evening, dinner was quick with a sandwich and fries so that we could go to the night walk in the rain forest. It was great! You just had to watch your surroundings. But the best part was as we are driving out. That’s when the van in front stopped; we saw the riders jump out and point into the trees. They had spotted a large sloth. We watched it for several minutes. A perfect ending for a great day. Pura vida!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Start to the week!

Monday August 9th
Journal by Daryl

Yesterday, I started the morning with a much needed cup of coffee. I expected a hectic work schedule and was surprised how laid-back and easy the day was. That was when I remembered that this was still a vacation. Visiting the artisan would have been a great experience for anyone who went. The landscape would inspire any artist and the home of the artist was a curiosity to someone who lives in a suburban neighborhood; with the workshop. The plumbing job I had next I would describe as distinctly Costa Rican, using materials normally not used for irrigation and digging up treasures such as machetes and Andy`s favorite animal, the tarantula. Most of us ended the day with a stroll through downtown then went back to our room to check for insects.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Costa Rica--PURA VIDA!

We have come from all regions of the United States—from the East Coast to the West Coast, from the North to the South, all to be greeted by the ever hospitable ``PURA VIDA`` mentality of Costa Rica and its friendly Ticos and Ticas. We are anything from students, to coaches and lawyers, technicians, entrepreneurs and retirees and yet all seem to slightly resemble eager kindergarteners; everyone anxious to learn about our assignments, meet our new friends and quickly find where all the nearest bathrooms are!

Our first days here have been, in my opinion, very enjoyable. We seem to have all found our way to Las Orquideas one way or another on Saturday. That evening we enjoyed a casual and relaxing meal together before retiring early to the sounds of our new rainforest wildlife choir including our noisy neighbor Fred and a few motos zipping down the street.

Sunday we woke and feasted on a delicious breakfast complete with fresh fruit, tamales and everyone’s newfound favorite: Salsa Lizano. After breakfast, Nia gave us an informative orientation session to brush-up on our team policies; review the Philosophy of Service and of course to refresh our Spanish skills.

After lunch, we set off for the ``X`` on the map—the treasured town of Santa Elena in the Monteverde Cloud Forest…and boy did we ever see clouds…and rain…and more clouds and more rain! Our skilled driver Rolvin safely navigated us through the twisty-turning paved roads, over the extremely bumpy gravel roads and up and down the cloud-laden mountainsides. Once our feet were all firmly planted again on stable ground, we all agreed that he did a great job!

Upon our arrival, some of us hopped back in the van for a shorter ride to a nearby music festival where we enjoyed a glass of wine and an acappella group from where else but the good old USA…ha! Talk about ironic. Either way it was delightful! We then ate quick games of cards and it was off to bed to catch some Zzzs as the next day would be our much anticipated first day at CASEM. Off to wage peace and promote justice! Go team 201!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

April 28th,2010

Picture: Luis, Zsuza,Rita, Maritza and Anna test out the desks

April 28, 2010 Journal Entry

I was woken up by the dog barking at 0500 and then Brad the rooster (we gave him a name) started crowing and would not stop. I had to close the window which had little effect.

We headed to breakfast at 0800 and we started with papaya. For some reason it is not my favorite fruit. Grace served us scrambled eggs and ham with toast and a wonderful cheese. Of course I had my usual two cups of coffee.

We didn’t start work until 1000 (The teacher had to teach early in the mornings) so we worked on our journals to put them into a word document for Nia. By the time we arrived at the classroom, the men were hard at work putting the sink in. Suzy and I started working on the desks and finished putting the second coat of paint on. They look like new. I think I have more paint on me then the desks do. Alexis was busy in the bathroom putting up the ceramic tile above the sink. Tomorrow we will have to find some blue paint to finish up.

Off to lunch in the school cafeteria. I shared the Tabasco sauce with everyone. The bottle almost lasted us the whole stay. What are we going to do tomorrow? LOL!!!

We headed back to the class and started cleaning and putting everything back. Even the freshly washed curtains were put back up. What a difference. It is really coming together. It is hard to believe that we will be finishing soon. I am going to miss everyone.
For coffee we had rice pudding made by Miguel’s wife. It was absolutely delicious!!!! The one thing I have learned to like is that there is some kind of snack served when you have coffee. We were picked up early at 1500 as Rita thought Suzy and I worked too hard. We came back and finished our journals.
We went to dinner at Mar & Tierra where we had fabulous seafood pasta. It was decided that we would take a taxi back rather than walk as it was raining off and on.

Thought’s of the Day
Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up. By Jesse Jackson
The journey is the reward. Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday April 27th,2010

The morning was fine and cool without rain. After pancakes for breakfast we went to work and started painting the table legs white, as Rita wanted. The windows needed cleaning so I scraped the splatter off, and cleaned most of them with a solution of water and vinegar. The kids were back in school and we had the usual hustle and bustle and screaming. We missed them on Monday.

The classroom cleanup is progressing. The tables looked great with their new Formica top, and Anna suggested that we use some of the yellow paint to paint around the wood. We started that and put the first coat on. The yellow brought out the white on the table legs, and they looked really good. After another good lunch we continued to work inside, as there was another heavy poor down.

The table the men constructed turned out very need even thought they cut the legs too short, but Rita insisted that they make the top higher for bigger kids. I sat on the floor to scrape some left over glue but Miguel had a better way. He poured some solution on the tiles and danced over the glue with an abrasive pad. So, I cleaned more windows. The progress is amazing. Forgot what we had for dinner, but all the food is good.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Journal Entry April 26, 2010

Well Suzy and I survived the hot and humid weather of La Fortuna and “No” we did not see any lava from Arenal. Instead there was a deluge of rain, during our weekend trip to La Fortuna.

Here we are Monday morning with just Suzy and I left of our group. We are missing the rest of our team but they are here in our hearts. We started the morning with yogurt, cinnamon bread,
cheese, fruit and yes coffee too. It was very simple and delicious as always.

We arrived at the school and broke in (just kidding) as the school security guard was missing in action and not there to greet us. We made our way to the classroom and found Rita, Alexis and Maritza already there and working. There was no school that day so it was very quiet. I missed hearing the children.

I finished some of the trim in "amarillo" and the door too. Suzy was also very busy with the trim and cleaning of the windows. We had lunch and then back to work. I finished putting the Formica on all of the school desks. There were 8 of them in total. Maritza helped me. Luis had to show us how to put the glue on correctly. He is quite the character. He has a great sense of humor.
Luis, Miguel and Alexis were building a beautiful table. Unfortunately it was too short in the legs. After plenty of discussion and Nia facilitating, they came to an agreement. They were able to come up with a creative idea using the left over wood. What could have been a fiasco, turned out beautiful and only 2 cm short of what was originally designed.

Have a new project for tomorrow. I will paint all of the desk legs white. It’s going to look beautiful when we’re all done. We will even come up with a solution for the bathroom regarding the ceramic tile.
We headed back to the El Viandante in the rain. I had to put on my fleece for the very first time. We decided to have dinner at 1730. We went to Mar & Tierra where we had a very nice glass of Chilean red wine with dinner. We had a wonderful bowl of Olla de Carne, traditional beef and vegetable stew. It was exactly what we needed to warm the soul. While at the restaurant, we had front row seats and watched the wonderful lightening show and the thunder brought music to our ears. The heavens have opened up and the rain was pouring down. The rainy season I believe has officially started.

We waited until the rain died down a bit before we caught our taxi back. It has been a wonderful day and now rest for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday April 21th
Picture: Amy masterfully paints the trims

Zsuzsa's Journal Entry
Fell asleep without the local rodeo fiesta lullaby. The dog did not bark, the morning was bright. Breakfast was a real treat with fresh fruits, eggs and cheese from the Cheese Factory. To add to the feast, Cliff, Amy and Gabriella went for an early walk to Sofia’s bakery and brought some super pastries.

We set off to work full and happy. Worked hard on the bathroom to have at least one area finished. The broken window pane was replace by Miguel, the paint job was finished and the sink was reattached. We all looked forward to start painting the school room with the paint chosen by Rita. The color was mixed with white paint, and Rita was not quite sure what she wanted.. I seemed to be the color expert, and had my finger swatches on the wall. After much mixing and consultation, we all agreed that the pale yellow was very nice and started to paint. Gabriella painted clouds on the ceiling, and all agreed that they looked great.

We had another super lunch and fresh slices of pineapple and mango as a treat. Gabriella had her photo taken with a group of enthusiastic kids and Miguel. I would have liked to have a nap, the heat and food got to me, but went back to work and worked the rest of the afternoon. We had great sandwiches for dinner , before some went for the night walk.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cleaning the room...and prep

Tuesday April 20th
Picture: Karen goes high for blue skies ...
Amy's journal entry:

We started the day with French toast, cantaloupe, and sausage. It’s always so good to have that first cup of coffee…

We did team goals (and had great cohesion and symmetry). Though there are some ambivalent feelings about our rooster, we settled on his name as Brad. …Then, off to school…

We were very productive today. As soon as we arrived at school, we set about prepping…First, we brought Rita’s books, toys and materials outside. Then, we started spackling (Anna used her finger), sanding and scraping (Karen and Suzy were the Queens here), and Cliff and Miguel put the broken door back on the cabinet…backward…But Miguel, the philosopher abandoned Spanish to say, “C’est la vie”. We said, “Pura Vida”—don’t know if that’s properly placed there. Next, we started painting. First was trim in the bathroom. Then, Karen, Gabriella, and Anna continued on the bathroom, and we were off. I then started on the trim in the classroom and Gabriella joined me. We outlined the walls and each overhead light. Suzy and Karen were scraping and spackling, and Anna and Luis painted, stripped old paint, and painted (again) the remainder of the bathroom.

After another great lunch, we finally rolled the ceiling of the classroom. Gabriella did most of one half, and Karen did much of the other. I was called away to reprise my coffee-making skills, but forgot the filter. Nia saved me with the cotton sock technique and we ended the day with café and delicious chiverre pastries.

Then, off to the Cheese Factory for ice cream, yogurt drinks, and for Punk and me, lengthy milk shakes. Anna and I scored caramels which we tested after yet another delicious dinner of breaded fish, rice, salad and bread. After dinner, Nia taught Cliff how to slice and serve a mango…delicioso. We ended another great day with two beautiful videos of Monteverde; one on its history, and one on its beautiful biodiversity. So much to see; so little time…

Cliff starts furniture with Alondra's family

Monday, April 19, 2010

Starting a new service program in Sata.Elena: Special Ed class

MondayJournal Entry April 19, 2010 Monteverde, Costa Rica
Anna Mulessa

We were up and showered early and met for breakfast by 0800. Breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, scrambled eggs and cereal with coffee. Once done we heard from Amy the thought of the day and the journal reading was by Cliff. Cliff is a wonderful writer. When we completed the journal reading, Nia showed us a video on Global Volunteers 25th anniversary. I love what they stand for, "Wages peace one person at a time.”
Next we provided our “Effective Team Characteristics” and had our Spanish lesson by Nia. I learned how to enunciate the “LL” as a “J”, very difficult to remember. Next we caught our shuttle to “Centro Educativo Santa Elena” where we met Rita the special education teacher. Here we also met Bayron age 12 with CP, Naiseth age 3 with a form of autism and Alondra age 11 with Downs.
We all introduced ourselves and learned about one another. Alondra came and sat on my lap which took me by surprise. She sat on Suzy’s lap next, skipped Cliff and went to Amy next where she played a hand game. Next she sat on Gabby’s lap and then Karen’s. We also were introduced to the Head Master of the school and another lady who was the President of the school board.
We took to cleaning the walls, windows and dusting out the cobwebs. Everyone was so helpful. I helped Alexis measure the walls. He is the grandfather of Naiseth. Cliff was busy collaborating with Miguel who is Alondra’s father.
By 1230 we headed to the cafeteria where we had lunch that consisted of rice, beans, chicken and potatoes with a salad. The pear (Cas) juice was delicious. We also had the pleasure of dining with the school children who were very curious about whom we were.
At 1300 we were back to work. Gabby completed the removal of all the nails in one of the walls and from the back of the storage cubby. She also painted a box for the classroom next door with Kelly, Alondra’s sister.
At 1430, it was café time. We sat is a semi circle relaxing and enjoying the great conversation.. Amy made the coffee and it tasted great.
By 1500, we were back to work. Rita was able to find us a storage room on the school grounds and we took all the old stuff that didn’t belong in the classroom. This made her very happy. The bathroom was now cleaned of all the junk and we discovered there was a shower. We also found some unwanted fury little creatures that were some kind of spider. Alexis took great pleasure in saving the little creatures and took them outside. He had to stop and show Amy, who was standing on a chair and gave a little scream. Everybody laughed.
We closed the end of the day with Rita and Alexis who had their list of supplies to pick up at the hardware store. She was excited that she was going to have the colors she envisioned. She won the battle. Alexis does not like the colors she chose, Amarillo. Gabby had suggested painting the ceiling blue with clouds. Rita really liked the idea.
Our taxi arrived just as we walked out of the school gate where a security guard keeps track of who comes and goes. We stopped for Monteverde ice cream and were treated by Cliff and Amy. This was very refreshing.
We arrived back at our hotel and freshened up. We went to the hotel next door we sat out on the veranda. We had spectacular views of Santa Elena there. I had to take some pictures. We also met a lovely group of people from Boston. They had to cancel their trip to Europe due to the volcano eruption in Iceland and chose to come and see Costa Rica.
We headed back to our hotel for dinner of beef, rice and veggies. I tried this wonderful Tamerind sauce, salsa Lizano. I think I will be taking a few bottles home with me. Yum! We had great conversation and ended the evening. I think we were all very tired and needed to rest up for the following day. A lot of hard work but it was fun.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

...On a sunday...

Cliff’s Journal Entry
Global Volunteers • 4.18.10 SUNDAY
Sta. Elena, Costa Rica

In a very easy and structured way, Nia ran a get-to-know-you and informational meeting. As she talked I had the vision that we are in the process of building a cathedral with others, not merely laying bricks. We are diplomats for transition and catalysts for change. Nia’s passion demonstrated a fine leadership model, both inspiring and grounding.

I enjoyed learning about the lives and diversity of our small volunteer group – Anna, Susie, and Karen. Everyone freely shared their careers and personal lives; I was struck by the diversity and similarity of people’s lives. We came from different parts of the world, yet everyone seemed to strive in their lives to grow and express themselves.

Regarding Global Volunteers, Nia was such a thoughtful ambassador of what clearly is a world-class program built of experience, wisdom and thoughtfulness. Global Volunteers rules and policies were crafted from a vision to create more self-reliant communities and to collaborate with and respect others in the process. Process is “king” or “queen”, not destination, a good philosophy for life anywhere.

We are giving our time and spirit, not things. Even if someone (a parent or child) gives us a gift, say thank you and remember we are already reciprocating.

Stepping back for a moment, we have been meeting for about two hours and the volunteers are still engaged, asking questions and commenting. The sun is shining; Fred is squawking; the tile floor is cooling; and the setting, arranged in an “L” is good for conversation.

“Money rates are changing so rapidly, don’t nickel and dime,” said Nia, “stay flexible.” Here is a good metaphor for our togetherness and contribution –– listen to others, stay within the rules, and enjoy the hard work and free time…oh, each other too.

So the paved road leads to the rocky road that preserves and protects the gem Sta, Elena, our destination, a mountain town filled with action and authenticity. We loved our clean and spacious rooms at El Viandante and our welcoming hosts Grace and Renzo with their dear children Julia and Paulo. We settled a bit and then off to town for a look, feel, and bottle of red wine. The sunset at our backs crowned the mountain like Saturn, striped with dark pink.

We sat down to an aromatic dinner of chicken, chayote(squash) and potatoes, punctuated with liberal; conversation that spanned healthcare to the Kennedy’s to Irish twins to Nia’s explanation of what constituted an ethical workday. All resonated with her interpretation. Just as I wrote this at 8:35 pm, I heard the hooves of prancing horses headed back from or going to the rodeo.

After dinner we are all sitting with each other listening to the rodeo music that wafts clearly up the hill and we are enjoying each other’s silent company as Gabriella draws and others read.

We had a very good beginning and day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Project Contribution

572 hours of volunteer work

Prepared wood for furniture at the new CASEMCOOP dinner and updated the women biography book. The dinner will provide income for those women that in the aging process have lost their sight or fine motor skills that allowed them to make arts and crafts. This way they will either cook or send homemade breads and foods to sell at the dinner.

Sara and daughter updated about 30% of the biography book at the CASEMCOOP shop.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Feb 23rd

Thought for the day "Make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy; ... grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love.
... it is in giving that we receive.

submitted by Jim

We woke up to another beautiful day. Enjoyed the poem that Jim shared for the "thought of the day." I worked some more on updating the CASEM members' profiles for the book in the store that tells customers more about who made the items they're buying. I talked to Edith, who started at CASEM when she was 17 so she wouldn't always have to ask her parents for money. Also wrote up more of the "interviews" from the day before. The rest of the team seemed to be making great progress smoothing down the sticks to be used for chair legs. I heard a lot of laughing and talking in a mixture of English and Spanish. We had another lovely home-cooked lunch at CASEM, with a very artistically arranged salad. Also took a pretty walk up towards Monteverde to take Catalina (Neri's granddaughter) to her Quaker school. We stopped at the cheese factory to pick up some delicious mint chocolate chip ice cream - que rico!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 7th, 2010

Thursday morning began with a misty shower outside. After a delicious breakfast we set out for our last day in Canitas. The final chocolate caliente and souvenir shopping at the B and B started the work day. We spent the day finishing the minor paint touch up in the kitchen, repainted the furniture, and placed the window grates back on the windows. The men of Canitas assisted by Jim finished roofing the outdoor bathroom. Inside Casa Club Carolyn and others scrapped the floor to ride the tile of paint spots. Kellie learned how to make empanadas in the kitchen and the snacks were deemed a success by the rest of the group.

The afternoon finished with a lovely presentation by both the people of Canitas and the volunteers. Words of thanks and gratitude were exchanged as well as small gifts. The volunteer women received earrings and the men bookmarks. With the funds left over from the project money Nia bought cooking utensils for Casa Club. Emilene read a poem she had written in Spanish that spoke of our wonderful time in Canitas. We were all sad to leave this little town but the huge painting project we completed and the new friends we made left us feeling we had given something to the community while receiving a great gift in return.

The day ended with a taco dinner and a taxi ride to Pizza De Johnny where the group enjoyed drinks and dessert. Final funny stories were told and everyone reflected on the last two weeks with a sense of pride. A wonderful way to end our time in Santa Elena.