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.