Monday, January 31, 2011

Strong Judy from Canada hawls wheel barrows of dirt to make way for sidewalk

Riel from Canada starts wood for sidewalk

Let the games begin!

So...the primary school kids need a sidewalk to walk to school..our ten brave volunteers from Halifax, Canada , Jersey in the States started this enormous task under a blazing sun by digging the culvert in front of the existing side walk

New team arrives on Saturday January 29th

Jesse, Jericha, Willie and Keilor round up shovels to start digging.

Journal – Day 1 – Santa Elena, Costa Rica

Today, January 30, 2011, in San Jose, ten of us began our first Global Volunteers adventure under the leadership of Nia Salas. The night before was not promising – we were already down 1½ people before our journey began: Yolanda had sprained her ankle and could no longer come with us, and Jessie was visiting the medical clinic with a bad case of the flu.

By morning, Jessie was coming around and we bid farewell to Yolanda. It was time to get down to the business of volunteering. Our first task was to learn the names of our fellow volunteers by playing the name game. (I lost the game, by the way, by forgetting the name of the person next to me. Sorry, Atula, I shall never forget it again.) After we found out a bit about our team members, Nia took us through the finer points of working as a volunteer in a cross-cultural situation. It was a lot of information to take in, and I can’t say that I was able to absorb it all. Three things the stuck with me were: (1) volunteers eat often; (2) learn to go with the flow; and (3) when in doubt, just say “pura vida”. It sounds good to me!

After lunch, we left Orquideas Inn – with the colourful toucan, the squawking parrot and Marilyn the Dog – for the three-hour trip to Santa Elena. The gently winding, paved roads eventually gave way to a very bumpy, twisting roller coaster of a ride into the Monte Verde region. The terror of riding along sheer drop offs was surpassed by the spectacular views over the green Costa Rican hills down to the Pacific Ocean. Eventually we arrived in the bustling tourist town of Santa Elena. After exploring the town for a bit, and enjoying our dinner of red snapper, the Freemans introduced us to the game of Left, Right, Center, at which Andrew and I demonstrated our extraordinary skills at this difficult game by winning. While the adults compared stories of life in Canada, Costa Rica and the United States, the kids ventured out in the dark to the nearest supermarket, returning with bags of candy to share.

So we begin this adventure excited to find out what this experience will bring. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” If that is the case, then with this group of volunteers, we can truly achieve something great.

Pura Vida!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recognize this little road?

This little road into Canitas is getting a new sidewalk so kids that walk to school can come safely and free of mud during the rainy season. Canitas is a small community of about sixty families nestled in the country side. Some might say it is a "forgotten" place. Life is simple here, farming, coffee picking and family.

Most kids around here walk to school. No sidewalks are available in the area, so it is muddy, most likely, in the rainy season. Kids ages , 3 to 10, that attend the 2 room schoolhouse (kindergarten and primary school until 6th grade) would compete with passer by cars and jeeps to walk on the road. We would like to help them be safe from now on. Build a proper sidewalk for kids to walk on. Hopefully be a catalyst for safer roads for the kids around Santa Elena.

Three community groups will organize themselves to match our 10 volunteers starting this coming Monday. We will be building this from the primary school to the main road, lots of digging lots of mixing of cement!
Wish us luck!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jena sends Christmas Card describing her experience

Jena and family from Lafayette, LA, send me their beautiful Christmas card describing their Global Volunteers experience last summer! Thanks C family!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


In representing the Global Volunteers at Casa Club Closing Ceremony, this poem was written to express appreciation and gratitude to the wonderful people of Cañitas


It is a rare occasion when I can speak for one group to another

But in the last two weeks
you have touched us, our hearts
with the different faces of Cañitas

the smiles in your eyes when we met
the smiles of the girls and boys who had helped us
the seasonal rain
the sound of the very high wind

A trail that journeys through farmland
that goes
to the top
of the mountain

Blue morphos
A precious view

The food has different faces as well
roasted coffee
rice, beans, eggs with salsa
pancakes with honey
aracache appetizers
empanadas with cheese
Salsa Lizano
Imperial beer

Varied faces
like the colors of the rainbow
one can see almost every day

We will remember the last two weeks
working together
playing soccer with the children
learning how to cook Costa Rican food

We hope the people of Cañitas will enjoy
Casa Club
with new paint
of colors orange, red-brown, and yellow

A mirror
of the rich land and pure water

Many Thanks to Everyone for their hospitality and generosity

We could say we have lived

--Emeline Contreras-Forrest
Global Volunteer, Costa Rica, Dec 2009 - Jan 2010