Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31st, 2012

Message of the day: Picked by Ed "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it, and that is an encouraging thought. " Gandalf- Lord of the Rings

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile"- Albert Einstein


Daily Journal: Our return Sunday night to Santa Elena was very welcomed.  It was nice to spend time at the beach in Tamarindo, but getting back to more familiar sites was comforting.  We were also sad to see the rest of our team leave but there were conversations had about seeing each other again, and there was still work to be done!

It was a beautiful day so Ed took advantage and got many of the outside work done under the watchful eye of the local dog posse.  The sign posts got their second coat of paint and the fascia was brought back to life.  Gutters we cleaned up and a new task of tackling the CASEM sign at the top of the building began. Two people, two ladders and two levels of roof to navigate, and a plan was forged to start this work project that we weren’t sure we would be able to do.

Before we knew it is was time for lunch, which was an amazing casado con pollo.  We both enjoyed it and were ready to return to work! 

The rest of the day went fast and Ed even managed to secure the piece of roofing that had been flapping all week in the wind.  I know everyone was glad to not have to listen to that anymore.

We returned to the Mar Inn and decided to go out and celebrate a bit of the New Year with a walk to some of the local watering holes and a nice dinner; getting back to the Mar Inn just in time to see the New Year arrive in New York City. -Amy

Friday, December 28, 2012

Message of the day:  Picked by Bridgette (19)  "It is high time that the ideal of success should be replaced with the ideal of service."  -Albert Einstein

"Service is the rent we pay for being.  It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time."  -Marian Wright Edelman

Daily JournalToday, Thursday, December 27th, was another great day in the world of a Santa Elena Global Volunteer.  The day started off with a wholesome meal of tortilla and cheese (also known as cereal for Jo, Cate, Jesse, and me), and the daily bumpy drive to CASEM.  Oddly enough my overly “careful”, “responsible”, and “remembering” mother seemed to have forgotten I existed at the beginning of the van ride, stating “Oh yeah, where’s Willie?” as we were about half way to CASEM.  Upon arrival at CASEM we were faced with another day of sign placing, skein making, soccer playing, name tagging (thanks Jo and Jody) and food preparing ( all Cassandra).  Also, there was the aggressive undertaking of filing receipts and naming folders which did not “trip up” Bridgette and Bella who worked valiantly to meet Patricia’s often varying expectations (paste these names on the folders; now take them off!) yet always good intentions.  At first “café” our group was served some excellent brownies and delicious mystery banana pastries washed down with some highly caffeinated coffee, which Jesse skipped, resulting in a headache from her new found addiction (which may or may not have begun this week).  Café was followed by more work and skein making as usual, made enjoyable by Sofia’s enthusiasm, talk of marriage to Edward (who apparently has various suitors), Bridgette’s humor, and stories from Patricia and the other women in the co-op who seem to never run out of stories to tell us as the upstairs crew listened with intent. 
     At lunch I sat with Cassandra and Rodney (for all those who I am reading this aloud to, I have started a new paragraph because I have a LOT to say about this meal).  As always it was very nice to talk with them, and knowing they were leaving today left me with a very melancholy feeling because it has been a pleasure being able to spend time with a family like them.  After a few minutes of talking we were served our lunch.    After this meal, Rodney said his goodbyes to the group through a speech that moved us.  It really was great.  After lunch we commenced working and I really don’t know what anyone else did because I was busy making 13 skeins, which I was attempting to make egg shaped in the style of a cheerful and skilled Costa Rican woman.  Again we were called to “café” but this time we were presented with special “agua dulce” (DELICIOUS) as the members of CASEM said their tearful goodbyes to Rodney, Cassandra & Bridgette.  Nancy and Jody read their limerick (hilarious and true).  The workers in CASEM were beyond thankful for their dedicated work.   At the end of the work day, Andrew, Jesse, Jo, Cate, Bridgette, Bella, Owen, and I went for a final visit to the Argentino chocolate place whose chocolates we have welcomed into our diets throughout the past week with ease, Bridgette especially.  The van ride home was quick as usual, but as I observed the van was having a bit of a hard time making it up some of the steepest hills… yikes…  When we got home we had to say our goodbyes to Rodney, Cassandra & Bridgette.  Although these goodbyes were accompanied with promises to meet again, parting with such great people is hard no matter what the condition.  After they left, we prepared ourselves for a delicious dinner at the Tree House.  The food was delicious.  Everyone missed Andrew!!!  Now we are finally home after a long day!  -Willie (15)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Message of the day: Picked by Jesse (12)  "If you cannot change the skeleton you're stuck with, you might as well make it dance." -Anonymus
"I love to find new people.  It's not for the sake of their being new, it's because if you find someone that perfectly fits a part that is a great thing." -Rober DeNiro
Daily Journal: Same schedule, different day. The area around CASEM was much more bustling today...the usual array of dogs but many more people passing through and milling around. It definitely felt like the day after Christmas and everyone came out to enjoy the beautiful weather.

We continued to work primarily outside, as there were many customers for Patricia to attend to inside. So most of us kept on doing what we had been doing. Painting the entranceway roof green, sanding the dismantled streetside sign and getting ready to move on with its own paint job. We were joined by more local workers today, so we also did some extra garden cleaning and wall scrubbing.

Willie, Amy and Patricia departed for the ferreteria to buy more supplies for some of our projects. Upon their return and with clear, dry skies, we got the okay to complete the sanding, painting and varnishing of "the sign"...and back up it went....much to our surprise the neon orange letters really did "pop" or as Ed would say "pap".

Lunch was upstairs today amidst the skeins of wool because many patrons came to have food at the Coop's relatively new restaurant.

Willie and Bridgette began the laborious task of creating files for each of the Coop members and Jesse and Jo and Bella and Catie filled in wherever they could....managing to find the only non-wholesome snacks at Whole Foods and getting a soccer game started with Andrew's help.

After an early dinner we headed out for a Night Tour in the Cloud Forest, arranged by our very capable free-time coordinator. Excellent sloth sighting as well as porcupine, spiders, and a Triceratops.

All in all a good day in spite of the general feeling we could all be doing much more! -Nancy

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

Message of the Day: Picked by Rodney "All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." -Dr. Martin Luther King
The Simple Path:
Silence is prayer
Prayer is faith
Faith is love
Love is service
The fruit of service is peace
-Mother Teresa

Daily Journal: Today was an awesome day.  We started the day off right with pancakes, our group meeting and goal setting.  Afterward, we set out for CASEM and everyone eagerly anticipated our next project.  We arrived and took over the front yard with our de-weeding, painting, raking and skein making.  Finally there was a coffee/tea break and that's when Rodney, Cassandra and I trekked to the Friends School for a Quaker Christmas Day Meeting for worship.  Everyone loved our Chicken and rice lunch today which was a welcomed alternative to rice and beans.  The workday concluded with a trip to the Argentinian chocolate restaurant which put everyone in even better spirits.  That night we went out to dinner at Trio, a very tucked away dinner spot, and treated ourselves after a hard day's work.  Luckily we also found the only ice cream store still open even though it was a holiday and I had some chocolate mint that tasted like frosting.  We returned later than normal and played a speedy game of Left, Right, Center.  That's what I call a great day...and no one has gotten bitten by scorpions yet.  -Bridgette (19)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24th 2012

Message of the day: Picked by Andrew "We often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work" "What you are will show in what you do."  -Thomas Edison

Daily Journal: This morning we had breakfast and got ready to leave the hotel.  Then we got on the bus- kids in the back.  It was about 15 minutes to CASEM.  On the way we picked up our translator, Patricia.  When we got there she introduced herself then we went inside and talked about what we were going to do.  Then we got to work!  Some people worked on the buttons, sanding the sign and dusting the store.  After awhile of that we had a nice lunch break.  Then we worked outside, then we had a coffee break and we also went to get chocolate, then we got on the bus and went to the hotel.  We then walked into town, after that we had a nice dinner.  Joanna (8)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Costa Rica Service Program December 22nd-January 4th

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Message of the day: Picked by Joanna(8)- "Those who want to do good are not selfish.  They are not in a hurry.  They know that to get through to people with good requires a long time.  But evil has wings.  To build a house takes time.  Its destruction takes none."  -Mahatama Ghandi

Daily Journal: Sunday was our first morning together.  We had breakfast at the hotel before our orientation meeting.  Amy introduced us all to each other and Global Volunteers.  We had lunch and then we got on a bus to Santa Elena.  The bus ride was bumpy and beautiful.  We also stopped for ice cream and saw two rainbows.  We arrived at the Mar Inn and got settled.  We took a rain walk  and had a delicious dinner.  After dinner we played a game of "left, right, center", Jesse won!  Then we all went to bed.  That was a great first day!  Thanks everyone for making it a great day!  -Bella (10)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The End

Today was a combination work day of recycling and teaching English. Sandy stayed in the classroom all day and practiced English skills with several wonderful students. The first was Anna, a mother of 3 who worked at a local hotel, and had very good language skills. She hopes to teach English one day. We also spent time with her son, Joshua, 4 years old, practicing his English. Next was Jennifer, who it turns out is married to Jonathan, who took lessons with us yesterday. And in the afternoon, the two adorable young girls who were in class yesterday, Juliet and Yuleisy, came back again. They were a delight to spend time with and said they are eager to come back again tomorrow.

Pam and Pat also taught in the morning and then worked hard at the recycling center-- and then came back to teach again. A nice last full day of work for our team.

Upon our return to the Mar-Inn, we were greeted with a special treat from Zelmira---homemade rice pudding, cinnamon bread and coffee--wonderful!!

We again had dinner at Trio's---a terrific restaurant. We were joined by Milt, who arrived to lead the next two teams coming to Costa Rica. After a great dinner, we then went to Morpho's, another good local restaurant, to enjoy homemade desserts made by the owner's mom!

Tomorrow morning Pat will depart early for the airport, and Pam and I will teach English for the morning before departing for Alajuela for our flights home on Saturday--the end of a wonderful two weeks in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


We ended the day with flashes of lightning, followed by thunder and rain--a proper Santa Elena conclusion for "our" 4th of July.

The morning greeted us with a spirited display of bows, necklaces, napkins and a happy 4th of July---given to us by our own keeper of celebrations, Pam Cromer.

We left for school with much trepidation--we had decided to try an experiment, advertising time to practice English today and Friday morning to anyone in the community. School is out for a vacation, so we weren't sure how many, who or when people might show up. Thanks to Pam--who stood by the gate "pimping"---and a number of people who were bringing their children for art and science lessons, we ended up with a good number of people of all ages and English abilities in the morning and afternoon. A real success!

The evening found us enjoying an amazing "farewell¨" dinner at Trio's---great menu, wonderful dining experience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cloudy Day

We woke to a round of wind gusts and very cloudy skies. Today is our day at the reserve, but we wonder what the day will bring in these weather conditions.

Arriving at the reserve at an early 8 am, there is little activity. There is a guide sitting at the next table with several people and he gives a short comment on camera settings and a very detailed talk on the cloud forest, and what they will encounter in the next 3-4 hours. This talk is reminiscent of our walk at Monteverde last Saturday. Still no one arrives to direct us, and Pat and Pam #1 return to the hotel and the reserve office.

Sandy and I stay. Three volunteers from last week arrive and we don our rain boots--climbing until out of breath, it seems. We are almost at the observatory tower. My task for this morning is more raking leaves and clearing gulleys--just at a much higher altitude. Sandy takes on the task at the base camp of sweeping and clearing the entire handicap trail of branches and leaves.

After lunch, we return to the forest.

Back in town, Pat is working in the garden at the high school. She also dabbled in a little painting as evidenced by the paint on her pants. We are treated to cinnamon bread and coffee back at the Mar-Inn.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Last night´s volleyball game that several of us planned to attend did not take place, so instead Pam and Sandy attended the 7:00 mass at the local church--a very moving and interesting experience.

Friday was another work day at the Reserve for two of the Metz family members, Jennifer and Gifford. Following work, their family enjoyed some adventure sports, bungee jumping and other canopy swings.

The "ladies" work day was again at the local high school, helping one of the English teachers work on language skills with his students. Following the work day, we went on a short tour of the local cheese factory started by the Quakers who first came to this area in the early 50s. We also got to taste several of the many cheeses they produce there. We were able to visit some of the local co-op shops and galleries along that road afterwards.

We had our last dinner together as a full team, reminisced about our week, and said our goodbyes to the Metz family.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Work and Flexibility

Reflecting back on the day, it seems that several of our team characteristics came into play--flexibility, cooperativeness, cultural awareness, helping where needed, and endurance.

The Metz family was back at the Santa Elena reserve, continuing the arduous task of hauling rocks, as well as road repair. Added to machetes as a tool of choice was the pick ax--used to break up larger rocks.

The three ladies found the high school in a state familiar to most schools two days before vacation--students were either finished with exams and pretty much tuned into friends and cellphones, or getting ready for oral presentations. Teachers seemed to be on different schedules and no one really seemed to want three English mentors.

After chatting with students for a time, Jorge the recycle man came to our rescue. Pat was sent to the Greenhouse for sweeping(our reputation for cleaning is getting around), and then worked with students planting tiny seedlings in a large box and cuttings into plastic dirt tubes. She later joined Sandy and Pam who had been planting mature plants into holes dug by the students. The new plantings surround the pond and will attract hummingbirds. It was interesting to see the area the Metz family had been working in--pigs, cows, ducks, and a pond right next to a sports area.

In the afternoon, Pam and Pat took the same coffee/chocolate tour the Metz family had done the day before. Very interesting(as well as entertaining).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Becoming Part of the Community

Our whole group began at the school this morning, and it appeared transformed because the students were in session. Yesterday the school was so quiet, but today it was abuzz. The Metz three did outdoor work, while the three ladies assisted with preparing students to give presentations and other teaching activities. The ladies had also reorganized the whole library the previous day, and they wished they had taken a "before" and "after" picture to document the vast difference!

The outdoor work for the Metz three consisted of clearing vegetation along the sides of the 1 km trail that winds along the top of the hill behind the school, and also preparing seedlings for future reforestation. The latter activity was a continuation of work that was begun the previous day. Machetes were distributed to all and sundry, including the two teenage Metz boys and about eight high school boys. This had to be a highlight, and the Metz boys were most impressed by the superior machete skills of the Santa Elena boys, noting that they could repeatedly strike the exact same spot on a good-sized branch in order to quickly sever it. Luckily, branches and twigs were the only things severed and we returned to lunch at the office fully intact.

During the afternoon, our group worked with Jorge and Mario in the outdoor recycling area adjacent to the blue recreation building. Talk about before and after! We achieved a great amount of clean-up to an area that was a dumping ground for bags of trash and recyclables. It needed alot of help and we did provide that. Gifford was bounding around collecting refundable bottles with the most energy of the group. His Spanish came in handy, but we were all able to communicate well enough with gestures and demonstrations. Pat was the bottle cap picker upper to beat them all, and Pamela was busy to the end, stuffing giant collections of plastic bottles into the shed. We did wonder what the "master plan" was for future organization and pick-up of the recyclables, but that may be a mystery we will never solve. We all worked well together, and Jorge and Mario were most gracious and appreciative.

That afternoon, while riding with a group of travelers in a van to visit a nearby coffee plantation, I listened idly to the familiar tourist conversation consisting of questions such as "What have you done here?" and "What are you going to do next?" In the back of my mind, I recognized how these conversations can sometimes sound a little competitive, but for the most part they provide fellow travelers with good tips. As I was half listening to them, Gifford poked my shoulder and I noticed he and a boy on a bike outside the van were waving to each other. Gifford turned to me with a happy expression on his face and said "That was Carlos!" Apparently he and Carlos had cleared trails together that afternoon at the trail behind the high school. As I watched Carlos and his red bicycle recede behind us as our van bumped up the next hill, I felt a little shiver as an emotion passed through me. Through our side by side work, we were becoming part of the community, so much so that my boy was being waved at on the street.

I didn't feel simply like a tourist, thinking about which attraction or restaurant gave the most bang for the buck. For the admittedly short period of time that we were there, we were of the community, not just visitors to the community, and this, to me, made a world of difference.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Getting to Work

The mood around the breakfast table this morning was one of great cheerfulness. Even after being informed of the absence of students at the school due to a teacher strike, the group remained cheery as we all reviewed some basic Spanish phrases with Pam. After Spanish class, we marched down the steep hill to the conservation office. Once there, we reunited with Walter and Wendy, and met Oscar and Adolfo, our coworkers for the day. After splitting up into two teams, the Metz family being one of them, we got to work. The Metz family worked on planting a row of hydrangeas on a hill outside the office and digging a drainage trench at the bottom of it. Adolfo spoke almost no English, and Gifford and I took this as an opportunity to work on our Spanish. The cheeriness of this beautiful town is made apparent through random interactions with happy strangers and their appreciation of our work. After being interrupted twice by heavy rain, we took a lunch break. After lunch, we planted small trees in green bags filled with soil, while chatting animatedly with Oscar. He gave us a tour of the farm owned by the school, complete with 30 cows, 11 pigs, 100 chickens and a pretty man made pond. The products of these animals are sold by the school for profit, a far cry from any schools in the New England area. After work, we reunited at the Treehouse Cafe for dinner, and returned tired.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Getting To Costa Rica

Our team of six together with our team leader Pam, have come from many places within the United States to Costa Rica. Some of our journeys here were easier than others. But we are all ready to engage in a Global Volunteer Adventure.

Our trip from Alajuela to Santa Elena is a sensory experience. Our trip along the Pan American Highway lets us absorb the lush green landscape. Entering the Santa Elena Cloud Reserve is an "Ah Ha" moment with cameras snapping as we watch the wispy strands of clouds begin to engulf the valley below.

Before dinner at the Mar-Inn, we discuss our individual reasons for coming here to the Santa Elena community. Our reasons are varied, but together we decided that we want to make a positive impact, we want to help, and we want some personal enjoyment.

After dinner prepared by Zelmira and served by Geovanny, we had two special guests--Walter and Wendy from the Reserve and the local high school. We are set to begin our projects.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Volunteer abroad impact on Community: Global Volunteers

Our last team to colaborate with the SR community was in charge of many tasks. One was to change the electrical system for the community center. As you can see in the photos all is working well and it was quite importat to do just in time for the local fiestas held this past weekend.

The fence was also painted at the community center. One side served as the going away point for the "cabalgata" and the other to station the animals before it started.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Local Doctor thanks Global Volunteers for their volunteering on behalf of kids

This is a translation of the letter we received from the Primary School Board President when our first team to the village"remodeled" the school premises , by gardening, building sidewalks, rebuilding the fence,, painting the fence for the kindergarten, taught conversational English in the afternoons, etc.

"December 30th, 2011


Global Volunteers

Neighbors of the Community

We celebrate today the end of two special weeks in our lives, we say good-bye to great friends, to whom we are grateful for your accompaniment during this period, that you allowed us to host you here, in our community of San Rafael, a small village, of 550 people.

In our memories we have the day you started and came in to this marvelous school, filled with emotions, curiosity, nervousness and happiness…Finally we went to work and we began working with people of different cultures, without really knowing that most of us would have great moments during those 2 weeks , some neighbors and school parents arrived during the course of the morning , so we could all work at the school that is filled with needs and hoping to be beautified for the children that will start their school year next February 17th with a renewed enthusiasm to see their school prettier than before.

We all coincide in feeling that each person : Nia Salas-Vives, Tina Labellarte, Rachel Garner, Taylor Paziuk and Janet Smalley, have a special touch and unique, that supported us in this endeavor so important to the community, each and everyone one of you will always be remembered for their dedication.

To our neighbors and to the Association of Development, thank you for helping the School PTA Board, and to continue giving us support to allow us to reach our goals and to give us the opportunity to serve the people, so our children can become someone of significance during their lifetime.

Finally, we would like to leave a message to our partner Global Volunteers that you remain in our hearts and we enormously wish to see you in the future in another project at the school and remember this is not a simple school it is your second home.

Wishing you a happy trip home,I bid you farewell,


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Endings

The day started normally with breakfast, followed by reading of the previous days journal entry by Dick and thought for the day from Simone. The team tried to practice our "going away" song, "Getting to know you" on the morning trip to San Rafael, punctuated by grunts every time we hit another bump. Our counterpart San Rafael leader, Alex, and his local team were ready to start another productive day when we arrived at the community center. He assembled the entire integrated team on a circle of chairs and laid out the work plans for the day. The local team was larger than normal. He congratulated the team on all the good work accomplished so far and singled out the welding team for the good job in installing the new window grate. Alex again demonstrated his leadership skills and qualities in organizing the tasks to be completed and in integrating the Global-San Rafael team.

The Global males, with local assistance, finished pulling the nails from all the recovered lumber and the roundelle fence and remaining post and filled the post holes with dirt. They also cleared the trench which will drain water from the area where the new metal bleachers will be installed. They then tore off the (ugly) galvanized sheeting form the front fence on each side of the main entrance to the roundelle. This generated more firewood. The GV ladies helped a large local contingent in finishing the paint job on the front of the center, including both inside and outside of the doors.

After another delicious lunch prepared by Giselle, all hands convened at the school for the last English classes conducted by Team 217. As usual, all hands first gathered to sing "Clementine". All classes seemed to go well, with enthusiastic (and a little emotional) thanks from the students. The GV teachers felt that this aspect of the daily assignments resulted in a job well done.

After the evening meal at a local, Santa Elena, restaurant, the team donations were provided to Nía to be presented to the host country representatives in the morning. Copies of training material, including lesson masters, were given to her to begin a library to support future Global Volunteer Costa Rican conversational English classes.

- Don

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We may not have everything, but don't waste what we do have.

After breakfast we looked at Don’s S.O.Y.---Save Our Youth (one of Don’s passions) brochure---so very well done and illustrated. Then I learned of the 3 leche cake which is apparently real yummy and can be made to have different consistencies. We also saw one of Don’s innovative teaching ideas using grocery flyers as a teaching aid in his English-Speaking classes.

We arrived at the Community Centre to realize that the number of ‘out-of-town’ volunteers exceeded the number of local volunteers. One of the top philosophies of Global Volunteers is that the understanding of 1:1 working together must be adhered to and is well explained in the Global Volunteers Manual. Alex who is very dedicated and committed went out to see what he could do. The day was saved within a short period of time. We were so relieved, as much can be done in one morning. We also understand that these people have very busy lives, children to raise and school vacations are not yet over. After Allan helped me to organize myself, I went back to painting the surrounding brick fencing. I got by with a lot of help from my (new) friends. At times we were all so quiet and the beautiful surrounding countryside made it feel like a peaceful and profound and united meditation. The demolition of the bleachers continued (nails removed from good wood, nails hammered down in old wood, and all nails tossed together for now, to be sorted later---Tico philosophy---we may not have everything/do not waste what we do have. The back wall of the bleachers also came down. Don searched for and found the RED CROSS sign, that on hindsight he was sorry he had thrown out. The grillwork that Jean and Kevin cleaned and painted yesterday looks REAL good. However, the fit for the window space is not quite right and will require some tweaking. The motto of, “measure twice and cut once”, I’m sure will be strictly adhered to. Today Jean and Kevin painted the large sliding door (used by the zamboni). Jean was not totally satisfied with the end result and appearance; but I know by now that she does not let anything defeat her.

Lunch was at Alejandro and Marta’s. Delicious again! Home-made tortillas again! As the day smoothly progressed, it made me wonder if the birds thought they were supposed to compete with all the beautiful rainbows we have seen along Rainbow Valley. We saw not 1, but 2 Toucans.

- Simone

Monday, February 6, 2012

A productive Monday

A gorgeous day began with a delicious fritata for breakfast and a recap of everyones free time experiences over the weekend. Then another trip on forty miles of bad road to the work site where we met with Alex who outlined the work to be done.The painting of the front wall continued as did the demolition of the Red Cross building and bleacher ramps. These items are close to completion.On Saturday the community had a meeting and were impressed by the amount of work done by ¨senior citizens¨.

After another abundant lunch at Giselle´s the group proceeded to the school to continue their English language classes with one member staying behind with one of our host to prep and paint a metal grid in hopes it can be installed and welded before we leave.Dick was surprised and encouraged when he said to his class ¨hello, how are you¨? and they responded Ï am fine, thank you.¨ They all seemed happy at the end of class and wanted a photo taken with him.Don´s class was learning contractions and words that are spelled the same but have different meanings.Simone and Allen discussed the colors of the rainbow and directions on a compass. They used a world map to show where they and their relatives are from.All in all another rewarding day.

- Jean

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Weekend in Costa Rica


Breakfast was at 8:30 this morning, it was a nice sleep-in, but lunch at noon was a little close. Dick, Jean and Don went on the Mountain tour and walked about 6 km. (so they say). While on the hike Dick and Don climbed a tower while Jean guarded their packs on the ground. Apparently the last 50 or so feet of the climb was upside down. They both got magnificent photos of Mount Arenal. Meanwhile Allan and Simone stayed around the ranch and regenerated. After dinner everyone turned in early again.


Another late breakfast again, and Dick and Don left to do the zip line. Jean says that the photo of Dick on the zip line looks like he had a “ OH!!! DO-DO!!!” look on his face. After zipping over and thru the jungle, Don did the suspension bridge and got a movie of a Quitzal and a Trogan. Was he ever excited. Simone and Allan went on another walk-about. Jean walked to town and got caught-up on some of the things that needed catching up on. Nia got back from San Josenone the worse for wear. We had dinner talked about the weekend played Banana Gram and hit the hay. Early to bed, early to rise, I think the saying goes.

- Allan

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Painting with Blue and White

Breakfast and than team meeting after which Don got in his stagecoach and the rest of usgot in the van and travelled to San Rafeal. It sure seems to be a lot shorter trip. Is it we´regetting used to the trip or are we talking enough to make the trip bearable? The paint is finally here and after the group meeting Alex (El Jeffe) put 2 GVs, Dick and Don, on deconstruction of the bull ring, and3 GVs Jean, Simone and Allan on painting. The fence out in front of the comunity centre isconcrete and pipe. The concrete will be blue (azul) and the pipe white (blanca). After rubber gloving and OR booting up, Jean went to the blue corner and Simone and Allan went to the white. We all seemed to start at the same end, and everyone was getting in each others way.Carman, Alex and Amolia also got into the frey, painting blue. While mixing the paint with thinner,Allan´s sunglasses got splattered with white paint and Hellen, Amolia´s daughter cleaned thepaint off them and did a fantastic job. Once we got things sorted out, there was only a little white on the blue and a little blue on the white. The fence really looks great but there isa lot left to do, as we´re suposed to do the front of the hall, and all the metal doors as well.After fruit break Allan swithched with Dick. Dick painted blue with a roller, and Jean went to white with Simone.

Allan went with Don to the bull pen and removed the suports from the already removed bleachers and took out the nails with Aparisio. It´s going to take a while, asthere sure are a lot of nails. They are all bent over and need to be straightened before beingpulled through. There are two piles of lumber,good reusable, and basura, or firewood. These two types of lumber are devided into another10 or so piles, but that is another day. The firewood pile is very large, we should talk ElJeffe into having a marshmellow, weiner or pig roast, there will definitly be a big fire.

Lunch was at Geselle´s again, and she always seems to out do herself. We had fried yuccadone up like a potatoe pancake, with cheese and seasoned with garlic and herbs and was verytasty, rice, beans and fried banannas. After wearing Samuel out we left for Mar- Inn wherewe hang our collective hats. Dinner will be at 5:00pm tonight as Don wants to do the nightwalk.Dick & Jean went for ice cream, and Allan & Simone went on a walk about. Everyone is going to catch up on some rest this weekend I think.

- Allan

Friday, February 3, 2012

Think outside the box

The amazing landscape continues to just blow us away. The vigorous wind continues to take our breath.

Upon arriving at the Community Centre, we were warmly greeted by Nicolas, Steve and Aparisio (Apparition).We accomplished much this morning. Grace (a teacher) presented herself to also help scub the fence. Steve and one, and sometimes even a second man also worked with us every step of the way. At one point, Jean asked me for the time. I answered "10". She looked up, she looked around at the sky, she looked at me and exclaimed, "IN THE MORNING?!!" We later started washing the outside walls of The Centre itself. The mold was very thick on much of the cement. Jean may be petite, but what a power house!---physically, mentally and sense of humourlly. A little later, after we had a break, we enjoyed very juicy watermelon and felt re-freshed.Allan told me that they strung the electrical wire from the road to ´la cocina´ and put it in conduit. Allan, Dick and Nicolas started filling in the trench. Don began getting the items necessary to put the electrical wire into the power boxes. He gave up trying to shovel dirt with a spade. He (Dick) fashioned a washer out of the plastic tape container so one of the explosive connectors would work. He saved a few colonies there. Our Smart Boy (as Alex referred to him with pride) not only is able to think inside the circuit box, but also outside the circuit box.

Lunch was at Nicolas´ House-Father's and House-Mother's casa. We were greeted so warmly. It was a delicious affair with much to choose from! We even had homemade tortillas. We had Tamarindo juice to drink. The tomatoes in Canada are never this tasty.The afternoon was spent teaching english-speaking. Allan and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We floundered more than a few times but the kids were always respectful and willing to participate, even through shyness and self-consciousness. One exercise, "On your birthday, tell me in English please, what you would like to receive." "A Play-Station!!" To a young girl who would like to possibly become a Chef one day, "Tell me what is your favorite thing, in English please, to make?" "Pizza!!" I hate it when that happens! But Toddlers even are able to outsmart me most times. Don said that his class was able to pronounce "th" quite quickly, eg. "thirsty". He also has a great trick to help them pronouce the V sound.Things are great.

We all feel at home with each other already.

- Simone

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Team Work

The team again boarded the "galloping mechanized stage coach" for the dusty, "trip over the rocky road (not the ice cream type) to San Rafael. Our counterpart San Rafael leader, Alex, and his local team were ready to start another productive day when we arrived at the community center. He assembled the entire integrated team on a circle of chairs and laid out the work plans for the day. He congratulated the team on all the good work accomplished so far and singled out Dick for the innovative "plastic washer" solution to an oversized hole in one of the junction boxes used in the power cable replacement project. Alex again demonstrated his superb leadership skills and qualities in organizing the tasks to be completed and in integrating the Global-San Rafael team - and it is truly a team! Before scrambling to the appointed tasks, the team performed some last minute clean-up of the center in anticipation of an important meeting with government representatives from San Jose.

Since the paint (promised for Wednesday) had still not arrived, half of the team was sent to continue distruction of the wooden bleachers and salvaging the reusable wood. Alan, Dick and Don completed connections for the new underground 220 volt power service and recovered the old ariel AWG 4 power cables for use in future projects. With little fanfare, Alex threw the switch at the street power connection box and voila! nothing (adverse) happened!! Sometimes nothing is better than something. Each of the circuit breakers in the center were actuated and found to work perfectly. We took advantage of the moment and marked the area controlled by each breaker on the circuit breaker panels (for future reference when all knowledgeable locals are no longer around). To comemorate the occasion, Alex asked each of the Global Team members to sign the back of one of the circuit breaker panel doors.

The power team then joined the bleacher distruction team until lunch time, adding to the decibel level of pounding hammers and screeching nails being pulled. The nails continued being saved for reuse and the wooden planks were separated into a reusable pile and a firewood pile, much like the biblical sheep from the goats. Through it all, Jean could be seen scurrying around under the bleachers, salvaging the fallen planks, carefully dodging the rain of falling wood.

Another marvelous lunch was provided for the team at Gisselle´s home, with rice, beans, fried green beans, fried cheese and a tomato and cabbage salad. Don tutored one of the local youth with his practice test problems on geometry and algegra, before joining the rest of the Global Team at the school for the scheduled afternoon English classes. Before going to their respective classrooms, all the students joined in with the Global Volunteers to sing "Darling Clelmentine" to the accompaniement of Don´s harmonica. There was markedly more participation by the students than yesterday. This introductory song will be repeated at the start of next week's classes. The classes were divided into much the same groups as previous days with their assigned Global Volunteer instructors. As usual, some students did not return and other new ones showed up. Don´s adult class dropped to two students and he concentrated on prepositions of position and continued helping with English translations of the Spanish phrases requested by the "students", emphasizing proper pronunciation. Dick brought his students over for a lesson on the names of barnyard animals, illustrated by Don´s imitations of the respective animal sounds. One of Jean´s students commented that Jean seemed to be learning more Spanish. Allan and Simone conducted a very interactive class session, with help from Alex. The material seemed to be very stimulating and fun for the students.

Return to the hotel in Santa Elena was delayed about 30 minutes while Nia, the team leader, received treatment at the local clinic for dehydration and stomach flu. After another dusty, bone-jarring trip back to the hotel and another tasty, nutritious dinner, the team discussed the events of the day and plans for tomorrow and next week. The team is feeling increasingly exhausted, but fulfilled, as the week´s activities are catching up on us all.

- Don

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart"- Jack Kornfield

Well, as they say ¨"Another day, another dollar" or for us one could say "Another day, more surprises". Little did we know that we had been spending each day with a barnyard full of animals.....details will follow.Breakfast this morning was OJ, coffee & pancakes and, in what seems like typical TICO weather, we experienced sunshine, clouds, and rain, each multiple times, in various combinations, and sometimes all at the same time. And that was just while we were eating breakfast. Then Nia past out hard hats which should have been a hint of things to come.At 8 oclock we all piled into "Galloping Gertie", what seems like a totally springless van, and proceeded to bump and bounce down the road to San Rafeal (now I wouldn't exactly say the wind was strong but the dust from the road was in front of the van instead of behind the van).At the work site Alex, the head of the local Development Association, again demonstrated his great organizational and managerial skills by having a short meeting with all volunteers both Global and local. Then we each got our assigments for the day. Don, Allen and Dick got the 'cushy' electrical work and Simone and Jean were given 'hard labor' in the Bull Ring tearing down the old bleachers to make way for new ones----destruction before construction.The electrical job progressed well. Don, inspite of almost having to tie himself to the meter pole to keep from blowing away, managed to make all the connections at the incoming end of the electrical wiring. Allen and Dick struggled with the conduit and wire routing at the circuit box end but finally managed to get that completed and waiting for Don's skills to make the wiring connections. Of course they had problems with the box 'knockouts' but today the knockouts were too small where yesterday the knockouts were too big. Who says Global Volunteers doesn´t offer a variety of experiences? Right now we are having a debate about who has to stand next to the circuit box tomorrow when we throw the power switch---Don or Alex?

Simone and Jean had some rough going trying to knock down the bleachers. The board had all been secured with nails that had been bent over after they came through the boards and at first they didn´t even have a crowbar. Fortunetly Adrania, a local volunteer, proved to be very handy with even basic tools and work stared moving along. It was very hard work but they kept at it all morning. Dick even went down to help after the electrical work eased up but he only managed to last 40 minutes before walking off saying something about ´lunch time´.It can´t go without saying that we had a wonderful group of community volunteers today. They worked really hard mostly helping dismantle the bleachers. They did a great job!Lunch today was a big plate of spagetti followed by the most wonderful rice pudding, and of course some more coffee.After lunch we all walked (or I should say waddled) down to the school for our teaching jobs. We started today with a joint session where Don played his harmonica and we all sang "My Clemintine". Then we diveded up in our individual classrooms and spent the next 2 hours racking our brains trying to impart some of our English speaking abilities to our victims, I mean students. At 4 oclock we all emerged from our classromms mentally exhausted and wondering how teachers do this every day!!!

Today we had a special treat because after school we got to visit and tour a local coffee farm. Our host, Alejandro, explained that a group of local farmer, and now even ones in other countries, have banded together and are now by-passing all of the the middlemen and selling directly to the end-user. He also took us on a tour of the processing of coffee and of his father´s farm, a farm that was recently recognized by the United Nations.After the tour we were invited into the home for coffee and cookies with the entire extended family. We were also treated to more of Don´s harmonica playing and, as an encore, to all kinds of very realistic animal that´s TALENT!About 6:30 we again piled into the van for another jaw jaring ride back to the hotel and a hot meal of rice and vegatables before retiring.A long but productive & interesting day.

- Dick

Monday, January 30, 2012

Costa Rica Service Program: Don does marketing

Today our first work day at San Rafael, we were warmly greeted by members of the Development Association Alex, Guiselle, Carmen and Amalia. Alex explained the work project, the history and data about the Association and area. Once we had the work project specifics we went through a team skill session to review enough so the leaders could best utilize our team. Of course, coffee was served in celebration and we were of to the community center to start the project. Don a retired Electrical Engineer , Alex and Allan went through the specifics of the electrical project and determined necessary materials. They put a plan together that was satisfactory both technically and within budget. Allan and Dick dug a trench alongside Wilber and Steven, our local counterparts approximately 25 mts long, 3 feet deep and 1 1/2 foot wide to change the "arial electrical cables" to an underground set-up more suitable because of the high area winds. The ladies Jean, Simone and Carmen washed down the block fence in preparation for painting tomorrow with a hose and some brooms.

Lunch was prepared by Guiselle at her house were we sat for lunch. We had a tuna and vegetable rice dish with beans on the side with a refreshing lemonade made from "sour oranges"
It was topped of with coffee and pudin with raisins.

During the afternoon hours the trench was finished and the cleaning of the fence continued. Don also did some marketing for our team. Alex put some speakers atop his jeep and connected them to a microphone so Don could invite community members to join our Conversational English classes to be started tomorrow at the local primary school. We hit a water pipe that had to be fixed before washing continued. But we were near the end of the work day anyway and transport soon arrived in a timely fashion.

Our team goals session was held before dinner . To exchange understanding and To fulfill our promise with Global Volunteers mission were amongst them.

Dinner was served at the hotel a typical casado: rice, beans, cheese, picadillo de papa, plantains. A game of Bananagrams was played to entertain those who like games similar to scrabble. Allan brought out a wonderful dessert of glazed dried fruits that he prepares himself.

Thank you all for a wonderful start to the service program.
Nia -Team Leader

"Few people travel the road to success without a puncture or two."

After breakfast we departed on the "Interstate" to San Rafael. Alex, the District Rep and Nicolas our translating Peace Corp Volunteer explained the Buerocracy and the jobs to be done.We climbed to the work site and inexplicably the team leader rode up. Also, inexplicably everyone wanted to dig ditches. Simone and I and our Tica partner Carmen washed mildew off a wall and put it on ourselves with a hose that resembled an IV tube. Lunch was a rice dish, glan and 100 proof coffee.We began round 2 of fence washing and digging until Dick disconnected the water supply with his shove. Go Dick!Don went around town on a loudspeaker to drum up business for our impromptu language classes.

"Alls well that ends well"

- Jean

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First day in Costa Rica

Breakfast of pancakes and fruit was served at 7:00 am in the lower restaurant of theBackpackers. Everyone complained about the noisy traffic and swapped more stories.We had our first team meeting in the TV room on the 3rd floor. Simone, Don, and Ibeing old hands with GV gave Nia a little help (which she didn´t need) as she gave usour Global Volunteer orientation. Dick and Jean are old hand at volunteering, so they could see where things were going. Everyone introduced themselves and talked a littleabout life up to now. Lunch was served at 12:00 noon with rice and beans being the fare.After checking out, and the van loaded we set out up the mountain. When we got to ourfirst rest stop (Chinese fire drill) one tire on the van was low so Felo changed it. Thenit was off to see the wizard again.I can remember the scenery being fantastic, but the scene of the Bay of NicoyawasPRICELESS!!!Mar - Inn is a new place for Simone and I in Santa Elena, as this is our second programhere. Very nice people and very nice place. They were having a baby shower here whenwe arrived it was very festive. Supper of suey and pasta was served at 6:00 pm followedby a team meeting. Nia put on an excellentdisplay of her understanding of the Costa Rican spanish. It was very informing. Everyoneis going to have a good nights sleep.

- Allen

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Global Volunteers : Costa Rica Service Program Day 8

Day 8

Thought of the Day offered by Paula:

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible and without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story. Desiderata

Journal by Linda:

The wind blew itself out last night. It blew and blew keeping Paula awake all night. But with the dawn came clearing skies and a bright sunny day that turned warm in the afternoon. We headed down to the conservation office after breakfast where Walter showed us the "trap cameras" that are usually set up in the forest to take pictures of the animals. They were "drying out" because of the amount of moisture that collects in them makes them inoperable. He also showed us the very professional looking brochure they had put together to inform people about the corridor of forest that is being replanted to attract the "Bell bird" which is endangered.

Then we headed down to our work project where the construction crew had already started work. We were joined today by 16 yr old, Oscar, Walter´s cousin. The crew had made great progress since our quitting time yesterday. We helped hold the panels of aluminum while they were nailed in place and handed what was close to 2x4´s to the carpenters to secure them as beams for the shed. Then aluminum panels were secured as the ceiling to the shed. One of the volunteers who had helped with construction at a hotel is going to request that they contribute some panels.

Walter showed us where he and the students are collecting the temperature of the air and earth as well as the rain fall. They are charting this information to help them study how the effects of rainfall and temperature affects the growth of plants and therefore food for the birds and animals.

After an early supper of delicious empanadas, we were picked up for our ¨"night tour", which starts early here close to the equator. It is pretty dark by 6 pm. Johnny, our guide, is very knowledgeable. We found out that he supervises and teachers the other guides. We went to the Santa Maria Reserve which is private. We were surprised at the number of people that were being guided through the forest but when we got away from the other groups, all we heard were the sounds of the forest which was very intriguing. It was amazing how Johnny could spot the small insects and lizards. Among the things we saw was a sloth, a poisonous vipor and coati. Although we heard an amaradillo move 3 times through the brush, we didn´t get to see him. And, of course, the stars were brillant out there in the dark!

Time to turn in,



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Global Volunteers Costa Rica Program :Cultural Experiences: Meet the wildlife

White-faced coati's are inhabitants of the Cloud Forest. Here is our friend that visited us several times. Unfortunately, uninformed or misguided tourists will feed them crackers and other process foods to take a close picture. Creating an artificial dependency they will not be able to supply once they leave in a few hours.

This is one of the many reasons why our volunteers' support is important. Environmental education is pivotal for the sustainability of our country. Our volunteers have helped maintain the trails at the Sta.Elena Reserve to help people learn and preserve the Cloud Forest. The trails are the training grounds for the school kids to become responsible tour guides for the area while earning a living right after high school.

This team is also going to build a storage space at the school gymnasium to store the plastic, carton and aluminum cans recovered in the Monteverde Area. Thursday saw the leveling of the grounds for the area. The campaign is aimed to teach responsible garbage disposal and the funding raised from the sale of the recycling materials will help pay for other projects.

Volunteers supporting environmental education, highschool kids raising funds for an objective while protecting the planet and becoming more educated and better citizens of the world, throw cultural exchange and friendship in the mix! There is no way to loose! It'll be an interesting week!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Costa Rica Service Program: Day 4

Message of the Day offered by Linda:

To create is to boggle the mind and alter the mood. Once the urge has surged, it maintains its own momentum. We may go along for the ride but when we attempt to steer the course, the momentum dies. Sue Atchley Ebaugh

Journal by Paula:
Today started with yoga for Paula only and our thoughtfully prepared breakfast by Zelmira and our morning meeting.

We then proceeded to the Conservation Office and were greeted by Walter and other cheery people. Walter told us that today would be the last day at the Reserva and that tomorrow would start at 7:00 a.m. with a cheese making presentation by Raphael....yum! and then we would start our construction project at the Collegio which is helping with the storage shed.

We proceeded up the mountain to the Reserva to continue trail clearing. We managed to clear almost half of the trail in the three days that we worked at the Reserve. Gabriel was so pleased with our efforts. I will never forget the grin on his face as he praised us for a "a job well done!" We were able to see Arenal since it was so clear today. We climbed up on to a tower.
We were also lucky to see small black and yellow birds with red on top of the head - one of them was performing for us! We also saw the white-nosed coati again who also was entertaining us. Xavier, our new French friend, helped with the clearing today as well.

Linda, Nia and I came back to town and had an espresso and talked and talked and talked and then prepared for dinner.

Lots of good rest for Day 5.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 2 -Reserve Maintenance

The morning started with a yoga sessions with Linda and Paula and Monica from Texas.

Linda, Paula and Nia met for breakfast and Paula read her journal entry for day 1 and Linda read her Thought for the Day.

We then walked to the Conservation Office for the Colegio and met Walter, a graduate of the Colegio who graduated from the Colegio in his speciality of Eco Tourism. He gave us a presentation about the relationship between the Collegio and the Reserva Biologica Santa Elena. There are three agencies that work together....the Reserve, the Colegio and the Park Service. There is another reserve sponsored by children called The Childrens Eternal Forest to reclaim the forest for wildlife.

Linda and were pleasantly surprised by the change of work planned for today. We were asked if we would like to help with trail maintenance at the Reserve today because the manager of the construction project at the Collegio was not available....we were thrilled!

Walter, Nia, Linda and I jumped into a shuttle and headed for the Reserve and ,oh my gosh, it is more beautiful than I imagined.

Walter then proudly gave us a presentation and showed us videos of the animals captured at night on the cameras that had been placed at the Reserve in August.......they are the most breathtaking and exciting videos of animals I have ever seen.This was all made possible by a young tourist from the United States who raised money to purchase the cameras.

We then received rakes and followed Gabriel up the trail where he gave us our rake up the fallen leaves that have fallen on to the gravel, pick up the leaves and throw them off to the side to make the trails safer for walking and to preserve the trails themselves.

We did that for a couple of hours and then had lunch in the cafeteria and returned to finish the project. We were surprised by a visit from Xavier from France who has been volunteering at the Reserve. He jumped in to help and we had a lovely conversation with him.

Then it was time to board the shuttle for the return trip to Santa Elena. We then walked into town and had coffee at the Common Cup Cafe. We had a lovely time talking about our day and other world happenings. The owner of the cafe told us that the small coffee growers do not like Fair Trade and they sell their coffee through the cafe and on the Internet.

We had some time before dinner and had another great dinner prepared at the Mar Inn and again talked and talked with a teacher from Texas. We then had our Goal Setting Session to better help us achieve our goals for participating in this Service Project as a Team.

Nighty' nite!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Paula chronicles the first day

Today was the beginning of our Team Project at the Colegio in Santa Elena. Linda and I are so happy to be part of this team and to have Nia Salas as our Team Leader.

The day started with a yoga class in the now called Yoga Room (formerly TV Room) at Alajuela Hotel facing the sun to begin the class and set an intention for the class and then having fun using the bean bags as props.

We then had breakfast together in preparation for our Orientation. Nia reviewed topics from our Volunteer Manual, answered specific logistic questions that we had and then provided us with Spanish phrases for our use in Costa Rica and at the project site.

We packed our bags, said good bye to our room and brought our bags downstairs and enjoyed our lunch together before hopping in the van with our driver Andre who was kind enough to stop for us to get coffee and espresso. We started our journey to Monteverde making two stops along the way to make the ride more comfortable.

After about two and one half hours on the paved road, we turned on to the bumpy and dusty road for our ascent to Monteverde. Nia provided us with all kinds of information along the entire trip. And then we were in Santa Elena at our home for the next weeks.

Linda and I walked into town for a little while and then sat and read and then enjoyed a fabulous home cooked meal of rice and blacks beans.

The moon is fabulous tonite and Nia caught a couple of good shots.

Time to turn in in preparation for Day 2.

Team Volunteer,

Paula K.