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.