Sunday, August 18, 2013

Learning about Costa Rica

The day began with a lovely group discussion in the semi-open air dining room, complete with chirping humming birds flitting about. After breakfast we began our official orientation to our service program, which went exceptionally smoothly due to our diligent study of the Volunteer Manual before our trip actually began. We then set, discussed, and agreed upon a list of nine goals that we’d like to accomplish by the week’s end – ambitious, absolutely, but entirely doable:

1) To explore the cloud forest and its wildlife

2) To go on an excursion as a team
3) To make meaningful contributions, including a tangible improvement
4) To build positive relationships and/or friendships
5) To interact with locals in a non-structured way, possibly being invited to somewhere outside Colegio
6) To be active
7) To try new foods and learn new customs
8) To become more proficient in Spanish
9) To visit CASEM

We also discussed the types of qualities and characteristics we need to display in order to achieve these goals:

flexible                       respectful                     responsible                  dedicated 
energetic                    open                            positive                        optimistic
friendly                      punctual                       hardworking                mindful

After this session Maggie guided us to a lovely open-air café-restaurant where I got my first (but definitely not last) taste of Costa Rican coffee - ¡muy bueno!

Maggie and Lena with their drinks at lunch 

Upon our arrival back at the Hotel 1915, we were greeted by Don Félix, who was to take us up through the mountains to Monteverde. The drive was gorgeous, albeit bumpy and extremely curvaceous, but Don Félix, clearly a master of the terrain, guided us safely and quickly through the misty trail and to our destination. I was impressed and humbled by the sight of so many Costa Ricans living right in the midst of the majestic mountain, many in modestly-made homes of metal and wood; surely their backyard views are unmatched across the whole world. Don Félix was kind enough to stop the van and let us out to photograph a couple of monkeys that were hanging out on the power lines; they seemed entirely accustomed to the attention and paid us almost no mind at all. 

Our lively conversation carried us through the rest of the journey, all the way to the lovely Mar Inn. We were introduced to the proprietor (Ánthony) and his mother and little sister before settling into our rooms.

After showering and changing, we met back up for a cursory overview of important Spanish words, phrases, and concepts, which I found to be extremely helpful. Then we enjoyed a tasty dinner prepared by Ánthony’s mother, met the directors of the Colegio, and discussed our free time plans for the week - all the while enjoying the sounds of a mariachi band playing next door. Now it is time to sleep; tomorrow is a big day! Buenas noches.

Entry submitted by: Justin

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