Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blog 5 Costa Rica 2016

Wednesday June 29, 2016



Yesterday was our last day working at the high school.  We finished up the painting and most of the desks and chairs are ready for use.  To say goodbye, the students of Paraiso High School shared acts from an arts festival for us to watch and participate in. It was a great way to say goodbye and remember the school. Lexi, Nia, and Madison modeled dresses that some of the students made. Savannah, Hannah, Moyin, and Helen danced a traditional Costa Rican dance along with some others that everyone rotated in and out of. Everyone got up to demonstrate how to dance the 'Cotton-Eyed Joe.'

We ended the day at Don Daniel's farm for a farewell party with all of our host families. There was lots of dancing, games, and great food. Near the end, each family got up to say a word of thanks to our group and we thanked the families as well. Things got a little emotional as we realized the trip was coming to a close.

This morning, we left our families and headed back to Chilamate. We exchanged stories about a time in our life where we learned a meaningful lesson and shared them with the group.  At the end of our final day in Costa Rica, we enjoyed a breathtaking zip-lining trip and a reflective candle circle to look back at our time here...muy pura vida!

See you tomorrow night at JFK at 10 p.m. :)

Lexi and Savannah

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blog 4 Costa Rica 2016

Tuesday, June 28:

We are all still having a great time in Costa Rica. After a relaxing day with our homestay families, we returned to the high school to continue our service project. When we are at the school we are split up into three groups - painting group, classroom observation group, and desk repair group. Before we start our work each day, the group gets together for a meeting, and then we play a game with the students that are working with us on the project.


After a few hours of work at the school yesterday, we headed to the cooking class at Doña Margarita's. She and her family welcomed us and we made arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) and picadillo de papas (chopped potato dish). We peeled potatoes, cut up vegetables, and then enjoyed a delicious lunch.


After lunch and a yummy dessert, we left to prepare for our version of the amazing race. We divided into three groups, and headed off to complete various tasks around the community. After completing each task we were rewarded with a certain amount of  bracelets based on the quality of our work. The tasks consisted of dancing, making sugar cane juice, milking a cow, making tortillas and conducting an interview in Spanish with one of the family members.


We ended the day back at the high school with a meeting of our group to discuss how different experiences bring out the leader in each of us. Tonight is our final night with our host families. It is hard to believe our trip is almost over.

Hasta la próxima,

Mike and Fiona

Monday, June 27, 2016

Blog 3 Costa Rica 2016

Hello families!

We spent yesterday with our Costa Rican host families. Here is what we did, house by house:

Casa de Doña Amable: (Hannah & Moyin)
On Sunday we slept in, and awoke to Doña Amable telling us breakfast was ready. Our host sister had gone to church early that morning, but we still had breakfast with Doña Amable and her daughter who was visiting with her children: a 26-year-old daughter and 20-day-old son (who was adorable!) After breakfast Michael, Zach, Cristobal, Madison, and Lexi came over to play games with us and the local kids. Then we had lunch and got ready to go to the river and soccer fields where we'd be meeting up with the rest of the families. While there we played with the kids, some playing soccer in the rain and others playing games under cover. While we couldn't swim in the river, we still went to see it, running through paths that had been flooded from the rain. By the time we returned home, we were soaked and muddy, but it was well worth it because of how beautiful the river was. Once everyone got cleaned up, we visited the local supermarket and then everyone came over to watch the soccer game. After a disappointing loss we watched a local show and then headed to bed ready to sleep after a long, but exciting day.

Casa de Doña Antonia: (Helena & Fiona)
Sunday morning we woke up at 4am to the sound of the house bird's call, but went back to sleep. We woke up again at 6am and had arepas and eggs for breakfast with a delicious mug of milk and coffee. We spent the morning watching soccer- Germany had quite the win. We had lunch and then went to play soccer in the pouring rain. It was such a fun time, everyone was slipping and sliding in the mud. We then walked to the river and some of us went in. It was beautiful. We returned home and had jell-o and hot chocolate. We then watched the Argentina v. Chile game. We were going for Argentina which meant that our day ended in a huge disappointment. Messi got pretty messy towards the end. My home-stay brother kept making fun of me because he was rooting for Chile and after that we went to bed.

Casa de Doña Blanca: (Madison & Lexi)
We woke up around 8am to see that our host mom had made us a delicious breakfast of homemade tortillas with natilla, the Costa Rican version of cream cheese. After that, we got dressed and went over to Doña Amable's to play board games with Zach, Cristobal, Michael, Hannah, Moyin, and kids of the host families. We ate lunch and then went to the soccer field; however, once we got there it started pouring rain. Many kids still played soccer but some of us watched from the barn next to the field and played with the little kids. Once the rain finally lightened up, we went back home. We colored with our host siblings Ruth and Sofia, and our host mom made us pancakes and hot cocoa. We then went back to Doña Amable's to watch the Argentina v. Chile game with everyone. Most of us were rooting for Argentina, so we were disappointed when they lost.  When we returned home, we ate dinner while watching the end of the game. Around 10 we went to bed after a long and fun day.

Casa de Doña Carmen: (Zach, Michael & Cristobal)
On Sunday morning we woke up to the sound of the little kids playing. It took a little while for us to slowly roll out of bed. Once finally awake, we were treated with a delicious breakfast of rice and beans. After we were finished indulging, we headed to Doña Amable's house to hang out with Hannah, Moyin, Lexi, and Madison. After we finished playing a few games we all headed to the soccer field. Most of us were excited despite the fact that it was pouring rain. We boys decided to play soccer with some of the local kids, and after the quick match we all ran down to the river to see where the local kids play. After this amazing experience, we all headed back to our houses and took long showers. Then, we ate a lunch consisting of more delicious rice and beans, and headed to Doña Amable's again to watch the Copa America final. During this period of time, we experienced a great tragedy; the loss of Argentina :(. After this horrid result, we all headed back to Doña Carmen's to fall asleep drowning in tears.

Casa de Don Daniel: (Savannah & Nia)
After a delicious breakfast with our host family, we spent the morning playing games with our sisters. Later, we made invitations for the upcoming baby shower one of our sisters. After lunch, we met up with the other students and their families at the soccer field to play soccer and swim in the river. However, because of the rain we were only able to walk to the river, but it was a unique experience. Once we returned home, we played more games, enjoyed snacks, and watched a movie (in Spanish, of course). We finished the day with dinner and watched the Central American Soccer Cup final game - Argentina v. Chile.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blog 2 Costa Rica 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hola from Costa Rica!

Today was our first official day working on the community project. We were able to work with the students who attend the high school and get to know them better. It was great to learn from them about their school while observing and participating in classes, along with helping to improve parts of the school through painting and refurbishing desks and chairs.

After our project, we went to Don Daniel's house (one of the homestay families) to eat lunch, explore his organic farm, and learn about his life, especially his experiences working in the pineapple fields. His story sparked a lot of discussion about how we could help stop the workers from being abused and the companies from using chemicals on the plants.  It also helped us to think about how we could make a difference no matter what age and no matter how big or small the action.

Finally, after dinner with our individual homestays, we attended discussions on gender equality and the differences between our countries. We really enjoyed hearing opinions and spending time with the local women and men in the community. We look forward to spending more time with the community, especially the students, in the remaining days.  We are so excited to tell you all about our experiences here when we return!  ¡Pura Vida!

Savannah and Cris

PS: In case you are curious, here we are with our host families!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Blog 1 - Costa Rica 2016


We are alive!!! We arrived at our homestays today. When we first arrived on Tuesday, it was about 4pm Costa Rican time (6pm on the East Coast). The drive was approximately 3.5 hours because it was raining and when we got to the Eco Retreat we had an amazing dinner of arroz con pollo with plantains and then quickly went to bed; it was a long day for all of us.

The following day Zach woke up at 4:30am because of the howler monkeys- it was quite an experience; imagine the sound the T-rex from Jurassic Park makes, it’s the exact same noise. Everyone else woke up at around 7am (9am on the east coast). Breakfast was fantastic. The eggs here are so good and we ate the tiniest pancakes most of us have ever seen. After breakfast we went on a morning hike into the rainforest and saw a lot: blue jean frogs, red- eyed tree frogs, sloths, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, bullet ants (so scary), and a family of bats. We returned from the hike and had lunch then did multiple bonding and leadership exercises. FUN!

In the afternoon we went to an ethnobotanist and he showed us many different native plants and fruits. We were eating a bunch of random leaves and one of them even made our tongues numb. Madison, Nia, and Mrs. Lang used the stain of achiote or the “hot lips flower” as lipstick and Helen had the bright idea to use it as tribal/war paint and Michael and Cris decided to do it as well. A lot of us really enjoyed drinking coconut water from an actual coconut towards the end of the day. When we returned to the Eco Retreat we went on a night hike which was very frightening for a lot of the group but we supported each other and made it through! After another long day we fell asleep quickly to the sound of the forest and with plenty of bugs to keep us company.

Today was a very exciting day. We had breakfast at the Eco Retreat and then met our homestay families. They are all very nice and accommodating. The children are adorable and so are the puppies. We spent time with them and had lunch.  Afterwards, we visited the school where our work project will take place. We were pleasantly surprised with a Q&A session (in front of the students in the school) that the faculty there had planned for us. Some of us were a bit rusty on our Spanish but Carlos (one of the WLS instructors), Ms. Shaw, Cris and Helen were great translators. We are currently writing from the school and will soon be preparing to head back to our homestay families. We have an exciting week full of hard work ahead of us and can’t wait to get started.

We will be very busy but will try our hardest to make time to update the blog.


Helen and Zach

Off to Homestays!

Hello friends and family of the Blair Academy: Costa Rica program!

We have talked with instructors, Kelley and Carlos, and the group is doing great! They had an exciting night hike and have arrived happily in the community. Teachers are working on their wireless connection now and they will begin posting as soon as they can!
Please don't hesitate to call with any questions 303-679-3412.

Pura Vida!

Maria Selde
Program Coordinator

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Students are in Costa Rica

Hello family and friends of the Blair Academy program in Costa Rica. The group has arrived in Costa Rica and are en route to Chilamate Eco-Retreat. They will start updating the blog tomorrow. Please don't hesitate to call with any questions 303-679-3412.

Erin Hawk
Director of Operations