Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hello Parents,
I just heard word from Javier Cano, our instructor, that all kids and teachers from Crane School are at the check in. We'll monitor the flight carefully. You can monitor the flight by going to, choosing "flight status" and entering in LR 604. Right now the system is actually showing two separate flights, one of which is delayed, but I called Taca and they said that they show the flight leaving on time. I will post an update later this evening. Here are the flight details once again:

Depart San Jose (SJO) Airport at 6:45 PM on Flight 0604.
Arrive Los Angeles (LAX) Airport at 11:50 PM.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wednesday: Celebrating!

Natasha and Miles reporting:

Today was our last full day in Costa Rica! We had a lot of fun throughout the journey and this was a great way to end the trip. We went to Escuela Cristo Rey, and after everybody worked hard there was a performance consisting of singing and poetry recitations from Cristo Rey and then musicians (Zac Towbes and Colin Browne) and a dancer (Sylvia Gilbar) from our school. Cristo Rey’s performance was to show their thanks for our help. They were great performances, and everyone enjoyed it and laughed.

As we left the school the rain was pouring down (literally). We feared that our final major activity would be cancelled, but luck was on our side and the rain eventually ended, though it was still oddly cold. We quickly suited up for river rafting and were on our way. We took a small bus to the river-rafting start. We impatiently listened to the safety instructions and commands. Finally after what felt like hours but was really minutes, we entered the rafts. Right away the rapids started strong, and we were on our toes. The rapids were extreme, meaning awesome, and some of us were happy for a break in the middle. During this break we took turns jumping off a seven-foot ledge into the river. We had a nice float back to the boats. It was a great end to our time in Chilamate.

PS: Now the kids are eating their last fabulous dinner—fried chicken, rice, and lots of vegetables—at the ecolodge. Tomorrow after breakfast we head to San Jose to visit the National Museum and an artisans’ market. After lunch at a typical Costa Rican restaurant we’ll head out to the airport, so this will be our last blog entry. Thanks to all the students who volunteered to write it. See you soon!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday: Hands On

Colin and Lillian reporting:

            Today was hot, humid, and hands on.  We started off by enduring a two-mile walk along muddy sidewalks to get to Escuela Cristo Rey. When we got there, we painted two-square and hopscotch courts. We also dug up and shoveled weeds and unwanted plants to make the garden a fertile place to grow food for the school. While this was going on, another group read to kids at the school and taught them games like Hot Potato and Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. We had a lot of hands-on fun with the kids. We played soccer with them, gave piggyback rides, and played with them on the teeter-totters. It was a busy, tiring morning of pure service and fun.

            In the afternoon, we set off to zip-line, walk in the jungle, or cook. The cooking group enjoyed making yucca buñuelos (fried snack cakes). Yum! We started out with a few chopped pieces of yucca, peeled off the skin, washed the rest, and grated a mushy mess of the white, potato-like vegetable. Then we mixed in cheese and flour, put the cakes on the grill, and then put sweetened condensed milk on top. They were delicious. Another group interviewed townspeople in Chilamate about local problems by walking into their houses and participating in conversations in Spanish (which would be totally abnormal in the U.S.). Then this group entered the jungle. While walking, we saw red-eyed tree frogs, giant spiders, and a few howler monkeys. We even went hands-on and held a frog so we could take pictures.

            In the evening we participated in a crazy water balloon fight for a team-building activity. All in all, today was the most hands-on of all. We even had our hands on some pineapple!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday: Community

Grace and Lauren reporting (+ Lluvia):

Today we visited Cristo Rey school, where we weeded, read to 1st graders, and played Frisbee and soccer. Crane School brought books and sports equipment including Frisbees, which will be donated, and enjoyed some friendly competition. The kids loved playing Frisbee relays led by Ms. Willis. The young students enjoyed learning a couple of playful, catchy songs that we had learned before in Spanish class. We are planning to build a garden for the school, to provide them with fresh vegetables daily.

After lunch we split into adventure groups and did one of three activities: zip lining, cooking, and the interview project. During the interview project, we got to know the local people, also known as Ticas and Ticos. We went into the neighborhood, where people openly invited us into their homes and answered a few quick questions. They were friendly, helpful, and easily forgiving of our mistakes.

We also have met some very nice people at the lodge, like Lluvia, the seven-year-old daughter of Meghan and Davis, the owners of the ecolodge. In her pastimes, she draws, swims at the river, and plays with her baby sister. Kiara loves to play peek-a-boo with Lluvia. Aedan, who is three, likes to watch “Phineas and Ferb” on the TV.

Today we were able to see a few things we had hoped to see, like howler monkeys and toucans. Tomorrow we go back to the school to continue our adventure.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday: Water (River and Rain)

Liana, Delaney, and Sebastian reporting:

Today we swam in the river for the first time. It was very refreshing but a little muddy. There were ticos (Costa Ricans) who were doing flips off the bridge and diving back into the water. They were also flipping off a rope swing into the water and it was really cool. We weren’t allowed to! The current was strong. Javier was in a kayak watching over us.

One of the three groups went zip lining today. We got to go on fourteen different lines, the last ones in the rain so they were really fast. It was amazing and a once-in-a-life opportunity. The very last zip line was about 600 meters and you got to experience this with one other friend.

One of the other groups went exploring in the rain forest. We learned more about animals and plants. About halfway through the hike, it started pouring on us. Everyone one slipped, fell, and got all muddy. Luckily we had boots on, so we had good feet protection.

We drink a lot of water, and every meal we have many selections of fresh squeezed juices. Some of the juices are watermelon, blackberry, zara, tamarindo, and orange juice. Each of the juices has a unique taste and is something you cannot find anywhere else in the world. So far this trip has been super duper awesome. DON’T WORRY ABOUT US, PARENTS!!!!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday: Pura Vida!

Kate and Cameron here: Wow. Today was an eventful day.  From eating empanadas to hiking in the forest, we had it all. Today’s theme was nature/biology, so we split into three groups: Snakes, Birds and Plants. The Snake group got to enjoy a very interesting Powerpoint on the effects of venomous snakebites and the way to recognize venomous snakes. Along with the PowerPoint came watching a mouse being eaten by a corn snake. Many people did not want to eat after that!
            Some of us also went bird watching. We saw many birds, including toucans and kingfishers. The toucans had amazing colors. There are too many types of kingfishers to count. We also saw an iguana in a tree, which added to the fun.
            In the plant group, we started out by making prints on our arms with the spores of ferns and progressed to eating a variety of very sour medicinal herbs and plants. By the end, most of our tongues were numb. The numbness was soon remedied by homemade coconut ice cream.
            After the second activity, we all had free time for a few hours. It poured rain for two hours. During that time, many people took showers, talked, and played cards. Because the showers were cold, and because it was raining outside, it felt like we were standing outside in the thunderstorm. After that, we ate dinner, followed by a slideshow of our experiences so far.

Update: Just as we were about to post, the night guard came to tell us there was a big sloth crossing the wires beside the bridge. We all went down to see it, and it looked right back at us.

PS: Internet service can be spotty and has to be disconnected in thunderstorms. We’ll post as often as we can, but don’t worry if we miss a day.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Students are enjoying chocolate!

Hello Parents,
I just spoke with our instructor, Javier Cano, who told me that all students are safely settled in the Chilamate Lodge. They had a healthy lunch, had a bit of a rest, and are now out on the tour of a sustainable chocolate facility near the lodge. The adventure has begun! If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call me on (303) 679-3412.
Ross Wehner