Soccer Camp, Family Lunches, and Ethno-Botanist

By Dylan

Today we had a lot of fun in soccer camp, having lunch and chatting with local families, and having an ethno-botanist do a presentation. First, at the soccer camp we had our warm-ups and let a group of girls practice their cheerleading. Then, it was game-time. I was the goalie, and where the line should have been there was a large puddle, and under that puddle was a large mud pit. I’ll leave you to guess how that went. At the end of the first half I had touched the ball once, and we were up 1-0. Then in the second half they got themselves together and finished regulation 2-2 putting us in a shootout. There were 11 PKs, but everyone was focused on the goalie, putting a lot of pressure on me. At the end we won on PKs 7-3, and apparently we were the first team to come from another country to beat the Costa Rica team. Overall we had a lot of fun and made great friends!

 

By Kate

 

After we played the soccer game we road back to the eco retreat on the bus. We spent about 10 minutes. Then we walked into the neighborhood down the street to eat lunch. We split up into groups. My chaperone was Mrs. Wilmoth. My group members were Addison, Lillis, Jackson Gant, and Hudson. We went to Dona Digna’s house. We had rice, beans, and chicken for lunch with additional salad and guacamole. After we finished, we went out to see her five cows, one pig, and two bunnies. We then went to her neighbor’s house that also happened to be her family, to play soccer. At 2:30 we walked back to the Eco Retreat and had a quick turnaround. We then walked to the botanist, which was about fifteen minute walk. The botanist was really fun. We got to try a lot of plants, which were mostly really good. My favorites were the coconut, star fruit, lime, Anesthesia (which is pretty self explanatory), and the lipstick plant which when you open up and squish the seeds a red lipstick consistency. Overall I tried a lot of new things and learned so many things I otherwise wouldn’t have.

School and Ziplining!

By Elowyn, Griffin, & Taylor

Morning-

Every person staying in the Chilamate Eco Retreat woke up the beautiful noise of Mr. Blythe yelling “GOOD MORNING, COSTA RICA!” We had breakfast at the usual time, (7:30AM), and after that we immediately grabbed our bags and headed over to Chilamate Elementary School to complete the day’s work. When we arrived, we had the wonderful opportunity to play with the kindergarteners (Kiara included ). We also got to choose where we wanted to work. Some swept, some cleaned the playground, and some worked outside building a garden. When we were finished with that, we went back to the Eco Retreat to have lunch. Some of us chose to shower, and we changed into clothes to go ziplining! Then, we got in the van to go to the ziplining place, Pozo De Azul. Our experience concluded us ziplining through a series of nine ziplines over a beautiful view of rainforest. On the last zipline we got to pass over the river rapids. While ziplining, we got to see a tarantula and also a few howler monkeys.

Then we started our way home, but we didn’t know we were stopping at a surprise location. When we arrived at the surprise location we saw that it was a Heladeria, a Costa Rica ice cream shop. We all had to order our ice cream in Spanish.    The ice cream was delicious! Then when we were all on the bus headed back.

Then we went on a night hike. We saw lizards, frogs, and lots of bugs including the red eyed tree frog. After that we headed to our rooms to go to sleep. Today was an amazing day.

Building and Daniel’s Farm!

Today we went to the Chilamate School and painted bathrooms there. We painted with all different colors including white and red. We had four stations there one was painting the bathrooms, painting the fence, talking and playing with the kids there, and help clean the playground. We had some free time and played with the kids. I thought painting and helping with the school and hope we go back there again! By Andrew

Then we went to a local organic farm run by a man named Daniel. When we first got to the farm we ate a delicious lunch. Next we made compost out of many things. We then learned about how he gets energy for his house without using electricity. Next we learned about how he grew vanilla and how long it took to grow and how much he sold it for. Lastly we went back up to where we ate lunch and had fruit juice and snacks and Daniel told us a very interesting story about his life. My experience at the farm was very fun. By Carter

At Daniel’s farm Daniel told us his life story. His story started at 1999. He worked for a company that tore down trees to make farms. He hated tearing down the trees but he had to, because he needed the money to feed his family. The company used Fertilizer to genetically engineer the plants to make them grow faster. Sadly when the fertilizer entered water, the water became poisonous. This killed thousands of animals even dogs.

One day when Daniel went to bulldoze a tree he saw a family of monkeys. The baby was holding his hand out as if telling them to stop. This was too much for Daniel. He turned the bulldozer off and walked away. His boss forced him and threatened to fire him. So he had to tear down the tree. When Daniel saw the monkeys he saw the dead baby still had his hand up. Then Daniel decided to grow only organic crops. It took 18 years and lots of humiliation, and little money to become a certified organic farmer. His seven helpers all died because of the chemicals that they breathed. Daniel is still effected by partial loss of vision, partial loss of hearing, and has had a few strokes. The companies who use these fertilizers include Dole and Chiquita. By Peter

 

Kayaking, Tikal, ARCAS and some Reflections

(A combination of bad wifi and a busy scheduled has made it impossible to get anything up on our blog until this morning. Here are some photos and reflections from the kids from the last few days.)

 

Giana’s prompt: How do you think this trip changed your perspective on yourself, your country, your world…?

Sam: There is always something going on that is much worse off then what is going on with me…or what is going on in America is not as much of a big deal as what might be happening in another country. Our problems in America might be not as big of a deal.

SE: A lot of minorities in America like to proudly show their culture. Here, the indigenous are the majority, and yet it seems like they are more suppressed. The billboards only have white people, yet, no one here is white. It just seems like clear suppression or favoritism

Kargil: It makes me think about how great it would be to start or be a part of an organization like Doctors Without Borders where you could graduate and just go to the place where you could have the most impact.

George: Sometimes people complain about waiting for a meal in a restaurant. People here might be thrilled to have 2 or 1 meals.

SE: people here put so much more effort into living. We hardly put in any effort, and here they are making tortillas, carrying wood, and so many other things we have seen.

EM: I think of the man who gave up his job to sit next to Maximon for a year to protect it. Is there anything you care about so deeply that you would sit by it for a year?

SE: That’s like asking if I would sit next to the Declaration of Independence for a year to guard it. I love it and believe in it, but I don’t know if I could make that sacrifice

Giana: When we were playing soccer with the children in the first town, they had so little, and they were so happy. Their soccer goal consisted of two plants, and they were having a blast. At school I noticed that we have so much competition. Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. We learned about children that wanted to be the first in their family to go to college, and we stress ourselves out about which college to go to.

SE: It seems like we often sacrifice happiness or even sleep to strive for goals.

Giana: sometimes we brag about how much happiness we have sacrificed to reach our goals. We compete to see who got less sleep or who has been busier.

Samuel: Just how compact all the living spaces are. Sometimes we think houses are small in the US, and families here seem to have no space whatsoever.

Caroline: I feel like people are so much less selfish here. Just willing to be friendlier and more neighborly.

Lauren: People in US often don’t want even want to talk to you.

Grant: We use the adjective “poor” about things that are luxuries (like your phone is so poor). Seeing what poor is makes me never want to use that term that way again.

Giana: I feel like everything is family oriented here. Walking to the market we saw a playpen for babies while people were selling goods. When we were doing the stoves, it seemed like everyone was living together. Some of that were space and poverty issues, but a lot of that was social connectivity. I feel like isolation is a big problem in the US, for mental health and happiness.

EM: What changes could we make in our lives in light of this?

Kargil: We can go outside when we hang out. We tend to sit next to each other and text or check Instagram. There is so much we can do that is not checking Instagram.

(Previous reflections)

Grant: I thought it was cool to be working with all the workers from AIR; they’ve been doing that for years; cool to do it side by side.

SE: I wasn’t thinking the service would be fun but it was; everyone was so nice

Giana: At the school, it was interesting to see how we are the same; the awkward laughter

Lauren: I realized just how important the trees are; what they do for the community

George: even though everything isn’t as modern or the materials aren’t as good, everyone was just as happy or even happier than in the US

Sam: I thought the assembly today was cool – even though we couldn’t understand them, they put all this together to show off their culture. The stoves were fun because you could see the change for the better immediately.

Lauren: the performance was really interesting; I thought it was neat because they could show what part of their culture was important to them. The stoves: making a difference immediately; playing with the kids was really fun. I wish we could go back.

Marielle: I thought the stove building was a really great opportunity to refine upon speaking skills. I got to learn conversational Spanish while I was working and thought that was really cool.

George: the conditions in the village was surprising; the poverty they live in; it puts things into perspective. In Atlanta you could get upset if your order is late and there they are living in their own trash

Lauren: It was interesting how the whole community helped each other, not just their own family

Grant: all the kids had different roles; everyone was working as a unit, kids were carrying bricks

George: I saw a 4 year old carrying like 8 bricks

Giana: we came into this with no expectations and no judgments. There was a language barrier but we all just helped each other out – hand gestures, piecing words together

Samuel: sometimes it was really hard to communicate; I thought they knew English

Lauren: It was really interesting how much they valued nature; we just look at nature as a way to get to the product we want

Samuel: I didn’t know that the Mayan culture was still going on – so that was interesting to see

Marielle: I thought it was interesting that Josue said he had to learn about the Mayan culture. This made me think about the US and how heritage is not as important

Caroline: I thought it was cool how in one of the rituals where the girl was pouring water on the fire, she was using a fanta bottle so it was kind of a mix of old ad new

SE: During the year I don’t really get to be outside in nature: it was really nice just to be outside with trees and just to think

George: I thought the ideas of the Mayans about protecting nature – I thought we could learn from this; a lot of cultures don’t think about it.

Lauren: The little kids didn’t care that we couldn’t speak Spanish – we could just connect through playing

 

 

Monday Team Guatemala visited the Ancient Maya City of Tikal and did some zip-lining over the tree canopy.  

Sunday we kayaked Lake Atitlán after taking a boat from our hotel deck in Santiago over to Panajachel.   Petén is the department we visited where Tikal is located.

We also visited ARCAS to learn about the illegal pet trade in Guatemala and see the animals that they are rehabilitating to put back in the wild.  Unfortunately, this jaguar will never be able to go back into the jungle as he never learned to hunt after being captured and caged at a young age.  He is a funny guy. He likes to pretend that he isn’t there and then when visitors get close to his area, he leaps at them from inside the fence.

Swiss Squad: Geneva and home to the ATL

Our last full day in Switzerland was the sweetest day possible. We started the day with a guided city tour, which took us to see some of the highlights of both the new and old parts of Geneva. We had some free time to walk around more and grab some lunch before we met with Rosalina, our new guide who led us on a chocolate tour of the city. From Romania, she spoke five languages fluently and knew more about chocolate than humanly possible (#lifegoals). For three hours we walked all over the city and sampled some of the best chocolate ever, while learning about its place in history, and how it evolved through the years. Hopefully some of that chocolate made it back to the states, so the awesome parents who sent their kiddos on this adventure could also sample the sweetness.

That evening we went to our final group dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant called Fabbrica Pasta. Mrs. Harris and Mrs. Tresize met the owner, Enzo, and he was gracious enough to open up his rearuarant only to us, on a day he normally doesn’t work.  Once the food started coming out, it never stopped! We were treated to everything from buratta and grilled octopus to homemade (literally right in front of us) fig and goat cheese ravioli  and a variety of other pasta with seasonal black truffles. The squad was adventurous and tried many new foods that night. To say the meal was delicious and bonding is the understatement of the century.

The next day, we were sad to say goodbye to Mrs. Tresize as she left by train to go back to Zurich. We all caught the next train to the airport in Geneva, flew to Paris, and after a quick hustle, made our flight to ATL.