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Working in the Monteverde Forest – Our First Day Volunteering at Colegio

Experience the intimacy of daily life in a small, agrarian town.

We began our first day volunteering at the gates of Colegio. We’re working in the Monteverde forest surrounding the beautiful campus.

We had our morning meeting in the gym. Maggie taught us to do the Costa Rican air kiss, which is between women or women and men, but not between dudes (maes) – always the right cheek to right cheek, and just a kissing sound. Students from Colegio joined us the in the gym for a “getting-to- know-you session” with varying levels of Spanish, English, and Spanglish being spoken.

The pig who seemed to want to kiss us.

We were sent off on a tour of the campus and then picked up tools to begin working. During the tour the main attraction was this absolutely gigantic pig. He was, except for his stumpy legs, the size of a horse. He had a perfectly round mouth like he was trying to kiss us as we walked by. There were adorable little piglets, too.  Someone asked a Colegio student what the pigs’ names were. The student replied you don’t name something you will someday eat. Good tip.

The reason for the hiking boot requirement on the packing list is apparent. There are no level surfaces. A ‘path’ or a ‘trail’ at let’s say, the Botanical Gardens, is not the same as in Monteverde or Colegio itself. This town is completely vertical. After passing through the guard gate, the campus has a giant gym in a valley below, classrooms in the middle level, and a pond, animal facilities, and trails wrapping around upper campus.

Working in the Monteverde Forest

Activities today included clearing the Monteverde forest floor to create walkways and new pathways. Other teams shoveled, bagged gravel, and hiked up steep trails to deliver it to the places where trails were being finished.

Natalie B. sitting on the pile of rocks to be carried up to the trail

Natalie B. sitting on the pile of rocks to be carried up to the trail

 

The ticos (Costa Ricans) said they were impressed with our group, especially how much rock the girls carried and how fast they carried it.We learned that there are electric fences on the campus to keep the animals from escaping. Several of our students learned this by accidentally stepping on or touching one. Low voltage, but shocking none-the-less.

Our critter count went up today. We were instructed not to kill the creatures we encounter because students at Colegio are studying them and value their existence in their ecosystem.

Taking a break

Taking a break on the first day working in the Monteverde Forest.

We took several breaks on a shady breezeway and realized that ticos work at a different pace than we are used to. There is balance of exertion and rest. They also do not approach projects in the same way of that ol’ American standard of ‘Get it done, and get it done fast.’  After a day of working in the monteverde forest, we had a meal and discussion of the day at the hotel, and then some much-needed downtime for a hardworking group.

 by Henry, Brittany G., and Emilee G.

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