New team arrives on Saturday January 29th

Jesse, Jericha, Willie and Keilor round up shovels to start digging.

Journal – Day 1 – Santa Elena, Costa Rica

Today, January 30, 2011, in San Jose, ten of us began our first Global Volunteers adventure under the leadership of Nia Salas. The night before was not promising – we were already down 1½ people before our journey began: Yolanda had sprained her ankle and could no longer come with us, and Jessie was visiting the medical clinic with a bad case of the flu.

By morning, Jessie was coming around and we bid farewell to Yolanda. It was time to get down to the business of volunteering. Our first task was to learn the names of our fellow volunteers by playing the name game. (I lost the game, by the way, by forgetting the name of the person next to me. Sorry, Atula, I shall never forget it again.) After we found out a bit about our team members, Nia took us through the finer points of working as a volunteer in a cross-cultural situation. It was a lot of information to take in, and I can’t say that I was able to absorb it all. Three things the stuck with me were: (1) volunteers eat often; (2) learn to go with the flow; and (3) when in doubt, just say “pura vida”. It sounds good to me!

After lunch, we left Orquideas Inn – with the colourful toucan, the squawking parrot and Marilyn the Dog – for the three-hour trip to Santa Elena. The gently winding, paved roads eventually gave way to a very bumpy, twisting roller coaster of a ride into the Monte Verde region. The terror of riding along sheer drop offs was surpassed by the spectacular views over the green Costa Rican hills down to the Pacific Ocean. Eventually we arrived in the bustling tourist town of Santa Elena. After exploring the town for a bit, and enjoying our dinner of red snapper, the Freemans introduced us to the game of Left, Right, Center, at which Andrew and I demonstrated our extraordinary skills at this difficult game by winning. While the adults compared stories of life in Canada, Costa Rica and the United States, the kids ventured out in the dark to the nearest supermarket, returning with bags of candy to share.

So we begin this adventure excited to find out what this experience will bring. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” If that is the case, then with this group of volunteers, we can truly achieve something great.

Pura Vida!

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