Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thought of the Day-Mary Ann
“A tree is known by it’s freight, we by our deeds. A good deed is never lost: one who sows courtesy reaps friendship and one who plants kindness gathers love.” ~ Saint Basil.


The cackling chicken announced the arrival of a warm sunny day in Alajuela. Our eight member Global Team, the 174th in Costa Rica, led by Country Manager, Nia Salas, gathered for a “tropical breakfast” prepared and served by our hosts, Robert and Alexandra formerly Canadian, now owners of La Rosa de America.

Our team is youthful 18-40+; while four of us are a bit more “seasoned”; we too are young in spirit! We started to “bond” even before Nia, effectively and efficiently, guided us through team building activities. As she reviewed Global’s philosophy of service –“Waging peace and promoting justice” she reminded us that “we are catalyst and our work is a vehicle”. Here in Costa Rica, we will first build relationships with our hosts, then we’ll begin the tasks they assign to us.

Many of us are in very early stages of learning the Spanish language and appreciate the magic phrase “pura vida” (literally pure life) which can be used in many situations, trusting we could absorb more though, Nia reviewed basic phrases as well as some “Costa Rican Spanish”.

Three of us will help at CASEM and our construction team of five will be at Cebadilla. After our “casado” lunch (every meal is a feast), Eric, our driver, arrived to load us and our luggage in his Mercedes van. With most luggages on top, safely secured with a bright green tarp we piled in eagerly anticipating our four hour ride to Santa Elena. We took the scenic route since all roads to S.E. are scenic. We began to gently ascend to the 4500 feet altitude paradise near the famed cloud forest via Aguacate mountain (all road trips in CR involve mountains). And we feasted again-this time a feast of nature: waves of green sugar cane, pochote(orange blooming trees) guachipelin (yellow blooming trees); the veraneras-summer flowers in magnificent iridescent hues; mango and plantain trees to name a few, sprinkled among lush and various shades of green vegetation where lean cows (like goat-cows) graze on the steep hillsides.

As the roads grew steep, and two attempts to make it up the steepest stretch, Eric announced there was too much weight so we opted to walk and leave the luggage intact. Even the Gail-forced winds didn’t bother us much since we spotted our first rainbow and had the sun-washed gulf on one side and the cloud forest on the other-Eric waited at the top of this “wicked stretch” of road.

The last 22 km. are white, super dusty and rocky-rugged is an understatement! And we were rewarded as we got our first glimpse of Santa Elena at sunset and a refreshing drizzle called “pelo de gato” (hair of the cat). The crowning glory of this journey occurred when we were very warmly welcomed by Irene, Karla and Rosita into their charming “chalet” hotel and a delectable meal. Our rooms are cheerful and the ever constant wind will lull us to sleep. After a very short discussion and review of our schedules it was very “early to bed” for all, to dream about all we’ve learned today-C.R.’ s beauty is unsurpassed, and it’s culture, food, drink and economy – have all , it’s wonderful people.

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