Team #226 Arrives in Costa Rica!


Our beautiful meeting room at the Hotel 1915 in Alajuela

Welcome to the first entry for the 226th Global Volunteers team to Monteverde, Costa Rica since 1992. Today began with a sunny morning at Hotel 1915 in Alajuela (near the airport) where everyone seems to have recovered nicely from yesterday’s travel (many extremely early-morning wake-ups were involved) and where we had some excellent fresh fruit (among other good foods) in the semi-open breakfast area (complete with gentle breezes and a hummingbird that darted in a couple times). Shortly thereafter the team gathered for orientation in the comfortable meeting area near our rooms. First is Maggie (supposed to be pronounced close to May-ggie since she was raised in Minnesota), our team leader who leads not only the Costa Rica programs but also the Ecuador programs for Global Volunteers. She has already skillfully provided and walked us through lots of information, done a great deal of Spanish translation for us, picked some outstanding eating places, and, at least in my case, made visiting Costa Rica much less stressful than solo travel would have been. This team brings together, in order of party size (large to size), a family from St. Louis, that being Paul and Alicia with their twelve-year-old son Joshua, then Sally from Virginia with her granddaughter Nicole from South Dakota (who is on track to finish with high school classes a year early), then Kaye from Cincinnati (who is considering going by Katy here since the Spanish reading of her name sounds close to “calle”, which means “street”, and the English pronunciation sounds like “qué”, which means “what”, and then myself, Randy, from Houston.

During our orientation meetings, we came up with the following six team goals:
1. To have an immersive Costa Rican experience
2. To experience being a foreign visitor beyond a pure consumer
3. To create and strengthen relationships
4. To explore new things
5. To relax, refresh, and recharge
6. To improve my Spanish

We also discussed the characteristics we would need to display in order to reach our goals and have an enjoyable week. Here is our list: flexibility; respect; open-mindedness; good communication; patience; enthusiasm; humility; sense of humor; relaxed; brave; participative; good listener; proactive.


Fields of banana trees we passed on our drive

After lunch in Alajuela, we met Don Félix, who brought us by van to Santa Elena, and I would wager we all appreciated his experienced driving of the roadways: we had to really slow down and squeeze through a couple places. A temporary road blockage due to construction gave us an unscheduled stretch break and “photo op” (and they hardly could have picked a better place to close the road given our postcard view of the hills and mountains), then we were on our way again within about a half hour.

We have arrived at the Mar Inn where we have met Ánthony, who runs the place, and where we’ve met three women from CASEM, the organization with which we’ll be working, at least most of the time. CASEM stands for Cooperative of Women Artisans of Santa Elena and Monteverde. Currently it consists of 82 women (plus three men who contribute woodworking products). As introductions are important in Costa Rica, we talked with Doña Nery (store administrator), Doña Daisy (spokesperson), and Doña Cecilia (vice president). Afterwards, we had an excellent dinner cooked up by Tatiana plus some pineapple juice here at the Mar Inn and tomorrow we’re to have our first work day.


Kaye’s room at the Mar Inn

Entry submitted by: Randy

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