The End of an Experience of a Lifetime

84Team #226’s final, bittersweet day. We have had experiences that will last a lifetime, but we are all looking forward to returning home. Spending two weeks working closely with people from another culture; seeing plants and animals we have not seen outside a zoo or arboretum, if at all; and learning that rice, beans, and (for some) chicken can be made in 20+ different ways have all been exciting experiences. From an indoor soccer match watching Anthony’s team play to watching team Costa Rica win match one at the World Cup while eating at Bar Amigos, filled with nearly 100% ticos, we have enjoyed sports. Our wonderful hosts at CASEM made us feel welcome. We feel we made a difference in our small ways. So, on to our final work day and the twisty mountain road back to where we still have one more night in Costa Rica, sans team member Randy. Randy will continue his adventure with a few days in the northwest before flying home to Houston.

A 100% pancake breakfast ended our stay at the Mar Inn. The a.m. surprise was a sloth in a tree near the hotel, thus making the day for Josh and Pablo, who had not seen this wily beast.

181When we arrived at CASEM, we continued several projects. I painted a stripe about 36” long that was still light green rather than white. I avoided a fall when Kaye arrived at the exact moment I tripped. Yay, Kaye. Alicia taught bag-making to several CASEM partners while Paul and Josh sanded a table and others finished more t-shirts. At 10:00 we went to the cafeteria for coffee and to work on Q & A cards about CASEM that we promised to give to Doña Patricia (they will be placed around the store to enlighten customers), and to sneak a peek at the Costa Rica versus Italy soccer match. Costa Rica scored a goal and subsequently won 1 to 0. Olé, olé, olé, olé – Tico, tico.

Because we had to leave by noon to coincide with highway opening, we began our heartfelt and tearful goodbyes to our CASEM friends. We all spoke giving our thanks and expressing our feelings. We presented our cards that we made the night before, using paper made by Patricia. Each of us wrote two to three cards and everyone signed each card. We all received gifts from CASEM members. Women received beautiful clutch bags painted with designs on cloth dyed in CASEM. Josh and Randy received holders for Ipads or Daytimers; Josh got a wood puzzle. Too soon, it was time to depart.

Not far down the road we happened upon a group of five capuchin monkeys. ¡Pura vida! As we drove through town, we met pickup loads of people cheering the Costa Rica win in Brazil. Our first trip oops was getting to the road blockade to find the opening was delayed. Oddly, it was the same amount of time as the game had taken. Hmmm. After a wait for road construction we continued toward our destination.

We had a startling revelation from Maggie when, after travelling for what seemed to be an eternity, we passed through a small village.  Maggie pointed out that several of the CASEM members that had been working with us came from that village and had made the trip by bus to work with us.  I speak for myself but this brought home the realization how strong the women’s commitment is to CASEM and how much personal effort was made to work with us for a say.  It brought any silly complaints into perspective.

We ate lunch and continued toward Hotel 1915 for an overnight stay before our adventure ended.

After arriving we rested briefly before walking to a restaurant we enjoyed the day we arrived.  The majority of the team and Maggie had an early departure time but somehow my travel agent scheduled Nicole and I for a late afternoon departure and arrival home in the wee hours of the morning.

We all missed Randy, who left us at noon. His work with NASA was a source of endless fascination to both team members and Costa Ricans we met. His gifts to us at breakfast today — NASA patches and Mars rover commemorative medals — will be treasured. Good luck to you, Randy!!

42We said our goodbyes in the lobby and parted ways. Our team genuinely liked one another and we plan to stay in touch. We may end up on another team in the future. ¿Quién sabe?

Thanks again to Maggie for taking us on this adventure and for sharing her genuine love and knowledge of the culture with us. Buena suerte y adiós a todos.

Entry submitted by: Sally

Additional entry by Alicia:

One of our team goals was to relax, recharge and refresh. Another was to experience a culture beyond pure consumerism. I do believe both were met with flying colors. One of the goals of Global Volunteers itself is to work to wage peace. I believe by working on those two goals above, we truly did our part to wage peace. I also do not think it coincidence that we ended up in an area influenced by Quakers, and the activist wife of a hippie.

15The Rolling Stones say “you don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need”. We wanted certain things out of this trip that we did not get, at first fighting the tide of what we were receiving; once we acknowledged the difference, and fully accepted the tide, we got exactly what we needed.

I know that our transition back to the States will most likely be rocky. But I will commit to hold Costa Rica and its lessons in my heart, and let my soul be my pilot. Thank you to all who made this an experience of a lifetime.

Message of the Day: It is hard to see the Forest through the trees. It is important to be mindful of the small, mundane things in life. Being cognizant of the little things makes one truly appreciate the gift of life.”
Sometimes it takes a change in latitude to have a change in attitude. Often times as Americans we focus on the finish line instead of focusing on the here and now. As a group we have all come to understand this and now we should strive to commit to the Costa Rican concept of Pura vida! – Frederick Engles & Jimmy Buffett as interpreted by the inner tico in Pablo

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