Student Group Ready to Volunteer in Santa Elena

Getting ready to volunteer in Santa Elena on our service assignments started today with a basic Spanish lesson and orientation to the Monteverde area. We learned about Costa Rica – specific words such as ‘mae’ (which means ‘dude’). We learned to introduce ourselves, our ages, our grades, and our hobbies.

COS1503A1 - Teachers from Colegio (Joy Murillo and Jorge Camacho) speaking at orientation

Teachers Joy Murillo and Jorge Camacho talking to us about their school


Two SMALL buses transported us on a four-hour trek up the mountain. We stopped halfway for los baños (the restrooms) y helados (ice cream). The first 2/3 of the trip were easy breezy and the last 1/3 was non-paved winding up a mountain with the ability to look down – way down – and ponder your own mortality. We arrived just fine. We saw more monkeys on the way, hanging in the tree.  We saw beautiful rainbows as we made our way toward Monteverde.

The first three ‘profes’ (teachers) from Colegio introduced us to more of the country. With our team leader, Maggie interpreting, we learned how long they’d been working there, what the school offers students, and how students progress through the programs there. It was cool to see that basically, these students are learning life skills and studying tourism, just like us. Claire, Danica, and Sam E. got to sit with Joy, who teaches rural tourism. Through a blend of Spanish and English, we learned about her love of nature photography, birds, and hiking. Her pictures were stunning still photos of birds and bats in flight. She has two books published with her pictures.

The drive revealed a lot of differences in how city and country ticos live (Costa Ricans). We saw cattle being shuttled and also procreating in the wild. We also saw a lot of horses and goats. It’s pretty easy to fall in love with this place and this country. The people we have met have more than live up to their reputation for being kind and happy. Though they may not have the ‘stuff’ we have, they appear to us to have the stuff of life – connection, enjoyment, family. Time to get dirty! Time to meet the teens of Colegio! We are ready to volunteer in Santa Elena!

by Sam C., Sam E., Nat B., and Danica

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