This might have been perhaps the most fun summer, with a 10-day trip to Costa Rica from ESSO (Exeter Social Service Organization, our community service program) with 12 fellow Exonians and 2 chaperons, Mr. Hawkins and Ms. McGahie. Our team will forever be indebted to the University of Georgia at Costa Rica (UGACR) for sponsoring our stay. Upon landing into the country’s capital we were taken to the lush rural community of San Luis de Monteverde at the UGACR campus. 3 days of intense hiking through the forest ensued, with spectacular sights.
We then took on a brief community service project; after the community center experienced normal wear-and-tear, we sanded and varnished all the tables, laid a rock bed foundation for a building, and much more. Here’s a picture of the team digging a waterway for floods, so they don’t destroy the building:
The next part of the trip was devoted to a 3-day homestay, a special, memorable experience for our team. After a day’s drive to a village through Guanacaste, we arrived in a town of 100 people in a place called Quebradas de Nando. I lived with a nice family of 4; Nena, Richard, and their two sons Arley and Andrey. I’ll always be grateful to Andrey, a master marimba player, who taught me how to play in just a few days.
To make their school wheelchair accessible, we created sidewalks and stairsteps around the one room schoolhouse. Here’s a picture of us carving the sidewalk:
To finish off our stay, we threw a giant tamale-making party and invited everyone! Here’s a pic of us with our culinary expertise:
The final days of our stay were marked by leisure in paradise at the CIRENAS campus just a short trek (over two rivers and a mile-long beach) away. After surfing lessons and a horseback ride through the jungle, we spent our last days at the beach, enjoying the sunset.
I’ll always remember the absolute paradise of isolation, the beauty away from hotels and cityscapes that make Costa Rica truly unique. It caught us in awe of wildlife and in love for sustainable living, from the simple lifestyles of Quebradas de Nando to the wildlife reserve at UGACR. Thanks to Michaella ’16, Rohan ’16, Sasha ’16, Spencer ’16, Kelvin ’15, Rebecca ’16,Efe ’16 Sacharja ’15, Ashley ’15, Julie ’16, Kelly ’17, our guides Mane and Amelia, our fabulous driver Fabio, and our chaperons Mr. Hawkins and Ms. McGahie for a truly memorable, transformative experience.