Location: Central Valley
After a tough day, we got to have a bit of a later start this morning. Everyone woke up with some soreness from working on the elementary school classroom the day before but it was a good sore! Even though we were hurting, it was very much worth it. Once we got on the bus, we headed to La Carpio, a shantytown outside of San Jose set between a sewage treatment plant and landfill. Driving through it was eye-opening. None of us had ever seen anything like this. Despite the awful conditions the people live in, they still managed to smile and be friendly. Gail, our in-country contact and founder of the Humanitarian Foundation in Costa Rica, gave us a deep explanation of the history of La Carpio for us to better understand the situation. Gail has spent nearly 40 years doing Costa Rica volunteer work to improve the conditions of poor communities and showed us some of the work her foundation was going and the communities poverty impacts. After walking around, we enjoyed some delicious “Trits,” a Costa Rican ice cream sandwich. They were probably the most delicious ice cream sandwiches I have ever tasted. We were a little skeptical at first because Rob and Devin talked them up so much, but they lived up to our expectations.
We then visited La Finca, a small refuge in a place called Turrucares that’s designed to help people from La Carpio or other impoverished areas relax or recover from whatever struggles they happen to find themselves in. We met a woman named Nela, who shared her incredible story of pain, strength, and bravery with us. From unplanned pregnancy to drug addiction to an abusive father figure, Nela had seen it all and yet has spent the last five years of her life drug-free and committed to helping others recover from similar issues. It was inspiring to listen to her. It will be a story that will stay with us forever. Continue reading our Costa Rica blog to hear more inspiring stories and see Costa Rica vacation photos from our service trip.