Location: Central Valley

If you were to tell me today, as a group we would cry, laugh, sweat, smile, and eat some of the best food we have ever had; I would automatically assume it was a lie. But Day 3 of our adventures didn’t fail to impress and contained all of those things.

The day began bright and early as usual, and once again breakfast was delicious as it contained fresh fruits, eggs, traditional rice, and most importantly TOAST! Our first act of business then followed as we journeyed to a farm which hosts families in need of shelter, and began our work in planting trees, digging and moving dirt, and using power tools for construction. I’m certain I can speak for the group in saying that playing with the two dogs of the owner, whose names were Ricky Martin and Riley, was certainly the highlight of our morning. These two dogs were not only beyond friendly and playful throughout but also inflicted a feeling of being at home and connection. Many of us, especially myself, were able to turn our “red thumbs” into “green thumbs,” and we all found joy in being able to contribute to beautifying the land for the all of the future guests of the farm to see.

Of course, after all of our hard work, hunger arose. Which meant it was perfect timing when we were fortunate enough to share another traditional meal in La Carpio. I would like to note that on the bus rides throughout the day that we needed to travel, not one of us was unable to rest/nap as our morning work in the beautiful but hot weather had tired us plenty. Now our lunch in La Carpio was more than just a way to satisfy our stomachs. Shortly after eating, we were given the opportunity to watch a self-written and rehearsed play acted out by local senior women (50’s 60’s & the 70’s). This play was very powerful because it was the true story of a woman named Felicita and her childhood as a girl scaring birds away on a farm for her parents and then meeting a boy at a young age who would be her escape route to a new happy life. However, as things may turn out for these locals, after years and years of being married, the husband (Pedro) begins to drink and abuse Felicita to a point where she believes it is best for her to move away from Nicaragua and into Costa Rica. Little did we know, Felicita moved to a place named La Carpio, which is where we were and was playing a character in the play we were witnessing before our eyes. This play was filled with moments of happiness, and of course, sadness as the not so happy ending to the story brought many of us to tears. It was a look into an unfortunately rather common life of a female Nicaraguan refugee. It was a complete eye-opener and compelled many of us to look for solutions to help prevent further experiences like we saw.

I believe this will be one of the most memorable moments of our time here.

After all of our hard work through the day, it finally came time for dinner. But this was no ordinary dinner. Three local Costa Rican families were so kind as to host a dinner in comfort of their own home, with homemade food. This food was so good in fact that I felt as though I could live off of the chicken with rice, beans, potato chips, and fresh juices. Plate after plate came as nobody could fill their stomachs enough with the delicious food provided. These dinners consisted of conversations with the family and kids all in Spanish. And lastly, the young children taught us their most enjoyed games which were played into the night. Not only were these dinners so memorable and satisfying, but they also taught us a lot about Costa Rican culture. For example, the families hosting (middle-class) had so much in common with every one of us, and they showed us the importance of taking care of families and also the people around you. It was a truly special night for all, and hopefully, when we all come home, our families can try to attempt to make food as delicious as the food we were served tonight.

So as I started with, as a group we cried, laughed, sweat smiled, and ate some of the best food we have ever had. And I can confidently tell you we all had an experience today that you would not experience in any other place, but in the one and only, COSTA RICA!!