Costa Rica: A Teenage Volunteer’s View

costa-rica-1Karoline Kress, creator of the new Disque Foundation logo, traveled to Costa Rica during the first week of December with members of the Disque Foundation. The purpose of the trip was to train health care providers and other local citizens in Basic Life Support skills, and to contribute at the Pueblito de Costa Rica Orphanage. However, the experience proved to be much more than expected. She has graciously shared her journal entries from her week in Costa Rica with the hope of inspiring others to contribute as well.

Today is the first day of our placement at the orphanage, Pueblito. I got up at 6:30 for breakfast. Then all 13 of us rode to Pueblito in a huge van. It was really nice; kids ages 6-15 are whom we interacted with. They all have a home with one doña (substitute mom). There are 8 kids per house. We were given a tour of Pueblito and then invited all the kids into the outdoor gym to play football, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. We decided play a entire game of soccer with everyone. The volunteers vs. Pueblito – they totally creamed us! Eventually they even quit having a goalie because we were so bad! We came back to CCS, ate lunch, and had a feedback meeting. Oh my gosh, dance class was our next activity and we had a blast! We learned all types of Latin American dances. We even did partner dances. Our last dance was Gangnam Style and we all learned how to do that! In the evening we went to a nursing home for nativity lighting.

This morning I got up early again! I had coffee and guacamole mixed with eggs for breakfast (sounds really gross but was amazing). We were a tad late leaving for the orphanage this morning. At Pueblito we cleaned up the gym. Then we played duck, duck, goose (or pato, pato, ganso) bingo, made name tags ,and paper chains. Then we played in the gym again. When we came back from CCS we ate lunch and went shopping around Cartago. We walked all around from the Basilica to a shoe store. For a snack we got an ice cream type dessert that was overly sweet!

This morning at the orphanage we worked. I helped clean ceilings and windows with a mop that really didn’t do anything accept move the dirt around. Once that was finished, we sanded railings until all of the paint was off. The kids loved to help with that, especially Mauricio and Manuel. Manuel is eleven and speaks a bit of English which is really helpful. We came back to CCS for lunch and took a FREEZING shower and went to volcano Irazú, it was gorgeous, but chilly. We saw 2 craters and walked on its volcanic ash right up to the crater’s center. What an experience! As we were leaving, the clouds suddenly enclosed around us to where we could only see a couple feet in front of us.

This morning we ate eggs with hot dogs in them. At Pueblito, we chilled in the gym for a while. I taught Marco (11 years) how to play football. He did really well. Then I helped Grandpa, Anna, and Emma organize Rodriguez’s tools (maintenance man). After I finished that, I went to help with crafts. We made bracelets with the girls and colored with everyone else. I taught them how to transform their finger drawings into a pencil, flower, etc after they traced it. Then John Andrew got out his guitar and played some songs. One of the orphanage boys brought out his guitar and played too. For lunch we ate a delicious buffet of tomato, lettuce, cheese, turkey, and ham on flatbread or sub and of course avocados. Then we went to Tapantí National Park, a rainforest. It was absolutely astounding! On the way over I slept while listening to my iPod. In the rainforest it was in between mist and regular rain. The land and plants were so lush. We hiked 1.5 km down to the river and back. The smell was marvelous, so clean and fresh. On the way home, my van only had four people me, Anna, Katie, and Emma. So we all got our own full seat. We went over a really high, rickety, red, and old bridge. We also passed coffee bean orchards which smelled disgusting. For dinner we ate spaghetti with a mushroom sauce. Fritz taught us CPR and Heimlich Maneuver after dinner along with others who needed to be recertified. I was proud to have him as my uncle.

Today was our last day. I’m sad, but happy for the experience. I woke up at 5:30 so I could work on the Disque Foundation logo – a pair of hands in a heart shape with the world in them. It symbolizes how the Disque Foundation helps (hands), with love (hands in heart shape), around the world (world). I worked until 6:20am and skipped breakfast. At the orphanage, we started sanding the railings again. Did some stuff in the gym. As our last hurrah, we had a volleyball match which was tons of fun. I spiked it over and scored a point! It was so sad to leave, but I loved having the opportunity to experience this. We came back and Fritz and I stopped at the bank to pay export taxes. We left later that day to meet up with Roberto (Grandpa’s friend who lives in Costa Rica). He has a gorgeous home. His wife Cecilia served us carrot cake and rice cake with pure mango juice……heavenly. On the way home, Emma and I sang to various songs. Back at CCS, we ate dinner and I painted a tile on the ceiling for the Disque Foundation.