July 11, 2016
Our morning in El Brujo began with a big breakfast and a long walk into town. The work began where we left it the day before; we painted the fences we had prepped and continued painting chairs, tables, and benches. Mackey took the lead on moving soil across the yard as Riley and Carson painted a mural at the school. After a few hours of sweat, a group of students at the school began congregating and playing soccer alongside us as we worked. Once our work was finished, we showered the kids with gifts and hugs- Chloe’s soccer balls were a huge hit. It only seemed fitting to move to the soccer field and challenge the local kids. Robert had the goal of the match, but Katherine and Sam’s muddy collision might have been the hardest laugh of the day. Tired and covered in dirt and sweat, we walked back to our bungalow with our new friends; Wyatt was even invited into a home along the way to play with one of his new friend’s duck, Luna.
A warm lunch from the farm was waiting for us, which was especially cool because we took a tour of the fruits, vegetables, and animals harvested on the farm. As anticipated, Court and the other guys tasted the hot peppers and immediately regretted their decisions (Willy was wise and abstained from the competition, thanks to a bad experience with a ghost pepper). From the farm we began our ascent up the mountains of the Savegre Valley, where Ansley overcame knee pain to take great pictures and enjoy the scenery. With tents pitched atop the mountain, we slept through a rainstorm and bug bites to be greeted by a beautiful sunrise.
We took a detour during our descent to a waterfall where we covered ourselves in exfoliating Blue Clay; Kendall relished the rejuvenating experience. Our afternoon was occupied with a chocolate making lesson, another soccer game, and some free time to reminisce on the good times. Scarlett may have found her calling: simultaneously churning and snacking on chocolate.
After our long day, we were happy to have our final dinner of homemade, wood-fired pizza. The day was not yet over. A post Moonup chocolate activation and tasting was presented by Buenaventura’s resident chocolate ambassador- a wonderful nightcap before a long day of travel to Turrialba.
Kendall- Hola parental guidances, Max and Hazel. Hope all is well in Ashevegas! Love you and see you soon.
Mackey- Hey, fam! I miss Mash and Fern a lot, but I’m so excited to raft for these next two days. Love y’all to the moon and back. See you soon:)
Ansley- Hey buddies, everything’s going good have so much to tell y’all but there will be plenty of time for that in dos days. Love ya! See u soon:)
Carson- having so much fun! I’ve never laughed so much! Miss you!
Scarlett : I am having such an amazing time here Costa Rica. This is such a fun experience, but I miss you so much!
Chloe: I am having the best time. I miss you guys so much. I have learned so much in Costa Rica. Can’t wait to tell you all about it. Love you and miss you.
Riley : I am having an amazing time in Belize and Costa Rica. I can’t wait to tell y’all about it. Love y’all!
Katherine: I absolutely love Costa Rica and Belize! I’m having the best time and can’t wait to tell you all about it! See you soon! Love you so much!
Robert: I am having lots of fun. Scuba diving was great and CR has been great. Love you
Sam: having a great time in Belize and Costa Rica! Scuba and surfing have been great! See you soon
Court: Hola mis padres. In almost fluent in Spanish and have learned a lot. I can’t wait to tell you all about the trip. ¡ Les amo !
Wyatt : I am having a great time in Costa Rica and Belize!
Willy: I have been having a great time Belize and Costa Rica. SCUBA was great- I saw five sharks and in Costa Rica the surfing and Zip lining were great
July 8, 2016
We arrived in Costa Rica happily. Belize was a beautiful, calm, paradise, but now the adventures of the jungle awaited us. A calm night in Alajuela was full of laughs as Wyatt reminisced on the good times of scuba diving. The next morning we bolted west to the northern end of the Osa Peninsula. Ansley had a big surprise when her chocolate croissant was actually a refried bean burrito; as always, she took it in great stride.
Once at Hacienda Baru, we began our tour searching for toucans and sloths. At the summit, eight zip lines took us across the rainforest canopy. Riley captured some great GoPro videos, zipping forwards and backwards through the jungle. Sam figured out how to zipline as fast as possible, which was fun to watch, but a little frightening for his leaders!
After another lunch of rice and beans, we grabbed our boards and hit the waves in Uvita. Katherine found her groove again, and was one of the best surfers in the group. Kendall was stung by a jelly fish, but toughed out the pain and kept on shredding. The spring tides brought huge waves that were tough to master but rewarding for the bold amongst us, Robert especially!
Moonup was held on the beach, a special place under the stars. With the Milky Way holding our gaze, Ansley and Carson lead a great discussion. Afterwards, we ran down to the beach and met the tide. 10 hours later, bellies full of gallo pinto, we were back on our boards. The surfing was short but great. Scarlett was sad to say goodbye to the Pacific yet welcoming the service section of the trip. A rickety 90 minute bus ride into rural Costa Rica brought us to Buenaventura, an eco-lodge in the Savegre Valley. We immediately met up with some local kids and played games, not letting the language gap come between us. Chloe managed to make a few new friends who let her hold their bunny! After a quick lunch, we walked a few minutes to the local primary school in El Brujo. Court grabbed some steel wool and prepped the fence for painting tomorrow and Mackey painted a bench for recess.
Dinner was at an organic restaurant right on the produce farm. Tomorrow will be full of soccer, more community service, and a camping trip that Willy can’t wait for!
July 6, 2016
By noon on the 30th, all fifteen new friends were leaving the Belize City airport. We hopped on our transport boat and began the two-hour trek due east to Long Caye. We zipped through a rainy patch or two on the way in, but made it to our island getaway in one piece.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a welcome snack of papaya and scones. With full bellies we headed to the west side of the island for our first swim. Scarlett managed to find a beheaded lobster which was smellier than anything!
It was an early first morning- thankfully no one had watches or phones to realize the time! After a big breakfast of eggs, fryjacks, and refried beans, we grabbed our scuba gear and were at our confined water dive in no time. Confined water dive in Belize is simply a shallow sand bar in the middle of the sea- which meant that all sorts of wildlife, like a massive eagle ray, were scurrying betwixt us.
Court and Willy went off on a dive for the already-certified divers, spending the morning exploring Belize’s barrier reef. No time to be tired though, as we headed out for another dive after lunch.
The first open water dive consisted of descending to 25 feet, working on SCUBA skills, and more importantly, going on a tour of the reef! Robert and Chloe both overcame initial ear problems to continue the dive with the group. Thankfully they did, as we saw a nurse shark scurrying along the wall. Riley also got a little too close for comfort to a moray eel!
The evening fell quickly, as did a number of shooting stars over the ocean, as spotted by Sam. He and all the boys spent the night in eno hammocks, happily perched between palm trees.
With the confined water dives under our belt, the next day’s dives consisted of more advanced skills and deeper dives. We became masters of taking the mask totally off underwater and breathing from our buddy’s alternate air source. Another dive along Long Caye wall was full of barracuda, tarpon, a surfacing sea turtle, lionfish, two nurse sharks, and a lobster!
The afternoon dive was the final of the trip, where we reached our maximum certified depth of 60 feet. Glancing down the reef’s wall, into the abyss of the ocean, we all felt a little smaller, a little more fragile; at the will of the water. The last dive was indeed bittersweet- one section of the trip almost over, but another country awaiting us! We passed the time until dinner with an intense game of volleyball, where Carson showed off her skills. The friendly ended with a dinner call to hurry back for fried snapper and barracuda!
Our last day at Calypso was a slow, relaxing one, with plenty of time to reminisce on our adventure in Belize. Everyone passed the written scuba exam, though Wyatt may have taken a few liberties in his water treading test. After rinsing the salt off our fins and masks, we ventured to Half Moon Caye by boat, the southernmost portion of Lighthouse Reef. The island is home to red footed boobys, frigates, green turtle hatcheries, and gigantic hermit crabs – Ansley’s crab won our spontaneous hermit crab race.
With the remaining hours of sunlight, the group divided. Half the group set sail on a fishing excursion – catching sharks, jacks, and snapper on nothing more than hand lines. The rest of the group walked around the island and watched the sunset from Long Caye’s western pier- Mackey and Kendall brought along summer reading while they soaked up the sun. Upon reunion, the fishermen told long stories about their catch; Katherine’s fish grew an inch with each re-telling.