Today we woke up bright and early again, 6 am! While looking out over the balcony, it was a rather overcast morning and we were concerned it was going to rain during the day.
However, as we looked around we noticed a small farmer’s stand with papayas, plantains, sweet bananas, avocados and limes. After getting ready for our day with a heavy coat of bug spray and sunscreen, we laced up our hiking boots and headed down to meet Dr. Niesenbaum and Dr. Borick. For our morning wake-me-up, where Mike lead an activity we discussed something we had a complaint about while in Las Juntas and how we have overcome that. On our walk to breakfast, we stopped by the farmer’s market where Dr. Borick bought a bunch of sweet bananas to share with all of us. Hannah also bought an avocado, which she was very excited about! For breakfast at the church we had rice, beans, bread, sausage, cheese and cantaloupe. In case you are wondering, no, we are not tired of the rice and beans yet…
Today was our first day of community service work and we were very excited to work with our group (Hannah, Jeff, Morgan and Josh) on the restoration of a monument in a soccer stadium in town. The monument was dedicated to Efrain Arroyo Blanco. Who Carlos told us was a civil war hero who had a passion for sports. We all met together at Carlos and Elieth’s house with Dr.Borick and were introduced to Marco, the man who would be helping us restore the monument. For our project, we spent the day preparing the monument to be restored. We removed old chipped concrete and tiles, removed dirt from the monument, and raked out and weeded the surrounding area. Dr. Borick was kind enough to buy us Gatorades for the hot day.
Some of the other service projects people did were teaching English at the local school, picking up garbage from around town, and helping to curate at the Ecomuseo. Before lunch, Hannah, Morgan and Jill went on a 2 mile run around town, after this experience Hannah highly recommends that you DO NOT participate in 2 mile runs in the 88 degree heat of Las Juntas. After getting cleaned up, we headed to lunch to eat… bet you can’t guess… rice and beans! After lunch we all had scheduled interviews during the afternoon and in our free time we walked the town conducting surveys amongst the local people. Jeff had the opportunity to have an interview with a local municipal environmental worker who talked about the impact of Climate Change in the area, the possibility of electric cars being brought into the town, biodiesel in Costa Rica, and recent government policies concerning decarbonization. Hannah also interviewed Elba, the owner of one of the oldest pharmacies in Costa Rica (70 years old) and told us about her stride towards more sustainable actions by using only paper bags in her store. She is one of the only stores in town to take such an initiative.
Once the interviews were done, we all went back to the community center to get ready for dinner. Dinner was at Los Mangos, which while delicious, some of us almost did not make it there due to a torrential downpour that decided to happen on our walk to the restaurant. While in Los Mangos for dinner, Jeff was excited to have a meal without rice and beans when he ordered potatoes, but was disappointed, but not surprised when the server came out with a plate of rice and beans. After dinner, we held night class in the community park, where we discussed our experience and thoughts thus far. During our class, we were greeted by a dog that was very excited to see us. Despite the dog’s excitement and the excitement of everyone in the class, it was a distraction to our important discussion about perceptions and power relations so he had to be shooed away. The ending of our class concluded our night and we headed back to the community center and some went to Los Mangos to hangout. Overall it was a fun day filled with interviews, community work, rice and beans (: Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Buenas Noches, Pura Vida! –Hannah Chiesa and Jeff Pennington