Breakfast was on point this morning, which was especially fortunate considering the group rolled out of bed a little extra tired and sore from their first day of volunteering. At Rosy’s house, we ate rice and beans, eggs, and homemade sweet bread, while others devoured Costa Rican pancakes with plantains and fresh fruit juice. It was a lively ride to the animal rescue center as the volunteers teased one another about not getting up for the morning walk they’d planned the night before. The majority of the group slept in, while overachievers like Darrion and Malik Jones got up for a scenic run, taking in the surrounding mountains and tropical panoramas.
We arrived to the center and set to work on some very challenging expansion projects, continuing to shovel and move rocks for the new peccary enclosure as well as cutting wire to extend the parrot habitat. Eventually, lunch arrived, and with it came a fallen tree, which interrupted our electricity, followed by a hefty rainstorm. In the spirit of Pura Vida, we adapted to our new circumstances. Fajr, Malik and Cheyenne, sweaty from a hard day’s work, stepped out into the refreshingly cool rain. The rest grabbed their ponchos, and soon everyone was following a staff member with a machete down to the nearby river to fetch supplies for our next project.
Ms. Hampton and Mrs. Wong suddenly heard shrieks of laughter and chaos coming from the forest and rushed over to find the students excitedly crossing the river. Their guide led them down the bank to hack away at long stalks of bamboo at least 15 ft in length! The students carried the bamboo on their shoulders, 2-3 volunteers per stalk, back across the river, up the ravine, and over to one of the center’s shelters. Without electricity, the staff taught the students how to cut the bamboo in pieces using hand saws. Those on the sidelines helped by holding the bamboo in place. The volunteers sawed more than half a dozen of the large stalks into 2-3 ft long pieces, which they would use in the next couple days to construct hanging ladders and toys for the animals.
The students handled the trials and tribulations of the day well, especially with Ms. Hampton and Mrs. Wong’s guidance. Before heading home, they circled up to give shout outs to their fellow classmates for all they had accomplished and to recognize those who had taken initiative in leading the group. They cracked each other up as they shared amusing anecdotes from their hard day’s work.
Finally, we loaded into the van to enjoy our evening relaxing with one another and our hosts. Busayo took advantage of Spanish lessons from his new host brother, while Santrell and Malik Jones’ little siblings tried scaring them by planting fake insects in their room and other goofy pranks. A bunch of students ventured out to discover more of the town and buy snacks from a nearby tienda, taking pleasure in the freedom to be together outdoors in their calm, new environment.