Friday, June 7, 2013

We made it home!

After a long day of travel our team made it safely home to Memphis last night around 10:15pm. Many boys slept on the flight home from Atlanta.
The leaders wanted you to know that we are so proud of these young men. Many stepped out of their comfort zone multiple times on our trip. Among other things, they were kind to each other, they worked hard at the school, they tried new foods, and were very well behaved. Every flight crew told us how polite our group was after our flights. 

Your boys journaled about their experiences on the trip in their Costa Rica notebook. Ask them to share their thoughts with you. 

Thank you for sending your sons on this trip. We hope it was a trip they will always remember! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Flight delayed and travel update

Parents, our flight in Costa Rica is delayed until 11:30 which is a four hour delay. This will make us miss our connection in Atlanta. We are now scheduled to land in Memphis at 10:28 on delta flight 1658. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tuesday and Wednesday update

We left our friends Davis and Meghan and all our friends at the ecolodge today. 

We then traveled by bus to La Fortuna. We arrived at La Princesa de la Luna (our  home for the night) and had a great lunch there. 

After settling in, we headed to Baldi which had several hot spring pools and three water slides. We had a great time swimming until lots of rain started to fall. We went to dinner there. It was a buffet style dinner. Our favorites were the chocolate fountain and cakes! :)

After a great night's sleep, we were up early for breakfast. We had a treat of doughnuts and pastries to celebrate Cole's 12th birthday as well as the breakfast from the place which included delicious banana pancakes. 

We then headed to the canopy tour -zip line time!! Everyone had a great time. The scenery was beautiful. We went over a waterfall two times. We all had a blast!
Lunch time! We went into la Fortuna and ate at a local pizzeria! The boys loved having pizza! For desert, we all had ice cream!

We are now headed to San Jose to spend the night before heading home tomorrow. 

Thanks so much for all the blog comments! The boys have loved hearing your words and encouragement. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Day five afternoon and evening update

Today's afternoon was exceptional, but unfortunately the last afternoon in Chilamate and the Eco Retreat with Meghan and Davis. After lunch we took a twenty minute bus ride (with air conditioning) to the Tirimbina reserve and the chocolate tour. The chocolate tour showed us the history of chocolate and how it was first made by the indigenous people of Latin America.

We had chocolate powder, chocolate bars, and a chocolate drink called Cacaoagua. It was a really long walk through the primary rainforest, passing over a really long suspension bridge that crossed the river where we had rafted the day before. Kyle actually tried some chocolate and didn't perish. 

For dinner we had breaded fried fish, rice, beans, salad and the usual juices. 

Before heading back to the lodge, we played a habitat game where we learned about how many rainforest creatures are becoming endangered because they are losing their habitat. 

We also video chatted with Mr. Burns via face time. We shared about our trip and he asked us questions about it. We enjoyed seeing him and appreciate him talking to us!
We closed with Seth and Cannon leading our nightly ANCHOR, where we expressed our appreciation for all who have contributed to our awesome stay in Chilamate.

Written by Kyle, Keithran, James, and William

We love to read your comments!!

Day five morning update

Today was our last day to work at the Chilamate school. Our projects included building a playhouse, painting bathrooms for kindergarten students, and improving the playground. 

It was very hot, but we took frequent water breaks to stay hydrated. 
Before we left, a kindergarten class did a song and dance for us. We danced along with them. When they were finished, we cheered loudly for them and took a picture with them. 

We created a sign to post on the playground to mark the work we did at the school. 

We returned to the ecolodge for lunch. 

We read your comments to the boys and they love them! Thanks to those who have commented!

Written by Cole, Cannon, Hugh, and Seth

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Have you ever miked a cow? Day four afternoon

Have you ever milked a cow? This was our first time.  It was wet, gross, and warm.  But, some of us thought it was fun!  Today we had an activity where we met local neighbors and worked on our team work. It was kind of like The Amazing Race, Costa Rica style.  The goal was to complete four challenges and earn bands.  

Our first challenge was a river challenge.  We had to flip over a raft and all climb in it.  At first Fox got on top and tried to flip it, but we didn't have the right technique.  Then Caleb tried another way and it worked.  After we all got in, our second challenge was to hold our breath and go under the raft.  It was hard because we had life vests and we had to push off the bottom of the raft.  We earned three bands!
In the second challenge, we had to interview a local family using our Spanish skills.  Russell and Cole asked the questions in Spanish and we all helped translate the answers. We learned that she has five (cinco) people in her family.  At night she drinks coffee with her family.  She milks cows as a living.  The house only had four lights in the house.  We learned from this interview that we are much more wasteful than many people here in Costa Rica.  We only earned two bands at this challenge because we stumbled on one question!

Our third challenge was to milk a cow.  At first we were a little disgusted and shy to milk the cow.  Jerry went first and got a reasonable amount.  We were trying to get a whole cup, but it was hard!  We worked together to get 1/2 cup and earned two bands!  A few funny moments were when milk sprayed Caleb in the face and a couple of us stepped in manure!
The last challenge was a cooking challenge.  We met a lady named Mayra who taught us how to make tortillas.  We had to make ours look like hers to earn three bands. Jerry's was more star shaped, but it still tasted great!  After that we were able to grind sugar cane to make juice.  It was really tough at first.  The juice tasted really sugary like an energy drink.  While we were there, it started pouring down rain.  We got to stay there longer and the really nice lady served us more food like homemade cheese, pudding bites, cookies, and sugarcane sticks.  Finally the rain calmed down and the man wanted us to walk his baby cow.  We took a picture with him. We earned all three bands at this challenge.

Our team, the Neon Hairy Sloths, walked back to the Eco Lodge in the rain chanting our team's name.  We were soaked, but had a great time!  Unfortunately we lost by one band!

Written by Caleb, Fox, Russell, and Jerry 

Day four morning

Our fourth day at Costa Rica began with our morning devotion, on Ephesians 5:1-2, and a delicious breakfast, followed by river rafting down the Sarapiqui river. After some training on rafting skills, we went to a cliff about twelve feet in height, and jumped off a couple of times. After the thrill of jumping, we started our rafting adventure. We went through many extreme rapids. During the slow parts of the river, our group had the time to appreciate the beautiful wildlife. Ranging from iguanas to Kingfishers, and Howler monkeys to name a few. Yet, one of the most amazing animals we saw was a sloth, and of course he was just 'hanging out'. As a reward for our perseverance, the group was treated with fresh pineapple prepared by the guide.

Check back tonight for video we hope to upload. 
We love reading your comments, too!

Written by Charlie, Sam, Darnell, and Ben 

Day three afternoon and evening

After lunch, we rode to a neighborhood park that had a soccer field. The kids were ages five to fourteen. We played two games at once. It was great because USA (our groups) won both games. It was very intense and lots of fun.
We shared a snack of fresh pineapple, watermelon, and bananas during halftime. 

We came back to the Eco lodge and swam in the river.  We had a few team building challenges in the river and struggled to succeed. 
Before dinner, we learned about different functions of the brain during leadership training. 
For dinner, we had fried chicken (a treat!), rice, beans, lentils, salad, and squash soup. We thought dinner was amazing!
After dinner, we went on a night hike through the rainforest. We saw many different types of bugs and plants as well as possibly discovering a new species of cricket which Cole named radioactive cricket. Our guide had never seen that species in his whole life and he was about 50 years old. We thought that was incredible. 
After out night hike, we had ANCHOR time to reflect on our thought of the day. Then we came back to shower and get ready for bed. 
Favorite parts of today:
Cole-two hours at the school where we helped improve and fix their campus
Seth-beating Costa Rica in soccer
Written by Cole, Cannon, Hugh, & Seth 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 3 morning (part 2)

        With all of the work that we did today, we also got help and made a new friend. This Costa Rican boy was 14 years old (tenía 14 años) and his name was David. He is in secondary school and this is a little story about meeting him.

         Cannon, Hugh and I (Kyle) were cutting dividers for the bridge we mentioned earlier, when this boy came over and offered to help. We let him saw and also got to know him while multi-tasking. 

He is not different from Americans at all. He plays Halo 4, Call of Duty and Ned For Speed on the computer he has. Also, he listens to a lot of British and American bands; for example, One Direction, ACDC, and The Black Keys. He loves the song "Kiss You" from One Direction.

      Our fun with David didn't stop at the school. He followed us to our scheduled soccer match with some Costa Rican kids. He was very good and helped us a lot. He did not score, where I did twice, but instead had many amazing assists that were very skilled. So I hope you now realize that kids in Cost Rica are very similar to ones in the United States.
                                                                                                 Written by Kyle

Day 3 morning update

We all slept well last night because we knew that no bugs would come through our nets to our beds. Breakfast today was the same, but still yummy, with added bacon and sweet fried plantains. On the way to breakfast we encountered a small green iguana who climbed all over Ben and James.

At the school we divided into three work groups. One group continued to put more boulders into the drainage ditch then covered it with a plastic tarp. Then we shoveled dirt over the tarp. This was the drainage for the kindergarten bathroom sinks that were made with our earned money. 

Another group tore down decayed rope from a playground bridge then sawed dividers out of PVC to space out the larger PVC bridge planks.

The final group painted the inside and outside of the new kindergarten bathroom stalls, as well as the steel wire part of the exterior walls.

Lunch was the best meal so far, with penne and shell pasta, spaghetti sauce, and garlic bread. There was the great fresh salad that Meghan and the kitchen staff always serve. We wish we had this type of meal at home.

Leave us a comment! We share them with the boys!

Written by James, Keithran, Kyle, and William

Friday, May 31, 2013

Day two afternoon and evening

Our afternoon schedule gave us an opportunity to learn about a variety of Costa Rican plants.  During our lesson, we all had a chance to drink coconut water and eat coconut meat. 
We had mixed reactions. Some of us liked the water and meat and some of us didn't. 

We also learned about the "lipstick" plant.  It had little red seeds inside that if smashed turned into reddish orange paint.  We used it like war paint on our arms and faces.  

Some other plants we learned about were sticky leaves, sandpaper plants, and plants used for natural bug sprays and medicine.  We all had a chance to hold a "poor man's" umbrella.  It is heavier than real umbrellas and the sap is poisonous (we put a plastic bag over the end). 

 Our plant guide made us an extra treat...homemade fruit popsicles.  It was a delight in a bag!

Our next adventure was at the river.  We had a team building activity guided by Javier and Randall.  

Our goal was to build a raft to make it across the river and back before the other team.  We had a kayak, four paddles, two wooden planks, three inner tubes, and ropes that we could use to build our raft.  We found out that it was very hard and it took multiple tries before both teams succeeded.  After the activity, we got to swim in the river. We had a contest of who could hold their breath the longest.  Ben won both times by a long shot.  The river was cold and muddy but felt so good after a long day at work.  

After a refreshing ice cold shower, we ate dinner.  Our menu was mashed potatoes, rice, refried beans, mixed vegetables,  pot roast, salad, and spinach soup.  We drank water or star fruit juice.  Fox said it was the best soup ever!  

Jerry's favorite part of the day was building rafts at the river.
Russell's favorite part was swimming in the river.
Caleb's favorite part was dinner. 
Fox's favorite part was shooting basketball with the kids.

This blog post was written by Fox, Jerry, Caleb , and Russell.