Diary of participants in international leadership programmes

What a Great Day!


Today, in Costa Rica, we went swimming in a natural waterfall. We walked for a good forty minutes up to a little café and then walked down to the cold, refreshing pool. The waterfall, although cold, was lots of fun and was a thrill to jump off the sides of the stonewalls. The cold was very refreshing and helped us all wake up in a good mood.After our little swim we went back to the café for some amazing pineapple, mango, papaya (and a mix of all 3) smoothies which helped us regain the energy we needed after our exciting leaping off the tall walls of the waterfall. The drinks were extremely good and gave our day a good tasty twist of fun.We then walked back to the town, in which we are staying and went for some souvenir shopping. We bought some handmade necklaces, masks, t-shirts and other goodies for ourselves, and our family and friends.We then returned to home-base for a speech by the majority owner of the eco-lodge where we are staying. The owner, Don Rudolpho, told us that the lodge was made to reduce the impact of pollution that other hotels and lodges would have.Finally, we wrapped up our day with a cooking session with our cook where we learned to make empadadas , picodillo juice, and rice with beans. Best of all was that we got to enjoy our own handy work by eating our meals for dinner. Next, we presented on what we learned on the local mangroves through a gangsta rap and a skit. We then all gathered near the T.V. to watch The Silver Linings Playbook, which put us in a great mood before we went to bed.-Anastasia from Moscow, 2014

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Reaching the Pacific

Day 1

Today everyone arrived at the airport and found each other by looking at each other’s shirts. We met up with a GLA leader at the airport and got driven back to a hostel where we would spend the night and play games to get to know each other. One person’s birthday was that night and we all celebrated and had cake when the last few people had arrived. The accommodations were decent dorm rooms with showers and air conditioning.

Day 2

The next day we woke up at 7 in the morning to eat and go over GLA code conduct in the form of skits as we waited for our bus to arrive. Everyone gathered at the bus, which was in the city. There we drove for four hours to get to the home base. During the drive we took two stops. (a) One of the stops was to do a little souvenir shopping and take a brief walk along the bridge to do some sight seeing. (b) The second stop was to take pictures of the ocean when it first began to become visible. Both stops were well-organized time wise, so we stayed on schedule and got to move around a bit. Once we got to home base we just settled in and took a dip in the pool where we got to know one another a little better.


The Surf and the Storm

Day 3
Today the group woke up excited for surfing.CRPTP-June22-1

We had breakfast and then grouped up and headed to the National marine park. We split into two groups. One group went started their lessons with the Bodhi surf instructors. The other group went off to clean up the park and pick up trash. We saw some interesting wildlife while cleaning. The groups switched and the next group began to surf. The lesson was really detailed so we could clearly understand everything we were being taught, and we learned a lot about the local life. We also learned how to control the board and how to surf safely.

Then we got to go in the water. We practiced turning a few times and came back in to learn how to stand up. The instructor was very detailed, knowledgeable, and helpful. We learned how to stand and went back out to catch a few waves. Everyone had a blast, regardless of a few sunburns.


Next, we returned to the home base where we had deep fried fish. Then we all broke off and rested for a while. We grouped back up and went for a community walk. The man who led the walk taught us about respecting the environment and the people/animals living in it. We walked for about an hour and saw the heart of the community as a whole. We returned to the home base and watched a documentary on Costa Rica’s tourist industry. The industry fuels 95% of the Costa Rican economy. However, the locals are really afraid that tourists will hinder the pureness of the island, and its environment, which is something we will all have to reflect on in the days ahead. Then, we broke away for dinner and went into our mentor groups to discuss our day.

– Deane Long and Simone Pope

Day 4

Today was as equally amazing as it was exhausting. After a quick breakfast of eggs and rice (the usual), we headed off to kayak in the largest mangrove in Central America. We drove twenty minutes to our destination surrounded completely by mountains and farmland. Once we arrived, we walked through the jungle to meet with our water tour guides. Our view was spectacular and our arms were tired as we navigated through tiny tunnels of trees and bushes, and even brightly colored crabs. Halfway through, we were able to take a quick photo break, and admire the beautiful mountains encircling us.


When we finally reached land, the relief was palpable in the air. Eventually we cooled off with some fruit courtesy of the locals, along with the presence of a cute little girl names Stephania. The taxis arrived shortly after and we went back to home base. We enjoyed a short amount of chill-time and ate chickpeas, chicken, and rice for lunch.

We then began our community service adventure by going to the local after school program, where we met numerous local kids of all ages. We played multiple games with them, including “duck, duck, goose” and something similar to “steal the bacon”. The kids really enjoyed it and were very excited to see us. They were all smiles – like jumping beans – as they climbed onto our backs and shouted in Español.

We then began our project of creating a rug with old sheets and t-shirts that we had to cut into one-inch strips and weave into a mat. After about an hour, we had completed as much as we could for the day and sadly, had to say goodbye to the kids. We previously decided to walk back; however, it began to pour outside and we took a taxi back to the home base. At the end of our heavy day, we cooled off with an energetic dance in the rain, and a quick swim before the lightning began. The synchronization of the group was set in stone as we laughed and cheered in our first true Costa Rican Storm.

– Callan Small and Gaby Ortiz

Expedition through the Treetops

We started off the day with an early wake-up call.  We headed to the rainforest to begin our Osa canopy tour, which was an adventure we were all looking forward to.

The guides drove us up two thousand feet to the treetops. It was a long and steep ride, but absolutely worth the view!

After snapping a few pics, we all strapped in to our harnesses and prepared for the sweep of the experience. There were nine ziplines that brought us down the mountain. Tall green trees surrounded us and the landscape was breathtaking. To finish off the ziplining, the guides gave us the freshest fruit any of us had ever eaten and we swung like Tarzan from the bungalow.

After a bumpy ride down, we went back to homebase for lunch. Since we were running late (that’s what happens on an expedition like that!) we had no time to rest before community service. But we all went and made a lot of progress on the biogarden and signs that we had painted. It was a really long day and we were all catching up from yesterday’s early start, but our excitement carried us through the day. We’re all looking forward to a good night’s rest after our movie night. Popcorn time!

– Amanda Miller and Bailey Smith-Helma


An Outing to Corcovado

Today started off with an early morning- 5:30 wake up call!

We started off with a walk to meet the tour guides for our outing to Corcovado. The Bahía Adventures crew took us on an hour-and-a-half boat ride to the San Pedrillo ranger station. Along the way we saw spotted dolphins in the water and more birds than you can imagine. The boat ride there was full of energy! Very bumpy but luckily nobody got seasick!

Once we got to the station we got ready for our walk, and wouldn’t you know it, we got to see our first monkey- a spider monkey! The hike through the rainforest was muddy but full of exotic plants and animals. We learned about the strangling fichus, the golden orb spider and termites, among other things. We saw parrots, another spider monkey and her baby, and many macaws.

On the way back we walked along the beach, spotting Caño Island in the distance. We got back to the station and had a large lunch, which was refreshing after our tiring hike. On the boat ride home we stopped to go snorkeling. The water was cloudy and the weather wasn’t cooperating so we cut the visit short. But after such a fulfilling day, going home was a nice break.

– Sydney Zoretic and Peri Charatich

Community Service

Today was the community service day. As leader of the day I motivated others to push through a harder day. Although we were all very tired we kept our heads up and finished strong. With 6 hours of community service under our belts from today most of us are ready for a good nights rest. Today we played soccer with the children of the school and we all loved it. And although my ingrown toenail was pickaxed and stomped on it seemed to leave a happy mood for all of the campers. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us tomorrow.

-Quinton Poncelet


Every day so far in this small piece of paradise, we’ve taken part in some sort of recreational activity. All the while, we’ve been participating in community service, such as making recycled rugs and starting a bio-garden. However, today was the first day of the trip that was dedicated to only community service. We continued the bio-garden and made mad progress, and also painted some rad signs to place around the community. Some people also played an impromptu game of soccer with the children at the school we were working at. After lunch, we went on a lengthy walk collecting and tracking trash.

All this work seemed to rob people of their energy, as group hype seemed to be at an all-time low. Everybody seemed to be on a slightly shorter fuse than normal. Despite our tiring schedule and high tensions, we all worked as a team and still managed to have fun during the community service. Tomorrow is a full day of recreation and starts at a horrifying 5:30 A.M., which means we’re all hitting the hay now.

-Mimi Frotten

The group was discouraged at breakfast this morning at the foreboding 7-hour session of community service today. It was admittedly a tedious progress but the group was able to rally to push through to accomplish a tremendous amount of progress on the bio-garden. Hopes are high that we will be able to finish or at least come close to finishing before the programs end. What started as a plot of land with a few markers and a pile of shovels has been transformed into a nearly completed bio-garden. We all felt immensely proud of the work we accomplished today and celebrated with a well-deserved nap back at home base. An afternoon of relaxation by the pool, playing games and general laziness was the perfect way to recharge our batteries for the rest of the day and the days ahead.
-Max Starr 
After an exhausting day at community service, we were uber excited for some pizza. Finally some pizza! God had answered our calls and prayers. Everyone had prepared for this event by putting on some nice clothes for a change. Even though it was scorching hot as usual, we walked to the pizza place determined to stuff as much food in our mouths as humanly possible. There were many types of pizza including BBQ chicken, chicken & pesto, and the classic pepperoni. We each had at least four slices of this divine pizza. Although the pizza was fantastic, it sadly reminded us of returning to the United States where we get pizza on a regular occasion. All in all, the pizza was the best cure for a tiring day of community service.
-Mike Urowsky

Birthday Fun!

We started out Day 6 by splitting up into two groups. The first group received a short lesson from Travis about the importance of the mangroves. The other group went to a second surf session with Bodhi Surf School. Gibran, Adrianne, Steven, and Cristian. The waves this time were super gnarly and much harder to surf on. Gibran taught us about different types of waves and wave breaks so that we could catch them at the right time. Then, the two groups switched. After spending some time in discussion and research, both groups formulated an infomercial to promote the protection of the Costa Rican mangroves. After a wonderful lunch, we headed out to the Whale Tail. On the way there, the clouds decided it was a good time for a torrential downpour, but we soldiered on. We walked through the rain down the beach and explored the interestingly shaped shore for a while before walking home and jumping into the pool to warm up. The rain continued on for the rest of the night while we had Ocean Hour, leaning about crocodiles, parrotfish, dead zones, and the Pacific Trash Vortex. Following Ocean Hour we had a birthday party for Angie complete with cake (Thank you, Adrianne!), ice cream, a dance party, and a rousing game of Excuses.

Soccer and Bio-Gardens

Day 5

We played soccer in the heart of the community of Bahia, joined by some of the locals. A man was there giving us coconuts on the sideline so we could drink the water at half time in the game. Everyone was very friendly and the locals were very good at soccer. The score was 6-1 with surfing group number 2 and some of the locals pulling out the win. We began our work on the bio-gardens at the Uvita local school, and continued working on our rugs for the local kids. It was very muddy, humid, and fun. We dug trenches and moved rocks into place to begin the bio-gardens. We learned a lot about how grey water effects the environment here and how we can re-use water and not let much go to waste. We also had ocean hour for the first time today, which involved several students presenting on topics related to marine life in the pacific. We talked about mangroves, sea turtles, coral reefs, and whales, how they are affected by human actions, and their contributions to the environment.

-Courtney and Quinn E.


Today was our last full day to enjoy our temporary community of Bahia. We began our day with our final community service. We were split into groups in which one would work of our bio garden and the other would work on the sign. I was apart of the art group, thankful that my days of digging were done. The group worked together to create and intricate piece that would be beautiful for the community. When we were finished, everyone sighed in unison, proud of a job well done and relieved that we were finished. As we drove home, everyone was thankful for our time to rest before the big World Cup Game. Costa Rica vs. Greece that is, and all of our local friends were bursting with excitement. All of the kids sat by the pool, enjoying our last moments in the Costa Rican sun as well as each other’s company. The confliction of wanting to stay in Bahia and wanting to go home was evident on everyone’s faces. Costa Rica was victorious en el partido de futbol, and the entire village cheered. It was truly an amazing cultural experience, and I am so grateful to be here as witness. We ended the night with our mentor groups, a quick documentary and a melancholy trip to our cabins, as we all began packing for our departures back home.


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