Costa Rica 2016 — Home-stay Update
We have arrived at the final full day in our host community. Throughout the last ten days of hard work and community enjoyment, we find ourselves ahead of schedule on service projects. We finished our painting project yesterday with a big collective community push, and are now cleaning the senior center of dust and sweat and blood (not really) in preparation for this evenings unveiling of the handicap restrooms. Soft thick clouds lay lazily over the surrounding mountains like a child resting nostalgically at the kitchen table, head in hand, staring vaguely, anticipating the parting and moving away of a dear friend. A soft breeze gently rustles trees. Leaves and branches play and sway and suspend belief that goodbyes are on the brink.
Homestay dinners (notice the telenovelas in the background)
Throughout the last ten days we’ve put sweat and effort into service projects. Our core project was to construct handicapped restrooms in the senior center. It’s been a project long desired by residents of the community and, with our partnership, it’s been made possible. Gabriel, the local construction wizard, has been an amazing teacher and motivator. Groups of three or four, took turns mixing cement, laying foundation, building walls, and laying tile with Gabriel. Gabriel has worked with many volunteer groups; yet, our group was the youngest he has worked with. Still, he was an amazing leader and teacher and source of support. On the tail end of this project, after cleanup, Maeve rhymed, “it’s all good, we just swept some floors, and painted some doors.” Hecho!
The other service project we completed, yesterday, was the painting of tires all around the futbol (soccer) field. What a victory! The group shared many hot days of scrubbing dirt off tires, and precariously painting each in a grand beautification project. Wait, what…?? One might ask… scrubbing and painting tires??? But, why!? Well, the soccer field serves double as a community event area and a place where big fairs happen. Especially, La Feria de Los Mamones (more about that later).
The plaza is a central zone where people of all ages and genders gather daily to play games, especially futbol. Think, what’s something physical you take pride in that represents the pride you have in who you are and is a core aspect of what you care about. It’s kinda like that. Marlene, Livi, and Amelia’s host mama, says about the plaza (translated from spanish):
“Here, in Costa Rica, the plaza is extremely important. For Pueblo Nuevo, it’s even more important because the greatest enjoyment of the people here is to watch and to play soccer. It’s a place where adults play, kids play, boys, girls. Everyone can come together here and play.”
The experience has certainly been that for the community and our Global Routes group alike. Many moments have been shared on this field in work and sweat, in play and fun, and in friendship and shy meetings in new relationships. Following are some of the memorable moments from time spent in the community:
Hicham: “The community was very welcoming, and it was great that they helped us paint the tires and it showed the strength of their community… And… “I like playing futbol with the community.”
Kacey: “Cheering my ‘dad’ on during his soccer game”
Livi: “Finishing the last tire with my brothers Marco and Carlos.” And, “dinner conversations about religion and cougars with my dad.”
Maeve: “Getting to know my host family better and playing with the kids.”
Bailey: “Painting the tires with all the little kids helping out.” And, “going to the farmland seeing all the mamone trees and how they are made and sold.”
Amelia: “Painting the tires and seeing all the little kids looking for paint brushes so they could help.” And, “walking to our host house and seeing the whole family waiting for us on the porch.”
Silver: “Playing with the kids in the afternoon and learning all their games and secrets.” And, “finishing one of our projects that we weren’t sure we could finish.”
Jackie: “For sure the last day of painting tires because so many community members, orders and youngers, came and helped us finish painting. And, “Hanging out with community members as well as group members and just having fun here.”
Krystyna: “Playing with my little sister at the soccer field and spinning her around and around and her laughing so hard. Also, painting the tires with the local kids.”
Raye: “When I made my sister a cat our of Play-doe and she put it in the tortilla press.”
and “Spending time at the soccer field/ plaza.”
Jeremy: “Enjoying dinner and conversation with students and host parents at the home stays.” And, “Playing in a couple pickup futbol matches and taking part in the sport and playfulness of it all.”
Liz: “Jeremy’s creative attempts of catching mice”
OK OK, the Feria de Los Mamones:
The Feria de Los Mamones is a huge source of pride for the community where they celebrate their production and culture of mamones, a grape-like fruit with a fury and monster-like outer shell, and sell other artisan projects of the community. People are very excited to kick off this feria with a showing of community colors of green and yellow tires!
Now, as this writing nears its completion, some students put final touches on the bathroom project, while others teach English at the local grade school. With projects nearly complete and our community departure coming nearer, this afternoon will likely be filled with sweet connection, and getting did and one-up for this evenings despedida and karaoke dance party. Yes! By the way, a despedida is a farewell party, customary in many Latin American communities, where formalities are taken to give proper appreciations, to have fun, and to say heart-felt goodbyes. We’ll see how many tears this farewell draws! Costa Rica is in a drought…