Thursday, March 21, 2013


Hello friends and family of BCS - Costa Rica!

Unfortunately the students flight took off late and the flight is now delayed by about 90 mins. They should arrive at Newark at 8:32pm. We will keep an eye on the flight but we don't anticipate any further delays.

City: San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO)
Check-in Terminal: 
Scheduled Time: 11:45 a.m.
Scheduled Date: Thu., Mar. 21, 2013
Actual Time: 1:28 p.m.Actual Date: Thu., Mar. 21, 2013
City: New York/Newark, NJ (EWR - Liberty)
Gate: B64
Scheduled Time: 6:55 p.m.
Scheduled Date: Thu., Mar. 21, 2013
Estimated Time: 8:32 p.m.Estimated Date: Thu., Mar. 21, 2013

Erin Lasky

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Last full day

Today we had some finesse painting, some real heavy heaving and some lingering looks at what is now essentially a finished basketball court and painted bathrooms and posts around the beginnings of a new community center. This is a very low-key group but without saying a word, we knew that a lot got done in a week. Martin, who shows up in the group picture, has been a principal worker in the background, helping install the septic system, the plumbing for the faucets and toilets and at the end, getting the very heavy basketball stand set in its post hole. He used his carpenter's level, using the bubble to sight the entire structure just so before he began shoveling in the wet cement.

Lunch was a local gathering a couple of miles back on one of those mystical dirt roads that rises and falls as if it will just wander by itself into some distant, unending succession of forgotten Caribbean-side farmsteads forever and ever. Little children, bigger children and a few babies who received kisses from everyone of every age attended the lunch. We sat at a large two-plank table with a tin roof for shade overhead and red-flowered ginger plants casting "sombra" from the side. A breeze came up out of nowhere in a merciful minor miracle.

The afternoon was a giddy succession of zip-line zips through the canopy of the rain forest. Using heavy leather gloves not out of place on a falconer's hand, we braked when necessary, but mostly launched ourselves over and over through yielding openings in the woods, feeling for the brief moments that we flew over the foaming Sarapiqui river below that this is what a bird must understand in its endless cruising overhead.

Missing the pura vida already.

Today had to be the only time in my life were I walked more than 4 miles in one day on the same road. We had to be at the Linda Vista School at 8:20 to spend time with the kids there that were on their break. When I arrived I limped around ( long story but if you want to know ask me when I get back ) looking at what some of the kids do during break. As I looked around I found one of the kids that helped me paint at the project. She introduced me to her friends and then I watched her play tag with the school kids. They ended up stoping after 3 minutes of running and they led me to the front of the school were Michael and Griffin were playing soccer with the boys and Ms. Kellogg, Olivia, and Georgia, were playing tag with the rest of the younger kids there. When the students break was over, we walked over to the project and we had to make signs with messages of inspiration. We were paired and the partners were Ms. Kellogg and Griffin, Georgia and Olivia, and Michael and I.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chelsea blogging. Michael assisting.

A cocinar!

Just pics. Too tired for words.

Every day is a busy day

So many things happen over the course of the day that it becomes, like every trip, almost impossible to sort through the significance of many small events.
Over breakfast we all agreed on several important points:
1. the howler monkeys were in a bad mood
2. some stray cattle were lowing hysterically right next to our windows either because of, in spite of or because of the aggravated monkeys
3. rain fell, poured really like a massive gray saucer of clouds that was gripped at an angle so that the rain just fell straight, almost torrentially, for a few minutes.

Last night Javier set our kids to trying to create an imperfect utopia based on how they prioritized what matters most in a society that would be created according to goals established by the United Nations. Although it was a very late hour for such a complex discussion, passionate feelings got aired and a very elaborate cause-and-effect wheel of happenings was sketched out as a possible explanation and model for what this new world would look like.

Today among other events, we walked up to meet Cecelia and about 14 of her students at the Linda Vista elementary school. She teaches and runs the two-room schoolhouse on her own and has been doing so for eight years. She is expected, if I understood correctly, to use government monies to feed the one guaranteed meal a day:  the equivalent of $1 US is supposed to buy food for four children. Even for a region of the most modest means, that's simply not possible. The children come from local families who work on nearby farms of various sorts--pineapple, yucca, cattle and the like. Moving on to the next school level up can be a daunting barrier. Uniforms, books and supplies are often more than families can afford.

You will see a photo for the notice about the once-a-week adult literacy classes. There are eight adults currently attending, all of whom have children in the Linda Vista school.

Attached are a range of photos from that and another school we visited this morning as well. One little boy was eager to show his prowess at hanging upside down from monkey bars. All of his marbles fell out of his pants pocket and tumbled in the dirt.

"How many marbles do you have?" I asked.

"Twenty-six," came the unhesitating reply. His mother was a little disappointed that he smudged his shirt before we took the photo but he was cheerfully oblivious. There is a photo of the marbles in the collection below.

Georgia, Chelsea, Michael, Griffin and Olivia found themselves teaching English through games like Simon Says, see saw, tag, soccer and general running around. The formal giggles and shy voices on both sides rapidly gave way to a lot of laughter.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Me encanta Costa Rica

Hi, Michael here, today we worked a lot more on the project, we got some help from some local kids. It rained a little but we muscled through it. We painted a basketball court, and all of the posts yellow, and also a lot more things. We had the pleasure to see the smiles on all of the home stay mothers faces when we gave them our gifts. Me, griffin, and Georgia's home stay mom cried tears of joy, I almost did too. After lunch with the home stay families, we then waited for Davis to come and drive us to the chocolate tour. We observed the whole process of how real chocolate is made, it tasted amazing, nothing like a Hershey's bar. After that we waited two hours for dinner. We had tortilla, beef fajitas, black beans, mixed vegetables, rice, boiled eggs, and more. Now I am posting on the blog for the website at 7:13 at night, so as they say in Spanish, ¡buenas noches!

On a personal note

I want to tell families and friends out there reading what a pleasure it is to travel with such a wonderful group of students. Each new experience brings us closer to feeling like an extended family. We laugh, think, wonder, support one another, listen, and play together. The trip has a distinct purpose and while we will never be able to recreate these moments I know the memories we are making will influence who we are and how we think when we get back to Brooklyn. Mr. Shapiro is Don Jaime in Costa Rica. Don Jaime never stops asking questions, and he has an insatiable thirst for human connections. He spoke with our home stay family about the future of the neighborhood, crop production and family life. He even befriended the Chilamate dog, Donkey, who follows us to the worksite, the river and anywhere else we find ourselves during the day. Javier has steady way about him and each day he helps to profoundly transform the group. The ANCHOR reflection we do at the end of each day settles the dynamics and takes us to a place we could only encounter with full focus and calmed energy. A=appreciation/anecdotes. N=news. C=concerns. H=hopes. O=obscurities/findings. R=a reading from the world leadership school book of quotes, comics, speeches and poems. Try ANCHOR today with the people in your lives. I swear, it helps me sleep more soundly.
Buenas noches y pura vida.
Ms. K

Painting, lunch and chocolate!

Today was interesting...
We helped repaint a community center, had lunch with our home stay families and we took a tour around a chocolate factory.

Firstly we helped paint the community center. Yesterday we painted the bathrooms white and today we painted over them with yellow. We managed to paint the lines on the basketball court as well. Michael, Olivia and Chelsea got ice-creams from Javier because they won a competition last night.

After that we had lunch with our home stay families. For lunch we had an amazing homemade meal and Griffin showed the mother a very tedious card trick. While he was doing so Michael ran away with Jefferson (a Costa Rican child) and we couldn't find them!

Then we were picked up and taken to a chocolate factory where we learned the process of chocolate making. We started off walking over a super long bridge (over where we went rafting) to a little sheltered area where we were shown the steps to making chocolate.

Overall it was another great day in Costa Rica!

Missing bug free life - Georgia

Olivia painting this morning

And then the long walk to home stay lunches. Javier and I had rice, beans, a corn and papaya salad and chuleta. Rice pudding for dessert. The students reported having noodles with chicken and veggies, potatoes and beans. ¡Que rico!

Tour de cacao y chocolate!!

Today we journeyed to a different rainforest to experience the history of the cacao bean. Our guide and Javier took us across a very long suspension bridge (which Griffin enjoyed at first but I later heard him say "okay, enough. Get me off of here). We tasted cocoa at different stages as the Mayans had first done. Now we are recuperating from the caffeine high and Mr. Shapiro is recovering from "the first time he experienced happiness." Oh, chocolate. Pura chocolate!

Trabajos con Davis