I wanted to let ya'll know that we are indeed still here and working hard. We finished up last week at Goodwill rather triumphantly, completing our work on the handicap ramp and outside facade (thought it seemed like it might never get finished!) and even having some time to sit and talk with the employees of the affiliate as they worked on their projects. We could really tell they appreciated having us around, they all wanted lots and lots of pictures!
We left Friday for Manuel Antonio and after a long 4 hour bus ride, we arrived at what might be the closest to paradise we've ever been. The beaches were gorgeous, with rocky coastlines and majestic waves. Our hotel had beach access, but no internet access! So that is why we have been M.I.A. lately. It was a well needed respite after a long week. We all enjoyed having beds to ourselves (two to a room instead of three!) for two nights, beachside breakfasts, and even haggling with street vendors for some deals on souvenirs. We toured the National Park on Saturday morning with a very knowledgable guide who had lots to say about all the wildlife we encountered: toucans, land crabs, three toed sloths, leaf cutter ants, tree frogs, lizards and iguanas, snakes, and even monkeys (to name just a few)! Everyone got a kick out of watching a group of white faced monkeys swoop down to grab a tourist's bag from the trees on the beach, one of them even grabbed somebody's camera and scurried into the treetops with it. You could tell they were used to people being around and it was almost as if they were hamming it up for everyone to take pictures. Definitely a fun weekend!
Now, we are working with Funda Vida's youth outreach program. They have acquired a building in one of San Jose's poorest neighborhoods (which we defined today in class as a shantytown) to renovate as a teen center (they explained to us that the children that Funda Vida has been working with for the past couple of years are now in need of a place for the older kids to hang out). You can read more about the Funda Vida mission at www.fundavida.org. We have been working at scrubbing the outside walls clean of soot and mold, and just finished putting on a coat of primer -- painting tomorrow! (I have actually been laying in bed sick.... but everyone else is definitely working hard!) Profits from the sale of Pura Vida free trade, shade grown coffees, http://www.puravidacoffeeshop.com, go to help support Funda Vida's efforts to teach empowerment to kids in underserved areas of the countries where Pura Vida gets its coffees from -- they have nutrition education programs, soccer teams to teach teamwork, computer education, etc. It's a really good cause and it will be a good way to send out the trip, though the building will still be far from completion when we leave. We have to trust that other groups like our own will be here to finish the work we started!
Tomorrow is a half day doing work at the site and then we are touring the Embassy here in San Jose. We have a few more assignments left for class and then it will time to head back to the States! I think we are all ready for the comforts of home but I think we would also agree that this has been a great experience. Thanks for your continued prayers and well wishes, we will see you in a few days!