Thursday, June 28, 2012

Students are in Dallas

Hi parents and friends!

I just talked to Heather and the students are in Dallas and getting ready to go through customs. There flight to DC is still on time and we will be in touch if there is any delays!

Erin Lasky
Program Director

On our way home!

At San Jose airport waiting to leave Costa Rica and get back home!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our helpers!!

Without them! Things would have been very hard!!
Paula, AKA Pau! School Director's assistant, and local coordinator.
Andres, constructor, and materials coordinator.

The Potomac Playground


On our last day here in Santa Maria we still had much to do.  It is now almost two and we have painted three tables, tied countless knots for the climbing web, and played many games of tag and soccer with the local kids.  For our last breakfast time snack, we were treated with pancakes and fruit.  We are about to head off to our last lunch here before spending some quality time with our host families and saying our goodbyes.  Tomorrow we will be leaving Santa Maria at 3AM and heading off to the airport in San Jose to begin our final journey back home to the United States.  We will never forget this trip and the friendships we have made, but are eager to get home and see our families.
See you soon!
Britt Nelson 

Putting the finishing touches on the playground

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Casitas Con Colour

Finishing the miniature casitas!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Progress on the playground and a trip to the coffee shop

From Lauren Carter:

Hello from Santa Maria! After finishing lunch yesterday, we drove back to our home-stays to prepare for a much appreciated trip to the coffee shop. Most of us had the usual “Fiesta” milkshake with ice cream, oreos and whipped cream. We stayed in town from 2-5, so after the coffee shop we had plenty of time to roam the town and relax in the park before dinner back at the home-stays. We visited the grocery store where we were able to stock up on small snacks. Today began with a morning full of working on the playground. We painted all the steps leading up to the slide in six different colors and the playground looks in very good shape. We also worked on making cement and moving the small rocks into place. We are all very excited to see the final result!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mountain Adventures

Following yesterday’s movie night, during which we watched This Means War, starring Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon, today our intrepid group went on a bird-watching/nature hike at high altitude at the Paradiso Quetzal mountain lodge. First, we enjoyed the hummingbird garden for a while, some of us trying to draw the attention of the little feathered critters while they darted from branch to branch. Then, during the hike, we spent a great deal of time trying to spot the elusive Quetzal, a bird with long, magnificent feathers. We finally spotted it after quietly standing in the mud for over 20 minutes, getting some good pictures, and proceeded with the hour-and-a-half-long hike, stopping every now and then to catch our breath and look at some interesting wildlife. With only four nights left on the clock, we have yet to finish the playground in its entirety, but we’re optimistic that we’ll get it done.
Noah Rohrlich, signing off.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Yesterday we went white-water rafting and we went on aseries of ziplines. The water during the rafting was about 40 degrees. So itwas a little hard to get used to the water. However, it was fine after we gotstarted and we only almost lost someone once. We also saw some illegal rockharvesters in the river and ate some pineapple and watermelon on a rocky bank.After we ate lunch, we went on the ziplines that were on top of some prettyunsteady metal platforms. The only time I ever felt like I was going to fallwas when we had to go down from one platform to another using only a rope.After the last zipline we went back to the car and drove back. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Handcrafting afternoon

Potomac learning the ways of the locals to creat replicas of traditional houses in Santa Maria!! Cool!

Getting to know more about Santa Maria de Dota

From Britt Nelson:
Hello from Santa Maria!  Yesterday, after a long day of visiting the river to collect large, smooth rocks for the border of the playground and shoveling sand, we visited the local high school and baked cheese bread and cinnamon rolls at a cooking class.  The high schools here are structured very differently from what we are used to back home.  Students attend high school for six years where they spend the first three with a normal academic schedule in the morning and have classes on a more focused area of study during the afternoon.  The last three years are dedicated much more to their chosen academic focus and they become more specialized in one particular aspect of each study.  After the cooking class, we all returned to our respective home stay houses for dinner and a little R&R.  Lauren and I had a delicious American dinner of fried chicken, coleslaw, and rice and then watched Air Buddies with our “little brother”, Mariano.  Today we are working hard painting rocks with primer and mixing cement.  After two hours of work, we took a much deserved break to eat rice and beans, watermelon, and papaya.  We look forward to the rest of the work day and to visiting one of the home stay houses to learn how to cook a traditional Costa Rican meal.  I speak for all of us when I say we miss you very much and can’t wait to tell you all of our crazy stories.
Pura Vida!!

Work Day 3

After work day 3 things are looking great!
We have three more days of work next week and then we will be over here!

River Rocks

This morning we are collecting river rocks for the perimeter of the playground sand pit.

Making new friends...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Biscocho de Natilla

Potomac students visiting Santa Maria high school bakery, and learning how to make a local recipe for Natilla bread and cinnamon rolls!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 1 of Community Service

Today was a very eventful day inCosta Rica. Our day started at 8am when we all met at the school to begin ourfirst day of community service. I think it is fair to say we were all a littlesurprised with the amount of work; however, everybody managed to work hard andfinish our task for the day. After finishing our work and eating a lunch ofrice, pasta, squash, and beans. Once everyone had finished eating lunch we leftto embark on a scavenger hunt in the city. This turned out to be a challengingtask, with my group finishing 30 minutes after the other groups. The scavengerhunt included asking locals questions to discover information about thecity.  Each group got to work witha student studying tourism at a local high school. This proved to make the scavengerhunt much easier, as the students were fluent in Spanish, and very skilled atEnglish. We finished the day by returning to our homestay families to playgames and socialize with our extremely “broken” Spanish. I know we are allhoping the communication with our homestay families will become a bit easierbefore the end of the trip.

Matt Spidi

Pebbles for the playground

The service project begins!

From Ms. Wilson:

We have started working on the playground for the children at the San Rafael school. Our morning break consisted of delicious cheese empanadas and fresh fruit.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Costa Rica

By Stephen,
Today we left Hacienda Baru to join our home stay familiesin Santa Maria de Dota. Last night was one of the largest thunderstorms I haveever seen or heard. On our way to Santa Maria we traveled to one of  the highest point in Costa Rica, (12,000feet),  and traveled through outthe cloud forest of Cerro de La Muerte. We were driving through the clouds andcould see amazing landscapes in the valleys below. In Santa Maria we wentstraight to the school we are going to work at and looked at the amazingprojects that the students who had come before us had completed. We also sawthe beginning of the playground that we will be working on. With the money wehad sent down earlier they had created the foundation of the playground. Aftera delicious lunch and a soccer game with the kids at the school, we met ourhost families at school, and played some fun icebreaker games with them. Thenwe traveled home with them and spent the rest of the day getting to know themand becoming friends.

Finally in Santa Maria de Dota

From Ms. Wilson:


Sunday, June 17, 2012

More pictures from our second day

From Ms. Wilson....

Beach Day

From Colin:
Hello from Haceinda Baru! Everyone was excited to start our second full day here in Costa Rica with a trip through the rain forest to the zip lines. Lots of animals, including sloths and monkeys, were spotted during our morning activity that left many of us exhausted. Prior to lunch, the group headed to Dominical Beach to enjoy the hot sun and great waves. Until today, we had not eaten outside of Hacienda Baru, so our lunch at a small local restaurant was a new experience that everyone seemed to enjoy. Sandwiches, milkshakes, and chicken were gone in a second after a lot of body surfing and tanning. Later, we visited the same waterfall we enjoyed yesterday to watch daredevil locals fly off trees and ropes into the refreshing water. At the end of a very productive and fun day, most of us are looking forward to our next step: the homestays.