June 18: Sarapiqui Service

From Tyler ’16

Today is Thursday and it consisted of lots of service. We departed later than usual today, which provided us a nice break in the morning before a long hot day of work. We left the lodge at 9 a.m. and drove to Escuela San Isidro, a three-room primary school that is midst of pineapple plantations. It was a bumpy ride that consisted of roadblocks and muddy roads, which our driver Carlos fearlessly took on.

It is located in an area known as La Virgen, since there is a spot close by where the Virgin Mary made an apparition to a young peasant boy decades ago. It’s off the main road, only accessed by muddy country roads. There were two routes; we started on a muddy track, but then turned into a wide brand new road, which is not supposed to be open to traffic yet, but one that locals use if there no construction work being done at the time. Francine, the SCLC coordinator, suggested that if we use this route as it would save us some time. The route was still unpaved, but it took us over a strip of flat gravel two miles long. After slow and uneasy driving over the strip, we were greeted by firmer and more stable road. Up ahead a guard informed us that there were men at work, and he would not let us pass. We were forced us to turn around and go back the way we came.

After successfully navigating the muddy road, we continued our way to the escuela. We arrived at the school and were introduced to the children. The school is quite small with only three classrooms, forcing them to have multiple grades together in one classroom. First we said our names and they replied with theirs. They returned to their lessons, while we began our painting preparations.

Our job for the day was to paint all the external walls of the school. A big job, but since there were 17 of us, including five adults, it seemed plausible. We were divvied up into several groups to work on different sides of the building. I started in the back with three other group members. The first thing we had to do was to wash the dirt from the sides of the building and tape the walls and iron bars. The scrubbing and tapping took a while and was very laborious, but getting this done first made it easier to paint later. The top half of the wall was covered in a bright blue paint, which we covered with two coats of mint colored paint. This first round of painting covered me from head to toe with the mint paint.

At 11:30 a.m. we took a break from working and gathered with the students to formally give them supplies as well as to sing to them. We were then challenged by the children to a game of fútbol. Two of the children were chosen as captains and then they picked teams. The team I was chosen for took a four to zero lead very early, but with the help of Pacho and Carlos, our opponents came back, scoring two magnificent goals before a tropical storm descended upon us. First we saw the lightning, then the wind picked up and shortly after we experienced a tropical downpour. The storm saved us since we were gassed.

Dripping in sweat, we gathered in the dining room for some lunch. There were two aids that served us rice with a mixture of mushrooms, onions, chicken, and other typical Costa Rican spices. It was a typical lunch given to the kids. For them it means not going hungry all day. The storm passed overhead in as we were eating and cooled us all off with an incredible breeze.

We worked for a couple of more hours applying dark green color to the base of the walls and columns. We then gave the base a second coat, thus completing our entire task, and we then spent a long time cleaning up.

The children had all gone home for the day but a couple hung around to say goodbye. Although the work was very strenuous, the final product was worth all of the time and effort we had put into it. It was a good day of service.

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