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Monteverde Updates from Jayna and Aydin

Hola, me llamo Jayna. Soy de Chicago, Illinois y tengo 17 años. Estoy en el programa de Monteverde y Costa Atlántica. Este es todo el español que voy a usar para mi blog. On our final day in Parismina, my roomie (Bianca) and I woke up at 6:30 AM as usual, turned off the alarm, and proceeded to go back to sleep. Then, an hour later, we finally woke up to the ever-enchanting aroma of gallo pinto, very sweet mango, and pancakes. Afterward, Sydney and I walked around the town with our Project Director, Zyro, to film testimonials for his video about the trip. We ended up right in front of La Soda de Olga, where we had stopped for fresh smoothies the day before. I can’t help but shamelessly plug my personal order — “fresa con azúcar y leche, por favor.” I really enjoyed the questions that Zyro posed during video testimonials because they made me think about the differences between what I thought I had learned during the program and what I had actually learned.

But before I could dwell on those reflections, we had to rush back for a bracelet-making class taught by a community member named Teresa. I had met her at the local artisan fair the day before, where she had sold beautiful paintings, jewelry, bags, coconut shells, and much more. While one half of our group made bracelets with Teresa, the other half worked on finishing up the mural we created with our partner organization, ASTOP (Asociación Salvemos las Tortugas de Parismina). Everything felt so lovely with the breeze blowing, two neighborhood dogs laying directly in front of the mural, and Miguel songs playing on the speaker.

That was until things took a turn (for the even better) with news that this season’s final nest of baby leatherback turtles was hatching. We took a break from the bracelets and sped over to the turtle hatchery, where a mix of locals and ASTOP volunteers was awaiting the arrival of the baby turtles. Being able to pick the turtles up, place them on the sand, and watch them enter the Caribbean sea was such an amazing moment. Cheering them on as they got knocked over by their first waves is a sight I will never forget.

The rest of the day consisted of volleyball under beautiful sunsets, playing Paranoia at the dinner table, and a thoughtful closing ceremony with ASTOP partners. After that, there was an optional night beach patrol from eight o’clock to midnight. We didn’t expect to see much — especially after having no luck finding turtles the first two nights — so we filled the walking time with more games of Paranoia, impromptu rap freestyles, psychoanalysis, stargazing, deep questions, and walking so slowly behind the guide that we had to sprint to catch up. To our surprise, our night would also include another surprise… from our favorite Costa Rican animal. As we were walking, our Project Coordinator, Emily, suddenly pointed out flashing red lights ahead of us. When we discovered that those lights signaled a turtle sighting, we suddenly forgot about the beautiful shooting stars and all of our deep questions. As we walked up to the massive green turtle, we were in awe. But she was majestic in a “don’t get behind her or she’ll sweep sand in your eyes” kind of way. (We named her Athena.) It was truly the highlight of the trip, and we will never forget seeing her crawl out of the nest she dug and swim back into the ocean. Shoutout to Sydney, Ashley, Tres, Jack, Sam, Dean, and Emily for sharing that experience with me.

¡Hola from Aydin! While short-lived, it will be difficult to forget our arrival upon the Miami of Costa Rica: Tortuguero National Park. We reached Tortuguero following an hour-long boat ride through the same river canals that encircle Parismina. As we pulled into the dock, I first noticed the vibrance of life residing on the shore. Repetitions of pink, baby blue, and green spread upon restaurants, homes, parks, and nightclubs, painting a collective picture. As we departed the boat and made our way towards our hotel, I quickly came to recognize Tortuguero’s touristic appeal. Colorful street stands filled the bustling town. Jewelry, art, and fruit alike flashed upon us like Vegas streetlights. Aromas of saltwater and grilled carne wafted my way. I hope to one day experience these sensations again.

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