This was departure day! We left as we had come - in two groups but this time not nearly as conveniently timed. Group A (Adeline, Ariel, Ben, Louisa, Mason and Bev) left at 2.3oam! Despite the early hour, our drivers were there promptly to pick us up and Mary came to the center to bid us farewell, too! Group B (Caitlin, Courtney, Daniel, Devin, Haley, Mike and Stef) could sleep in and left later that morning.
My group (A) travelled under cover of dark and, once again, encountered dense fog, but this time, thankfully, not for long. We also missed the incredible views from the winding mountain road. This was, perhaps, a blessing in disguise because a number of the passengers in Group B, we later learned, became rather sick from looking at the windy road, curving round and round through the mountains.
We munched on sandwiches provided by the friendly cooks from Centro Espiral Mana, as we waited for our flight at the San Jose airport. Yes, we were taken care of right to the last moment! The flight went smoothly with a short layover in Atlanta. By evening we were breathing the cool New England air at Logan airport. Another van ride awaited us and there was much exchanging of news and views with our driver, Mike.
For Group B things were not as easy – they had a 9-hour layover in Miami, stuck in the airport at night with air-conditioning at a rather chilly level. But they, too, made it back to Logan in one piece, or rather seven pieces. They were somewhat haggard, tired from 24 hours of travel, and never has Marlboro been more welcome!
I had an extra evening with some of my group as the dorms were not yet open on campus. This gave us added time to talk and reflect on our experience. My overwhelming feeling thinking back on this trip, is that of pride and gratitude. As the course leader, I was thrilled to see the fledgling teachers engage with their Costa Rican students, sincerely try to create good learning experiences and grow in confidence. They really rose to the challenges of an intense program of teaching, feedback, workshops and lesson planning. We lived and participated in a new culture. We developed new knowledge, skills and awarenesses and discovered things about ourselves as learners, as teachers and as individuals. We were wonderfully supported and cared for by Mary and the team at CEM – we all made new friends and shared wonderful memories. So much to be grateful for! Pura Vida!
12 students from Marlboro College came to our school to teach English to local children and young adults. Their project is to teach "Environmental English" so that at the end of the 8 day course the students can take a hike and talk about nature (in English) and do activities on the trail that help them develop their awareness of tropical river ecology. Our town, San Isidro de Peñas Blancas has created the River walk to raise awareness of environmental issues affecting our area.