Posted in Costa Rica on July 15, 2022
This June 2022 trip to Costa Rica is the first DWC volunteer trip since the pandemic began in early 2020.
Partnered with Mar a Mar, this DWC team is tasked with building a campground bathroom in Tsinikicha, Costa Rica. This is a remote indigenous community located in the eastern mountains near the Caribbean Sea. A newly constructed campground will provide income for local residents who will accommodate and provide meals for hikers on the coast-to-coast El Camino de Costa Rica.
Marty France, from Colorado Springs, CO, is a returning team leader. He is joined by Mark of Parma, Italy and David “Hoot” Gibson from Dayton, Ohio–both worked with Marty on a DWC trip to Nepal in 2019. For Marty’s wife, Becky, and friend Bonnie of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this is their first DWC trip. Communications Manager for DWC, Jody Tippett of Kamloops, British Columbia, joined the team for week one of the construction project.
Saturday – Sunday, June 18-19, 2022
The earliest to arrive on Saturday were Marty and Becky who had some time to explore the diverse culture of Costa Rica’s capital and largest city, San Jose. The remaining team members arrived at Juan Santa Maria International Airport throughout the day on Saturday. After a night of rest, they all gathered on Sunday morning for a buffet breakfast at the hotel. Their project briefing was facilitated by Mar a Mar’s Conchita Espino. Soon after this, they climbed into the shuttle van for the two-hour trip on Route 32 to their base at Hotel Pacuare, located on the edge of the small town of Siquirres in Limón Province.
Monday, June 20, 2022
Wow, what an AMAZING first day we had on our construction project in Tsinikischa, Costa Rica. Our crew was led by Elizabeth and Carlos and we had (relatively) great weather to start work on our campground bathroom and shower for the coast-to-coast hiking trail near Barbilla National Park. We built concrete and rebar foundation pillars, dug a LOT of sticky clay, mixed concrete, poured concrete, arc-welded, planted shrubs, bent rebar, dug a LOT more sticky clay, moved rocks–all of the good stuff.
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Day Two with the team on our project and we’re crushing it IMHO. So happy to have Carlos as our lead contractor, along with Elizabeth as our local team leader. Both are amazing workers, patient, friendly, and hard working. Carlos is a great general contractor who knows all, solves problems, is easy to work with, and teaches us so many things. We appreciate all that they’re doing for and with us! The team of local young men assisting us are super, too. Special shout out to Hugo, my buddy that laid a cinder block building foundation with me today. Bonnie did some metal grinding, Hoot did it all–digging and filling, mixing, tamping, etc. Becky was a monster with huge loads of concrete and gravel in her wheelbarrow. Jody from DWC is working her butt off, as is Mark, the human steam shovel. The mud was amazing, too, sucking our rubber boots right off of our feet. A productive day of mixing and pouring concrete as well as getting up our first vertical pieces.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Your day three update from the Team in Costa Rica working with started (as usual) with mud. Lots of mud. We spent a good deal of time shovelling and removing mud. It’s absolutely as fun as you can imagine. We then had a great morning of concrete mixing, spreading, and all things required to pour a bathroom (two stalls) and shower floor with an exterior pad for a hand sink. Today we had perfect weather with just a short morning shower and got a tremendous amount of work done. The team remains healthy, happy, fulfilled, sore, and electrocution free (despite two jolts today). Note: arc welding can be dangerous. One of the really cool things today was when a group of local kids came by to present a handmade gift we could use to decorate our new facility that we’re building with a special eco message.
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Day Four started out great for the team on the El Camino de Costa Rica. We got more vertical structure done, hauled more materials, put up our first walls, and did many other things before lunch. At about 2:30, though, all of our solid ground disappeared as we were inundated with torrential rains–easily over an inch (or two!) in an hour. We did what we could under our cabana, but in the end, we had to declare our first wash out and headed for home at 4.
Friday, June 24, 2022
Day 5, started off with a blue sky but before wrapping up our work at mid-day, another torrential downpour. Carlos didn’t miss a beat and continued welding joists behind a roofing tin rain shield that was propped up by Elizabeth.
Friday-Sunday, June 24-26, 2022 – Cultural Weekend
For our mid-work weekend break, our Team visited the inland waterways and rain forests of the Caribbean coast north of Limon in the area where the Rio de Madre de Dios and the Rio Pacuare empty into the sea. The area is an absolute paradise for bird watchers and animal lovers with thousands of species. We were happy to have Eric from the Lirio Lodge meet us and act as our guide for our boat excursion in the maze of channels.
The 20-min boat ride took us to the secluded lodge where we spent two wonderful days unplugged – no plugs, phones, or TVs in our bungalos, no wifi, no a/c but nice people, the beauty of nature, good food, and solitude.
We saw lots of monkeys and finally laid eyes on a sloth (two-toed). No jaguars or pumas, but we did see a crocodile, plenty of beautiful birds, and a pod of dolphins that had come into the brackish water to feed.
After a Saturday morning sloth hunt, we spent the late afternoon and evening at a Leatherback Turtle hatchery/research facility where we learned about the turtles, saw some excavation and data taking on a next, measured and weighed some soon-to-be-released hatchlings, and then watched them make their way to the sea.
On Sunday, our final morning excursion was a hike through the Pacuare Reserve–800 hectares (2000 acres) of reclaimed rainforest that, 32 years ago, had all been cut down to raise beef for McDonald’s. Now, the land has almost completely returned to its native state and it’s filled with wildlife – and another Leatherback Turtle hatcher/protection area. The hike was just a little rainy, and we each had our own personal swarm of mosquitos to accompany us. Which was nice.
Monday, June 27, 2022
This day saw huge progress as we completed all of the wall board installation, mudded and taped the seams, Carlos built doors, and we did rock work out front and inside (a rock bench in the shower area). Tomorrow should be lots of finish work as we close in on completion. And, yes, it rained another 2″! through lunchtime!
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Day 6 of work wasn’t hampered by rain because we have a roof! We now have stalls and walls, too, with just a few more sheets to put up before we start some finish work inside. Great work again by our leader, Carlos, and the whole team.
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Our penultimate day in Costa Rica was widely varying. Sure, we had the usual rain, but today we did finish work, plastering the walls and building a stone bench for the shower, along with little things here and there. We spent the afternoon with the local community, meeting their school staff, indigenous community leaders, and high school students. We drank Chicha, tasted some very local cuisine, and even danced (kinda).
Thursday, June 30, 2022
Our work with will end a half day early as we head back to SJO Friday first thing in advance of what could, ironically, become Tropical Storm Bonnie. Our last day capped off a tremendously successful project that we’re all very proud of.
Friday, July 2, 2022
Good morning, Costa Rica and good morning, Tropical Storm Bonnie. After Breakfast, we all headed in our shuttle back to San Jose taking the longer southern route 10 to our accommodations at the Best Western Plus San Jose. Interesting observations about Costa Rica: It is one of the cleanest countries we’ve visited (especially among less developed nations) with very little trash along roads, in villages, and in streams and rivers.
Our team had a final, fantastic meal at 11.47 Aranjuez Restaurant–well-deserved after such a great effort. We were as happy with the food as it was beautifully presented! THE best resto in San Jose, I’m sure.
We worked so hard and learned so much. I hope this inspired others to join DWC (and me!) in future projects like this one.
DWC Team Leader, Marty France
Posted in Costa Rica on July 15, 2022