Already a week has passed since our group first left on our journey to Chira Island in Costa Rica. On one hand it seems that the time has passed very quickly because of the number of new experiences that I have had. On the other hand, life here moves at a very different pace than that of our society in Canada and this tranquility has a way of slowing things down a bit.
Arriving on the island and meeting our host families really seemed to signify the start of our trip here for me. I am lucky to have a good grasp of the Spanish language and was able to interact and make connections with my family right from the start. Others here are more challenged as the majority of the people on the island speak little English. Things as simple as asking how to use the shower (or why there is a toad in it), what a type of food is (usually gallo pinto which is beans mixed with rice, or a similar variation that is equally as tasty is beans and rice eaten separately), or when they are able to wash their clothes (very important because the heat here and the work we are doing means that we are sweating and dirty the majority of the time) make one realize how easy it is to take forgranted the ablilty to communicate.
Even though we are working to contribute to the elementary school and a sustainable tourism project on the island I was having a difficult time understanding how we could possibly be giving more than we were taking. It seemed that our families were going out of their way to cook extra food and give up their rooms so we had a place to stay. When I asked our coordinator about this he was able to explain to me that the money that we fundraise for this trip that goes towards the family is equivilant to 2 months salary for them, even though we are only with them for 2 weeks. Understanding the cost of living on the island, how much money they earn, and how it compares to Canada is still something that I am trying to wrap my head around. Either way, it is impossible not to appreciate how fortunate we are and to wish that there was something more that we could do to give back.