The K-Plan has been the gold standard for a Kalamazoo College education since its birth in 1962. So it is a wonderful coincidence that our volleyball team can live the K-Plan of classroom learning, travel and experiential learning in our celebration of its 50th year. And to do it by playing the game that brings us so much joy, according to one of our players, is “a dream come true.”
As I conversed with my host mom (technically, she's more like my host big sister) this evening at dinner through my translator app, I wanted to get this sentence right, so I put it in the app in English and it came out this way in Espanol: "el tiempo ha pasado muy rapido." Or "the time has gone very fast. It seems like yesterday we were meeting up at the Detroit airport, making the trip and getting introduced to our host families. Nearly 2 weeks and thousands of adventures, memories and pictures later, we are packing our bags and saying goodbye to this beautiful, hospitable country. Honestly, the time went as quickly as the zip lining today, and just the same as zip lining, the memory will last forever. I'm looking forward to staying in touch with the Costa Rican volleyball community, ICDS, and my host family. I've been invited back along with my own family, so we won't say "adios," we will simply say "hasta luego."
We return to Michigan with a fire in our guts for volleyball, gratitude in our hearts for all the support that helped us get here, and joy in the game that brought us together and unites us on so many levels.
Or as Jimmy Buffett would say, "I'm sorry it's ended...it's sad, but it's true...it's been a lovely cruise."
Day 11 - Costa Rica "Lunch in a Cloud"
After our final match in Santa Barbara last night we were all excited for one last weekend of site-seeing before heading home on Monday. We met at 8:30 and took a 1.5 hour bus ride out of San Jose to Volcano Irazu. The trip was gorgeous! As we were driving up through the mountains the views surrounding us were truly breathtaking! It was very enjoyable to see some of the countryside and the weather was perfect. Eventually, we reached the top and the volcano. Volcano Irazu is the highest volcano in Costa Rica and has not been active since the 1960's. I was unsure what to expect at the top, but Quinn (who had already visited) assured us that it was beautiful. And it truly was! We walked out through a wide, open plateau that was filled with the rock, ash, and dust from the volcano. There was a crater lake that we could peer into but it was certainly a long way down. But the water in the lake was spectacular! It was a very pure cerulean blue that contrasted perfectly with the surrounding browns and dark greens. After taking a couple of team pictures, we headed back to the gift shop for a snack. The temperature up in the mountains was much lower and less humid than in San Jose, but the sun continued to pop in and out from behind the clouds so it went from hot to cold to hot again.
Next on the agenda was to travel to the village of Orosi. Once in Orosi we saw the first church built in Costa Rica which dated back to 1743. The church itself was quite small but the details were beautiful. After seeing the church we headed back up the mountain for lunch. At the restaurant we sat in an outdoor cafe where we could take in the views surrounding us. Eventually, the rain came and since we were high in the mountains, the clouds came too! Looking out we were surrounded by fog and we basically finished out our lunch in a cloud.
Hopping back into the bus we headed back to San Jose. The team and I headed to the grocery store to stock up on some typical Costa Rican candies and use up our last few colones before heading to our houses. This trip has been an incredible experience and we have all learned a lot but we are all missing the comforts of home. Tomorrow we will enjoy our last day in Costa Rica by visiting the bird sanctuary. Look for pictures soon of the volcano and lunch!
Sending our love to home!
- Colleen #8
Friday, June 22, Day Ten, by Alex Gothard
Pura Vida, family and friends! Hola from Costa Rica! Today was our last day of volleyball and service and it was full of bittersweet farewells.
In the morning, I went with my service group to Centro Diba to celebrate Daniela's birthday (Daniela attends Centro Diba). We traveled with the whole group to the supermarket, MegaSuper, to buy snacks for the party. Morgan, Camryn, Quinn, Jessie, Courtney and I then helped make sandwiches and pass out cake.
It was really nice to play our final rounds of Jenga and dominoes with everyone. Carlos, the leader, was extremely thankful for our service and graciously offered his assistance if we ever visit Costa Rica again.
After this final time at Centro Diba, we found our way via city bus to the open market in downtown San Jose. I had not been there yet, so I was very excited to do some bargain shopping. There were vendors selling everything from wooden figurines to jewelry, clothing and coffee. Everyone on the team thoroughly enjoyed this chance to buy true Costa Rican merchandise.
Before we knew it, ti was time to head home to prepare for our match, so we grabbed lunch downtown and headed back to Sabanilla as it began to rain. The bus ride to the game was a good hour and 15 minutes up into the mountains in a rainstorm. Santa Barbara is in another province and at 4 PM the streets were filled with traffic. We were happy that Don Herardo was driving us because he knew "the back way" around the traffic.
When we finally arrived at the Santa Barbara gym, we were surprised to find that the playing surface was made of cement! We've played on several different kinds of surfaces thoughout this trip, but cement was a first! We had to wait for the Santa Barbara team to arrive, so the match began around 7. I think we needed that extra warm-up time to get used to the floor. We began the match strong and confident, but the tough float serves (and attacking from the 2 national team players on their team) got the best of us in 3 sets. We played a fourth set to 15 for experience and one last hurrah.
Regardless of the playing circumstances or the outcome of the match, we still managed to have a fun time. This match was another bittersweet farewell. What better way for our dear and beloved seniors to finish their Kalamazoo volleyball career than playing with a team who loves them in Costa Rica? The Santa Barbara team provided a nice snack for everyone after the game. We now have a list of fun cookies and candies to buy at the supermarket :-)
I ended my night my night by eating dinner at my house in Sabanilla while enjoying good Spanish conversation with my host parents, most of which I understood :-)
This trip has been truly amazing in so many ways. I can't believe it's already Friday. I know we are all anxious to come home, but I think I speak for most when I say we will miss this beautiful country and its people, and all they have to offer.
By Alex Gothard, K'15
Today, Friday, is Alex's day to blog, and I'm sure she will get to that as soon as she has some internet access, but until then, we've played our final game in Costa Rica, and therefore I'd like to publicly thank our seniors Colleen Leonard and Courtney Nartker for spending this time with us. And not only you - your families too. You traveled to China with us following your freshman year; and now you've made bookend trips with Hornet Volleyball. These are lifetime memories for you -- and me -- and I hope your take away from this grand adventure is the joy in the games. Courtney will begin her career in pediatric psychology and Colleen in coaching and working on her MBA. Neither of you may have known what choices you'd be making now in 2008, but they are perfect for you. Godspeed, class of 2012 - Autumn and Kate too. I know you journeyed along with us. I and Kalamazoo College are richer for having you in our lives.
Thursday, Day 9 in San Jose, by Brittany Amor
This morning we all went to Cafe Krakovia at 9:30 for breakfast. After we got our food, some of us had our pre-preseaosn meeting with Coach while the others of us took advantage of the Wi-Fi. Around 12:45, two of the three groups went to their volunteer sites. The third group's service was over, so they will split up and join the other two groups tomorrow morning.
The "kinder" children at my (and Allison's Colleen's Kelsey's and Coach's) site were adorable as always, but today we were able to visit their annual science fair for the 4th and 5th grades! The most memorable projects for me were the beetle life cycle, stem cells, bacteria cultures and the pros and cons of marijuana.
After we left the school, we ate lunch at a very sketchy restaurant. The combo plates only cost 1700 colones (about $3.50). Once that adventure was done, Allison, Kelsey, Colleen and I went to the grocery store to look at Costa Rican candy. Since it wasn't too expensive, we are planning to bring the rest of the group there with us on Saturday.
Our bus driver Don Herardo picked us up at 4:00 to take us to our clinic with the young players from the San Jose Club as well as the game against the senior team from San Jose. We lost in 4 sets, but competed well, considering there were 3 members of the national team on this team.
Once the game was over, we all realized how hungry we were, and how excited we were to get to our homes to eat -- probably more rice and beans -- but sustenance nonetheless! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned as we finish up our time here in the next 3 days!
Brittany Amor, K'14
Kosta Rica: Ocho Día
As you can already guess, yesterday was another adventure and busy day in Costa Rica. Our wonderful bus driver took us to the gym at 9:30
this morning for a very productive practice. It was unfortunately our last one for the trip but we were accompanied by some aerobic dancers on the other side of the gum. They were wonderful and I think we all wanted to join in, hehe. Following practice we split off into our service groups. Coach, Al, Britt, Col, and I stopped by a cheap yet delicious restaurant on our way to the school. Yes, some of us may have eaten an entire pizza to ourselves.. oops. If anything, Costa Rica has taught us to never EVER waste the food given to you :) At the school, we helped set up for the science fair the kids are having these next two days. This is a verrrry big deal at Escuela Roosevelt. There were beautiful flower arrangements, decorations, and prizes. Tomorrow we get to see all the displays while they're being judged and then play with the kindergardeners. All the kids are so so SO adorable.
After a much needed siesta at our houses, we met up again to go to our game against UNED. We played very, very well tonight
. I think we all came in with a very positive mindset, followed by a great warmup and a very solid game. It felt good to beat them in 4, and we're definitely moving forward as a team each and every time we meet on the court. It's an amazing learning experience for all of us.
Today is another full day of service, running a volleyball clinic for kids, and another game. As coach is always reminding us, we're doing something much greater than we know. And shes right. Each day we're learning, experiencing, and growing. I don't think there's anything much better than that. I'm sure we'll all have plenty to share with you guys when we return home.
see you all soon!
kels <3 #10
Kosta Rica- Day 7
Hola from Costa Rica!!
Our seventh day here started out with our volunteer work. The Centro Dibá group, consisting of myself, Camryn, Morgan, and Alex, met with the special needs people at Parque del Este for a day of exercise. It was a lot farther from other places we had been in San José, but it was so beautiful. Alex and I went for a hike through the woods with half of the group. While helping someone with their snack, Morgan got stung by 2 bees, adding to the endless amount of bug bites we all have accumulated.
After taking a group picture (which will be posted at a later date), we made our way back to meet everyone else for lunch at Spoon, following their own volunteer work.
After lunch, Coach treated us to some gelato. My cup of Nocciela (hazelnut) and mint chocolate chip hit the spot. ¡Qué rico! Practice for the day was canceled after our challenging games last night, so the majority of the group returned to their home stays to take a siesta (one of my favorite Spanish words, meaning "nap"). For the afternoon, we had a clinic with young volleyball players from San José. We played some games and helped with some drills while sharing the court with the other American volleyball team here. Most of the girls from San José were around the ages of 14 and did not speak a lot of English. This led to Quinn doing most of the translating for coach, and I helped out when I could. Next to be added to my Spanish vocabulary: volleyball terminology.
It was a restful, but very humid, day. I've realized the daily rain brings the temperature down quite a bit and when it doesn't come, you can feel the stickiness.
To all of the families at home, we miss you!
Kosta Rica: Day 6!
We all knew that this trip would have many adventures! Who would have thought that one of them would involve me taking a trip to the hospital? (hopefully no one!) As Quinn mentioned yesterday I took a brief trip to the hospital with coach and kira to get four stitches on the bottom of my big toe. Looking at the cut I would not have thought that I would need stitches, but due to the fact that it would not stop bleeding aparently did, and because Kira said so :) What a great way to start another busy week!
We all had another full day! We started the day with a solid practice, and by doctors orders I am unable to participate. Then service! My group; Colleen, Brittany, Kelsey, and Coach, get to go to a local school and work with kids in kindergarten through forth grade. After having done this I have come to believe that any Chico with an accent or that speaks another language are the cutest (this is just a fact). Another fact is that all kids are te same! These kids enjoy all of the same things as kids in the U.S. chasing each other (or us) around, play dough, building castles out of blocks, or knocking over castles of blocks.
Once we were done with service it was time to get ready to play! We arrive at the National Gym! (yes National Gym!). We arrive ready to play the junior national team and then find out that we get to play a second game against THE National Team! Though we lost both games we had a lot of fun and I think both of these games showed how much true potential this team has! Which is a lot! Unfortunately I was not able to play on the court tonight, and I will most likely be out the rest of this trip. Yes, this kinda sucks (but luckily this is not season!) but one of the great things is that I still get to learn from the side as they all continue to learn on the court! And we will come into season with all of this knowledge!
Tomorrow we get to rest up, so that we can finish this trip strong!
Day Five in Costa Rica
Today was another fun and eventful day in Costa Rica. Although we were sad that most of us could not be with our dads on Father’s Day, we still had a great day here and were all thinking of them. We got a wonderful start to the day with a delicious breakfast. The fruit here is to die for. After we had plenty to eat, we set off to the beach to soak up some sun. We went to Playa Blanca and enjoyed each other’s company while swimming, sunbathing, taking pictures, and walking along the beach. After the beach we went back to the restaurant at the resort where not only did we eat another delicious meal, but we also saw about thirty monkeys! The monkeys were moving around the outdoor restaurant as if it were a jungle gym; one of them was even carrying a baby on her back. They were all over, trying to take people’s food. It was amazing to be so close to wild animals, but also a bit unnerving. We were all waiting for it to turn into a scene from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, luckily we made it out before that happened. We also had a pizote (the raccoon-like animal that Taylor mentioned) steal a banana right from off of our table while we were eating, nature got a bit too close for comfort today J. We then traveled back to our host families, but met up again right after arriving to go to the mall to see a movie. The majority of us saw Prometheus and I think that I speak for all of us when I say that it is definitely NOT a must see film. All I know is that we will all be on the lookout for aliens tonight when we go to bed. While the movie was a bit strange, we did enjoy hanging out and eating palomitas dulces, which is a type of sweet coated popcorn found in Costa Rica, it is quite yummy. Unfortunately Allison could not come with us to the movie because she cut her toe on a rock earlier today while swimming and had to get four stitches! Poor Al! We were bummed that she couldn’t come but are all glad that she is doing well now. Well, we need to get some rest in order to prepare for another volleyball packed week! Happy Father’s Day! Love and miss all of you dads!
Today is Father's Day in Costa Rica as well as in the States. Many of us are missing being with our dads (and me my husband) on this day, but please know you are all in our hearts and minds, and that we are grateful that you helped to provide this amazing opportunity for us. We will celebrate vicariously through David Leonard and Joe Romph (who are here with us) and our host dads, but you will never be far from our thoughts. And personally, as the very fortunate coach of your daughters, I want to thank you sincerely for allowing her the opportunity to attend Kalamazoo College and to be a part of this program.
Day Four In Costa Rica: Arrival at Punta Leona
After a week full of playing, volunteering, and taking in and enjoying our little part of Costa Rica, it was time to retreat to Punta Leona (a beautiful beach resort)!
On our way to the resort, we stopped over a bridge to see a float of crocodiles! There must have been over 30 in the water, and they could easily have fit us in their bellies! When we finally arrived at the resort, we could not wait any longer to jump into the pool! It was very refreshing. We thought we saw a monkey jumping from tree to tree, but it turns out it was only a squirrel! It must have came down with the Romph's luggage from the states!
After swimming, we stopped for lunch at Carabelas and were surrounded by Pizotes! (I would compare them to a mixture of squirrels from the quad back at K, and raccoons). We went back there for dinner also!
Morgan, Kelsey, Jessie, Brittany, and I walked down the beach, finding beautifully colored shells, a hermit crab, and a private lagoon. Literally, a paradise!
After dinner, the team, as well as the parents, and our ICDS liaison Jim, sang some karaoke and danced the night away at the disco!
This resort is exactly what the doctor, or maybe our trainer Kira, ordered! A perfect place to rejuvenate and mentally prepare for our upcoming matches.
As Tom Rath and Donald Clifton would say, from all the positive relationships we have encountered thus far, I would say our buckets are overflowing right about now!
Besos y abrazos (Hugs and Kisses),
P.S. Thanks mom for sending the flowers and wishing the team good luck!
Day 3 in Costa Rica: Happy Birthday Allison!!
Today was yet another very busy day! This morning some of us (those who didn't have volunteer work today) went to a downtown market and bought some souvenirs from local venders. All were beautiful! My volunteer group went to Centro Dibá to work with the young adults that Morgan mentioned in her blog. Morgan and I helped two of the girls finish the Father's Day cards, played dominoes and monopoly, and helped with snack time. We had the privilege of listening to one of the girls, Daniela, sing Backstreet Boys and Celine Dion to us, as well as practice her English with us (although she isn't supposed to J ). Alex and Jessie had their own share of adventures playing board games and helping with snack time as well. After volunteering, the 4 of us took the city bus to a restaurant called Spoon for a coffee and snack, as well as a bookstore until lunch. We had lunch at Applebee's where we sang happy birthday to Allison with some of the waiters! We also went to POPS for some ice cream before taking the bus back home. Then we had 2 games at the University of Costa Rica, both of which we lost but were very exciting! We're getting back into the swing of things still but everyone is having a blast doing it!
(I jokingly said goodbye to coach like this yesterday...it actually translates to "Goodbye, car!")
How fun is Spanish?!
Photos added for Day 1 City Tour of San Jose
Photos added under the Picture Tab.
Day 2 in Costa Rica
Today was a volleyball day! This morning we had our first practice at a gym called Plaza Gonzalez Viquez. Felt like we were back home during preseason with the heat and the sound of the train rolling by! Everyone was so excited to finally be together and play some organized volleyball. After practice we split up into small groups to participate in volunteer work. I was grouped with Camryn, Alex and Jessie. Jim, our ICDS Liason, walked us to a place called Centro Diba. Centro Diba is a day facility for young adults who require extra assistance because they are diagnosed with autism and other mental disabilities. The four of us were able to meet all the staff and people we will work with for the rest of our stay. We go back tomorrow morning to help make Father's Day cards and assist with daily activities. After volunteering, Jessie and I walked back to our houses in the POURING rain to grab our jerseys and head back to Plaza Ginzalez Viquez to compete with a junior national club team from San Jose. Nosotros ganamos (we won)!!!! Immediately following our game we had the opportunity to watch the men's University of Costa Rica volleyball team play the men's team from San Jose. These guys could easily jump over me and in average were 6'6". Number 8 from San Jose apparently is the best player in Central America.
Many pictures to come!
Day 1 in Costa Rica!
Hola everyone! I know you have been anxiously waiting by your computer screen for today's update so I decided to not make you wait much longer. We have had some very interesting moments here in Costa Rica and we have only been here one day! Already we have had some mistranslations (Alex tried to tell her family she left part of her team (equipo) back in the US but accidentally said luggage (equipage) instead. It caused quite some confusion as she packed a lot already ;) ). Today was crazy, exciting, beautiful, overwhelming, exhausting, lovely, and a lot of fun. I know, very confusing but let me explain. I started my day by waking at 5:30 here which is 7:30 back in Michigan. That may not seem very early but it made for a long day for me. After a wonderful breakfast of delicious native fruit prepared by my madre, I met up with the rest of the girls and we got to enjoy a walking tour of downtown San Jose (this is the crazy, beautiful and exhausting part). We walked and walked and walked. Traffic is crazy down here and let me state from experience that pedestrians do not have the right of way! (I got to test this theory once then learned my lesson). We got to see beautiful parks and learn a lot of interesting facts about Costa Rica like they don't have a military and the only battle in ther history lasted 14 minutes! (what?!) We got to walk down Central Avenue and go to the Mercado and see all the shopping. After exhausting ourselves with walking we sat down to a delicious lunch and some of the best coffee ever! And you can ask my mom. I don't like coffee at all but I love the stuff here. I am on my third cup of the day! We had orientation after lunch and learned our schedule and all about the teams we will play. But I will leave that to the other girls. Let's just say we are in for a treat. Well that's all for now. Check back later this week as the other girls share their days. Lots of love! -Courtney #5
We Made It!!!
Just a quick note to let everyone know that the travelers are all safely delivered to their home stays and are having fun speaking Spanish with their host families! We have a full day of orientation tomorrow including tours of the city, a museum visit and a conference about volleyball in Costa Rica. Kira and I were the last to be dropped off at our home stays, so we got to see all the team members meet their host families. Everyone was so welcoming and hospitable that we all felt immediately at home. And it was wonderful to unite with Quinn, our teammate and now our tour guide, having spent the last 3 months here. Oh, Kalamazoo College, thank you for this opportunity!
Well, the day that every college student visions is here. We will commence....aka confer degrees to Kalamazoo College seniors, or as the word actually means, "begin" lives beyond "K". Congratulations to our K Volleyball seniors, Nick Yedlin, Autumn Cussen, Collen Leonard, Courtney Nartker, and Kate Welke. May your degree serve you well.
And then it's on to our next adventure of traveling to Costa Rica and meeting up with one of our own, Quinn McCormick, who has just finished her study abroad at ICDS (International Center for Development Studies). The plan is to have a different player update this blog each day (11 full days, 11 players...coincidence?) so all who have access can share in the adventure. We are grateful for our team photographer, Linda Nartker, who will also be traveling with us, so there should be just a few photos as well!
Speaking of gratitude, we cannot commence this trip without immense gratitude for the College, especially CIP and advancement, for our families, friends, and our teammates for literally "buying in." We know that you travel with us and that we wouldn't be going without you.
So stay tuned....more adventures to come!