Costa Rica Part II

Guest blogger Kinsey Morrison shares stories from Costa Rica below.
First an earthquake, then the Harlem Shake. Thanks to Jeremiah’s creativity and iPhone with an app for everything, we started Wednesday off with a team Harlem Shake before we left for the day’s work. Our incredible bus driver, Wilson, said afterward, “I have done things with this group that I have never done before…” Obviously, we considered that a compliment, and had so much fun the first time that we did it again with a group of kids at the school where we were working. This time, Kurt was the lead dancer, and was so good he may have to quit his day job. You really have to see it to believe it – but unfortunately, it was mysteriously deleted from Jeremiah’s phone before it could make it onto YouTube…
At sixteen, I’m the youngest member of our team and have really enjoyed learning from such an outstanding group of people – many of whom I’d never met until last Sunday. Every one of them has a story, and I’m grateful for all the ones they’ve shared this week. Whatever I give during this trip, I know I will have gained so much more. I’ve discovered – as I believe we all have – more about myself, as well as how to live a better life by serving others. So far, we’ve done vision clinics for almost 400 people, taught health and hygiene training at two schools, built two mini water treatment plants with the M-100, helped an English class learn from native speakers, and undoubtedly made a difference in many lives as our own lives were changed in the process. Here are some of the ways that my awesome teammates stood out:
When they’re not doing a health and hygiene skit or gluing PVC pipes, Lisa and Trudy have done a phenomenal job videotaping and photographing our experiences here, which will help us spread word of WaterStep’s mission and help create a ripple effect. The Raglands have been everywhere, at least one of them helping on every project. Kathy was the expert “sneezer” in hygiene training today – aka, squirting kids with water after a fake sneeze to teach them about one way germs spread – and Richard handled dilapidated concrete-filled wheelbarrows across a busy, narrow, hilly road like a pro.
Jilian keeps us laughing with accidentally funny lines such as, “In North America we say, ‘I slept like a pig.” She works hard and is willing to do anything the team needs. John is one of the most genuine and sweetest people I’ve ever met, and has done an awesome job from day one; we’re all proud of him for stepping out of his comfort zone and doing something totally new, and I’m now pretty sure he should do it more often. Karen and Pam have been working hard to learn more Spanish, and brilliantly saved the school bathrooms from flooding today as they swept water away from the doors with lunch trays; they use whatever they have to get the job done, and today were willing to get soaking wet in the torrential rain! Yes, so much for sunny Costa Rica!
I found perhaps the only art medium that I’m good with – pipe cleaners – and have loved every second of playing with the kids and speaking Spanish. Paul saw the water project at the first school through from start to finish, and I know will do a great job leading a similar mission in Honduras. Stephanie is our resident engineer extrodinare – calculating how much chlorine need for the volume of water in the cistern, and “getting into character” as poop in the health and hygiene skit. Lauren always knows when we need to stop and think, “hold up here and let’s have a conference,” and has been a huge part of keeping the trip running smoothly. Our fearless leaders, Claudia and Kurt, have been crucial in us making the biggest and best difference we can here – as well as the best Harlem Shake, of course.
“The Troublemakers” – Isaac, Bairon, Arturo and Mark – who work at the camp where we’re staying have become a part of our team, translating, digging and even playing guitar for us last night and singing in Spanglish. Rob is also quite the musician and had us cracking up with his original song, “Day Four Blues,” poking fun at what’s typically the most frustrating day on WaterStep trips. Our other musician, bus driver Wilson, seriously has unbelievable talents, avoiding a near head-on collision with a semi on a ridiculously narrow mountain road – with a stick shift and without breaking a sweat – and then serenading us after dinner. When Claudia asked why we hadn’t had him as a driver before, he said, “I guess you’ve been going to church more!” Finally, Jeremiah is free entertainment. I don’t know if it’s the smile, or the (many) tattoos, or the jumping in chlorinator tanks and then wearing them as hats…but the Costa Rican kids swarm him almost everywhere we go, and from what I can tell, Baby Ezra is going to have one awesome, Harlem-Shaking dad.
Every time we need help, it seems like someone always comes through – from the stranger who offered his newly painted truck help us move concrete blocks, to Ana, Roddy and Kim who have been here all week translating our English into Spanish…or our Spanish into Spanish. Tonight we wrapped up with an impromptu guitar concert and a game of Apples to Apples. Right before we went to bed, a few of us met in the “internet café” (aka Claudia and Kurt’s porch and the only WiFi spot at camp). We watched an Ellen DeGeneres video where she interviews the hilarious Gladys Hardy – if you haven’t seen it, you must – and laughed so hard that I actually think I squirted our delicious, freshly chlorinated water out of my nose. One of the only serious things Gladys says is, “If everyone sings the same note in the choir, you’ll never have harmony.” This team has someone in every key, and I’ve loved singing with them. Although watching our Harlem Shake, I think we might need to work on our rhythm.

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