Today, we went to San Jose and saw the national theater and were immediately bombarded by street sellers including a street magician, who probably could smell tourists from the borders of the city. After we walked down Main Street, we walked to the market on the opposite side of the street. I am not sure if other people have written about Costa Rican traffic, but it is very dangerous, and NOVA drivers probably learned a thing or two from them. The market was a very fun thing to go to because not only are most people learning how to bargain, but also bargain in a different language. I, at least, felt like all of the vendors were secretly laughing at us behind their stands. I have to say, the most impressive bargain I saw was when Lindsey, with help from Rachel and Laura, bargained three $50 bags down to $22.

Finishing up our shopping, we went into the National Museum of Costa Rica which had a very fascinating butterfly exhibit in the beginning. In all seriousness, they had the most beautiful butterflies and moths I have ever seen, including Tiger Swallowtails, Monarchs, and these butterflies that were the most beautiful shade of blue. Also, they had a PURPLE BUTTERFLY, which I would definitely find the name of if it was possible for me to use the internet right now, but since that is impossible I can only assume that this is a butterfly really rare to North America because I have never seen one before. The exhibit was very nice; Costa Rica actually has some beautiful history pertaining to its independence and its rise from independence.

Very tired from bargaining and learning history during summer, we boarded the bus for the church. After a well deserved hotdog lunch, we got to VBS about a half hour late, only to realize half the kids were absent because of exams. We only received around 30 kids after expecting the same 80 kids from the day before. However what was once disappointing soon turned to be a blessing, which so often happens in that beautiful church. Being around thirty ourselves, we were able to commit to certain children the entire time and form closer and more intimate relationships. I played with Tania, who is the older sister of the famous Isaac, who has participated in this camp consistently for the past two years. This VBS, I actually formed a closer bond with her and it has been such a privilege for me. She is one of the sweetest girls I have ever met, she was so helpful to be able to help us translate into Spanish and translate what the kids were asking us. She was completely content to sit in my lap on the gravel pile and swing her balloons. We actually came up with a new game, we bounced rocks off the balloons, the game was so entertaining for the both of us. I loved bonding closer with Tania today, and I can’t wait for the next one.

Kenna Salvatore

Today was by far my favorite day this week by far. I enjoy working in the mornings, but the opportunity to travel into San Jose was very special. We took a bus tour into the city, and our tour guide Nestor gave us interesting facts about the history and economics of Costa Rica. This bus ride was seen as an opportunity to nap for some after long hard days of work, but staying awake was definitely beneficial because I learned a lot about Costa Rica. Once we unloaded the bus, we were approached by several street venders. We walked the streets of San Jose, and arrived at the marketplace. This was my second time at this market, so I knew that the only way to be successful is to bargain. However, bargaining in another language is more difficult than it may seem. One lady heard me translating a little bit of Spanish to someone I was with, and proceeded to bombard me with paragraphs upon paragraphs of Spanish. My responses to her questions became “si” and “no”, which she found extremely humorous. After buying gifts for my family and friends (you’re welcome Mom and Dad), we visited the National Museum of Costa Rica.

We were somewhat rushed through the museum, but it was very interesting. I’m sure others mentioned the butterfly exhibit, where butterflies flew around us as we walked through. After our excursion to San Jose, we returned for a wonderful and nourishing lunch. After this, with less napping time than normal, we traveled to VBS.

Our whole group entered the church exhausted and deflated from the morning. However, as soon as the local children started arriving, our faces lit up with excitement. It is so encouraging to see how happy these kids are, despite how little they have. They are truly filled with joy and I believe that they bring out the best in all of us. I love carrying around the little girls and using my few Spanish phrases to communicate. The language barrier has not been a problem so far, as we can point and use hand motions to communicate. One girl in particular was so interested in learning all of our names and ages. I carried her around on my hip and introduced her to almost everyone in our group. I don’t know if Genesis has been mentioned on this blog, but she is a 14 year old girl with a bubbly personality. She has been extremely helpful to me in translating, and we love to joke around together. She knows a little bit of English, and I know a little bit of Spanish, but somehow we manage to have in-depth conversations. VBS today was extremely fun, as it is every day. After VBS, we came back to showers and free time.

Everyone did their own thing, which meant running for the super athletes like Kara, Maddie, and Katie, and eating mangos for everyone else. The mangos that grow here are extremely delicious. After dinner, we had our program. Tim talked about how we can use our tongues to uplift others instead of bringing them down. He challenged us to hold each other accountable for the rest of the week to only use positive words. It has already been difficult, but I am excited to take part in this challenge to change our words and our thoughts. We are all definitely thinking about America today on the fourth of July, however I would not want to spend this day any other way.

Laura Merten

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