EDGE Tour - Costa Rica


  • March

    Interview with Esteban

    Esteban grew up in a nice, relatively quiet neighbourhood near the Airport in San José, Costa Rica, along with his parents and 5 siblings. As his father worked many hours in the local hospital, Esteban and his friends, siblings, and cousins spent a lot of time outside play football and other games. 
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  • Temple

    On the last day of your journey at the Koswak village, we built a fence around their spiritual Temple, which is about a 20 minute drive from our residence. In the afternoon we carried rolls of mental fence and nails to the place. There were already wood pillars that surrounded the temple, so we stretched the roll of metal fence out and hammered it on every wood pillar. The reason that we did it was to prevent pigs and chickens from coming into the property. Although it wasn’t perfect, it did the job and by the end we had a fence that surrounded the place. The temple was made entirely from wood in a cone shape. There was a holy stone outside that we cannot stepped on or sit on. The elders then came and took us inside. It was a dim place with wood benches and a drawing their their world, all circling a fireplace. They then told us about the land that they live in, their goal to preserve their culture and tradition, their spiritual protectors of the land and the creator of the land. We were then told to surround the fireplace - the man would holding each other’s arms and girls would cling onto the boy’s arms and we walked around singing their prayers. The elders then also took out the drum and played us their traditional music. We then sang “Home” by Phillip Phillips to them as a way to exchange culture. We then gave them food in appreciation for sharing their culture with us. - Jerry
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  • Lessons from the Bribri community

    During our visit to Amubri, we met a lot of unique people. Fortunately, I was able to talk to a member of the Bribri community, and the interview that we had not only struck me as being unique, but also eye-opening. Haidar is 29 years old and plans to finish high school by the end of this academic year. He has been in Koswak for 5 years, but a member of the Bribri for a very long time. Haidar belongs to Diuyak clan, one of many other clans in Amuri. His clan believe that they are the roots of Talamanka province as well as the roots of Costa Rica. The reason behind this is because they have been living in this land for a very long time. Moreover, since they have been living on these territories longer than anyone, it is important for them to conserve this land and protect its cultural identity and way of living. 
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  • Saying Goodbye

    After spending a couple of days in this beautiful Bribri community, it was time to say goodbye. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us, and we are so thankful for all the memories. The delicious food, language lessons, hiking, pick-up trucks are all a once in a lifetime experience that we had here. To express our gratitude to the people who made it possible, the Shawnigan team gave the Bri Bri people Canadian goodies and Shawnigan merchandise as gifts. We also sang them a song called ‘Home’ by Philip Philips. The song is about the importance of community and family. Saying goodbye to these kind people and the community was hard, but once again, Mia Mia! - Chelsie W
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  • Finishing the project!

    After three long days of working on our restoration project at the local community center in Koswak, it is safe to say it was a very fulfilling process for everyone involved. Seeing the determination and grit brought to the table made the final product that much more valuable. It was amazing to witness and be a part of the team working together in order to accomplish a common goal. After we finished, it was incredible to also witness the reaction of the community on the work we had done, as it was very rewarding and brought a deep sense of gratitude.
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  • Hike and Swim in Amubri - Soki Mountain

    I had so much fun hiking and swimming. Riding in the back of the pick up truck was a great way to start the day, if a little bumpy. The truck dropped us off in front of a beautiful bridge leading to a lush mountain. I’m not going to lie, I am not the most athletic person. The idea of trekking up a mountain in the Costa Rican heat was a little daunting, but I surprised myself with the pace I kept. It was easy to forget how tried I was with so much wildlife surrounding me. When we reached the top, we prayed as a group with Hader leading us and feasted on sugar cane. Swimming was also a riot. Paige and I walked up the rocks and successfully dove for the first time in our lives. It was the most fun I’ve had on the trip so far and I’m excited for more memories. - Ella
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  • Maya V

    After our fantastic time in Parismina, we embarked on our journey to Koswak, an indigenous bribri community. We awoke early in the morning and had a quick breakfast and packed up until the boat arrived to pick us up. We said goodbye to the howler monkeys and loaded into the boat. After a 20 minute ride we were back on the mainland and we loaded all our stuff into the bus. We drove for a while, learning about the banana fields beside us and the people who worked them. We stoped at a local store to grab some treats and then at a restaurant to grab some lunch. We drove for many hours and saw amazing views along the way. Finally we reached a river and we split off into groups so that we could take the very skinny boats across the river. On the other side, once everyone got across, we loaded into a school bus with some other locals and drove to where we were staying. Each of our rooms have too beds with big nets that have to be tucked under the mattress. We are staying in what looks like a tree fort with leaves for a roof and walls that don’t go all the way up. After some bug net hanging we had a delicious dinner and revived a culture lesson. A local indigenous game and taught us many of the important words of the bribri language. We finished off the night with a team meeting to debrief and then crawled in to bed falling asleep quickly after a long day.
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  • Soccer With Isa

    Over the last few days, I have been reminded of how much we have. Yesterday Jake, Jerry, Mimi, Seamus, Tarek, and I were able to go help a German volunteer, Isa, to help her watch the community’s kids. They would come to play soccer after school and stay until around 5pm. For most of them, this was the only outer-curricular activity they had. They’re smiles were so wide and they had so much energy. While we were watching them play, Isa explained how much this volunteer opportunity meant to her. She had grown up in a country where she could take ballet if she wanted or learn how to play piano, but the kids in Koswak just did have a that option. The only thing they had was playing soccer with Isa. She doesn’t like soccer that much and sometimes the kids annoyed her, but it would break her heart to take away that opportunity from them. It really reminded me of the numerous privileges Shawnigan gives us, but it also brought me joy to see how happy the children were. - Hannah
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  • Work Day - Painting

    One of the most important aspects of an EDGE Trip is giving back to the community that have hosts us and educated us about their culture. On our way to the village of Koswak, we bought paint and painting supplies for the work ahead. On the first day living in Koswak we repainted their community center. When we arrived the paint was in need for a fresh coat, so team was given different jobs to prepare the wall for the repainting. Some of us scrapped glue off the wall and some of us scrubbed the wall with broom & water. After the wall was cleaned, we began the painting - some of us edged the walls and some people rolled paint on the wall. After a few hours of hard work and patience, the inside of the all was done and we also began to paint the outsides of the building as well. While we painted we watched high school kids pass by and play in the basketball court. Though the sun was burning through we withstood the challenges with working under an uncomfortable situation. We are all very appreciative for this opportunity and being able to be able to get out of our comfort zone and be able to help others that are in need. Hopefully by day two we can finish our work there and get a start on fixing their community kitchen right beside their community center as well. We are so glad that our small contribution can help this big community, and hearing them speak so passionately about nature and spirituality made it much a more satisfying experience. - Jerry
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  • Boat Ride

    I had the “privilege” of waking up at 6am to board a boat with our host/guide Gerald, He took us to get a first hand view of all the animals and scenery that Costa Rica has to offer. One of the highlights was getting to witness two green McCaw’s fly right over us which Esteban said was a very lucky sighting. We saw howler and Spider monkeys climbing throughout the trees and communicating to each other. We where surprised by groups of massive tarpons (fish) coming right next to the boat as we flowed down the river. Some of us got the chance to see crocodiles basking in the sun on the riverbed. Overall it was a great start to our day and a experience I won’t forget. - Jake B.
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  • Beach Clean Up Report

    This morning, the group grabbed our shovel and rakes for a beach clean up. Though it seemed like a simple task, it was one of the more eye opening experiences of my life. We had visited the beach many times, but I had never noticed the sheer amount of plastics washed up on the shore. We split up and my group walked for nearly an hour north, picking up as much as we could. After all that time, we had only walked maybe 30 metres. It felt like we did nothing. Ocean pollution is such an easy problem to ignore, but it’s extremely overwhelming to face. Even though we barley made a dent in the beach, It was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in a long time. It made me feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, almost purpose giving. - Ella McGillivray
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  • Students Interview each other

    Kathleen was born in Duncan and has lived in Shawnigan Lake since. She is an open book and is very talented. She wants to be an applied psychologist, which is psychology in the real world and it’s how people interact with other people. She’s still trying to adjust to the heat here, but she’s so good at coping with it. I didn’t even notice. -Hannah S.
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  • Comida en Parismina de Costa Rica

    In Parismina, We stayed in a homey cabin style place near the beach and the river close to the main town. When we arrived we were welcomed with amazing food and kindness, and our Spanish was tested asking for maybe more food, no pork, or juice instead of water. Which, by the way, is más jugo por favor. We are all different types of food including rice and beans, noodles and chicken, and eggs and pancakes. While the food items were familiar, for most of us, the style and taste were unique and new, and everyone loved the flavours. I, however, grew up eating mostly spice, beans and rice, so for me the experience with the food was amazing because it was familiar. As we move on, I’m going to miss the cooking theses ladies do, but I’m thankful we got to experience a real home-cooked Costa Rican meal. - Mimi G.
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  • Day #1 - Excited to be on our way!

    Kokona - I still can’t believe that we already left school, and we are on the way to Costa Rica. The flight between Victoria and Toronto was very quick and I slept the whole time. I am very excited to feel the fresh tropical air. Also, only few people know each other, so I can feel the awkwardness between people. My goal for the first 3 days is talking to the team members as much as I can.
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EDGE — Global Service Trips

Shawnigan Lake School sends its students on several service trips across the globe each academic year.
This blog is a place for our students to commentate and reflect on their experiences.
We acknowledge with respect the Coast Salish Peoples on whose traditional lands and waterways we live, learn and play. We are grateful for the opportunity to share in this beautiful region, and we aspire to healthy and respectful relationships with those who have lived on and cared for these lands for millennia.