Trek Costa Rica (Bus B): Volunteering with Elderly and Kabbalat Shabbat

We have been having a great time in Costa Rica so far and are having lots of fun getting to know your kids more and more each day! Boy, do they have a lot to say!

On Friday, we woke up with a bang! — the loudest lightning many of us have ever heard woke us up before our alarms. After the storm died down and we resolved some bus troubles, we finally made our way to the crocodile boat tours outside the city of Jaco. We loved getting to see the crocodiles and native birds up close! It was spectacular to say the least. Luckily only a few of your children lost fingers to the crocs… just kidding! Afterwards, we enjoyed an afternoon at an elderly folks center. The kids practiced their Spanish, showed off their dance moves and played dominos with the adults at the facility. We were extremely impressed with the level of engagement that your kids demonstrated during this activity.

We returned to San Jose in the afternoon to prepare for Shabbat. We davened Kabbalat Shabbat at the beautiful local synagogue and shared a meaningful dinner with the rabbi and his family in their home. In the morning, your children showed tremendous leadership taking turns leading prayers in creative shacharit services at our hotel. They then acted out skits reflecting themes from this week’s parsha – taking action in instances of injustice – and we were invited back to the rabbi’s house for lunch. Once we returned to the hotel, we spent the afternoon enjoying its facilities swimming, playing basketball and playing cards.

We ended our day playing soccer with a group of local teenagers through a program called Boy and the Ball, which engages Costa Rican teenagers and young adults from underserved areas in extracurricular programs, primarily soccer. Just about every kid participated in a spirited match of soccer. The ladies managed to steal a win in the boys vs. girls match (although the boys may have been out numbered..) It was beautiful to see the kids interacting with the local teens with curiosity and respect. We wrapped up the evening, reflecting on our shabbas experience with Havdallah services.

On Sunday, we woke up at the crack of dawn this morning to go white-river rafting. The weather was beautiful, and the water was raging! We floated 19 miles down the Pacuare river and rafted class four rapids. In the evening, the teens did some shopping and got to choose their own dinners during our visit to the nearby mall. Our day ended with separates programming, where we discussed Jewish identity and inclusivity. The kids were happy to go to bed after a long day.

We are excited to head to the Caribbean coast this morning for the next part of our Trek Costa Rica experience.

Wishing all of you a wonderful week!

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