By Eleanor Tucker, Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica II 2018 Participant
On our first day in Costa Rica, one of our Rustic Pathways trip leaders taught us several words of Costa Rican Spanish, including a cachete, ticos/ticas, and, of course, pura vida. The delicious local food and beautiful wildlife have left us all feeling a cachete, or full of happiness. This morning, after moving the pipes for the water system in San Ramon, we shared delicious, sweet local pineapple grown by Costa Rican farmers who, unlike the companies who run large farms, don’t use pesticides that hurt the surrounding land and and families.
Throughout the trip we’ve marked new and special moments with blessings, including the blessing for service work and the shehechianu, a blessing said to mark the start of something new. The most inspiring moments for me, however, have been when learning about the independence, resilience, and togetherness in tico communities. A local named Henry told us how each community has its own water system, organized and maintained by local volunteers. We also learned that San Ramon is currently housing and feeding almost 80 people from another community whose houses have flooded as a result of the heavy rainfall. This strong sense of community and support have left a strong impression on me, and I hope we can all take these values home with us when we leave.
I am looking forward to hearing more about the local culture from the ticos and ticas and to Shabbat!