Yesterday was our last day working in the Herradura village. With the last water pipe inserted, we were overcome with mixed feelings of pride and humility, quickly followed by sighs of relief. It´s very satisfying to know that our efforts are much appreciated by the community. The village showed their gratitude by throwing us a fiesta last night. We danced the night away together, swaying to the beats of bachata, merengue, and salsa music.

Leaving this village means that I will be leaving behind working long days in the sun, trying to avoid greedy, stray dogs at lunch time, and waking up to fresh bug bites every morning. Unfortunately, it also means that I´ll be leaving behind the only “grandmother” I’ve ever known. It was a new, unfamiliar setting at first living with someone who gladly waited on me, cooked all my meals and did my laundry but after nights of long talks full of her words of wisdom, I feel like I’ve known her all my life. I´m excited to move on to our next location but I can´t help but feel like I´ll be leaving a piece of my heart behind.

Our vacation is a little more than halfway over and I´m still trying to suppress feelings of homesickness. I think about my family every day, wonder what they´re doing, I dream about them and imagine what it would be like to see them for just five minutes. My heart won´t allow me to call them because I know that my whole attitude will turn sour and I´ll want to hop on the first plane back to Colorado. I did get a piece of home today when I went to the Catholic church with my Abuela. Although I´m not Catholic, it was refreshing to be in a church for the first time in a couple of weeks.

We had to write a letter to ourselves that Paul (one of our group leaders) will mail to us in a couple of years. If nothing else, I want to remember how much I’ve grown during this trip. I’ve become more aware of the world that I live in. My likes (working with children and helping others) have been reinforced and my dislikes (physical labor and working under pressure) have been brought to light. I now seek to understand others and our similarities as well as embrace the beauty of our differences. It´s been quite an experience and it seems that I´m learning something new about myself everyday.

Tomorrow we´ll be off to the beach and I can´t wait to see what´s in store for us in these last few days.

Costa Rica Discovery C 2011: The First Week from Walking Tree Travel on Vimeo.