1/19/2018
City: San Ramon
Country: Costa Rica

Today we went zip lining in the rainforest. It was a great experience though anxiety provoking for me. The group was very supportive and cohesive, chanting and encouraging me to go first on the zip line. I am grateful for such a great group to experience the culture of Costa Rica with. The activity brought teamwork, group cohesion, and risk taking in swinging from the lines to the Superman, the last course on the zip line.

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1/17/2019
CCAPS Pura Vida Tour
San Ramon, Costa Rica

I had the privilege of visiting the local nursing home with my colleague Mya, who has been providing dance therapy for the residents. I enjoyed dancing with them and seeing their smiles. One particular resident never seemed to tire and was always ready for another dance. I am going back tomorrow to interview a few individuals to gain their perspectives on addiction and recovery. I'm eager to talk to them.

This is my last blog post and this trip has been such an incredible experience. I've learned how generous Costa Ricans are and it makes me want to reciprocate when I get home. The sense of community that they embody and live on a daily basis is admirable. I'm grateful for this opportunity to have met some amazing people and learn more about another culture.
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1/18/19
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Today was the very dance therapy last session at Hogar of Ancianos consisted of celebrating somebody's birthday, dancing cumbia, and the assessment through the verbal discussion of feedback in the end. 100% communicated positive feedback. The comments varied from “it was beautiful” to “very positive” to “keep coming” to “you brought the happiness”. Feeling happy and achieved in the end of the project I also felt a little sad while termination. I feel like I have built the therapeutic alliance. And even in the few days I have developed the trust. However, the termination was a little sad.

In the afternoon we had the presentation of participants of other programs from U of M (HSM, Construction Management, and IT). It went great and successful. I am proud of them and amazed how much they have done!

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1/16/2019
CCAPS Pura Vida Tour
San Ramon, Costa Rica
Trapiche Hermanos Arias (Arias Brothers Sugarcane processors)

We had the rare opportunity today to observe the traditional methods used in processing sugarcane into one of the purest forms of raw sugar there is. The Arias family has been growing, harvesting, and processing sugarcane for 3 generations. The families live truly in the midst of their livelihood. The house is surrounded by fields of sugarcane and the processing 'plant' is maybe a couple hundred paces from the back door. The raw cane is cut by hand, stacked in carts, and fed thru a mill press. The raw liquid (sap) that is squeezed out of the cane runs from the collection vessel, thru a pipe that goes thru a wall, into the adjoining room where it gets boiled down thru a series of three vats, each holding a more concentrated version of the one prior. The last vat gets poured (or ladled) into molds that are carved out of large planks of wood, to set and cure. Once they are turned out of the molds, the sugar gets sprayed down with water to form a seal or sort of a crust to help maintain its form. The heat for processing is fueled by the by the dried stalks of the cane fiber after it has passed thru the press. The Arias family is gracious enough to open their operation to visitors, both local and foreign, one day a week during harvest season. The process, the tradition, the care, and the pride of quality were all apparent to me during our visit. I continue to be awed and humbled by the people of Costa Rica, for their strength and humility and resourcefulness and grit and love of life and their country.



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1/17/19
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1/15/2018
City: San Ramon
Country: Costa Rica

Today we went to IAFA and spoke with the Director Victoria. Victoria educated us about IAFA management of chemical health in Costa Rica and their integration to co-occurring disorder, utilizing Motivational Interviewing, CBT, psychoeducation, and life skills.

I am interested in future information in regards to IAFA new co-occurring facility that will/is be providing 8 months of residential services. I am curious to learn how they will retain clients, integrate the collectivist culture, and how they will address treatment dependency. Overall, I am very impressed at how IAFA continued work for the community and their preventative measures in educating schools and life skills to teens.

Below is a photo of IAFA life skills key points in working with their clients.
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Today is my first day of my project work. Me, Fernanda, and Sylwia arrived at 9 at Hogar when the session of recreational therapy (they call it an occupational therapy here) already started. We participated in puzzling for 10-15 minutes to get to know people. Then I offered a dance session. I asked them what kind of music they like (usually, it is an additional benefit since older adults link their good memories with certain songs or styles of their younghood). The residents have chosen cumbia. Thus, cumbia it is. I have turned the cumbia music on and asked who wanted to participate. Claudia started. Even though, she was on the wheelchair (the occupational therapist explained she is in the chair only part-time, sometimes she uses a walker), Claudia got up, hold my hands and started moving to the rhythm. Sometimes, she would just stop and clap. Once Claudia has started, other residents expressed an interest. Sylwia engaged into dancing, then Fernanda jumped in and danced with two residents at the same time. When Claudia seemed to be exhausted, another resident, Bjanka came into the room, attracted by music. She quickly offered me a “dance lesson on cumbia” as she claimed my club style is not correct. We “burned the floor” with Bjanka. She followed us to the entrance when we were leaving asking if I am for real will be back on Wednesday, without lying. I convinced her we will.
I found the first day successful, even though my plan on assessment questionnaire and structured session had to undergo changes.

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1/12/2019 (Saturday)
CCAPS Pura Vida
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
While visiting Manuel Antonio over the weekend we had the opportunity to explore and immerse ourselves in the local culture on a more individual basis.
The touristy region is peppered with ads and signage, boasting each locations' highlights and specials. For the most part, they are clever and witty and do a good job grabbing one's attention. On the surface, they appear as positive, encouraging and upbeat. Who wouldn't love ordering the special of the day at La Santa Pancha?! (Well, at least the meat eaters anyway.) And incorporating an anti-drug initiative into your restaurant's 'branding' presents a safe, neighborly, conscientious face to all the visitors coming thru the area. I personally found it clever and the hook worked on me long enough to check out the menu and take a picture. The food was great! And it didn't hurt that they had NFL Divisional round football on tv. :) After dinner, I was talking with an employee at the hostel next door about his experience with drugs, addiction, and treatment in Costa Rica. He was talking about how saturated the drug market is here and how easily drugs can be accessed. He made a point that the small aircraft traffic, in and out of the area, seems almost constant. I made a comment about how it seemed encouraging that at least some of the local businesses were making an effort to show their lack of approval of such trafficking. He responded to me, saying that he's relatively sure that "they" (the taco place next door) was simply a front for selling drugs and laundering the money. If indeed this is true, this information struck me on several levels: I felt foolish and sort of duped, a little angry that I had 'contributed to the cause', also sad and frustrated that this type of dealing can go on in such an open, public way.
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1/14/19
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1/13/2019
CCAPS Pura Vida
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Today we left Manuel Antonio. The weather was humid and sunny all weekend, and I missed the comfort of air conditioning. Before we left the hostel, Maren left our mark on the ceiling of the common room. It appears to be a tradition for visitors to note their presence at Hostel Manuel Antonio. On our way back to San Ramon, we stopped for ice cream and souvenirs. The cooler temperature was a welcome relief. We enjoyed a delicious dinner of pasta, salad, and bread, and closed the evening discussing our projects for the coming week.
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1/11/2018
Location: San Manuel Antonia

Today we are going to San Manuel Antonia, a tourist city to visit. Today I went parasailing for the first time! It was a great experience. We were able to practice bartering skills with the owner and work on our currency skills of exchanging, counting, and making a large transaction with colonies. The cost was a total of $100.

Parasailing during sunset was a beautiful view! We saw coves, the beautiful ocean, and the town from the sky. The ride was honestly peaceful and serene. I would recommend this activity to all who has not parasail before.

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1/9/2019
CCAPS Pura Vida
San Ramon, Costa Rica

IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVE

Today, we walked to Bajo Tejares, which is an impoverished area of San Ramon. Many of the residents have come from Nicaragua and have experienced barriers to citizenship. As a result, they live in conditions that are below poverty levels in the United States.

We were given a tour of the community center which is funded by missionaries from different countries. This center was started by a church in Jacksonville, FL. It was now run primarily by community members and volunteers. There are four buildings: one is where children learn reading, a second building contains classrooms, the third is a music hall, and the fourth is for social workers. There is also a pool and playground area for the kids. Lastly, we spent a little time in their butterfly garden, which was calm and peaceful.

Then we toured the residential area, which was humbling. I grew to admire the resiliency and resourcefulness that these individuals possess. I was reminded of how much I have to be grateful for and to not take them for granted.
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1/10/19
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