Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kelly crashes 3 different Costa Rica Outward Bound Courses in Panama!

Since I have only been working as “Social Media Guru and Marketing Coordinator” at Costa Rica Outward Bound for just over a month, executive management thought it would be a “good idea” to send me out on an actual CRROBS course, so I could really “experience” what our experiential courses are all about.  Therefore, they sent me off at 4 AM (Yes! 4 in the morning!), in a mini-van for a 6 hour drive to Panama, with both the 30 Day Multi-Element (with Spanish Emphasis) #2 and Volcano Exploration & Panama Adventure #2 courses-- along with Santiago, Ana Marie and Angie—the CRROBS instructors.

And just like the students, I could only bring a single duffle bag—which held my bed, my culinary set, bathing suit, pajamas, toiletries, an armory of jungle-bug repellent (which proved to be useless), and my passport—no money, no MP3 player, and no idea what I was getting myself into!  Thus, I am going to narrate my experience with my photos…

Photo 1
Photo 1:  After crossing the border from Costa Rica to Panama on foot, across a squirrelly bridge, this photo is of both groups waiting for our motor boat taxi to take us to the island of Soltare 1, which is just across from the main island of Bocas del Toro.  

Photo 2
Photo 3
Photo 2:  This is where we stayed (in tents) inside this open-air shelter, on a cliff, overlooking the ocean:  no electricity, a sanctioned hour of running water per day; right next to a school, a local church, and a soccer/football field (which we later used as a volleyball court.)  

Photo 3:  This is our “bathroom”—which is basically a cleverly disguised hole in the ground that leads to a well-hidden septic tank.  Everyone has a bathroom story…

Photo 4:   This is the boat we all used to go out on SCUBA dives together; knee-boarding; wakeboarding (NOTE:  I apparently have no talent for this sport, unlike Fraser, Nick and Sean who deceptively made it look easy)—we also used this boat as our taxi back and forth to the main island for SCUBA tank refills and more pineapples.  
Photo 4

Photos 5 -10:  When we were not SCUBA diving (Catherine was my diving buddy, by the way), wakeboarding, playing volleyball, doing yoga, or eating, we were all studying!   Both Justin and Catherine from the Volcano Exploration & Panama Adventure Course #2 have waterproof cameras and they took several photos that we hope to share when they get the photos developed— HINT: There will be photos of a shipwreck dive and some of us doing yoga at about 20 feet under!

Photos 5-10

Photo 11:  This is a photo of myself (in sarong) and CRROBS instructors Angie and Ana Marie celebrating the fact that we can take a shower.  YAHOO!  You have no idea what a luxury this is!  NOTE:  Since all the island’s water comes from a rain catchment system, the entire island community has to carefully ration its daily water supply… we only got about 45 min per day of running water and literally, everyone dropped what they were doing the second we heard water flow to bathe.
Photo 11

Photo 12:  Ana and Angie doing yoga at sunset.  I could not get a photo of the students doing yoga with me because I was the yoga instructor (sorry!)  But the students really enjoyed it and asked for a session every evening.
Photo 12

Photos 13-15:  These photos show all of us preparing for our epic sea kayak expedition from the island of Solarte 1 to the remote island of Isla Cristobal, as part of our community service project to deliver some food and supplies to the friendly indigenous community of Valle Escondido.  The entire kayak trip we sang songs, made up songs, had water fights, stopped for a swim, and tried to spot dolphins and manta rays. 
Photos 13- 15

We camped one night in Valle Escondido, sleeping on our mats in the open-air village community center.  We could only pack pj’s, bed mat and sheets, culinary set, and toiletries each kayak, because we had to save room for the food and supplies for the community.  Personally, after a day of kayaking across the ocean, I slept like a rock that night—however, others commented on the rooster who started crowing as early as 3 AM and the sound of the neighbor’s pig.  I am sorry I do not have any photos of this, but I did not want to risk losing my camera in the ocean while en route!

The next day, we set out early, (yes, on kayaks) to the other side of the island to do the second part of our community service project, which was to work with Operation Safe Drinking Water, which is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization, which builds water systems for schools in indigenous communities on remote islands off the coast of Panama.  I trust the gang will have tons of photos of their beautiful headquarters and the work they did there.  I ended up leaving 30 Day Multi-Element (with Spanish Emphasis) #2 and Volcano Exploration & Panama Adventure #2 at this point and returned to Solarte 1 to have dinner with the Girl Scouts Underwater Explorers #3.

Photos 16- 18:  This is what the “Chow Circle” looks like…and all courses honor this Costa Rica Outward Bound tradition of joining hands, stating our gratitude for the day, by saying “Yo aprecio (insert highlight of the day)” and then by ending with “Bon Provencho” (which is Spanish for “Bon Appetite.”) 
Photos 16- 18

I got to SCUBA dive with the Girl Scouts the following morning and was delighted to discover that there is a “Chica Scout” who shares my same name: “Kelly Nicole”!  We had a blast in the water and expect some super-cool underwater photos from Ale in the near future.

Sadly, I had to return back to Base late on Saturday, but I promise you everyone is having fun, having moments of doubt and then surprise at what they can do…lots and lots of singing, laughter and yes, lots of bug bites too. 

This is Kelly N Patterson reporting from Costa Rica Outward Bound Base in San Jose, Costa Rica.


Tony said...

Kelly, Love the photos! BUT NEVER ENOUGH!! Thanks

Diane said...

Looks like an awesome group of girls! Glad to see everyone seems to be having fun!!!! Cora needs to SMILE....

Nora said...

love seeing photos!!