True Nature Travels Blog

It is already October, meaning that our 2012-13 retreat season is almost upon us.

We look forward first to the upcoming Costa Rica Tikkun Olam Adventure retreat, December 23-31, kicking off the True Nature Education retreat season. The excitement is building as the trip nears, one that will be an exciting opportunity and stands out in particular for the Jewish community of Asheville, NC.

While TNE has been running Tikkun Olam retreats for the past five years as one of our primary programs, this will be the first in direct partnership with members of the Jewish community in Asheville. Rabbi Batsheva Meiri of Beth Ha Tephila and TNE Director Joshua Canter will co-lead this exciting and unique travel experience that will bring the Asheville Jewish community together.

In addition participants from Warren Wilson College and The Asheville Chabad House will also be on the trip.

The trip will dive into the authentic, rich local culture of Costa Rica while also merging service work through Tikkun Olam projects with both indigenous populations as well as the land upon which they live.

We were lucky to catch up with Rabbi Batsheva Meiri of Synagogue Beth Ha Tehpila to hear her thoughts and insight about the retreat.

True Nature EducationGreetings, Rabbi Meiri, and thanks again for taking the time to speak with us about the trip. Could you begin by sharing how you feel about the importance of Tikkun Olam and Service on the planet at this time and in our daily lives?

Rabbi Batsheva Meiri–Tikkun Olam is the heart of Jewish life. It’s the way that we actualize our religious and spiritual values and commitments. I feel this way especially today, even more importantly, as we face the pressing issues of global warming, over-population, and massive hunger.

TNE–And what of the importance of serving together as a community?

True Nature Travels Blog

If you do not know any Spanish, we recommend learning the basic Costa Rican slang prior to your travel ventures. Even if you do know Spanish, it’s important to keep in mind that you may overhear words and sayings that are unfamiliar to Spanish language that you hear in other Spanish-speaking countries. Recall from our earlier Travel Tip blog discussing the reference of the Costa Rican locals as ticos. 

These words and sayings are called idiomatic expressions. They are a useful guide to understanding the humor and character of that culture. They may seem peculiar as they do not translate directly with their meaning, however if you are aware of them before you are immersed in the culture, it will be much easier for non-native speakers to embrace and understand them.

Be sure to keep an open mind when conversing with locals, as they tend to directly address others more so than we do in the English language that may seem blunt or offensive. This is not the case, as it is just the way that the converse with each other, and should be thought of as friendly and light-hearted. For example, it is common that women be referred to as mamitamadre, or mi hijita. Locals also tend to use characteristics as nicknames, such as flaco (“fat”), flaco (“skinny”), negro (“dark-skinned”), chino (“Asian,” if you have slanted eyes, regardless of if you are actually Asian or not), or gato (“blue or green eyes”).

Here is a list of popular words and sayings that you will hear often and will certainly be helpful to know, especially when interacting with the locals.

True Nature Travels Blog

Another post from The New School Montessori’s blog that highlights their travels and service learning projects in Costa Rica!

We woke up early, had pastries for breakfast and said goodbye to our friends at the Monkey Sanctuary and Blue Banyan Inn. Bye Bye Tikki!! We headed to the marina for our snorkel/dolphin expedition. We sailed around and found a new island which we have decided we want The New School to settle on as the new Costa Rica base. We are calling it The New School Iguana Island! After finding the dolphins we sailed to the bay off of Manauel Antonio National Park and snorkeled. We were surround by schools of beautiful fish.

We had some fresh fish and chicken from the ocean for lunch while Marley and Robin fed the fish with their own special food. After lunch we sailed back to the marina and headed to the National Park for a tour. On the tour we saw: howler monkeys, white-face monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, iguanas, bats, hermit crabs, and more…

Freddy our guide has an amazing telescope to view the animals. Following our tour, we jumped into our bus and began our journey to Luna Nueva.

We just stopped at the crocodile bridge and saw a bunch of crocodiles that were bigger than us. That brings us to this moment, as we journey down the road to our next destination, The Luna Nueva Eco-Lodge Hotel. We will be in touch soon! -Hope and Sam Reporting from Costa Rica

True Nature Travels Blog

The New School Montessori is still in Costa Rica, and having a great time! Here’s another except from their blog:
We woke up this morning and started the day with a group meditation and some yoga. Following a great breakfast (Jim’s famous banana pancakes) we split into three groups for our morning service project. Some people did worm sorting (monkey food), some painted recycling cans, and some returned back to feed the monkeys. It feels fun and awesome to do service work. The whole time we were seranaded by the resident parrot, Kikii!

Following our service time we drove the windy, bumpy road to the beach. Yeah!!! The beach was fantastic but the parasailingwas magnificent. We had the opportunity to look at the world from a different and incredible view. While on the beach we swarmed the snow cone man, then called over the coconut dude, and we rode some waves the rest of the day. For dinner we ate at the Mono Azul (“Blue Monkey”)! Tonight we are going to have a sharing circle and rest early for a big travel day tomorrow. (Don’t be surprised if we take a day off the blog.)

-Reporting from the Field Shelby and Lucy

True Nature Travels Blog

The New School Montessori created a blog to highlight their travels to and service learning projects in Costa Rica. They are having a blast! Here are some posts from the past few days:

Day One:

We’re finally here!!! We arrived late last night and we were so happy to wake up in such a beautiful place. We woke up and had a Tipico (“Typical”) Costa Rica Breakfast, rice, beans, eggs, and fresh fruit from the trees. After breakfast we headed to the monkey sanctuary where we made breakfast for the monkeys. It was so fun seeing so many different monkeys. Ben’s favorite was the capuchin (“white face”) monkey. Then after we were done we headed back to get ready for lunch and the pool….
Pura Vida from Costa Rica!

Day Two:

Following an awesome pool party we went back to visit our monkey friends. Now that we knew the monkeys for our second visit we had an opportunity to feed them. We split up into different groups and fed the marmosets and tamarans. We fed the them worms and bananas. Bella, the marmoset, snatched a banana out of Christy’s hand (see the picture) and Marley played hide and go seek with Jesse, another marmoset.

By the time we fed the monkey’s the afternoon rains had come and gone. We headed to the Labyrinth. For a short time we walked in silence, saw the sunset, and even saw beautiful rainbow over the mountains. After a long day we ate dinner and watched the wizard of oz. (Well the boys watched Indiana Jones!) There is no place like home…but this place is pretty cool…

Stay tuned for more updates!

True Nature Travels Blog

Dear New Friends,
Receive our warm regards from the beautiful and natural village of San Rafael!

My name is Lindsay Padilla and I want to let you know that all our kids and community members are counting the days in order to meet you here and I am honored to say thanks on behalf of all your costarrican friends.

There are many people visiting our country each year, most of them want to discover the wonder of nature and that is GOOD. However there are a few visitors coming each year and making a difference… Beyond admiring our mountains, the still pure rivers, the multicolor flowers and listening the many species of birds, they really want to know our people, our traditions, our culture. That is what I call AMAZING.

True Nature Education has been helping us to improve the local communities since many time ago and I can list the different projects we have done.This time we will be making more dreams come true, thanks to you!

Thanks to your visit, the kids from the school have access to food at the school cafeteria,
they all have school supplies and toys for playing during the breaks.
They also have a small gift and a party for their middle year vacations.
You will be painting a kitchen at Chachagua soccer field, where our kids sell typical food in order to support their soccer school.
You will be painting the bleachers and the changing rooms and the dogouts too.

You will be improving our communities, you will be helping the locals, you will be sharing your culture and learning from ours.

It is so sweet when I listen our kids talking from their penpals, pronuncing the names and expecting to welcome you here.
That makes me feel very proud of what we all are doing.
Thanks for joining True Nature Education.
Thanks for choosing Costa Rica.
Bye now, Pura Vida y nos vemos pronto!