Saturday, February 26, 2011

FINAL trip update: UPDATE: The Delta flight has arrived and the bus is leaving for AB. Tentative arrival at school is 1:30am
UPDATE: The second American flight 696 has arrived and the bus is leaving for AB. Tentative arrival at school is 12:45am.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thank you for following our blog this week and also for your wonderful comments. The students were TREMENDOUS. It is a real privilege to work them-thank you for all your support for this trip! -Ms. Moss
Hello families! The first big American flight 1930 has arrived and the bus just left for ABRHS. Tentative arrival at school is 8:45pm. See you soon!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My last post (probably)

Hi all,

It has been a treat providing this blog to parents. Four years ago, my son went on the Italy trip. I remember how much better I felt hearing about the trip in real time. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our travels.

It has also been a treat for me and the other chaperones to meet and spend time with your children. You have no idea how many times we've talked about how great your kids are. It's been a delight to get to know them.

We started the day early today (5:30 am wake-up). The kids performed at a San Jose private Methodist high school. First, their select choir sang for us in a small hall. Then, our kids sang for hundreds of their kids in a large, open gymnasium. All of the choirs sang beautifully, and there was time for the kids from both schools to mingle. We were made to feel VERY welcome.

Then, we took a short bus tour through the center of the city, landing at the Institute of Biodiversity. After lunch, we broke up into groups of 19 (yeah, 19), each with its own guide. We saw short films and then walked through various outdoor "exhibits." Some of the wildlife we saw included: deer, butterflies, iguanas, snakes, turtles, sloths, frogs, ducks, spiders, caymens (look that one up). The girls I'm sitting with in the hotel lobby asked me to tell you that we smelled leaves that smelled like garlic and licorice, and felt trees with spikes.

Tonight, is our last night here. So, we are going out to a well-known Brazilian restaurant to celebrate.

Those of us leaving on the big American flight are getting a 3:30 am wake-up call. So those of you picking us up should expect some sleepy, possibly grumpy, people.

I think the kids are actually starting to miss you all. We're tired and looking forward to seeing you (and our own beds).

Thanks for all of your comments. It's been fun for us to hear back form you as well. We haven't always been able to get every message to every kid, but we did our best.

See ya tomorrow!

Ay, yay, yay!!!!

We arrived in San Jose in the late afternoon. At 6pm, the kids all entered the large dining room, dressed to kill. The girls looked lovely in their dresses, the guys looked sharp in buttoned-down shirts. They were ready to dance. Unfortunately, the Salsa instructor was in a car accident en route to the "gig". Fortunately, he was not hurt. So, after dinner, we cut the rug!

I won't name all the steps we learned (because I don't know how to spell them). Fun was had by all. Since we had to get up early this morning (5:45), it was relatively early to bed. Today, they'll come down to breakfast in their concert dress. After performing at a private high school, they'll change into t-shirts and shorts for our trip to the Institute of Biodiversity.


Ms Moss asked me to send this message along. Tomorrow, she'll be sending notes to you via this blog about our travel progress. So, you'll have two ways to receive news. You'll be getting eblasts from ABFOM, and/or you can check this site for info and updates.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More from the bus logs

James: The children are so cute! They all were smiling and all seemed so happy to see us!

Serena: Favorite part of the trip! The kids were so amazing and adorable and so excited to see us. It was unbelievable!

Maddie F: The kids looked at us like we were celebrities.

Lucy: It was the best part of the trip so far. It reminded me that kids are the same wherever you go. They just wanted to immerse themselves in us.

Tim: Hi mom, having the time of my life.

Lori: Singing at the elementary school was so inspirational! It makes me happy that our singing can brighten people's day. I couldn't stop smiling.

Katie: It's really great knowing that people love our msuic that much! I love being here and I am learning Spanish!!

Cullan: It's so beautiful here and we have gotten to do so many things in a such a short time! This is an amazing trip.

Emily H: I am loving it here. We have done so many cool things The kids at the school absolutely loved our music and we loved them!

Cami: Costa Rica is amazing! I loved the kids and singing for them. Best experience.

Dipti: I has been an amazing expereince so far from ziplining to singing for the kids. I love it!

Akhil: Costa Rica is great! I bet the neighbors know my name.

Amanda C: Costa Rica is stupendous! Today we sang at an elementary school and they were so excited to see us, it was adorable and mae my day.

Jess: I have made sooooo many Costa Rican friends!

Caitlin B: The nature and views are breathtaking and the air is so fresh. It's amazing to see how much oru audiences, especially the elementary school kids, enjoy the music. Mos tof them don't understand any of the lyrics, but they love it! It's incredible to see how music transcends language barriers.

Ana R: I love Costa Rica. I had a lot of fun singing at the mass and singing for the children All of it has been amazing and empowering.

Sarah L: This day twas one of the best days ever. It shall be put on the top ten days list (that I have in my head). And to top it off, an eight-year-old Costa Rican girl gave me a flourescently green lollopop.

Lexi: Today I had the experience of a lifetime. Even though we live completely different lives, some Costa rican girls and I had the best conversation in Spanish. One girl, in particular, Netty, was so outgoing to me. She told me about herself and even gave me a lollipop. When we were doing our final number, I brought her up to dance with me. That was probably the best thing ever because we were both laughing and dancing. When we fially had to leave, in Spanish, she said that she never wants me to go because I'm her best friend. I will never forget today.

From the bus logs

Max: Hi Mom and George, it's amazing. Enjoy the pictures and see you in a few days.

Gabi: Hi Mama, I hope you're have fun and I hope you and Olivia have a good time tomorrow. Say hi to Dani and Dad if he's there.

Rachel: Hey Frazee Fam! Costa Rica is beautiful! I miss you all! I wish you could see this place. So far, ziplining and the concert with the elementary schools has been my favorite. See you soon.

Amanda S: Hi Mom, It's so amazing here. Can you sign me up for summer gym? Thinking about staying here forever. Miss you! Thinking about staying forever. Miss you!

Julia M: It's sooooo beautiful here!

Caroline: Costa Rica is amazing.

Lauren: Hi Family! Our concert for the elementary school was absolutely heartwarming. The kids were adorable! The views here are breathtaking!

Kathleen S.: Hi Family, I miss you all. It's gorgeous here. Great restaurants here!

KC: Hola from Costa Rica! It is lovely here! I wish you were all here. And don't worry mom, I'm taking plenty of pictures for you.

Maeve: I haven't lost anything yet! Hurray!

Chrissy: You would be so proud of me! I haven't gotten burned yet! I haven't had time to miss anyone. Everything is absolutely breathtaking. Kiss Baggy and Grandie for me.

Jessie W: Guess where I am? I love it and I love singing and I love you!

Elena: Have fun skiing. I just went swimming Miss you.

Katy E: Coat Rica is incredible! We just sang for an elementary school and it was such a special performance! I hope you all are doing well back in the U.S. Hannah, congrats on the driver's license!

More soon........

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And we thought they couldn't get any cuter

This morning, after breakfast, we prepared for a day away from the hotel. En route to our many adventures, we stopped at a long bridge overlooking a slow-moving river. Down below, we could view several (I think I heard someone count fourteen) very large crocodiles. They varied in size, but the biggest had to have been a dozen feet or more.

Then we drove for a couple of hours, landing in a neighborhood filled with narrow streets. Clearly, just bringing our massive buses through these neighborhoods was an "event." We arrived at an elementary school where the entire student body was awaiting our arrival in what looked like an outdoor shelter. There was a metal roof and chain link fencing all around. After serving us fresh fruits and ice cold drinks, the pre-schoolers, wearing pristine white costumes, did several dances for us. Our choruses followed with our most up-beat and playful numbers. At the end, our full chorus was singing "Sign, Sealed, Delivered" while pulling a bunch of the school kids from the floor to dance with them. Many of our kids were absolutely smitten. We had to pick up our melted hearts off the floor as we departed.

The national park was nearby. When the buses dropped us off, we walked along several gorgeous beaches, ending at the last, and most private, of them. It was a beautiful spot. But due to a number of circumstances, our stay way brief. And, since we were all looking forward to some more pool time back at the hotel, we headed back.

After some lovely pool time, including many cold drinks and snacks, we cleaned up for dinner and shared birthday cakes. Mariel and Jesse both celebrated their birthday today!

In a few minutes, four members of Chuckle Sandwich, AB's improv troupe, will be performing on the hotel's stage. They've gone international. Tomorrow, we take off for San Jose.

Evening on the beach

While I last wrote you, the kids had "occupied" the several pools here at the resort. When I finally suited up, I found several of them drinking "virgin" tropical drinks, standing at a bar IN the water. Yep, it's that kind of place. After a great spread (again) for dinner, in a huge open-air dining room, the kids spent the greater part of the evening on the beach. We got to see a fantastic sunset over the water. There were beach activities including a dance competition and a bonfire.

Kids played volleyball, frisbee, football, but mostly they gathered in groups and spent time together on the beach.

This morning, after breakfast, we're heading out to another elementary school, followed by a day at a national forest. We will hike a bit and then spend some time on what is reported to be a gorgeous, inviting beach. We're bringing boxed lunches. Today is the day we are likely to see many local animals as well. I, for one, am excited about that.

This evening we'll be hanging out at the hotel again. I'll write again later in the day and try to get some of the kids to send some shout-outs about their day at the park.

Hope you are all enjoying reading this. Ms. Moss has been sharing some of your responses.

Monday, February 21, 2011

At and in the water

We arrived at the resort about an hour ago. I don't know about a lot of you, but this is a new experience for me. Our wristbands get us entrance to pretty much everything. Food, drink, etc. Virtually every kid stripped down to their bathing suits within minutes. (And, yes, they are covering themselves in sun screen.) Many are playing water volleyball. Others are sunbathing.

Our rooms are not ready yet. In a bit, we'll have to drag them away from the water to give them their room assignments. I don't think a lot is planned for the remainder of the day. They seem quite content to play in this waterfront paradise.

Let me say a few words about this morning's performance.

The kids performed in K-6 school very near the church they performed in last night. The "room" they performed in felt a bit like a small airplane hangar. The kids were in bleachers, perfectly quiet in their clean school uniforms. If there are more adorable children anywhere on the planet, I'm not sure where.

Each group sang. Ms. Moss chose all of the most upbeat pieces in the kids repertoire. There was a lot of choreography. The little guys LOVED it! When our guys were finished, they sang to us. Again, it does not get any cuter.

Some of the kids on bus #3 wrote about their experiences. I'll send some of those along later tonight or tomorrow.

A few more shout outs

Meghana: Hi everyone. I'm having a lot of fun here. And I love the really warm weather. I miss you.

Nivedha: I love Costa Rica but miss everyone back home.

Hayley: I'm having a lot of fun and keeping my room organized (and on time), just like my mom!

KC: Hi family and others. It's beautiful here. Thinking about you. Hope you are having fun in the snow.

Ali & Jenna: We love our families and are having a great time.

Lindsay: I love you, miss you and am having an awesome time.

Dave & Julia Baum: Debby & Monica- We're doing fine and we love guys! Miss Ya!

Scott and Katy Early: Having a great time. Sleep deficit slowly decreasing.

Their first performance

At 6:30, we got on our buses and went into town. The church has large sliding doors on three sides, which allowed the evening breezes to flow through.

After days of sweat, dirt and funky clothes, I've gotta say our kids clean up good. Each group had a chance to warm up before the mass. During communion, the Mads sang. Totally lovely.

The acoustics were great. After an hour-long service, the 400+ people in attendance (not including us) stayed for the performance. The kids were so well received. It was a great first venue.

We are leaving our first hotel this morning. The kids will be performing in a school en route to our next location — the BEACH! They're all wearing the bathing suits under the clothes in anticipation.

I apologize for not having sent any photos yet. The internet connection here is a bit "sketchy". It seems to manage text just fine, but doesn't like to upload photos. Perhaps it'll be better at the next location.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ziplining and Rainforest Bridges (need I say more!)

It was quite a morning. We split into two groups. One group started on the bridge walk, the other went ziplining.

Since my group went hiking first. We'll start there. It was a short ride on the buses to get to the beginning of the footpath. We walked for about two hours. The path was well-maintained. We were surrounded by green on all sides. Every now and then, a gorgeous valley would appear. Across it was a metal, hanging bridge. These bridge varied in length from 20 or 30 feet to as much as 100 yards (?, just guessing). As we crossed the bridges, there was often water below. I can't begin to guess how far down the drop was. Let's just say it was substantial.

There were times when while we were walking on a bridge that we'd look up or down and see other group members walking across the same open vista on another one.

Did I mention it was raining throughout? Just a nice light rain. It kept us cool and many kids commented about the mist adding to the "rainforest" feeling.

Some of us (myself included) were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some "Capuccino Monkeys" jettisoning themselves from tree to tree, high in the canopy. Oh, and did I mention the enormous sloth in the tree just outside our dining area at breakfast?

It's hard to know what to say about the ziplining. Totally exhilarating! There were 12 legs. Some quite short, others seemingly endless. Truly, on a couple of them, even though the view ahead was quite open, you couldn't see the next platform. (There was a lot of trust involved, of both personnel and equipment.)

No one warned us just how dirty we would get. Some of us were covered in spotted mud. Others, mysteriously, less so.

Upon our return, we got cleaned up and had lunch. To our surprise, during lunch a group of local young dancers, boys and girls, performed traditional Costa Rican dance for us. They even got a few of us onto the dance floor.

Now, the kids have a couple of hours to hang out. Most will find one of the several small hot springs on the property.

Some of the kids on Bus #1 wrote down some comments on the ziplining experience. Here are a few:

Ziplining was UNREAL and we all wished we could do it again! And we saw a few monkeys int he jungle. Our legs are tired. GOOD day. (Maddie)

Ziplining was AWESOME! Coolest thing I've ever done! Miss you. (Lindsay)

Ziplining was incredible! Miss my fam. (Ali)


Ziplining was the most exhilerating experience of my life. (Timothy)

Ziplining makes the top 10 coolest things I've done in my life. Love you. (Emily H.)

Ziplining was so much fun and the views on the bridges were AMAZING! I had a fantastic time, and it was great to be able to share these once in a lifetime moments with some of my closest friends! Pura Vida! (James F.)

If ziplining was a woman, I would marry her!!!! (Cody)

Ziplining was brilliant! Even though it turned my armpit brown. (Lori)

Breakfast and Shout Outs!

First and foremost, fantastic food (and coffee)!

Zip-lining soon. But for now, here are some shout-outs from the happy throngs!

Teteia says: Hi molm and Dad. I'm okay and having fun and this is the best experience of my life, so thank you. And, I miss you.

Kaileigh says: Hi mom, dad and Sarah. Made it through the airport okay. No luggage lost. I's so beautiful here. I'm having a great time. Miss you guys already. Love.

Serena says: I'm happy and alive. (Serena said that was all you wanted to know.)

Leah says: It's absolutely gorgeous here.

Jess says: Um, mom.It's so different here than it was last time.

Paul says: Hi to mom and dad and Jack. And I love you.

Sammy says: I miss my family and my dog. I can't wait to see you again.

Cody: says: Miss you mom and dad. Have fun in Florida Tommy.

Maddy: Hi Franny and Allison. We love you. (And, by the way, we love our dads too!)

Ali and Jenna: Hi dad and mom. We love you.

Lindsay says: Hi mom dad and Katelyn. I love and miss you.

Julia Migner says: I miss my family. It is beautiful here.

Amanda Sidwell says: Hi mom. There's a kitten outside our door all the time. Love Amanda.

Kelsey says: Hi mom. Hi Dad. I miss you. Love Kelsey.

Lucy says: Hi guys. I miss you and I miss Lola. It's really nice here. But I really wish I'd brought a raincoat. PS I hope my room is going well.

Rachel and Avery: We thought we heard a monkey on our roof last night.

Shona: Mom, I hope you feel better. I miss you. Have fun in the freezing weather.

Nicole: Hi mom. It's really nice here. I've seen some stray cats running around and some really pretty horses. Give my cat a kiss for me. and I love you.

Giselle: Hi mom and dad and the best birthday gift you give me is to relax on my birthday.

Daria: Hi mom. Hope you are feeling all right. Hope you got the new car. Hi dad, miss you. You would love this place, it's beautiful.