Saying goodbye is never easy and today was no exception. The Costa Rica Team 2017 was absolutely awesome! When you get a group of 28 strangers coming together, you never know what can happen and this team was very fortunate. The youngest member was 13 and had seemingly boundless energy and a great rapport with the kids we met and the other adults and young people in our group; the oldest member was 86 years young and was a real draw for the kids, handing out pins of Canadian flags, stickers, and was also able to watch over our bags and water bottles while we were interacting with the children doing face painting, nail painting, colouring, soccer, balloon animal making, and so forth. In between, we had people from cities, farms, retired folks, young people from university, dog breeders, hairdressers, moms, grandmas, couples, singles — all hoping to make a difference in the lives of children.
One final breakfast buffet at the Hotel el Regalo, hand in the room keys, and load up the bus. Once we got to the airport, we filled in customs forms for leaving the country, Gil (one of the team leaders) took our passports and Samaritan’s Purse covered our exit fee from the country. Sharon & I tried to get our luggage tagged for straight through to Ottawa but couldn’t; however, we did get our boarding passes for Toronto which meant we didn’t have to pay the baggage fee we would have paid if I had tried to check in online with WestJet.
While we waited for our flight, we debriefed. Gil and Kerstin had a small beachball with questions all over it and we tossed it around. Everyone read out a question and responded to it, things like: “What made you smile?” and “What inspired you to think differently?” I answered the latter question as there were lots of things I realized I would do differently another time. I would pack differently both for myself and for things I would take for the kids. I would take shorts as the capris were too hot in that weather and some short sleeved blouses wouldn’t have been as hot as some of the T-shirts, although the Samaritan’s Purse T-shirt was very lightweight and comfy. I’d take a shoe box to give to a specific child and would bring tattoos and nail polish and stickers (especially with Canadian flags on them) and I think I should learn to do face painting. These things were a real hit with the kids. The debriefing game was fun and interesting and passed some of the wait time. Should have bought a sandwich to eat on the plane but planned to order the same lovely turkey and cheese croissant that we had shared on the flight down. Turned out they only had a chicken wrap on the flight back which really didn’t appeal. Next time I’ll know better.
When we got into Toronto, it was a tight connection for the people travelling west to Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver but I think they all made their flights. Our flight to Ottawa was delayed but only by about a half hour so we grabbed a bite to eat with Gil and Kerstin at the only place that was still open at 10 pm at the airport. We were pretty much dead on our feet when we got home and totally crashed. It will take some time to adjust back into what for us is “normal” society — time change and culture shock are sure to set in. The latter will take longer to deal with but what an amazing, totally blessed trip we have had! Thanks to everyone on the team — Canadians, Costa Rican partners, translators, and our bus driver, Renan, who always managed to avoid being in our group pictures.