Director of Service-Learning
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Costa Rica: Spring Break '10
12 students, led by Jessica Peterson and ResLife Coordinator Daniel Niebler '05, journeyed to La Marina Wildlife Rescue Center Foundation located in La Marina of San Carlos in the province of Alajuela. La Marina, a privately funded animal rescue and rehabilitation center, receives animals that have been seized by the government due to inappropriate possession, loss of habitat, or for other reasons cannot live in the wild on their own. The rescue center has been in the Rojas Ramirez family for over fifty years and is currently run by Juan Jose and Martha Rojas Ramirez. The trip would not have been possible without the help of the center's U.S. contact, Paul Sudenfield. Their dedication to the refuge is a true inspiration, and their passion for the animals is reflected in the time, energy and hard work they put in to keep the center running. The rescue center currently has over 70 species of animals, many of which are in danger of extinction.
Our group worked primarily on the reconstruction of a 200-meter path, hauling over 1000 bricks, digging ditches, and laying gravel. Additionally, we had the opportunity to rotate work associated with the animals, some of which included feeding, cleaning the cages, and mixing cement for a wall in the lion habitat. Group members also worked on the organic dairy farm owned by the Rojas Ramirez family. The farm is the family's main source of income and is how they are able to keep the rescue center going. The group stayed together in an apartment-like area located on the farm portion of the property. The Rojas Ramirez family welcomed our group with the utmost hospitality and as we spent every day eating, living and getting to know each member, extraordinary bonds were formed.
In addition to our work at the rescue center, the group was able to fit in much needed trips to the hot springs, where the steamy water was as rehabilitating as a personal masseuse! Partway through the week we made our way to the Arenal Volcano, one of five active volcanoes in Costa Rica. Here we took a sky tram to the top of the Arenal reserve which looks out on the Arenal Volcano and lake. From here the best way down was by zip line! The whole group made it safely to the bottom after a breathtaking, adrenaline filled zip through the treetops. After completing the last of our 200-meter path, we spent our last day machete-ing our way through the rain forest, led by Juan Jose, to a secret waterfall located on a remote portion of their property. After spending the night celebrating the birthdays of Juan Jose and a fellow group member, the Eckerd volunteers headed back to the states with sorrowful goodbyes.