The drive to Fila Tigre took longer than expected. A bus with the Courts For kids staff picked up the Jesuit NOLA group at the airport around noon, and headed “straight” from the airport to the town of Fila Tigre, which ended up being about 12 hours, with stops for food and rest rooms along the way. The bus arrived around 11:30 pm, dropping off the students to their respective host family houses, where they would be staying for the week. Nicola, the Peace Corps Volunteer who Courts For Kids had organized the project through, and Tom, the CFK representative on the trip, dropped each student off at their house, spoke with their host families, and made sure the students felt safe and comfortable.
The group got started bright and early at 6:30 am the following day. The work for the first day mainly consisted of preparing, leveling, and framing the sections of the ground that would be the future site of the court. The following day, Sunday, was a rest day for the community, and the group took part in some local cultural and religious activities.
In the second day of work on the court, the group continued to work alongside the Costa Rican workmen on the preparation of the ground, and by the afternoon were ready to start pouring concrete on the first of the 6 sections of the court. This time of year the local climate allows for outdoor work in the mornings, with afternoon rain usually stopping work for the rest of the day, but the group had luck on their side for each of the first two days with little rain, crucial for them to have enough working hours to be able to start pouring the sections of the court.
By time the third day of work arrived, the group was in full swing within the 4 stations of work; loading rocks; loading sand; mixing and carrying wheelbarrows full of concrete; and a rest station. As the days of work continued, so did the weather continue to cooperate, and with the help of almost a dozen school children, the group poured 2 more of the 6 sections of the court on the third day.
For each work day, each Jesuit NOLA student had an individual “challenge” to complete before the end of each day, which ranged from helping a local Costa Rican to milk a cow, to speaking only spanish for half an hour straight with the workmen on site, and the group would review each challenge during a reflection time at the end of each day.
The final days of work work were finishing pouring the sections and cementing the poles for the basketball hoops into the ground on either end of the court. That night, there was a ceremony for the local community to come spend time with the group, sharing traditional dances and games with the Jesuit student group. The week culminated with a trip to local natural hot springs and a night spent in cabins in a nearby farm which overlooked the town of Fila Tigre. Before leaving, students were able to play games with local children and families, and even ride horses before gearing up for the trip back to the airport, and back home to New Orleans.
“I feel like this trip has changed me in a positive way. I think I am more self-sufficient and have learned to be grateful for all that I have.” – Chad Eichhorn
“My favorite memory from this trip is playing on the court with the little kids. It was satisfying seeing the court complete. I learned that I can go 10 days without using my phone or the internet. It was actually kind of nice. I also learned that it is possible for everyone in a community to be so kind to one another. Coming from a larger city, I wasn’t used to that. It was nice seeing a community that acted as a family.” – Christian Marks
“The community showed me that I should be grateful for what I had and that I should show love for my community like they do.” – Karl Hoefer
“My favorite memories from the trip have been all the moments I have spent with my host family. Getting to know them has been a blessing, especially the kids.” – Connor Housey