Children walking in front of the Laguna de Tortuguero School in Costa Rica.

While scouting out the route for our Costa Rica Coast to Coast trip with my family, our visit to the ​Laguna de Tortuguero School through Tortuga Lodge’s Word program was a highlight. We boated to the tiny village of San Francisco where parents and kids sat down with a teacher from the lodge and a small group of smiling Costa Rican kids. We spent about 40 minutes with them reciting English words, working on words for clothing. For our sons, ages 7 and 11, it was a chance to practice their Spanish, but also to meet local kids. Afterwards we went outside for a “menjenga” or friendly pickup game of futbol (soccer in US). This really helped break down barriers, and soon all the kids and adults were enjoying a raucous muddy game on the village field with macaws flying above and laughing children everywhere.

We were so moved by the experience that back at the lodge we made a donation to help build a school expansion in the town. Now, almost a year later, the lodge is enjoying the benefits of raising almost $7,000 with a new roof and added infrastructure. Here are a few photo updates just in from our conservation partners there, starting with a “before” image:

The Laguna de Tortuguero School in Costa Rica before the renovation.
People unloading supplies off boats to renovate the Laguna de Tortuguero School in Costa Rica.
Arriving by boat to the Laguna de Tortuguero School in Costa Rica.
Local school children smiling in front of the Laguna de Tortuguero School in Costa Rica.

From the project coordinator: “We started the project on September 14th and finished on December 1st. We removed all ceilings and roofs, and replaced all the ceiling rafters that were completely unstable and eaten by termites. We cured all the new wood against termites, used gypsum for the new ceiling, and painted all the zinc roof sheets with white reflective paint to help with temperature regulation inside the classroom. Tortuga Lodge was a a key partner, always lending their boat to haul materials into the area — not an easy task!”

To learn more about this trip and visiting Laguna de Tortuguero School, see our Costa Rica Coast to Coast trip and my Expert Review from the trip with my family.