Ella – Costa Rica in colourful, cheerful and cosy
“We had already seen a group of dolphins shortly before, the sun and clouds were there, the sea was very blue, the mainland was green from the forest and yellow-orange from the rocks and it made me very happy to experience that.”
Ella supported the Rainforest Reserve project in Costa Rica with us and was able to experience first-hand what it’s like to live in the middle of the rainforest for two months. She got to know many young backpackers from all over the world, supported the students in their research and familiarised herself with the diversity of Costa Rica. She then set off on her travels to explore the other beautiful facets of Costa Rica.
HOW WAS YOUR PREPARATION TIME AND THE FIRST FEW DAYS?
After graduating from high school, I had planned to take a few months to travel abroad. I chose Latin America because the nature there is so impressive and completely different to my home country. I also wanted to travel to another continent as I had never been outside of Europe before.
Ich habe mich schon mehr als ein Jahr vor meiner Abreise mit Möglichkeiten und verschiedenen Organisationen auseinandergesetzt, aber gebucht habe ich die Reise schlussendlich ca. zwei Monate vorher. Am meisten Vorfreude hat es mir bereitet Dokumentationen oder Berichte über die Natur und die Tiere vor Ort zu sehen.
Man muss sich dabei auch bewusst machen welche medizinischen Vorbereitungen wie Impfungen oder Medikamente notwendig sind. Dafür habe ich zum Beispiel eine umfangreiche Liste von Wander World gesendet bekommen, welche extra für mein Land zugeschnitten war. Zusätzlich habe ich auch Informationen zu den Einreisebestimmungen bekommen und woran man beim Packen alles so denken muss.
HOW WAS YOUR ACCOMMODATION ON SITE?
I was particularly fascinated by the location of my project! The rainforest is so green, with so many plants growing on top of each other and living together, some in symbiosis. Every time I walked through the forest, there was something new to see. There were so many interesting animals such as different species of monkeys, coatis, snakes, insects, frogs, cats of prey and very colourful birds. Once you’ve been there, it’s hard to get more excited about a German forest.
WHAT DID YOUR DAILY ROUTINE IN THE PROJECT LOOK LIKE?
As my project was in the rainforest in the mountains, we went hiking every day. As a volunteer, it was my job to go with the researching students and help them with their small self-designed studies. We mainly looked for animals and plants and identified their species, analysed wildlife camera images or counted and identified birds.
There were also tasks at the camp such as building flower beds, repairing buildings, building water drainage on the paths or weeding. I learnt the most on the hikes and during the presentations that each student gave about the results of their project.
The project staff were all very friendly and helpful. I never felt uncomfortable raising a problem. Every week there was a meeting for all staff and volunteers to discuss upcoming issues or problems.
WHAT MAKES THE CULTURE SO SPECIAL ?
It often happened to me that I was desperately looking for my bus terminals and several times people came up to me without being asked, saw that I was having difficulties and helped me.
Once my bus was stuck in a traffic jam and I had to catch the next one to get to my next stage. The bus driver I was stuck in the traffic jam with called the driver of my next bus to see if he could wait another twenty minutes and I got my bus.
HOW WAS THE SECURITY ON SITE?
I felt very safe in my project. I had lots of nice people from all over the world around me and we formed a small community.
When I was travelling alone, I paid a lot of attention to certain things, such as not going out alone in the evening or generally not being on the street after dark (at least in the city) or looking after my stuff on the bus and not having any valuables on the stand.
Unfortunately, as a woman you also experience catcalling, which I couldn’t get used to during my entire stay.
WHAT MAKES LATIN AMERICA SO INCREDIBLY SPECIAL?
Lateinamerika lässt sich für mich am besten mit den Worten bunt, fröhlich und gemütlich beschreiben. Die Häuser und Wände sind immer sehr bunt und überall sind Zeichnungen. Die Menschen sind fröhlich und haben es nicht eilig. Wenn etwas mal nicht so klappt wie geplant, ist es halt so.
Man muss einfach die Natur lieben, sie ist sehr vielfältig und spannend. Ich würde jedem Teilnehmer ans Herz legen auch noch ein bisschen allein zu reisen und sich viele verschiedene Ecken anzuschauen, da man manchmal nicht denkt, wie unterschiedlich ein Land aussehen kann.
Wenn man an einem Ort ist und sich wohlfühlt sollte man die Zeit dort genießen und sich Zeit nehmen und nicht bloß weiter reisen, weil man denkt, man muss noch so viel mehr sehen.
WHAT QUALITIES SHOULD FUTURE PARTICIPANTS HAVE ?
To have fun in the rainforest project, you should definitely be an enthusiastic hiker, as this is the activity you do every day. The ability to work in a team, the desire to interact with others and to get to know people are also important, as many people live in a small space.
If you are there in the rainy season (from September to October), you should also be aware that it rains every day, especially in the mountains. In cities or on the coast it also rains every day, but not as persistently.
However, the forest is also more beautiful and greener in the rainy season 🙂
WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A STAY ABROAD IN LATIN AMERICA ?
I would recommend Latin America mainly because of the nature, it is beautiful and although everything in Costa Rica is very tropical, the different places are very different from each other and there is always something new to see. I have also found that you can get used to and appreciate all the differences in food, language and living environment.
I can also recommend Wander World because the organisation not only helped me during my time in the project, but also afterwards if I had any questions. I always knew that I had a contact person who was familiar with the country and not “just” my friends and parents who were not familiar with the local conditions.