Field report

ELLA - COSTA RICA IN COLORFUL, CHEERFUL AND COZY

We had already seen a group of dolphins shortly before, there was sun and clouds, 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 this.

October - December 2023
young woman with a red cap and a big smile

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 met many young backpackers from all over the world, supported the students in their research and got to know the diversity of Costa Rica. She then set off on her travels to explore the other beautiful facets of Costa Rica.

ELLAS PROJEKT:

My preparation time

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 from my home country. I also wanted to travel to another continent, as I had never been outside of Europe before.

I looked into the possibilities and various organizations more than a year before my departure, but I finally booked the trip about two months in advance. What I was most looking forward to was watching documentaries or reports about the nature and animals on site.

You also have to be aware of which medical preparations such as vaccinations or medication are necessary. For example, I was sent a comprehensive list from Wander World, which was specially tailored to my country. I also received information about the entry requirements and what you need to think about when packing.

A day at the Rainforest Reserve Project

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, analyzed 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 learned 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.

My experience with culture

I was always treated very kindly by the people I met. Three Ticos worked on my project. I sensed from them how much they love and appreciate the nature of their country.

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 stop. 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 still got my bus.

My accommodation

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 colorful birds. Once you've been there, it's hard to get more excited about a German forest.

I shared my room with a student from Germany. We got on really well and I felt very comfortable there. We had a room with two double bunk beds and a chest of drawers that we shared. The walls of the rooms were painted in bright colors like green or orange and all the buildings in the camp were beautifully hand-painted.

You have to be aware that you live in the middle of the forest, which means there are also forest animals such as mice and spiders.

Why I love Latin America

For me, Latin America is best described with the words colorful, cheerful and cozy. The houses and walls are always very colorful and there are drawings everywhere. People are cheerful and in no hurry. If something doesn't work out as planned, that's just the way it is.

You simply have to love nature, it is very diverse and exciting. I would recommend every participant to travel a bit on their own and see many different places, because sometimes you don't realize how different a country can look.

If you are in a place and feel comfortable, you should enjoy your time there and take your time and not just keep traveling because you think you have so much more to see.

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 traveling alone, I paid a lot of attention to certain things, like 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.

My tips for future participants

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 🙂

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 organization 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.

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