Field report

MALIN - FAR AWAY TO BEAUTIFUL LATIN AMERICA

At the weekend, we did the volcano hike up the Acatenango, which was a very special experience. After a challenging hike, we were able to admire the lava eruption of Fuego.

August - October 2023
Girl on a swing

Malin traveled through Latin America with WanderWorld Travel and supported the Ecofarm in Guatemala and the surf camp in Costa Rica. In Guatemala, she quickly found her way around Antigua and experienced the charm of the city. In Costa Rica, she was overwhelmed by the "pura vida" vibe and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Her experiences were characterized by the diverse cultures, friendly people and the serenity she experienced in Costa Rica.

MALINS PROGRAM:

My preparation time

In fact, my goal was not Latin America, but simply to get away. I came across Costa Rica through the surfing project and the destination couldn't have been better! After receiving advice from Wanderworld, I started with a project in Guatemala.  

I started planning about six months before my departure. This gave me enough time to take care of everything from my passport to vaccinations. Wanderworld supported me with seminars and a very comprehensive preparation folder and answered all my questions. I felt very well prepared at the time of departure and was able to concentrate fully on the anticipation. 

The first days

I quickly felt very comfortable in my first project in Guatemala, both with my host family and in the project. Everyone was very nice and the arrival went really smoothly. Despite difficult communication with my host family, I felt that I was in good hands and was able to work on my Spanish. During the introductory seminar, I got to know someone straight away who I could explore the city with over the next few days. You also got to know a lot of people in the project, so you were never alone.

Everything was explained calmly and was very easy to do. Antigua itself is not that big, which is why it was easy to find your way around (except for the buses ;D ).

A month later, I flew to Costa Rica, where we were a very large group at the introductory seminar. It was very cool because we had lots of opportunities to exchange ideas and make friends. We looked around San José together and then went on to our projects. When we arrived in Tamarindo, we were practically invaded by the "Pura Vida" vibe. The place and the accommodation were great. We simply felt at home from minute one. The next day we had a meeting with the managers, in which we were explained our tasks, which we could then start with the next day. In the first week, me and my fellow volunteers were trained together. We were also expected to show a lot of initiative. In our free time together, we explored Tamarindo or went surfing.

A day in the project

On the Ecofarm In Antigua, the tasks varied from day to day. Most of the time I was allowed to look after the animals first, sometimes I had to play with the kittens and puppies and sometimes we renewed paths with gravel or bark mulch. However, I also spent a lot of time weeding. On the other hand, there were regular activities such as yoga, which the volunteers could take part in.
At the beginning of the day, we were always assigned tasks. If you had any questions, you could always speak to the owner or ask other employees, who always helped.

In the Surf project were the main tasks in the store. This included renting out surfboards, advising on tours if required and keeping the store clean.

There was a check-in at the hotel every now and then, which we volunteers did. What I enjoyed most was the "Customer service" liked. Of course, we were generally there to answer visitors' questions, but we were also supposed to be there for travelers from the "Camp" or the hostel room to create a camp feeling.

The staff were generally very nice and helpful.

My free time in Guatemala and Costa Rica

In Guatemala, I spent my time in the afternoon taking Spanish lessons and exploring the city. A special day trip was a visit to the nearby Hobbitland.

At the weekend, we did the volcano hike up the Acatenango, which was a very special experience. After a challenging hike, we were able to admire the lava eruption of Fuego. I spent another weekend at Lake Atitlan with its small, pretty villages and an incredible volcanic landscape in the background. I spent the last weekend in El Paredon to get my first taste of surfing. Thanks to good shuttle connections, these trips are very easy to plan and implement.

Later in Tamarindo, most of our free time was of course spent surfing and exploring the local bars in the evening. The surf store and the hostel made it easy for us to make new friends, so we were never bored. As we only had one day off a week, it was difficult to plan excursions. Nevertheless, we were able to go on a safari boat tour, a quat tour and a waterfall tour.

I traveled a bit further after the project, which is a good way to explore other places in Costa Rica.

My experience with culture

Of course, you meet very different cultures. However, I can say that in most cases you receive a very positive welcome. I was particularly impressed by the Pura Vida lifestyle in Costa Rica, which is practiced everywhere. The people who identified with it were always super nice, relaxed and welcomed you with open arms. This serenity is very easily transferred to you there, so that you can let go of the stress of everyday life.

My accommodation

In Guatemala, I lived in my host family's house. I had my own room with a wardrobe. I shared the bathroom with some of the students living there. As I had food from the family, we sometimes ate together. The houses there usually had a small courtyard and were walled from the outside. It was of course a different standard than in Germany, but always clean and comfortable.

In Tamarindo, I stayed in the hostel room belonging to the hotel. I stayed here with my fellow volunteer and the other hostel guests. The accommodation was very modern and spacious, which made it easy to settle in for a longer period of time. We were able to sit and cook together on the terrace and in the well-equipped kitchen.

Security on site

I felt safe in the projects at all times. Antigua was a very peaceful city where you can walk around alone most of the time without any worries. Of course, the usual rules apply everywhere. I.e. if possible, don't walk alone in the dark, don't flaunt your wealth etc...

As Tamarindo is super touristy and small, it is also very safe here, as long as you stay out of problem situations. The same applies to the other places I visited in Costa Rica.

My tips for future participants

I think the same applies to all projects: you should be open to new tasks, new people, new accommodation, new food and new experiences. Then every project is sure to be a great experience.

Of course, a certain love of animals is required for the farm project and you shouldn't be too shy to lend a hand and get dirty.

For the surf store, you shouldn't shy away from communicating with strangers and you shouldn't be too embarrassed to clean.

I myself had great respect for the language barrier, but Spanish is hardly needed there and you can get to grips with English really quickly.

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