Field report

Sarah's adventures - between volcanoes and jungle

You have only spent such a short time with these people and yet they have taken a place in your heart. I find that fascinating.

October 2023 - January 2024
Girl happy in front of pyramid

Sarah traveled with us through Costa Rica and Guatemala. She supported the Turtle Protection Project and the Wildlife Sanctuary in Costa Rica and gained a lot of experience at the Hostel Experience in Guatemala. Sarah grew incredibly on this trip and got to know her own abilities once again.

SARAH'S PROGRAMS

My preparation time

It was clear to me from secondary school onwards that I wanted to first of all I needed a break and I wanted to go abroad. As I studied Spanish at school and Spain itself was probably too close for me, Latin America was the perfect choice. I booked everything about nine months in advance, but only started planning a few weeks beforehand. Of course, the first step is a rucksack and then the packing list is made. I was really looking forward to simply getting away from Germany and everyday life and that's exactly what happened.

A day at the Turtle Protection, Wildlife Sanctuary & Hostel Experience Project

At Turtle Protection, we had breakfast at 8:00 a.m., then we cleaned the bathroom and possibly did a task on the beach (collecting plastic or building a wall with tree trunks). At 12:00 there was lunch and then usually another task on the beach. Dinner was served at 17:00, as the first night shift starts at 18:00. The night shifts are actually the most important tasks. You patrol the beach in pairs and keep an eye out for egg-laying turtles.

In my second project, the Wildlife Sanctuary in Puntarenas, the daily routine looked a little different. The daily routine was very regular, which I liked very much, so it always looked like this: 6-8:00 a.m. morning feeding of the animals in one of the three zones, 8-8:30 a.m. breakfast, 8:30-12:00 a.m. various tasks (cleaning or rebuilding cages, sweeping leaves, ...), 12-13:00 p.m. lunch break incl. food, 13-15:00 p.m. feeding again. It is very pleasant to finish work at 15:00;) At 18:00 there is dinner, but otherwise you have complete free time.

In Guatemala in the Hostel Experience, you worked fewer hours per week. There were basically three shifts, one of which you did every day: 7am-12pm, 12pm-5pm, 5pm-9pm. The work consisted mainly of check-ins and check-outs and typical tasks such as making beds or sweeping the floor. So you get a very good insight into hotel operations.

My free time in Costa Rica & Guatemala

I went on lots of walks. You also go to bars a lot with friends or enjoy time on the beach. In the Wildlife Sanctuary project, there was always an excursion day on which you explore the surroundings and visit great well-known places.

My experience with culture

People there are generally much more open than in Germany. Everyone wants to talk to you, get into conversation and (usually) with good intentions. Of course, as a woman traveling alone, you have to be careful whether you want to get involved in a conversation.

Overall, you feel very welcome in the culture and don't get the feeling that they don't want tourists there.

I was particularly surprised by the spiritual events there. There are lots of celebrations and ceremonies. I really liked that.

My most beautiful moments

My best moment was one morning at the wildlife project in Costa Rica. The sun came up, we went to the morning feeding and I suddenly had the feeling that I had arrived there. You can already hear the parrots squawking and you know that you're about to feed exotic animals in Costa Rica with super nice people. This feeling was just great.

My favorite place

Antigua in Guatemala was my favorite city. It's a modern city, but it's made up entirely of old streets and houses and culture is very important here. You are surrounded by several volcanoes, one of which even erupts every day. You should definitely see something like this.

My accommodation

I've always slept in shared rooms, sometimes the sexes were mixed and sometimes not. But if you have earplugs with you, it's no problem at all!

You also make friends very quickly, which makes you feel at home straight away, even though nothing is the same there as at home.

Why I love Latin America

When I think back to Latin America now, the first thing that comes to mind are the friends I made. They included Germans, but also many locals. You only spent such a short time with these people and yet they have a place in your heart. I find that fascinating.

I can highly recommend a trip to Latin America, because as a German you can't even imagine how people live there. They have much less, but are still happier. You get a very warm welcome there and make good progress. I would recommend everyone to visit as many places as possible, as everything is somehow a little different. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to travel to Mexico, but it's definitely still on my bucket list, as the country is supposed to be so different from Guatemala and Costa Rica.

Security on site

If you stick to the typical rules (don't go out alone in the dark, don't show everyone your cell phone and wallet, etc.), then you feel safe. After all, you are almost always surrounded by other volunteers and rarely alone.

How the trip changed me

The 4 months I was away somehow made me grow up. Above all, I became much more independent. I had experiences that no one else could have imagined.

My tips for future participants

In terms of character, you should definitely be an open person who wants to meet new people. Personally, I've always been quite open, but sometimes a bit shy on my own. That went away completely during my stay, for example, and you learn to approach new people etc. over time.

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