Field report

For anyone who is thinking about doing something like this: DO IT! It is a unique time that you experience there. An experience that you should definitely have, where you learn so many new things about yourself, about another country and another culture.
January 2023- February 2023
Our participant Tabea
Tabea spent two months at the Wildlife Rescue Project in Cabuya, Costa Rica. She quickly settled in at the wildlife sanctuary, made new friends and soon regarded the other volunteers in the project as a little family. Working on the project was even more fun together!


My preparation time

I had always planned to go on a longer trip after my A-levels. As I didn't want to go to Asia or Australia like most people, I looked for organizations that travel in Latin America. I was really looking forward to this trip and the experience of doing something completely different. You think about what the trip will be like and whether it will be what you imagined. WanderWorld organized a lot of things for you: picked out the flights, created a list with general information that you need, what you absolutely have to do in advance and also provided a lot of information about the project. The seminar just under two months before departure also gave us a certain amount of security and our anticipation continued to grow.

The first days

On the day of my departure, it still felt very surreal, the day I had been looking forward to for several months had now arrived. When I arrived in Costa Rica, I started to realize that my journey was really about to begin. As I had already met other volunteers at the airport in Frankfurt, I was able to make new contacts straight away. We went to a restaurant together in the evening and talked about the upcoming trip. It was really interesting to find out what projects the others were doing and how different everyone's trips were. On the first morning, we had our introductory event, where Lisa showed us around San José and told us a lot about the city. We all had a traditional meal together and had a really nice first day. After the introductory days, we finally drove to the project and we were able to see a lot of the country on the way. When we arrived at the project, we received a warm welcome and the other volunteers were super open and friendly and welcomed us straight away. After a few days in the project and the introduction to the work, I realized that I would now be in this place for two months. I was very overwhelmed at first, as there were so many new things to take in at once. New people, a different language, work that you've never done before and a completely new culture, but also suddenly being so far away from home, something I'd never experienced before. I wondered whether it was the right decision to embark on such a journey alone. But after a week I really settled in, settled in with the other volunteers and got used to the new routine. It took time to embark on such an adventure, but I am all the happier to have overcome this and to have had this experience.

A day at the Wildlife Rescue Project

There were early and late shifts and we always received a new weekly schedule at the end of the week. If we had to work in the morning, the day started at 6 am and went on until 1:30 pm, the late shift always started at 3 pm and ended with dinner at 7:30 pm. Our tasks at the beginning were to cut the food, cook it or prepare the food on trays so that it could then be given to the animals to feed. The longer you stay in the project, the more responsibility you get. After the introduction to the first tasks, we were shown how to clean and tidy the animals' enclosures. Some volunteers were also trained on specific animals that were sick or injured and therefore needed more attention. It was incredibly nice to see how you could help the animals with your work. One of the best moments was when you could see that the animals were getting better from week to week and making progress. There was always a great atmosphere during the work, everyone was always in a good mood, which made the work even more enjoyable. You could also always talk to one of the employees if you had something on your mind or any problems. I learned a lot about wild animals and the life of these animals in a country like this through my work. I was able to see animals that are not so easy to see in Germany, which is an incredible feeling.

My free time in Cabuya

I made friends there straight away and got on really well with another WanderWorld participant who came with me. As we had one day off a week, which was always with other volunteers, we were able to do things together. We mostly went to the neighboring town (Montezuma). There you could go to super beautiful beaches, walk to the waterfalls, rent quats or go to happy hour and the bars in the evening. My highlight was a trip to Tortuga Island, where we took a boat tour to the island. When we arrived at the island it was raining, but at the same time it was an incredibly beautiful sunset and we all went swimming in the sea together. On the way back, we snorkeled in the sea in the dark. We also went to a traditional Costa Rican carnival, which is like a funfair here with lots of Spanish music and traditional food.

My experience with culture

Before I flew to Costa Rica, I heard a lot about the motto "Pura Vida". I couldn't really imagine what it meant to live by this motto. But right from the start, you could tell that the local people are just super relaxed, don't stress themselves out and simply enjoy their lives. It's nice to see how people appreciate and enjoy their lives, which I think we in Germany should show much more to the outside world. At the carnival, you could also tell how happy people were, everyone was dancing and singing and it was an exuberant atmosphere.

My most beautiful moments

I had many unique moments. The trip to the carnival, where almost every volunteer came along, was a lot of fun. We went on the rollercoaster together, danced and drank together and just laughed so much. I am grateful to have experienced such a traditional festival with all these people. But my last day was also incredibly beautiful: I got a tattoo together with a friend I met there, which will always remind me of this time and our friendship. In the evening, we made a campfire with all the volunteers and a few of the staff and sat around together. These were the people who have become a family to me over the last few weeks.

What I was able to give my project

It's great that so many people from all over the world have come together and brought a piece of their culture with them. Thanks to the work of the volunteers, the Rescue Center is able to help many animals. It takes a whole team to clean the enclosures, prepare the food etc. and without our work, many wild animals could no longer be helped. Likewise, many people didn't know how to make stick bread, which was a big part of my childhood, for example, and it was very nice to give the local people this part of my personal culture.

My accommodation

We had a house where all the volunteers slept. There were 4-5 bed rooms, I was in a room with 5 people and slept there with 4 other girls. It was a nice time sharing a room with several other girls because we often lay on a bed together and chatted before going to bed. Of course it was a bit chaotic at times, as the rooms aren't particularly big, but you get used to it. We shared two showers and two toilets with all the volunteers, but that wasn't too bad as we rarely got in each other's way due to the different working hours. We once had a plague of ants that spread all over the house, which wasn't so nice at the time of course, but in hindsight it was great fun and part of the jungle experience. The toilets and showers, as well as our rooms, were cleaned almost every day, which made us feel very comfortable.

How the trip changed me

This trip definitely helped me progress and was a great experience. Because I started out alone, I quickly got the feeling of loneliness and although you meet new people in the project, I lacked a real caregiver. But I also learned how nice it is to be completely alone sometimes. I'm a very extroverted person, but in another country, with a new language, it's something else again and you have to overcome yourself to approach new people in a different language and I became much more confident in speaking. I have learned that you should appreciate life much more, because when you compare the lifestyles there with those here in Germany, you realize how grateful you should be for your life here. When you are there, you appreciate your home in Germany much more. A trip like this gives you time to reflect on your life and realize what you might want to change in Germany.

My tips for future participants

I found it fascinating to have lived in the middle of the jungle and to have been exposed to a completely new climate. For anyone thinking about doing something like this: DO IT! It's a unique time that you experience there. An experience that you should definitely have, where you learn so many new things about yourself, about another country and another culture. Be open to a new experience and embark on the adventure. A tip: don't worry so much beforehand about what it might be like, otherwise you will only be disappointed, because it will definitely be different from what you imagined, but definitely one of the best times of your life!

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Sophia, founder of Wanderworld Travel

Lisa, Coordinator & Participant Support 

Amanda, Support and advice before departure


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