Ferdinand’s adventure in Costa Rica
“At first I wondered about the saying ‘pura vida,’ but I’ve since come to understand that it’s a way of life. It’s the attitude with which you get up in the morning, with which you greet strangers in your country and take life as it comes.”
Snakes, tapirs and jaguars in a jungle right next to dreamlike beaches and waves that invite you to surf. The dream of seeing it all with his own eyes has come true for Ferdinand. He traveled to Costa Rica with WanderWorld Travel and worked there for 3 months in a hostel, supporting the Environmental Protection Project and the Rainforest Reserve. In this report he tells about his fascinating encounters with the animals and the local people, his free time and experiences in the projects.
I have always been passionate about exotic animals and extraordinary environments, so Costa Rica was the perfect destination, with its enormous biodiversity and breathtaking volcanoes, waterfalls and rainforests. I planned the trip in mid-summer 2021 and flew to Costa Rica in early November 2021. In the months leading up to my departure, I tried to work through WanderWorld Travel’s travel list, possibly adding things of my own and reading through many testimonials. This definitely helped and already prepared me a bit for my stay. I couldn’t wait to get on the plane and it relieved me to know that I wouldn’t arrive in Costa Rica completely on my own, but would be met by WanderWorld and other travelers.
MY FIRST DAYS
I felt right at home and made contacts. Especially through the introduction day, I was able to get to know many people right away, with whom I later even traveled throughout Costa Rica and spent New Year’s Eve in Panama. I am very grateful to these people and can attribute it to them that I had little to no homesickness and never felt alone. The Costa Ricans also played a big part in making me feel comfortable. I settled in within a few hours and after a few days I considered them my second family.
MY FAVORITE TASK
My daily tasks varied from project to project. I cleared jungle trails with machetes, cut wooden boards with chain saws, took care of local children, painted houses, measured trees and much more. For me personally, the coolest job in the Rainforest Reserve was when I was able to check the reptile traps at night in the cloud forest and catch snakes for species identification. In this job, I was even able to take a leadership role and lead other volunteers through the cloud forest, as well as tell them their tasks and show them how to handle snakes. I made good friends in all the projects and always got along well with the staff.
MY FREE TIME
There was always enough time in the day for myself in the projects, as well as every weekend for excursions. After my shift in the project was over, I spent a lot of time at the beach. I tried to savor the nature near me and thus I looked at numerous waterfalls, a volcano, I went diving, I did a bungee jump, I watched how turtles hatch and much more. Sometimes I also looked for tapirs, anteaters or sloths in the national parks. Once I was able to watch someone feed a 5 meter crocodile and I am still amazed and astonished by this encounter. In the evenings we often made campfires on the beach. In summary, I can say that every experience was incredible and new to me and I can’t even list everything I experienced.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
The people in Costa Rica were very open to me and also approached me directly in the project. They sometimes took me and other volunteers to parties or other adventures and really infected me with their zest for life. Even with a language barrier, there are always ways to talk and learn from each other. The ticos and ticas, as Costa Ricans are called, often knew little English, but we always helped each other out in Spanish and English and taught each other words. I was very happy that they welcomed me with such warm arms, because it immediately gave me a feeling of home.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
In fact, it is very difficult for me to pick out one of my thousand beautiful moments. However, I think that the New Year’s Eve I spent in Panama on Bocas del Toro with friends from WanderWorld Travel is one of my favorites. We just celebrated life and the new year so carefree and I felt so close and connected to people I had only known for a few weeks through the experiences we shared. Another very special moment was when I did a bungee jump from 143 meters high. That was just breathtaking. In general, I can say that they memories became as special and beautiful as I remember them now mainly because of the people I had the chance to meet.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
In Costa Rica there are incredibly many places that fascinated me. Each place is unique and the whole country has a lot to offer, whether beach, nature or city. Out of all the places I visited, La Fortuna was my favorite. There is a huge volcano, some waterfalls and even hot springs. This place had a very special vibe and may be forgotten by some tourists who are just looking for a perfect beach. I can only recommend a visit to La Fortuna to everyone.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I have seen some countries before, but never before such an incredible nature, biodiversity and exciting culture as in Costa Rica. It was a feeling of freedom that I will never forget. At first I made fun of or wondered about the saying “Pura Vida”, but now I understand that it is a way of life. It is the attitude with which you get up in the morning, with which you greet strangers in your country and take life as it comes. As a participant, you should be interested in the local culture and nature and be open to differences you may notice from your life at home. You should definitely enjoy meeting new people and also tolerate it when people are different or think differently than you. With these tips, I’m sure you can have as memorable a time as I did.
I love Costa Rica not only because of the variety of exotic animals and the crazy nature, but especially because of the way of life. Being there was like breaking out of reality. Thanks to WanderWorld Travel I was able to travel and get to know this great country and I can definitely recommend the organization because they always supported you on the trip and the planning was very easy. I learned a lot in the three projects and was able to help local families and children, maintain a hostel, and further studies in herpetology. While abroad, I met so many diverse and fun people of all nations, skin colors, religions, and sexual orientations who were all so incredibly kind. In doing so, I learned that we are all the same and how important it is to respect and value others.