Lena in the Turtle Protection Project in Costa Rica
“What was especially nice about Latin America was the diverse nature, you have the Atlantic Ocean and at the same time you have the Caribbean beaches, jungles and many different animals that you see on the trip.”
Our participant Lena worked for one month in the Turtle Protection Project in Costa Rica, helping the turtles, environmental protection and the local community. Together with the other volunteers she experienced an unforgettable time in the project and especially the exciting nature and the animals of Costa Rica have remained in her memory.
I really wanted to go to Latin America, Costa Rica, after my social year, to participate in the project “Turtle Protection”, but also to get to know new cultures, the diverse nature, the people and especially a different life. So I wanted to participate in the project for one month and then travel around Costa Rica for one month. My project started in February and my travel booking and planning in October before that. The best part of the preparation time was that with each document, with each vaccination, and with each item packed, you got closer to spending time in Costa Rica. However, like many others, I was also very excited and sometimes scared of traveling alone to a foreign country. WanderWorld helped me a great deal in my preparation by providing me with checklists of necessary vaccinations and documents, a packing list, suggested itineraries, and a fact sheet about the country, traditions, and culture. WanderWorld also handled my flight booking.
MY FIRST DAYS
The first two days after arriving in Costa Rica we were in San Jóse, the capital, to get to know the other volunteers and our contact person Lisa. On the introduction day, we were shown San Jóse, we all had a Costa Rican lunch together, booked our bus to Montezuma to the project and were able to clarify important questions. Once we arrived in Montezuma, we were shown everything, the daily schedule was explained and we had the rest of the day to arrive. At the beginning it was very difficult, everything was new, the environment and the people were foreign and one had to get along with the “new” life first. But after the first days with very nice volunteers, project leaders and fun at work, I felt really comfortable and quickly also at home.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
Since February is not turtle season in Montezuma and we only had one nest to hatch, our tasks during the day were “community work” for the local community. We collected plastic and trash from the beach, started to build a park and did justice to the leaves from the elementary school playground. Then at night, each of us along with two other volunteers had a three-hour night shift where we regularly watered and checked on the turtle nest. Even though some tasks were really exhausting, we had a lot of fun together :). In the morning, at noon and in the evening we all met for dinner, which was cooked fresh for us every day.
MY FREE TIME
In our free time we were mostly at the beach or in the sea, which was right next to our accommodation, or at one of the many waterfalls in Montezuma, where you can also swim. But we also had highlights like a tour to the island Isla Tortuga, a weekend in Santa Teresa, the surfer’s paradise, or a private pool party with barbecue, which our project leader organized for us. We were also able to go quat riding or horseback riding along the beach.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
The people, especially in Montezuma, are all very open, helpful and like a small family. They live rather simply, without attaching much importance to material things, without stress and time pressure in the day and also show you that you do not need much in life to be happy.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
Particularly beautiful moments during my entire trip with another volunteer were when whales and dolphins appeared next to us during the boat trips, sloths hung out in the national park of Manuel Antonio or starfish lay in the sea right next to us. But the biggest highlight was when shortly before we left our project in Montezuma the turtles hatched and we accompanied them to the sea together.
Our project accommodation was located directly by the sea, and had four shared rooms, which were never fully occupied during my time, so that we all had enough space for ourselves. Next to the kitchen, there was a large terrace with a view of the sea and, with luck, whales. There we volunteers ate together every day, talked or played games. In contrast to at home, the accommodation is very simple, but you get used to it really quickly and realize that you don’t really need much to be happy. There was also a cook who cooked fresh for us every day.
WHY LATIN AMERICA?
What was especially nice about Latin America was the diverse nature, you have the Atlantic Ocean and at the same time also the Caribbean beaches, jungle and many different animals that you see on the trip. Also the people there are much more open, helpful, content and not as superficial as in Europe. If I had to describe Latin America in three words, they would be colorful, beautiful and warm. My goal would also be to travel to Guatemala at some point, as many people I met on my trip raved about it.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
My tip for the trip to Latin America is to travel without expectations, then it is much easier to get involved and enjoy the country and life there. You will always and everywhere meet other dear volunteers, and do not have to be afraid to be alone. Also the language, especially in Costa Rica, was no problem, because most of the people there speak English and a lot of tourists will even answer you in German ;). WanderWorld helped me a lot with the preparations, as I said above, and our contact person Lisa was always there for our questions during our trip, which was a great help especially for the first stay abroad.
For the “Turtle Protection” project, you should be open to new things, have fun working for the environment and the community, and definitely have a heart for animals, because in Costa Rica, especially dogs are always and everywhere in your path.