Lena’s volunteering in Costa Rica
“My trip to Costa Rica taught me to face everyday challenges with more ease and to enjoy life. Through the many people from all over the world I met, my own horizons broadened enormously, and the numerous friendships I made showed me every time anew what really matters in life.”
Lena traveled with WanderWorld Travel to Costa Rica for two months over her birthday. There she experienced animal adventures in our Wildlife Sanctuary in Puntarenas. In this report she talks about her unforgettable time on site, her experiences and adventures in the project, as well as her free time.
MY FIRST DAYS
The first days after arrival were very exciting, but also challenging, because there were a lot of new impressions. You first have to get used to the new environment. However, it was more than worth it to persevere, as I was able to experience an incredible number of beautiful moments during my time in Costa Rica. What I remember most from the beginning was a bioluminescence tour right on the first day. Here we went out to sea at sunset together with other volunteers and you could see the water glittering in the dark. Of course, a jump into the sea was not to be missed. Despite all the efforts and fatigue of the arrival day, a really nice evening.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
A typical day in the project always began at about 5:30 a.m. when the alarm clock rang, because at 6:00 a.m. the morning feeding of the animals was due. After getting up, we only did the most necessary things in the bathroom and then set off to work. We first collected the food plates from the previous day, rinsed them thoroughly and then prepared the new food for the animals, which we then distributed back into the enclosures. After feeding, we had breakfast at about 08:00. After that, different tasks followed every day, such as cleaning, setting up and redesigning the enclosures, repairing the paths in the park, and much more. In the meantime, almost every day there was a small juice or coffee break for a short breather. At 12:00 o’clock there was always lunch, which, like breakfast, often contained rice and beans. But after a while you got used to this and I have to admit that I almost missed it when the typical Costa Rican “Gallo Pinto” was missing. At 13:00 o’clock we went back to work to feed the animals a second time during the day. If you want, you can also organize and accompany tours for visitors to the park, which was always a lot of fun for me personally.
MY FREE TIME
In our free time, we walked every now and then to a small grocery store only about 20 minutes away to buy some snacks or other food that was needed. Just walking there and back was often an experience in itself, as we always talked about all kinds of things and had a lot of fun together. After dinner at 6:00 pm, we walked a few times to a nearby river to make a campfire and occasionally grill marshmallows or even plantains over the fire. There was always a boisterous atmosphere and thanks to the often very clear sky, you could see numerous stars in the sky, which was always a magical moment for all of us. I was in the project for about two months and on the days off I was mostly out and about with other volunteers. We made trips to different places, like Manuel Antonio, Monteverde or Jacó. This way, besides the work in the project, you could also see a lot of the country and through the shared experiences, new friendships could develop.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
During my time in Costa Rica, I generally noticed that the locals, especially those from the poorer part of the population, seemed very happy and fulfilled. One day, I walked with three other volunteers to the next village to play some soccer together on a soccer field. After some time we decided to play together with the children from the village, which was really a unique experience for me. The children play soccer together there almost every day and the adults also usually spend their free time outside with other families from the neighborhood. This showed me once again that you don’t need much to be happy.
THAT’S WHY I LOVE LATIN AMERICA
Although I was “only” traveling in Costa Rica, this small country already let me see the great diversity of Latin America. This always made traveling exciting and thrilling, as there is something new to discover in every place that you can’t see anywhere else. I think Latin America has something to offer for everyone and is perfect for backpacking.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
That’s not so easy to answer, because I was able to experience many unforgettable moments. If I had to choose one beautiful moment in Costa Rica, it would probably be my birthday, which I spent there in a completely different way than usual, namely in Monteverde. That alone was a great gift! With two very good friends that I met in my project, we visited a hummingbird café on this day, among other things. There you are greeted by quite a few colorful hummingbirds flying around you at an insane speed. The time we spent there was really special and is deeply anchored in my memories.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
Of all the beautiful places I could visit during my trip, the “La Fortuna Waterfall” probably fascinated me the most. This waterfall originates in the middle of the rainforest and the water falls here from a height of 70 meters on the cliffs of Cerro Chato, an extinct volcano, into the depths. The rock walls at the bathing place are extensively overgrown with moss and other very small waterfalls run down them. Simply like in a fairy tale!
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
I would recommend a stay abroad in Latin America to anyone who loves nature and is looking for adventure. There is more than enough of both in Costa Rica. You should start every working day in the project with joy and see it as a chance to gain new experiences. It is also very important to approach the new culture with a great deal of respect and openness and not to shy away from things you have never done before.
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
My trip to Costa Rica taught me to face everyday challenges with more ease and to enjoy life. Through the many people from all over the world I met, my own horizons have broadened enormously and the numerous friendships I made showed me every time anew what really matters in life.