Liane’s time at the surf camp in Costa Rica
“For me it feels like my second family and I am very grateful for the way I have been welcomed here. I have been able to meet so many new friends who have made Tamarindo a second home to me.”
Liane spent three unforgettable months at the surf camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. After settling in and getting to know everything, she didn’t want to leave this place. Especially the people she got to know made her time so special. That’s why she decided to stay longer in Tamarindo and also travel to Nicaragua and Panama.
I always wanted to get to know both culture and people as well as the diverse nature in Latin America. I booked my trip about 9 months in advance. The most exciting part of my preparation was both the moment I booked my trip and the online preparation seminar with WanderWorld. In this online seminar I had the chance to get to know other participants and to clarify last open questions. From then on, the anticipation was huge! WanderWorld supported me well in organizing my trip. If I had any questions about flights, travel, etc., I received a prompt, helpful reply at all times.
Before my trip, I was of course very excited. But when the day of departure came, my emotions got the better of me. Was it really the right decision to leave on my own? Will I like it? Will I be too homesick? So many questions and doubts running through my mind. But again, I think that’s more than normal. (Spoiler: none of these doubts were confirmed in the end). When I sat on the plane to Costa Rica next to a very friendly local from San José, who raved about his country and gave me tips for my trip, the anticipation and excitement came back.
MY FIRST DAYS
The first days of my arrival were very exciting for me and full of new impressions, but also exhausting. Jet lag, only unknown people around me, sleeping in a shared room with strangers for the first time, a foreign big city etc. But I really enjoyed the introduction day. Lisa gave us a city tour including local food and tips for our further trip. Getting to know the other volunteers was also a very nice experience. We all got along great and had nice first days.
The next day, me and another participant went by bus for almost 8h to Tamarindo to our project. We got along very well right away and so the long bus ride was bearable.
Up to this point I had never been outside of Europe and under the word “culture shock” I could never imagine anything. Now I do. By the time I had fully settled in, half of my project was already over. From then on, however, things only went upwards. I learned a lot about myself during this time of acclimation and grew a lot personally. My tip at this point: Don’t stress, everything will be fine. Be open to new things and try to meet new people as soon as possible. 🙂
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
My work in the project consisted of looking after the guests in the hotel on the one hand and working in the associated surf store on the other. Here we were responsible for renting surfboards, booking surf lessons and keeping the store always clean and tidy. We also helped out as instructors in the surf lessons as needed. Since I already had experience working in a surf school, the work itself was not really new to me. What I did learn, however, is that the ways of working are very different in Germany and in other countries. But also for that you just have to stay open all the time and try to learn as much as you can from it.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE CULTURE
My stay in Latin America was definitely made special by the people. I learned from the local people how to deal with stressful situations in a more relaxed way, how to stay positive, and how to get by with less than one is used to from the luxury at home.
For most people here, life is not always as easy and luxurious as it is for us in Germany. Nevertheless, they all love their country, the nature and their culture. By spending a very long time in the same place overall, I was able to get to know the people well and understand their mentality. “Pura Vida” is Costa Rica’s motto and this is also lived here. However, Pura Vida is not the same as “high-life”. In my experience, pura vida means much more to enjoy and appreciate every moment, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
I always felt very safe overall and think that the many negative things that are said about Latin America regarding security, conflicts, poverty, drugs, etc. are just prejudices. But, life is different here than in my small village at home in Germany and the people have other problems that are solved differently than I know.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
My trip to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica financed me a lot, because I could see a lot of the beautiful nature of the country.
From Tamarindo it is not far to Nicaragua, where I stayed for almost a month after the project. Also there I was able to meet many people whose attitude towards life inspired and fascinated me.
When my project at the surf school was already two months over, I still stayed in Tamarindo and work as a surf instructor and live with local friends in the neighboring village. For me it feels like my second family and I am very grateful for the way I was welcomed here. I have made so many new friends who have made Tamarindo a second home to me.
During my work in the project I lived in the dorm of the associated hotel. The dorm is very luxurious and offers space for a total of 8 people. Even though sleeping in a shared room may not always be as relaxing as sleeping in your own bed at home, I felt very comfortable there overall. In addition, the hotel had a very well-equipped kitchen and a chill area. There we enjoyed cooking, talking and laughing together.
THIS IS HOW THE JOURNEY HAS CHANGED ME
I definitely broadened my horizons through the trip. I was able to look at my life at home from a different perspective and also get to know other ways of life. Through this, I was able to determine for myself which things I would like to keep at home and also what I no longer want to continue. I had the chance to question things. Most importantly, through the people here locally, I have learned to question whether I really need what I have at home or if I could be even happier with less.
I feel like I’ve been able to solidify my views and character a lot more through my trip. I no longer let new situations unsettle me, I have become more self-confident and, above all, I have been able to develop further in my dealings with other people. I am proud of that. 🙂
WHY LATIN AMERICA?
I love Latin America for nature and culture. In general, I have the feeling that culture is lived much more here than in Germany. The people here are proud to come from Costa Rica, for example, love their country and appreciate its nature.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
You should definitely be interested in surfing. I could surf before, but Tamarindo is a perfect spot to learn. It is important to be open, listen to people and respect them as they are, even if a lot of things are just different than what you are used to. Also, it’s important not to be too shy. Say what you think, what you like or don’t like, and above all: approach people on your own and talk to them. That’s how you get to know a lot of interesting people. 🙂
Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary, but definitely helpful. The locals will appreciate it if you try to speak at least a few words of Spanish and will be happy to help you learn.
Conclusion: It is normal to have positive and negative experiences. I would recommend everyone to travel to Latin America. I have only been to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama myself, but these three countries impressed me so much that it definitely made me want to go back for more. In the future I would like to travel to South America (Colombia, Argentina, Perú, Chile etc.).