Cameronal, Costa Rica
As I stepped off of the plane in Costa Rica I thought to myself: “What have I gotten myself into? I am in a country where I don’t know a single person, and I hardly speak any Spanish. I am not up for this!” However, the moment I stepped into the home of my host family, my nerves subsided. I got to spend one week with my Tico family in San Jose, and they were so incredibly warm and welcoming. Even with my minimal Spanish skills, I felt a part of the family.
During my week in San Jose, I took Spanish lessons at the local language school. In addition to learning some conversational Spanish, I met so many adventurous, like-minded students at the academy. After our week of lessons was over, a group of us spent a weekend in Monteverde together exploring the city and zip-lining through the canopy. Before we knew it, it was time to say our goodbyes and head off to our different volunteer sites.
While San Jose and Monteverde were both great, the best part of my trip was still to come. I spent the next three weeks volunteering at the Sea Turtle Conservation project at a site called Cameronal. The beach was absolutely beautiful!
The staff at Cameronal were the most genuinely caring people I have ever met, with a real passion for their work. There were also about 12 other volunteers from all over the world staying at Cameronal during the three weeks I stayed there. The people I met there have left a lasting impression on me and we are still in contact with each other months after parting ways.
My days at Cameronal were the perfect mix of work and play. We spent the early mornings working. The work was demanding: we worked in the hot Costa Rican sun creating a hatchery for sea turtle eggs.
But the afternoons were free and we spent many hours playing games, swimming, enjoying the beaches, hiking, or just relaxing in the hammocks and chatting.
The nights were when the fun work began. We took shifts patrolling in groups for sea turtles. I never imagined that I would be excited to wake up at 1 am to work, but getting to witness a sea turtle lay her eggs was such an incredible experience that I actually looked forward to the early mornings. Watching these sea turtles was one of the most beautiful events I have ever witnessed.
I enjoyed every minute of my time volunteering in Costa Rica. It was thrilling to experience a different culture with such a laid back attitude. The people I met there taught me so much. My trip to Costa Rica has left me with memories and friendships that I will always cherish. Pura Vida!
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Click here for more details about the Sea Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica!