Volunteering in Costa Rica at the Sea Turtle Conservation project was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! I scheduled the trip to be five weeks long: one week taking Spanish classes in San Jose, three weeks doing sea turtle conservation work and another week exploring the country.
As my plane took off, I was shaking with both excitement and nervousness because I decided to travel alone. GoEco had a taxi waiting for me at the airport. I was taken to my homestay and had my own room. Each morning, my homestay mother made the most delicious coffee I had ever tasted! Each volunteer was placed in a Spanish class based on skill level. The teachers were wonderful and patient and held a small graduation ceremony when my week was over.
Throughout the week, I met three other volunteers going to the same project site and we explored the city. I received a bus voucher through GoEco and made the trip to Camaronal Beach on the Pacific.
When we got off the bus, a pick-up truck was waiting to take us to the wildlife preserve. I couldn’t believe the beauty of the countryside! We had orientation our first day of volunteering and settled in to our cabin. We performed beach patrols each night for four hours-and on my very first night, I saw a sea turtle! I had never been somewhere so beautiful. We had a whole beach to ourselves.
At night, the stars and moon were so bright we didn’t need flashlights and the waves glowed yellow from plankton. The next three weeks were filled with hard work during the day (building the hatchery, cleaning the beach, maintaining the land) and beach patrols at night. We collected eggs from and tagged six turtles in my time. We had each weekend off and would travel to nearby beaches. We were given breaks throughout the day and would spend them exercising, relaxing on the beach and playing games.
The last week of my trip was truly amazing! Two other volunteers and I decided to travel together and we met many other travelers along the way. We went white water rafting, hiking, swimming in natural springs, repelling through waterfalls and zip-lining! I made friends with people from Turkey, England, Belgium, Israel, Canada and other places around the world. I often find myself day dreaming about my experiences in Costa Rica. It was the trip of a lifetime.