A month in Costa Rica

Want to know what it’s like to volunteer for a month in Costa Rica with Cross-Cultural Solutions?

The following samplings from my journal/blog clearly depict my amazing experience volunteering abroad in Cartago with CCS.

Day 1
Descending into Costa Rica there were these insane clouds that were absolutely beautiful! We drove from the airport in San Jose to Cartago. I felt like I was in a Mario Cart video game. People were running across the street and swerving around passing cars, all while going at an extremely quick speed. One of the first things I noticed was all the color: turquoise, red, and orange, yellow, blue. And there was graffiti everywhere! It seemed as though most of the stores were closed, but I assume because it was Sunday. Kids were running around in bare feet kicking a beat up soccer ball and looking so happy doing just that. It really put things in perspective and makes you appreciate everything at home.

Day 3
I don’t even know where to begin because after going to the orphanage today I am at a loss for words. There were about 20 kids ranging from ages 4-17. It amazed me to see how happy these kids were after all they have been through. This was an orphanage for children who had been seriously abused. The biggest challenge was the language barrier which I was nervous about, but all you need to do is laugh with them and makes them feel loved. The small gesture of a smile goes such a long way. I got to practice my Spanish with the kids and some of the older kids could practice their English because they were learning it in school.

Day 10
Today we went to La Paz waterfalls and it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. We first walked through the animal sanctuaries and got to see some gorgeous creatures: toucans, parrots, butterflies, hummingbirds and jaguars. We also got to walk through a coffee plantation and sample the coffee from beans picked from the tree. Afterward, we hiked a little ways to the waterfalls. We saw about three or four different waterfalls and we could stand so close that if I reached out I could touch the water with my hand. Words and pictures can’t even begin to show how stunning this waterfall rainforest was.

Day 20
Today at the orphanage, I brought my phone to take pictures and the kids loved posing for the photos! These moments captured are memories I could never possibly forget.
It was our last night with Molly because she leaves on Saturday. Some of the girls and I went out to dinner at this Italian restaurant in our neighborhood which was so delicious. When we got back to the home base we all got into our pajamas and played Apples to Apples. It’s sad to see Molly leave because she has been such a nice friend to me.

Day 29
Today is my last day volunteering at the orphanage. It’s still pretty early here so most of the kids are doing their morning chores, but it is such a beautiful day that I decided to sit outside to write in my journal. On the car ride here I tried to take everything in. The car ride that I had taken 20+ times back and forth and thought I had memorized. All of the cultural differences that I was so unfamiliar with when I first got here are now all things that I got so used to seeing.

Mauricio just came out of his house and saw me from across the orphanage. He yelled my name – he calls me Jessica, even though, all of the other kids call me Jess – and ran and jumped into my arms. I told him it was my last day here and he just kept shaking his head “no”. It is so touching to see that I have made that kind of impact on him while I’ve been here. He just ran back to his house so let me continue… As I was saying, I was noticing all of the things that we don’t have back home, the things I will miss. The crazy driving that I was first terrified of, the colors, the sounds, the beautiful people, the dogs, horses and cows walking down the street next to the cars, and of course what I will miss most of all, the sunshine.

I want to thank my parents, the two people that supported me all the way to the security check at the airport at 3:30am. And thank you Cross-Cultural Solutions for this incredible opportunity in Costa Rica…TRUST THE JOURNEY


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