Living in Costa Rica for a month gave me an appreciation for my life, for the way the universe unfolds in the most miraculous of ways, and for how easy it is to make a choice and change your life. I did that, and I’m so thankful everything happened the way it did!
I decided to go to Costa Rica and volunteer at an animal shelter called Neo Fauna for 4 weeks. I lived in a volunteer house with other volunteers doing different programs like reconstruction of the schools and educating young children. My days would consist of waking up at 7 am and heading out to the rescue site at 8 am after having breakfast with the other volunteers. I’d usually walk, which took about 30 minutes. When I got there I would be in charge of feeding 4 baby raccoons, which was by far my favorite thing to do. I’d then help catch blue monarch butterflies so they could mate and make some beautiful babies for the rescue centers’ butterfly garden! I would do various other jobs like make dirt pave-ways that got displaced after it rained, and clean out the cages of the frogs and macaws. On certain days, I even got to go to the beaches to clean up the plastic and trash that would run off from the rest of the island. Overall, I really enjoyed working hard and making that difference I was trying to make back home.
When we finished our work at around 1 pm, we’d head right to Jaco beach. We would grab a drink at the convenience store and walk straight through the streets onto the beach and make our way to hostel Selina because they had great wifi and would turn out to be our shelter from the inevitable rain we encountered during the afternoons. Hey, it was the rainy season, what did we expect? We always headed out right after work because we didn’t want to miss the pura vida life; the locals were incredibly nice and happy and the food was delicious and always locally made.
We got to visit some incredible places during the weekends when we were off like, Manual Antonio National Park in Dominical, Nauyaca Waterfall, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve where we got to zip-line on some of the worlds longest cables. One of the volunteers, Beth and I decided to go zip-lining on a day when the sky decided to split open and rain all day, I worried about the weather and if it was ok to go but we were instructed to simply purchase ponchos if we didn’t want to get soaking wet but that everything was still good to go. So that was our day, zip-lining over some of the most beautiful and vast landscapes that costa rican mountains could show us all while getting soaked from the rain. This was truly an adventure of a lifetime.
My favorite day was definitely the last day of our trip. We got to visit a family of monkeys and feed them bananas for breakfast. We were all told they might be a little aggressive and of course it was proven right away. These monkeys weren’t messing around when they realized we had their breakfast in the palm of our hands! I still have scars on my arm from one particular nosy monkey but I definitely didn’t mind. I mean how often do you get to feed wild monkeys in the jungle? We then headed to the beach to learn how to surf with Tico Surf Lessons and this was by far the highlight of this trip.
I went into it super nervous and came out of it feeling like an awesome surf chick! I stood up on a board, that’s all I was looking for! We surfed for the rest of the day and watched our last sunset on Jaco beach before we went home and packed away our month in Costa Rica.
I went back home from that trip with a new level of confidence I didn’t know I could have. Me and the other volunteers went through so much together, and now I felt I had new friends all over the world. We had shared experiences I’ll never share with others and because of that, I became close with these new friends of mine. In fact, close enough that I’ve planned a trip in November to visit them in the UK! My life changed, it was all because of a simple decision to not wait any longer. To not be unhappy any longer and to finally just make the decision to live a life off the beaten path. I went to Italy 9 days later and am now adventuring through Sicily for a few months. We’ll see where it all takes me!