by Hannah Nevitt, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Abroad Participant
Every morning I awake to the sounds of crowing roosters, chirping birds, and the melodic croaking of grasshoppers and frogs. The beaming sun floods my room at nearly 5:30 am. The intricate white lace of my window curtain provides little privacy from the exotic world outside.
Looking out my window I can see a field of lush green plants, vibrant flowers, and a blue sky peaking through tall trees. To the right I can see the magnificent slope of the Arenal volcano…its peak high among the clouds, billowing white puffs of smoke like a teapot ready to whistle. It is incredible.
I have resorted to sleeping with earplugs, otherwise I lay awake for hours listening to every sudden noise or banter from outside. Earplugs are a necessity for wandering souls like myself…always handy in unforeseen moments; crying babies on airplanes, napping on long bus rides, tuning out loud conversations, and in my most current situation…drowning out the chorus of nature so I can sleep for a few hours!
As I pull myself out of bed to prepare for the day I can smell the warm aromas of breakfast being prepared. Coffee brewing, the clinking of dishes and silverware being set out, and the sizzling of eggs being fried—Buenos Dias a Costa Rica!
After a plate of watermelon, pineapple, or bananas I enjoy a cup of coffee with my host mother and father. The kids are frantically trying to get ready for school…ironing their uniforms, (blue skirts/pants and white button up shirts) brushing their hair, and putting on their shoes. They hug and kiss their mother on the cheek before running out the door. Dario smiles and waves goodbye to me…only after I promise to play soccer with him later in the afternoon.
It is now my turn to say goodbye and head to work. For the next six months I will be working with student volunteers at an eco- reserve, animal rescue center, and language institute called, Proyecto Asis. One of the girls that lives next door to me was kind enough to let me borrow her bike. I now have a means of transportation to and from my project site.
I grab my bike and wave goodbye to the crowd of kids and mothers cleaning their homes. Once on the small rural road, I look both ways…distracted each time by the looming presence of the volcano ahead…and continue on my way. Proyecto Asis is down the road about 2.5 miles, except the journey is all downhill. I coast at rapid speed the whole way there, wind blowing through my hair and causing my eyes to tear. There is a feeling of freedom almost like I am flying. The green fields of exotic plants, coffee plantations, palm trees, and fruit orchards line the road….speckled with tiny houses along the way. This really is a beautiful country.
As I hit the breaks to slow down (only one side currently works), I enter the gate of Proyecto Asis…the sign reading, “Learn, serve, and share in harmony with nature.” I bang three times on the large gate with my fist and yell, “Hola, Hola, Hola!” waiting for someone to let me in. A few seconds later I hear footsteps coming closer and the door opens; it is Teniente…the groundskeeper. He smiles and says, “Pura Vida” and continues on his way to feed the animals.