Volunteer Abroad - Costa Rica, Volunteer Abroad Programs

Co-existing with Nature: Culture Shock in Costa Rica

by Hannah Nevitt, Greenheart Travel Volunteer Abroad Participant

Individuals, groups, or families of volunteers are able to live in Costa Rica with host-families for varied durations and also learn Spanish at the Spanish Institute. It is my job to work with travel organizations, help with marketing, as well as work with the volunteers and take them on excursions when they are here.

So far is has been really fun and rewarding. One of my first projects was to translate a majority of their documents to English and meet with a few eco-tourism/volunteer program directors about establishing partnerships.  Just yesterday I met with a representative from a program called “Global Lead”, a leadership and immersion volunteer program. It was awesome to talk with her as she was looking to establish annual partnerships with project sites in Costa Rica.

I spend my mornings taking Spanish lessons from around 8:00 a.m. to noon, taking a short break at 10:00 a.m. forDSC02769 coffee. I then ride my bike back to the house to have lunch with my family. By the time I get there I am exhausted as the trek is all uphill…and it is hot and humid! After lunch we have a siesta for about an hour while I either read, (it is nearly the only outlet I have for interaction in English) or take a short nap. At around 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. I head back to work in the office. It rains nearly every day around 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. so my journey back up the hill to the house at the end of the day is always a bit more grueling because I am attempting to out-pedal the rain! Unlike rain in Washington, when it rains here…you have seconds warning and then you might as well be in the shower; the rain is heavy and fast and thunders down…it lasts for about an hour.

Adjusting to my new life here has been relatively smooth, but there have definitely been moments of culture shock. DSC02363For example, just as Ticans strive to live in harmony with nature…this also includes species of another variety…bugs! Let’s just say I am no longer afraid of cockroaches or tiny insects! It was quite the comedy show for the kids when I entered my room one day to find three little cockroaches scampering along the floor! Luckily I didn’t scream…but after pointing them out to Dilany, we called for Dinia, who got out the spray (which apparently kills them in a few minutes).

As we were investigating my room for more, I stepped onto my bed to look behind the curtain…just then one flew past my head and landed on my leg! Not ever having seen one before I wasn’t entirely sure if they would bite me or worse…kill me…so I performed a nice little dance on my bed and screamed. It then flew off of me and landed on Dilany who imitated a similar dance! It was quite a scene…and also at around 9:00 p.m. so we woke up everyone else in the house! Once I found out that they actually wouldn’t bite OR kill me…and that they actually eat other insects…I began to settle down. It would be quite the story the next day as all the kids would laugh at me, but in the meantime, I asked Dilany if I could sleep with her shoe!

DSC02426Stunning views, massive volcanoes, orchids, animals, and yes…even the bugs, have become an integral part of my experience here in Costa Rica. Although different, it is important for me to learn to co-exist with nature, just as the Ticans have done for years. It is just another element of Pura Vida; and an exciting attempt to bridge the gap between nature and man.

With time, patience, and an open mind…I will continue on my quest to embrace this new and inviting country.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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