I should mention - I was fortunate enough to volunteer both in El Progresso and Rio Oro, in August. Both were different entirely but equally wonderful. In Rio Oro, we were privileged enough to grow really close as a team and see and work with many turtles, whereas in El Progresso, we were able to help with more general work and meet even more people. Anyways, what to expect...
1. Cold showers.
Youre in rural Costa Rica! Embrace the river swims, and the rain storms that cool the air, and the cold showers. The showers were actually very appreciated - they cool you down when you feel permanently clammy. There was nothing better than hopping in the cool, open air shower at the camp in Rio Oro after a busy, hot, summer night on the beach.
2. A permanent state of happy sleep deprivation.
Everyone might say you rest all day, but thats not necessarily true. There is a lot of down time, sure- but there are so many fantastic people to spend your time with and fantastic things to do, you will likely find yourself happily sleep deprived for most of your stay. Waking up earlier one day than you went to sleep two nights ago is one of the unique experiences of volunteering in turtle conservation. Even with that, every day, a new opportunity to see something new or help with something different or do something new came up. Besides that, especially in Rio Oro, the happiness of working with turtles and of the experience in itself outweighed the lack of sleep.
That being said, the people here are not slave drivers, if you need rest you will get rest!
3. Being "one" with nature.
Insects to mammals, everywhere I have stayed here has been pretty open-air concept. Even when you are not intentionally looking for wildlife (hiking in Rio Oro, we saw poisonous tree frogs, monkeys, toucans... the list goes on), the wildlife is all around. Macaws at the beach, spiders the size of a playing card in your room, you get the drift. There are turtles, too - obviously. Think of how incredible it is to be surrounded by nature literally right outside of your door, and be prepared for the mosquitoes and host of other insects so you can enjoy the rest.
4. Doing things you arent remotely used to (and might not be entirely comfortable with, but will love all the same).
On my list? Relocating turtle nests, walking on the beach with beautiful tropical thunderstorms on the horizon, crossing knee deep bodies of murky water in the dark - at home, you might be able to say "Hey, at least there are no crocodiles!", but that isnt necessarily the case here -, riding in the back of pickup trucks, being trusted with power tools youve never used... just to name a few. Be prepared for the cliche of "stepping out of your comfort zone"!
5. Falling in love with the people, the country, and the lifestyle.
Everyone I have met here is someone I have learned something from. Every experience was something I grew from. The food is great, the people are generous and kind and welcoming, and the pace of life is very easy going, very "pura vida". Every day I have been here, I have grown to love it more.
So many things have happened here, I couldnt choose any specific event to write about- but I can say that for all the challenges, this trip was the best trip I hadnt expected to go on.