This program seemed to fulfill my desire to learn about Costa Rica from a more "insider" view and it also satisfied my need to be an active rather than a passive traveler. The "small group" format was also appealing. CR has been at the top of my travel "bucket list" for a long time. It was also my first journey as a solo traveler and I liked how it sounded like I would get a very personal experience as part of a small group.
She is a 69-year-old retiree (mostly) and also a widow these past 4 years. Elaine loves new adventures and getting more than a surface look at a country or community.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
I was easy to just embrace the design of the program as organized by Discover Corps. All the pieces were in place and it was a pleasure to put myself in their capable and helpful hands. From the first time I inquired about the trip to the fabulous attention paid to my needs during the trip to the final drop off at the airport to return home, I was so grateful that ALL aspects of our travel were handled so professionally and effectively. It was a pleasure.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Take work gloves. The volunteerism segments involved some "get down and a little dirty" activities. We spent two days with hands-on involvement with re-forestation (planted some trees with the help of townspeople) and wildlife preservation at Kids Saving the Rain Forest compound side-by-side with other volunteers from all over the globe. What a treat to become a part of the solution, even for a short time.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
We were on the go all week, but the schedule was not a whirlwind tour. Each day we had a clear objective that included learning, seeing, great food and just enough down time so we could catch our breath. Our guide, a very well informed and proud Costa Rican, gave us a wonderful introduction and immersion in Costa Rican history, culture, politics, ecology, and wild life. And we had laughs along the way too. We also enjoyed witnessing his excellent network of friends and colleagues as he greeted so many along the way.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
We were a very small group (only three travelers) and I worried that with only two other people to interact with I would not find kindred spirits. I needn't have worried. This trip attracts people who want to learn, who appreciate other cultures, and who are not expecting luxurious arrangements (although our last three days at the beautiful resort were delightful). We were all of a mind and I enjoyed their company.
What is life like in Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a beautiful and unique country that is focused on a healthy environment and an engaged citizenry. The burgeoning tourist industry is embraced by everyone in every region and city. They are welcoming and lovely. Do some reading about the country's history and governing policies, as well as their approach to environmental activism. It's a work in progress, but they are certainly a model we can all admire.
Also, sharpen up your animal and bird spotting skills. Our guide could spot a sloth a mile away. I tried to get better at it with him as an inspiration.