Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Rustic Pathways in Costa Rica?
Kylie: I decided to volunteer in Costa Rica because I thought it was a good place to start volunteering abroad. Costa Rica isn't too far from the U.S. and it was said to be an extremely friendly and cultured country. Rustic Pathways had a huge number of programs in Costa Rica as well, ranging from camp-outs in the jungle to service and surf on the beach. I chose to do the Turtle Conservation Project because its was a shorter project that would help me get used to service out of the U.S. It also allowed us not only to connect with the local people and culture, but also to connect with and support the local wildlife.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Kylie: My trip was a 10 days long project including travel. On our first day we flew from the US (or other country) to Costa Rica. We spent the night in a hotel and in the morning gathered to meet the people who would be on our trip with us. Then we took a bus to the Punta Judas Reserve. There we stayed in a rustic wooden house, which looked somewhat like a tree house on the ground. After we chose our rooms we gathered in the kitchen to discus what we would be doing for the turtle reserve while we were there.
Each morning we would get up and eat breakfast, and change into our work cloths. Then we would walk a mile or so down the beach to the hatchery, which was basically a small field of sand with a lot of weeds on one side. For 2 or 3 hours we would dig up the sand to aerate it, or we would pull weeds, with splash breaks in the ocean every 20 minuets or so. Then we would rest or shower during the hot part of the day. After lunch we would go back and work for a couple more hours before dinner. Then in the middle of the night or early morning we would go on "turtle walks" where we would walk along the beach and look for turtles or eggs to dig up and bring back to the hatchery.
What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?
Kylie: I found this experience to be very unique because not only did I get to meet people from all over the U.S. and from Costa Rica but we also had three kids from Spain. It was amazing to be able to meet people who share common interests with you from all over the world. Even though we had never met before by the end of the week we had all gone through one huge digging, turtle egg rescuing adventure. Although it is likely I will never see any of the friends I made on the trip again, I will always remember the memories we made and the turtles we saved.
If you could go back and do something different, what would it be?
Kylie: I think the only things I would change If I could go back would probably to pack a little bit better and bring more of the items I need for the trip. I also would have liked to get closer with some of the people on our trip that I never had a chance to really get to know.
Ten years from now, what’s the one thing you think you’ll remember from the trip?
Kylie : I think what I will really remember was the night of the huge rain and lightning storm where we saw our first turtle and brought back over a hundred eggs. Even though the rain was literally pouring we still dug up all the eggs and we made a sling our of our jackets to carry them back and bury them in the hatchery to keep them safe. It was both an amazing experience to help the eggs, but to also test the limits of what we could do while still having fun. We also got to experience a tropical storm which was, hopefully, a once and a life time experience.