Costa Rica is an absolutely beautiful country. I feel privileged to have experienced it with ISV. Not only did I feel like I made a difference, but I also got to see and do things that I could not have managed on my own without the help of the organization.
There were several different volunteer projects, I was assigned to the Sea Turtle conservation project which was actually located in Panama (only a few kilometres south-east from the Costa Rican border). Our project which consisted of about 14 volunteers and a project leader was stationed in the San San Pond Sack wetlands on the Caribbean Coast. Our project had us participating in various activities throughout the day (we also had free time as well). Then at nighttime we would begin our beach patrols searching for nesting Leatherback sea turtles. The patrol groups consisted of about 3-4 volunteers and a patrol leader who would direct us. We would take data and measurements of the turtles, then collect the eggs and relocate them safely to our hatchery.
The locals living on the island were very friendly and always willing to teach us new things. The beach was gorgeous during the daytime (much of our free time was spent enjoying it). The food was also very good, I found myself looking forward to every meal I enjoyed it that much! The only challenges our group encountered was of course getting used to the high temperature and humidity and the bugs.
Due to the nature of the Sea Turtle project, we were not allowed to wear bug spray during our night patrols. Wearing long sleeves and protective clothing during night patrols is a MUST. Sand flies and mosquitoes were probably the two biggest annoyances about the project. Everything else just simply took some getting used to, but it never hurts to come prepared! When our departure came at the end of the first 2 weeks, everyone was very sad to leave the island. Even to this day I find myself missing it quite a bit!
The first 2 weeks are spent on the volunteer project, then if you opted for the 4-week package the real fun comes with the Costa Rica adventure tour! All of the different volunteer groups meet up at a central location in Costa Rica and spend the next 2 weeks touring around the country doing some really exciting stuff.
Our first activity was white water rafting on the Paracuare river, to a secluded jungle lodge owned by the organization. We then made a giant loop around the country, stopping at different locations for different activities. We also stayed in some very nice hotels and accommodations that were very comfortable and relaxing! The adventure tour as a whole was simply amazing and the first 2 weeks of volunteer work make you really feel like you earned it!
Everyone, from the project leaders to my fellow volunteers were all amazing. I made a lot of friends and we all simply had the time of our lives that we won't soon forget. We almost felt like a big family by the end of the trip, the goodbyes were very sad.
I simply can't suggest enough for everyone to go on a 1-month ISV volunteer trip. It will change your life and make you appreciate the world and each other so much more!