Overall Rating:/ 10Dear future volunteer,
My 3 weeks in Costa Rica were extraordinary, an experience that will always stay in my heart. This was the first time I travelled on my own, especially so far away. Right before landing, I was getting a bit nervous, but at the airport, two members of the Love Volunteers local team were waiting for me with two other volunteers that had just arrived. They drove us directly to the Animal Rescue Centre.
During every morning on the following days, we had a meeting to assign different activities to volunteers. These activities consisted in maintaining the centre (cleaning the enclosures, preparing the food, feeding the animals, rehabilitating some animals) and in working on the new centre in another location close by, where they would move a few weeks later. Some of the activities were not related to the animals, like helping to cook for the volunteers, cleaning the pool, collecting branches, and maintaining infrastructure. Animals in that centre included sloths, capuchin monkeys, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, dogs, a pet goat, a baby porcupine, small parrots, scarlet macaws, marmosets, one olingo, two kinkajous, owls, and peacocks. I learned a lot about them, some evenings we even had lectures on a specific animal.
In our free time we read, swam in the swimming pool, played cards, called our families and friends (there was wifi there). This is one of the things that bothered me at first, that many volunteers were on their phones during free time, instead of socializing. Sometimes I wished there wasn't wifi right on the centre. But after some days had passed, I also spent some time on my phone because I realized that it's very nice to keep in touch with your loved ones. Concerning free days, we took one or two days off per week. Me and other volunteers went to Montezuma, Manuel Antonio, Land of the Strays, and Los Chorros waterfall. On my birthday evening, we all went to a bar close-by to celebrate. What was even more amazing is that before going to the bar, after dinner, the manager and the coordinator brought by surprise two cakes to me and to another birthday girl, and we had 40 people singing happy birthday to us, which felt incredible.
Regarding accommodation, it was alright, but basic and showers had only cold water. However, I realized that one gets used to anything. Once you return home, you really appreciate and are grateful for the usual level of comfort we have in developed countries. Note to future volunteers: the new centre has better facilities and the rooms are way nicer :)
Now, about food, we had food three times a day. In the morning it was either rice and beans with eggs, or pancakes with syrup and fruits. The other meals were Costa Rican dishes. Some facts I realized about Costa Rica, especially in the rain season is that everything is humid (things don't completely dry, like hair and clothes); your skin is always hydrated without the need of creams;; there are no big brands in shops (i haven't been in big cities though), for instance one shop was called “clothes for babies”, instead of Mango or Zara; there are not many highways, but for this reason, buses go through very beautiful roads around nature; there are no traditional addresses, yet somehow the postal system still works fine!.
Overall, I'd recommend this program to whoever likes working with animals and helping them. In the meantime, you'll meet some amazing people from around the world, you'll get to know a bit of
Costa Rican culture and see a bit of this beautiful country. One tip: you could reserve a week or two to travel after staying at the centre!