Overall Rating:/ 10Our family of 5 arrived on Saturday night, were picked up and taken to our host family, and settled in. That was all fine. We did not receive the orientation as expected and it would have been really helpful. In addition, we were suddenly finding out that our first day in a new country was unexpectedly going to be a free day. We are adults, so we figured things out, thanks to guide books we had purchased, helpful passersby, etc. But it would have been so much better with the orientation we were expecting. On Monday one of the local liaisons came to our host family's home to walk us to our workplace. Along the noisy route, she told me (mostly in Spanish) that we would not be doing renovations to a community center as we had been told. Instead, we were going to be working at a day care center! That is a project we had purposely not requested because our family's skills lie in other areas. After arriving and awkwardly trying to translate all of this, the daycare head asked us to make a garden in the yard. That we could do! My husband and oldest son also volunteered to build a compost container. Some of us spent time with the kids, helped to organize the classrooms and storage, and created a welcoming "bulletin board" for the center. The people we worked with and the kids were so friendly and fun! So, we figured things out, but there were a LOT of surprises along the way. Most importantly, we feel that we left behind something permanent that would be helpful for many years to come.
We really enjoyed Costa Rica! We loved the panaderias everywhere and the food in general. My favorite part was how so many people of all ages spent time in the many local parks each day. We usually ate our lunches at a park and enjoyed watching people and being outside. We found people to be friendly, helpful, and very patient. The driving and roads were a little frightening, though! And the only bus we ever figured out how to take was the one that drove us to Manuel Antonio and back. We didn't experience any sort of crime or rudeness or road rage. It was quite pleasant.
Project & Staff
We loved the people we worked with and the daycare center they run. They are genuinely very good people. Our host family was nice as well. We wondered about some things that happened with them, but weren't able to compare to other host families and didn't know enough about the culture to know if we could question anything or if that would be offensive. We didn't have any contact with the local liaisons besides one email, one text exchange and one 30-minute walk with someone from the office.
Download Google Translate if you are not fluent in Spanish. If you plan to go anyplace, find someone who can explain the bus system. We wore shorts because we were hot, but we noticed that the locals usually wore long jeans/pants. Also, enjoy the food, spend time in other parts of the country, and use Ubers where you can!