No amount of photos can prepare you for the beauty of Costa Rica as you step off the plane. From miles of palm trees, to the cloud forests of the mountains, there is nature to be appreciated in every glance. Preparing for my adventure, I was ready to observe turtles and be a bystander for data collection. Imagine my surprise when on the first day I was combing the forest for species, and identifying anoles, and spider monkeys.
Finding GVI was one of the best things I could have done, stumbling over the site while searching for Eco volunteering I read the description and fell in love. My whole life I have been drawn to the outdoors, and my passion to protect the biodiversity that is ever changing drives me to do my part. From day one the GVI staff were there to answer every one of my million questions as I got ready to spend a month in the jungles of Costa Rica.
Arriving in Tortuguero National Park I had to keep my jaw closed as we flew through the canals and waterways of the park, awestruck by the beauty around me. Arriving at the Estuary with my roller bag and backpack in hand I laughed at my over packing skills. After walking through the coastal forest opening up to the coconut plantation, I saw my home for the next month and couldn’t have been happier.
From the first second I arrived on base I felt like I was a part of a family, through every test and trek the staff and volunteers were there for a lending hand or a good time. From “Jungle Raves” to partners games there was never a shortage of fun to be had.
Although it may not have been smooth sailing always as it is hard work, the benefits of knowing you are making an impact on the sustainability of the forest is best reward possible. Every day was a new thing to be learned; from identifying new birds species that you would have never known before, to understanding the stages of turtle nesting. I learned so much, as well as developing invaluable team working skills.
Each day I woke up ready to see what nature had in store for me. I will never forget the accomplishment of being able to spot and identify birds in the canals, or the sheer magnitude of laying on the beach hand under a turtle counting eggs and knowing you impacted the research of those turtles.
On base I learned how to cook in an ecologically conscious way, seeing base gardens flourish, and being a part of a low impact base in terms of environmental footprint. My advice to anyone who is considering this project is to trust your abilities and go for it. Before coming here I never would have believed I could walk 8 miles on the beach counting turtle tracks and nests, or walking though the forests spotting and identifying species. For me the environment is our most precious resource and if people never get to experience the true power nature exhibits we can never truly understand how important it is to protect nature.
Leaving Costa Rica I am bringing with me a new understanding of biodiversity, and a newfound passion to protect and make a change in the way we approach, and use our resources. As well as helping others to understand the impact we have on the planet. It has helped me to reinforce the fire I have inside me to inform, and influence a positive change. I cannot thank GVI enough for giving me this experience, I will never forget my temporary home in the jungle and it will live in my heart forever.