Volunteering with GVI has really changed my life. It was the best experience I’ve ever had, and in the short time I was there, I learnt so much. I decided to go to Costa Rica as I study Geography and am hugely interesting in conservation and wildlife. Being immersed in an isolated location in the jungle with new people, doing incredible work for important research, really appealed to me!
I grew up and spent most of my life in the Middle East so I never miss out on the opportunity to travel.
Arriving in San Jose by myself after a long trip from Ireland was a little bit nerve wracking but I met by such happy, friendly GVI staffs that I felt instantly at ease. The other volunteers and interns I met as we travelled to base were so interesting and I knew we’d all be great friends.
The trip to base was so memorable. Going through the cloud forest was amazing and I spent the entire journey looking out the window in awe. The chicken bus was also enjoyable, despite standing up in the crowded aisle, sweating in the heat completed squashed should have been a nightmare but I loved experiencing something new and looking out the window at the banana plantations, stopping every few metres at a banana crossing!
I loved living on base. It was amazing to get away from the real world, spent hours talking to such inspiring people every day and working with incredible wildlife I thought I’d only ever see on National Geographic. I woke up before the sun rose every day and loved listening to the birds and wildlife wake up. I’d be one of the last to go to bed at night, making sure I didn’t waste a minute to soak up the whole experience.
My favourite part of the trip was working with the turtles. They are such beautiful creatures and being so close to them was amazing. My favourite moment was the first time I did a night walk and got to count the turtle’s eggs. The rest of the team were along the beach marking the nest so I was alone with the turtle in the complete dark and it was pouring rain. I was covered in sand and mosquitos and sand flies were biting my entire back but I’ll never forget how great that moment was!
I also loved doing jag walks, where we would walk to the local town in Torteguero, 15 miles away, following jag tracks and working on predated turtles. The little town itself was beautiful and I loved talking to the local shop keepers and walking the streets before enjoying a big burger and some Internet!
Probably the least enjoyable part of the trip was the huge amount of mosquito bites I received. However, after a few days I got used to them and didn’t let them ruin my trip!
I also completed the Leadership Programme whilst in Costa Rica and thoroughly enjoyed this. I learnt a lot about presenting and being a leader. For my project I organised a treasure hunt around base, and everyone had so much fun doing it one afternoon, which was really rewarding.
Although the work itself was so fulfilling, I was surprised at how inspiring the other volunteers, interns and staff were. Everyone was from a difference place and I loved hearing their advice and experiences about the field I hope to venture into after college. The staffs were so helpful and so passionate about the world they do, a huge asset to GVI! I loved the training week and each staff member was so enthusiastic about the work and helped us learn in an enjoyable way.
The trip went much too quickly, but I did my best to make the most of each day, signing up for everything and doing as much as I could!
My camera broke half way through the trip, which I was devastated about, but after a while I much preferred watching the beautiful toucans fly across the sky and keeping the image as a memory whilst everyone else was messing around with their cameras and missing the moment.
I could talk about the trip forever but in a nutshell, the things I saw, the people I met and the work I did, as well as the beautiful country of Costa Rica itself, have been the best experiences of my life and I am so glad I chose GVI. I hope to go on another GVI programme in the future, as I believe the work they do and the people involved are one of a kind!