The place “where everyone is kind, generous and incredibly welcoming”

Pura Vida. I’ve never encountered a community of people where every single person I meet radiates the same positive energy in life. Where everyone is kind, generous and incredibly welcoming. And not only this, but everyone shares the same passion of protecting and honouring their country. A huge part of this has been integrating measures to tackle climate change for the past few years. I recently learned that Costa Rica is one of the most net carbon neutral countries in the world; and it was no surprise. The amount of dedication and hard work is a testament to how much they have achieved as a nation.

Coming to the end of my year abroad, I really wanted to venture out and find something challenging yet exciting. As a Spanish student, I was searching for an opportunity to use my language skills whilst also contributing in a productive way and here I came across Raleigh Costa Rica.
After spending a few days at Field Base in Turrialba, learning more about the projects we would be participating in and getting to know the other volunteers, we prepared ourselves for what was about to come. The project I’m a part of aims to protect, manage and conserve an incredibly important and historical site, Guayabo National Monument.

18 rucksacks, 100 packs of beans and one cracked egg later, we arrived at our spectacular new home for the next 19 days. We all came together to set up base, our own little castle surrounded by a moat, with palm leaves and exotic flowers for decoration. It was important to create our own little sanctuary, to get a good night’s sleep in before the hard work really began. Our voluntary work includes building a new concrete fence to protect the park from grass poachers. After our first day, everyone was so exhausted, we were all snoring by 7pm.

We’re working with the head ranger Sergio who some may say is hard to warm up to, has definitely picked his favourite; me. Whilst everyone was dragging their concrete posts, sweating under the blazing sun, Sergio personally drove my post directly to me: much to everyone’s disapproval. 

Special treatment aside, we all worked extremely hard to make some good progress and we’ve currently completed 51 posts out of 200. It’s safe to say that when we return back to base, we are ravenous with hunger. Now, seeing as we had left Field Base, we have to completely fend for ourselves and that means cooking our own food. Each day 2 lucky volunteers get the opportunity to cook lunch and dinner for all 18 of us. This may seem like an easy task, having a day off from the manual labour but after some approaching the task with over optimistic confidence, we’ve learned that not everyone has mastered the art of cooking rice.

After our long, exhausting days, we really like to make the most of our down time. Although with limited resources, this usually consists of endless rounds of card games, queuing to shower and a little singalong here and there. We never fail to find new ways to keep ourselves entertained.

It’s currently day 5 and we’re switching to a new task, creating sustainable trails across the park helping to minimise the damage to the wildlife. We’re all excited to be faced with a new challenge and hope to learn some new skills along the way. We love learning about Guayabo, which not only holds an incredible history but means so much to the park rangers and park archeologist, Tenorio.
Today marks my first week of being here in Costa Rica and the things I have already experienced are simply unmatched. Witnessing the sun set behind the mountains, connecting with so many amazing people from all over the world and now being a key part of the conservation of the National Park in Guayabo. I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.


Jasmine Basi

22F – Guayabo National Park, August 19, 2022

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