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Reisverslag Volunteering at Barva volcano
10 november 2016
Volunteering at Barva volcano
This were probably the most weird and awkward 1.5 week from my entire trip. On Saturday I went to San Jose (but of course not without missing my buss) and on Sunday I continued by buss-buss-jeep to the national park Braulio Carillo. Arriving there, everything was way different then expected. In all facets. So different that I decided to quit early (after 9 instead of 15 days) and that's why I'm now sitting in la Fortuna with an ice coffee in my hand and my feet in a pool. It took me a while to discover quitting work is not about weakness or missing perseverance. It's about making the travel MY travel, how to make it as perfect as possible for me, not about proving myself. Now you guys are probably eager to know what I experienced there. There we go:
The people. The park rangers were old, Costa Rican guys. The other volunteers were young, Costa Rican high school students. In general this meant there was no company of my age, and no English speakers at all. Of course this was absolutely awesome for my Spanish -I practiced a lot- but it also meant I had nobody to really talk to. It made me feel lonely, missing all the information about the work, but more important, the jokes and good conversations. About the Spanish I learned there, especially for Elke, the vocabulary of the Costa Rican youth: que barbara, muchacha, en serio, mae, listo, lindo, rico, pocito, pura vida and many palabras mallas). The mentality of the Costa Ricans men is what they call: machismo. Carrying bags, whistling when you pass by, park rangers (of 2 times my age) hitting on me. Even in such non-touristic areas. It didn't help with feeling home.
- The work. The work I had to do was really good. Like expected. Digging canals to drain the paths. Filling holes in the main road. Checking road signs and meanwhile having an amazing hike. Cleaning the barn. Some people described it as prisoners work, but I liked putting my mind off and just doing. So far the positive work stories. The work was only in the morning, since it started to rain around 12 o'clock. This meant a long, boring afternoon, with not much opportunities for activities. The Costa Rican work mentality is also really different than our European mind set. Relaxed. Doing nothing is totally fine, also for a couple of hours. Everything can be done "mañana". If they tell you the work starts at 8a.m., you can easily wake up at that time, and still be too early at location. Once there, everything goes with baby steps. Tasks aren't split and multitasking doesn't exist. Summarised: a lot of useless (restless, because I had no idea what was going on or what was normal) waiting. And still they are the richest country of Latin America...
- The nature. Costa Rica is known for its environmental awareness, and adequately promoting this via the well known mantra "pura vida". In real life I'm not so sure about this awareness. Sure, they are separating waste and putting all the lights off. But on the other hand they easily let the car motor run for 10min, and wash everything with chlorine which is so concentrated it isn't even available in the Netherlands).
The weather at Barva was super cold -for Costa Rican concepts-. In the morning with some sunshine it was awesome, but around 4p.m. it's time for 4 layers of sweaters. Which I continued wearing in my sleeping bag at night. Time for a positive nature note. The nature of the cloud forest is amazing. No tourists. Dripping trees. Mos everywhere. Birds. Footprints of tapirs and pumas and jaguars. A beautiful lake in the crater of volcano Barva. And early in the morning, when the weather was clear, you could see Poas volcano, Irazu volcano and even Turialba volcano, which is super active the last months and which is smoking the whole day. Speaking about volcanoes... I just hiked one today.
As you can read, this days here gave me some really cool insights in the Costa Rican culture. But loneliness and boredom drove me away. And trust me, the amazing environment of la Fortuna is totally worth it. But for that, you need to control your curiosity and wait for my next blog.
Foto's bij verslag (7)
10 november 2016 09:51 | Door: Ger van den Berg
Mooi verhaal, Sjouk. Het valt misschien wel eens wat tegen maar je doet er toch maar veel ervaringen op en dat maakt je kijk op de wereld veel rijker dan van mensen die alleen maar thuis zitten (zoals wij). Maar gelukkig kunnen we van jouw ervaringen leren. Grappig die ouwe lullen in dat park en die alleen maar Spaans kunnen praten. Goed om dat vrijwilligerswerk toch serieus te doen en niet zo labswanzerig als ze daar gewend zijn en dan is het nog wel het rijkste land van Zuid Amerika. Toen wij op vakantie In Egypte waren viel het ons ook op dat daar niemand wat doet en iedereen maar rotzooi op straat gooide en niemand iets opruimt. Gelukkig ging die rokende krater niet spuiten en gelukkig waren die poema's en jaguars schuw of wist je wellicht hoe je ze moest ontwijken? Sfeertje hè met die waterig nevelende bossen. Je lichaam wordt wel sterk door gewenning aan die vele temperatuurverschillen. Je hebt daar zeker niets gehoord over de verkiezingsstrijd in Noord-Amerika. Wij likken onze wonden nog van de overwinning van Trump.
Groetjes en blijf alert want je moet heelhuids terugkomen
11 november 2016 02:10 | Door: Sjoukje de Lange
Hartstikke lief Ger! Dat gaat goedkomen, wees gerust :)