Spanish Phrases to Know, a Packing List, and other Tips for Volunteering in Costa Rica
A few tips I have for future travelers volunteering in Costa Rica would be to keep an open mind and to try new things. When working at the project, you will have different jobs every day. This could mean you will have to do something you might not want to do.
In my case it was building new cages for the animals. I didn’t know if I was doing it right, or if I was going too slow. Never did I imagine that trying to build cages for the first time would be such a hard task, but it became almost impossible to do because I didn’t keep an open mind to try new things.
Along with having an open mind while volunteering abroad, here are a few other helpful pieces of advice to prepare you for your volunteer program in Costa Rica.
Packing for Your Volunteer Project
- Something you should definitely pack for your time as a volunteer are pants you are willing to get dirty, because you will get paint on them, mud on them and you definitely don’t want mosquito bites to cover your legs.
- You should bring a good amount of t-shirts, it all depends on the duration in Costa Rica.
- Depending on what you want to do during the weekend try to bring some of your nicer clothing. Your host family might want to take you to a party or you might want to have dinner with your friend in La Fortuna. For example my host family invited me to a baby shower, where I wore my nicer clothes and not pants that smelled like Perla.
- Proyecto Asis has boots for volunteers to wear when you clean cages or just to use since it’s raining season right now. But regardless bring closed shoes to get dirty and have a pair of open-toe shoes to wear while in your house.
- For sleepwear I would bring something super light since it can get pretty humid and hot in your bedroom.
- Try to pack a garbage bag as well so you can put your dirty shoes and clothes in it when you pack to come back, just to make it easier for your mom.
Spanish Phrases to Know Before You Go
A few phrases you should know while working at the volunteer project are:
“Que hare el dia de hoy?” What will I be doing today?
Knowing this phrase will help you make sure you know what you will be doing for that day so you don’t get confused, plus you get to interact with the workers.
“Suena delicioso!” That sounds delicious!
Your host mom will cook your lunch every day and they will most likely tell you what they made for you before you put it in your bag. Saying things like “Suena delicioso” (That sound delicious), or “No puedo esperar hasta provarlo” (I can’t wait to taste it), let’s them know you appreciate their effort and hard work.
“Puedo ver la tele con ustedes?” Can I watch TV with you guys?
To really involve yourself with your host family, if you see them watching TV just ask “Puedo ver la tele con ustedes?” Can I watch the TV with you guys?
Mentally Prepare for Helping Sick Animals
Something you need to prepare for when working in Proyecto Asis is coping with the fact that you will see sick animals. Really prepare yourself mentally. During my two weeks there we got two baby monkeys and a really sick parrot.
My favorite experience while volunteering in Costa Rica was when I was able to feed the parrot, but it was very heartbreaking too. It was being fed human food which messed up the parrots ability to eat regularly. It was a chance for me to work really closely with the animals as well as a teaching moment.
These are just a few tips to help you have a life-changing and successful volunteer program in Costa Rica. If you have any additional pieces of advice, share them in the comments below!
About the Author:
Citlalli Gonzalez, is 16-years old and our 2017 Greenheart Travel Global Explorer scholarship winner from Chicago, Illinois. Citlalli is traveling abroad as a volunteer in Costa Rica and is most excited about being able to stand in one of the greenest place on earth, being able to get out of her comfort zone, and experience a new culture. Follow her adventures here!