On August 12th, exactly a year ago I took an adventure for 6 months. I can’t quite believe that it all was actually able to happen and that I was able to do that. It was during the pandemic and I remember taking so many different tests. I remember the agonising wait that I had to go through a few days before flying knowing full well that if that test came back positive it would change the entire trajectory of the trip. I had booked all of my flights to the various places I needed to go to from the moment I flew back to British soil. I also couldn’t afford to have a delay or even one day out of what I had planned! I also hadn’t planned to quarantine in Costa Rica…
The US required me to quarantine in another country that wasn’t the UK. I remember it being a choice between Costa Rica and Slovenia. I jumped at the chance to go to Costa Rica. I had friends helping me make plans and had reached out to people at church to see if there was anyone I could stay with. Thankfully my friend Jess from church who was overseeing our mission projects connected me with Nadia who ran a ministry with her husband in Costa Rica at the time. She had also been speaking with a local educational programme called Educacion Plus.
A few takeaways from Costa Rica living:
Rice + beans are life
They eat a lot of beans and rice something that I’m totally ok and on board with! Rice has always been a staple of mine and beans have always come in the form of being baked and in a tin. So to have it in a new way was refreshing.
This is a typical greeting, normally met with a fist bump and acts as a greeting perhaps between friends.
Taking the bus is the easiest mode of transport to get the hang of.
Buses are the most common way to get around. When you take a bus, move past the two vertical bars as quick as you can because they charge. Just pull the cord when you want to get off. I would recommend going around with a local who will know the stops, this was always my downfall. If you’re travelling alone, please be super careful and mindful of your belongings, I was warned by a lot of people that lived locally that it isn’t always the safest.
Have grace for yourself when learning the language
It’s ok not to know the language in its entirety – just try! I used the translator app – it was amazing! I met very few people that actually spoke English so everywhere I went, I attempted to speak it. I remember making a mistake with someone I was talking to, they let me know how to phrase it. I was so embarrassed and my first thought was to not try again. But he reassured me that it was ok to make a mistake when learning a new language – it means you’re trying and that’s all they can really expect from you.
They love to protect their wildlife.
I visited Rescate Zoo and it was beautiful to find out that they took their wildlife in, nursed them to health and then gave them freedom. I learnt that Costa Rica really love to take care of their wildlife and locals assured me that that is the general gist of Costa Rica as a whole.
They love celebrating!
When I volunteered on the Media and Hospitality Team at YWAM San Jose, I went during Costa Rica’s Independence Day. We painted a faroles which is a lantern normally taking the form of a house with the Costa Rican flag colours. There was such a big sense of community, I absolutely loved every moment of celebrating their Independence Day.
Their food is so good…
The first two weeks I spent in Costa Rica I stayed with a beautiful lady that cooked the most stunning breakfast and dinner for me. There was fresh coffee in the morning too, cafe con leche. I absolutely adore everything that they have there. Galla Pinto, Sopa Negra, Casado (an amazing dish). If you ever visit, do try their main dishes!
The people are absolutely beautiful!
Community is super important. I loved meeting everyone over there, they were warm-hearted, kind and generous. I met so many beautiful souls when I went to Costa Rica and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Teacher’s are definitely needed over there. While I was volunteering with an organisation they were doing amazing things for the children in poorer areas where access to education is limited. It was eye-opening for me having gone through to the other side of receiving a Master’s degree and finding that some of these children have a two-day school week because teachers are in short supply and funding isn’t there.
While I was there volunteering at YWAM San Jose our water was out for a full week. It was eye-opening knowing how much we actually depended on it but also you really appreciated it when the community came together and even allowed you to use their showers if you needed to. Not only that but overall in my mind, not being able to get water, wondering if you can even go to the loo and have it flush or using wipes to shower with. The transition from helping education programmes in the poorest most dangerous parts of Costa Rica and then being able to fly on a plane to another country and experience wealth within the wealthiness of Beverley Hills or drink wine in a vineyard with my best friends, that was the hardest of all. To even think who am I that I even get to experience something like that? I sit here so grateful and aware to even be able to access the technology to write this blog.
Travelling during the pandemic was insane. Exciting, but insane. You walk around with so many “what if’s” and unknowns and for me, I just had to keep trusting in the Lord and that He had a plan. He kept teaching me about divine interruptions and how to relinquish control in my life and let Him take that wheel. For He knows far more than I ever would and I needed to be ok with that. Otherwise, I spiral and I dwell on what I envisioned for it to look like all while forgetting that I actually surrendered it all to Him. To surrender means to “stop fighting and admit defeat.” In the natural world, it can normally be viewed negatively. You’d want to be on the winning side but when it comes to Jesus, He’s all about flipping the script. I love that about Him. For us, when we come to a place of surrender we’re allowing the God of the universe to take control. His intentions towards us are always pure, He is someone that fights for us and who has the bigger picture in mind. Find joy in the reroutes of life. You’ll find yourself going to places you never thought that you would enjoy and learn lessons you never thought you’d learn in spaces you never thought you’d be in.