My arrival here was not the smoothest. My friend from the US that accompanied me missed her connecting flight in Miami, and I was confused about where to meet the project coordinator, but when we finally all converged, everything ran according to plan. We were escorted from the San Jose airport to our home stay in San Ramon, where we were introduced to our family. We were also given a very helpful orientation tour the following morning.
My friend and I worked in an hogarcito in Palmares as well as taught an English class for adults in the evenings.
Although we adored the children, hogarcito staff, and English students, we were sometimes at a loss for exactly how to be useful. The hogarcito is run so efficiently by the Tias that we worried about stepping on toes for the first several weeks. The English class had been put on hold after other volunteers departed, and it was difficult for the first couple of weeks to maintain attendance and structure. However, uVolunteer is very consistent when it comes to listening to volunteer complaints or worries, and many of my concerns have already been addressed. Overall, I am very satisfied with both projects.
I would also strongly recommend a home stay. It has been a great way to practice Spanish, learn about culture, and sample Costa Rican good on a daily basis.
I have really felt like a part of a family here, something I’m not sure would be possible in the volunteer dorms. I’ve also been provided with a steady stream of fresh Costa Rican cafe that I’ve turned into something of a caffeine addict.