Meaw provided us with an informative tour of the house, while Fio took us out the next day to show us the town of San Ramon. The one hour tour was great and we all sat together in a local caf? for lunch.
The first Monday morning, Fio came bright and early to take us to our project site in Naranjo. She made sure we were comfortable with transportation to and from the orphanage and was well introduced to the head of the orphanage and Tias who cared for the children. The orphanage is located in the small town of Naranjo, which is very similar to San Ramon. It is about a thirty minute bus ride, which is thoroughly enjoyable due to the very beautiful view, leaving and entering San Ramon.
Volunteering at the orphanage has been very rewarding. Every day the children would greet us with warm hugs and smiles, anxiously waiting to begin the days’ activities. Some activities included coloring, painting, teaching English, and reading, creating beaded jewelry, and relaxing watching television. We chatted with them while they ate their lunches and we left shortly after. The Tias were always very helpful and welcoming as well. While there were many positive aspects to the project, there were also some setbacks. Walking from the bus station to and from the orphanage involved walking up and down steep hills, which was extremely tiresome. However, seeing the bright smiles on the children’s faces made it all worthwhile. Also, many children from the orphanage would after leave after about a week or two to go live with a family. While we were happy that they were reuniting with their loved ones, it was very difficult to say goodbye.
Life in Costa Rica is definitely different from the fast paced life of our New York City home. First off, most people in San Ramon travel via public transportation or on foot to get to their destinations.
This however, can be considered pleasant because of San Ramon’s small grid like town. Secondly, it is important to embrace to “Pura Vida” way of life, which includes relaxation and a lot of down time. Food is readily available wherever you go, and at very cheap prices. The town itself is very safe, even at night. However it is always a plus to walk with a buddy. Fruits and vegetables are fresh, cheap and plentiful in San Ramon, especially with the Farmer’s Market every weekend.
Since the volunteer week is from Monday to Thursday, weekends are available for travel around Costa Rica. There are cheap buses to almost any location or beach in this country. The first weekend here, we traveled to Monteverde and went zip lining and saw many exotic creatures while touring the rainforests. The next weekend we traveled three hours south to Quepos and Manuel Antonio beach, where we embraced the beauty of the pacific coast. The next weekend, we did a day trip to Volcano Poas, which is about a two and a half hour commute from San Ramon. This tourist location was beautiful as well as educational. Other weekends, we did day trips to Las Musas, the local water park and Puntarenas, the local beach. We also relaxed around San Ramon by going shopping and lounging by the public pool.
While in San Ramon, on Fridays and Saturdays, we would go to the Farmer’s Market and enjoy the fresh produce. There is also an array of bars and discos, which make the nightlife, come alive.
While the Farmer’s Market gave us a good feel for Costa Rican food, our cook and “mother,” Xenia, really helped us embrace the culture. She cooked us delicious breakfasts that kept us full until her tasty dinners. If hunger did strike us midday, the wonderful smelling cafes and panaderias were only a few steps away. Her menu was never the same and she was always willing to teach us and get us involved in the cooking. We were so thankful for Xenia that we prepared a 3 course meal for her and her whole family one Saturday night. On the menu were the traditional platanos and ensalada, Indian style rice and curry chicken, and finally a brownie cake with vanilla frosting made from scratch.
Our time here has been well spent and truly unforgettable. Living with other volunteers has also been a great part of our experience.
We have met people from all over the world and even learned a great deal about their lifestyles. We would like to thank the uVolunteer staff for making such a rewarding experience possible. The entire trip went smoothly and if ever there was anything wrong, it was brought to the attention of the staff members, and quickly fixed. We always felt at home and wouldn’t trade our time in Costa Rica for anything.