1. Go local!
Working in Mastatal we have learned that it is incredibly important to support local businesses and to keep money within a community. At the ranch in Mastatal, where we lived completely sustainably, the apprentices and folks who work here only buy produce from local businesses and shops. This helps those small businesses and also helps those at the ranch by having a healthy and eco-friendly diet.
2.It doesn’t matter if you speak English or Spanish but here we speak water. While in Jaco we were embraced by an amazing surfing community at Tortuga Surf Camp. Every morning, at 5 AM, we would crawl out of bed and walk or skateboard a few blocks to the beach to get in the water. It didn’t matter where we came from or what level of surfing we were at, all of the instructors took us in like family. Throughout our session in the water all of our problems were left on the shore and we were consumed by the waves.
3. Beans and rice can be breakfast foods! Just about every breakfast we have had has consisted of rice, beans and eggs. Coming here, we expected pancakes but we have been presently surprised by the amount of rice and beans at the breakfast table.
4. Plantains and bananas are not the same!
These similar looking fruits can be eaten in a million different ways and both taste amazing with anything! Whether they’re fried in lard, eaten plain, or in chip form these versatile fruits have been a staple of our diets here in Costa Rica.
5. Building a house takes more than one person.
At the ranch we learned the importance of manpower and teamwork by mixing clay to make Adobe bricks and Waddle and Dob wall systems to eventually create an earthen home. Using teamwork and feeding off of each others energy, we were able to laugh and create mosh pits while stomping clay.
6. If you stay ready you never have to be ready!
While at Epic Adventure we were taught the importance of wilderness rescue techniques. To start, all of the girls carried the boys, one by one, up a massive hill to try and find efficient ways to rescue someone who could be injured. Hopefully we will never need these skills but if we do, we will be prepared!
7. Test the water.
During orientation we had a long chat about risk management and to quite literally testing the water before doing anything. In addition to the think before you jump mentality, we also have filter water bottles (which we misplace all the time!). Our water bottles are our best friends.
8. After a hard day of work a dance party is the best way to wind down.
We had a birthday while at the animal rescue center and after a long day of work and celebration someone started playing music. Almost instantly everyone stood up and started dancing and singing. It was one of the first moments when we all completely bonded and forgot that we had only known each other for about a week.
9. Boys take longer than girls to get ready
... I know, it’s shocking. Almost every single day (I mean, every day) the girls are at breakfast first. There’s always that assumption that girls take longer than boys to get ready but not Costa Rica 2021! #challanginggenderstereotypes
10. Say grace.
Before every meal we close our eyes and bow our heads and say grace. Literally, we say the word grace. It’s become a hysterical pre meal ritual that precedes every breakfast lunch and dinner at any given location.
11. After two weeks, 16 people can become a family.
We all know almost everything about each other. I mean, we have lived on top of each other so it’s hard not to bond so quickly. Coming on this trip people talked about how worried they were about the other people on the trip and whether or not those bonds would form. But, after almost three weeks, we have meshed amazingly and everyone treats each other like family. No matter what, we are always looking out for each other.
Hello! My name is Taylor Couto, I’m 20 years old and I’m from Bristol, Rhode Island. I am currently a sophomore at Wheaton College and I never, in a million years, thought I would take a semester off from school to come to Costa Rica with 13 other random people. I have been blessed to have met the most amazing people on this trip and will cherish this time and their friendships forever. From white water rafting to chopping bamboo, all of my travel mates never cease to make me smile and laugh. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in my life! From the stories told late at night to Pictionary games in the classroom at Mastatal, I have loved every second with this amazing group.