Written by Alex Saunders – Quepos Community Project Volunteer
Ten days in Quepos and I feel like I’ve been here much longer as time has flown by and I’ve seen and done so much already. My first meeting with GVI staff in Gaudys in San Jose and the bus journey to Manuel Antonio, with the temperature gauge slowly rising to a sticky 37ºC, seems a long while ago. My first impressions were of genuinely friendly fellow volunteers and amazement at the beauty of the region, impressions that haven’t changed as I’ve got to know people more and ventured further afield.
The Spanish lessons I’ve taken have been really useful with two excellent teachers who have helped me remember so much of the spanish I learnt many years ago as well as helping with specific grammar and vocabulary that’s really useful in the small school in El Cocal and the Casa de Sol, our small community center.
Every day in the Casa and at the school has been different. I’ve seen how an open mind, flexibility, a sense of fun plus patience and empathy go a long way in helping the local children. Most of the things I’ve done so far have been quite small like helping them with their homework or revision but nonetheless every small step is worthwhile; for example, there’s a huge sense of achievement when you show a kid how to do multiplication and then they finish their tasks all on their own and correctly.
This week in the school there are mid term exams so the children are busy and boisterous. The theme in La Casa de Sol is theatre and some of the volunteers have managed to build a great little theatre out of next to nothing. The children have been helping make puppets to go inside. I’m really looking forward to see how it turns out and the children’s reactions.
I’ve also been lucky enough to enjoy a ‘long weekend’ (Friday, Saturday and Sunday free) as my first weekend off. I travell\ed with four other volunteers back to the cooler climes of San Jose on Thursday evening, visited Alajuela, Costa Rica’ s second city, the next day and then onto the Poas Volcano National Park with its spectacular crater.
We also go the chance to visit one of the country’s biggest coffee plantations and sample its products and then travel into another province to see the beautiful gardens of La Paz and its waterfalls. I got to see hundreds of exotic butterflies, hummingbirds, toucans, massive parrots as well as some South American wild cats including a prowling jaguar.
The next day back in Manuel Antonio we visited their national park. We saw so many cheeky monkeys, raccoons, sloths and huge iguanas. The bonus that I wasn’t expecting was the simply stunning beaches in the park. A perfect way to finish the weekend.