It’s my last morning here in Puerto Viejo, I leave in an hour for San Jose. I’m laying in bed listening to the gigantic waves crashing on the beach outside. Even though it’s only been a few weeks it’s going to be strange going back to New York. It’s probably the most opposite place you could find in the world. Everything here is calm, laid back, no schedule, never-need-a-watch kind of place. It takes waitresses 20 minutes to bring you a menu, and that’s perfectly reasonable to them. You make friends with the taxi drivers here and have their cell phone numbers. Nine year old boys try to sell you weed. Besides my apartment, nothing here has fully closing walls, it’s all open, the restaurants, the stores, the markets. The only place with air conditioning is the ATM vestibule.
But I can’t stay here forever. I think I’ve eaten in most of the restaurants, and I’ve walked every inch of the town several times. I’m looking forward to delivery Pad Thai, snuggling with Scout, and fast internet. I’m not looking forward to that heat everyone won’t stop complaining about on Facebook.
It was a great trip, a wonderful experience, I’m definitely considering doing something like this again. I’ve always wanted to, but didn’t have anyone else to go with. But now I know I can travel alone and make friends quickly.
Here’s some other things I’ve learned from this:
If you do good things, you’re bound to meet good people. I wasn’t sure what the other volunteers were going to be like and if we’d have things in common and get along. But duh, we all came here to volunteer, FOR FREE, to hang out with animals all day and scoop poop, you can’t be too terrible of a person to do that. I’ve met lots of wonderful, amazing people on this trip and I’m going to miss them all (especially Jess, Jackie, The Sophies, Diana). But now I know people in Minnesota, Holland and Slovenia – so that’s free tour guides in three new places.
If you get attacked by an ocelot, keep trying. I wouldn’t say my experiment was exactly a success, I’m not sure if Bridgett ever recognized me, but it was fun going into her cage every day and playing with her in the garden. No matter how many scratches and bites I got.
I’m okay with being peed on by a monkey while eating. Not that I enjoy it. But if you want a monkey to sit on your shoulder, the peeing comes with it. You just lift their tails and lean backwards.
I can travel alone and not be kidnapped, murdered or sold into sex slavery. Maybe I shouldn’t jinks myself just yet, I do have to go back to San Jose today.
A monkey using your stomach as a trampoline is the most adorable thing ever. Probably even cuter than kittens, or Scout. And that’s saying a lot coming from me.
Never send your mascara (and all of your makeup) home with your sister-in-law. Just stupid.
I can eat PB&J’s every day for 3 weeks and still lose weight. Maybe because I have some PB&J-eating parasite living in my stomach I haven’t discovered yet.
I can walk through the forest with 4 monkeys on my shoulders, grass up to my knees, have my feet bitten by fire ants, know their are poisonous snakes in the vicinity, and NOT scream. Seriously, the more you react, the more the monkeys poop on you. But I really wanted to scream that first time on the way to the monkey forest – killer bees flying by, 30 pounds of heat yanking my hair out, wrapping their tails around my neck tightly, no path to walk on. In my head I was screaming.
I can’t live without a washing machine. My clothes smell so terrible. I smell so terrible. Washing them in hot water in the shower just isn’t the same. My clothes I brought here will never be the same.
I really don’t like grasshoppers. Nope, not one bit. I will not go to the garden to catch them for the opossum. No way. Get those crazy hopping things away from me. Tiny ants in my bed every night, I can get used to.
Just because someone has dreads doesn’t mean their going to try to sell you weed. Just kidding, they all tried.
That’s my list. I think those are pretty good things to learn in a few weeks, learning a little how to care for animals and a lot about yourself. I’m not sure I’ll ever enjoy camping but I can rough it a bit. I can travel alone, make friends with strangers, I’m stronger than I thought (though I still have to ask someone to open a jar of jam) and a little braver than I realized.
To read the other parts from my Costa Rica story, click here: