The adventure may have come to an end, but the experience, memories and all that I learned are stamped on my heart.
Costa Rica is the latest country I have fallen in love with. Words can’t describe the beauty of this place, the depth of its culture or the grace of its community. Each day I was in wonder at constant new discoveries and breath-taking views.
From giant toads (and I mean GIANT) to howling monkeys to colour changing iguanas, the wild life was fascinating. Except when we encountered three snakes during our hike through the rainforest. While my team ran towards them for pictures, I ran past as fast as I could. Nothing would convince to stop and view these slithering creatures I like to call ‘the devil’s pet’.
Many times throughout the 9 days, I found myself frozen, starring at scenery or wildlife in amazement. There were butterflies coloured in lime green, hummingbirds fluttering past, funny looking, furry creatures causing traffic to stop as they crossed the road, coffee plantations, mango trees, and so much more.
Alligators in a river, a sloth in a tree, clouds surrounding the tip of a volcano, waves gently brushing a rocky, sandy shore. I could write for days on the incredible beauty I had the privilege of viewing.
A highlight for me was the taste of a guava, my favourite tropical fruit, picked right from a tree. This is something I had not expierenced in over twenty years, since my family moved from the Caribbean.
Beauty, nature and wildlife aside, my heart wraps around the people I met. People who brought me instant joy and will have a place in my heart for the rest of my life.
First there was the Habitat for Humanity team from Canada, which consisted of myself and 6 other women, none of whom I had previously met. It’s intimidating to travel thousands of miles to spend over a week with a group of people you have never met, but I was instantly put at ease with these women.
We were from all over Canada, a variety of ages and life experiences, but we connected right away. There wasn’t a single issue during our 9 days together – no disagreements or hurt feelings or negative encounters. We interacted, laughed and took care of each like we had been friends for years.
Then there was our Costa Rican guide, and our driver, Felipe and Maurizio (who names I may be mis-spelling). The two fun-loving, kind, patient, intelligent men are among the best I’ve ever met. They took care of us from start to finish, made sure we had all we needed, translated for us, showed us many of the treasures of Costa Rica, kept us hydrated and well fed and safe. They quickly became our friends and we enjoyed many laughs together. A memorable night was our second last one together when we sat by the pool of our hotel, in the middle of the mountains, and sang song after song as Felipe accompanied on his guitar.
Finally, there was the family and community where we helped build the house. The house is for a single mother who has a 3 year old son. It is on the same property as her parents’ home, whom she has been living with. Although a language barrier existed, it did not take long to connect with her and her family as we worked alongside one another, ate together, and at the end of the week, celebrated together.
The first day on the build site, we arrived to nothing but dirt and spots marked for digging. We spent our first day digging deep, narrow holes that the posts for the house would go into. As the week moved on, we made cement, shovelled sand & gravel, put in the posts, and slid in the cement panels to form walls. Many other jobs existed between, but by the last day, the walls were up and the floor was levelled, and it was time for the Costa Rican Crew to begin the wiring.
Helping on the build site was the hardest physical work I have ever had to do. The Canadians all ended up with bumps, bruises and scratches from the work. On the last build day, I sprained my thumb while shovelling sand into a wheel barrow when my shovel forcefully hit a big rock buried in the sand pile.
The end of a work day saw us soaked in sweat, dirty and exhausted, but it was worth it. We helped build a house for a mom and a son who needed a house. It doesn’t get any better than that.
My trip to Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity was inspiring, incredible, fun, and one of the best experiences of my life.
I can’t wait to do it again.
A very special thank you to all who helped make this possible by donating financially to my trip.
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