By Carolyn Simpson, Mitzvah Corps Costa Rica II 2018 Participant
This is my first time traveling internationally and all I can say is it did not disappoint! I have a love of traveling and seeing new places so I really hope to have the opportunity to do it again in the future. I have lived in the same house my whole life, so I’m only used to my hometown and the area around it, which is what made me want to get out there and experience more. I hate to admit it but… one of the main reasons I wanted to do this trip was to travel. Of course that’s a big part of the trip, but community service is bigger. Now that I’m here and I supported the community in their service, I realize I actually want to do more things like that. I love that we were able to see the real parts of Costa Rica and not just the touristy parts. If I am able to travel in the future, I would want to continue throughout the real parts of other countries and meet new people. The only downside on this trip is that I do not know the language. I really love talking and meeting new people and not being able to talk to the locals made me a little bit upset. I ask others to translate for me, which helps me learn a little Spanish, but I’m not able to go deeper. That is one thing I am definitely going to work on; it is important to me that I can communicate with others.
The people here have the biggest hearts and I love that I am able to literally wave to anyone and they will give me a smile and wave back, and, in some cases, a honk. Back home, if I were to wave to anyone, they would look at me like “Who are you?” Everyone here is so friendly and they have a great relationship with each other that I wish I could be a part of. The word “community” could not define this place any better because they are one big family and truly love one another.
Soccer is a big sport here and we even had the chance to play with some locals! We (mostly I) got crushed, of course, because I can’t compete. The experience was amazing because just realizing we were playing soccer in Costa Rica with the community was amazing. This whole experience has been “wow” to me. We got to zip line through a jungle in the pouring rain, raft with the most beautiful views, paint trees and benches surrounding a soccer field while there was a game going on, go to hot springs to enjoy the warm water, and mix cement to add to the floor of a building for aqueducts. Every experience here is a good one because it’s in a new place with new people that we don’t get to experience back home.
Riding around town and seeing the houses and land makes me want to stay here forever. I don’t get views like this back home and I don’t want to stop looking at them. All the houses are different colors and gives the town a vibrant feel to it. So many mountains and animals and open land is what makes Costa Rica Costa Rica. When we first got here, I looked around at all the buildings and to see everything in Spanish was so cool. I wasn’t used to seeing that and didn’t even think about it before I came. It has opened my eyes to other cultures and how things are different between people.