Piedras blancas- one week in the Jungle of Costa Rica
What`s the most famous thing about Costa Rica? Right, its national parks! So, after one and a half month I finally had to visit one. But what´s the best way to experience one? Do a tour or hike through it alone? But is one day really enough to understand and really feel this precious ecosystem? Because of all these concerns and questions, I did a voluntary in a quite small one in the South of Costa Rica near Golfito. The Piedras National Park protects part of the rainforest and the Pacific coast around it. In Europe, particularly in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, this region is also very famous because of the work of the organization “Regenwald der Österreicher” (Rainforest of the Austrians), which started buying big parts of the Esquinas rainforest in 1991. This land is now integrated in the Piedras Blancas National Park. But now more about the voluntary program: To go there, we took a bus from San José to the mysterious bus station “kilometre 37”, near the small town La Gamba. From there we got picked up, by the rangers, who brought us to the base camp in the jungle. We slept in small cabins, with one bunk bed in each. There were two bathrooms we shared, but this wasn’t a problem, because there isn’t enough space for a lot of people anyway. food for the rangers and us there got prepared three times a day and we were able to try a lot of typical Costa Rican dishes like Gallo Pinto, arroz con frijoles or fried plantain. We also got fresh fruits like Papaya or watermelon every day. But what did we do there? Well, there were normally one or two works to do every day, which didn’t last longer than 4 hours all in all. On two days, we helped the rangers “clean” the hiking trails in the jungle, which meant, that they cut of plants and we had to put them away or collect them at the edges of the trails. This was a kind of exhausting work but we could once take a bath in a tropical river. Moreover, we helped them putting up signs in the jungle for hikers. This work mainly consisted of carrying the signs, small canisters of water, cement and the needed tools through the forest. For putting up a sign, we firstly ditched a whole, putted the beginning of the stab with the panel in it and filled it up with cement and stones. On our last day, we had to hike up a small mountain and placed a wild camera there, and afterward we went with the rangers to the beach, swam in the sea and drank fresh coconut water. In the afternoon we got picked up by boot and drove back to the camp from Golfito. During our breaks, we played cards or relaxed, but didn’t surf the internet because they don’t have WIFI or any telephone signal. This fact might be scary, but not knowing what is happening sometimes actually is super relaxing. Between four or five pm it usually started raining a lot. The nights began at around half past six. Sadly, we just saw the stars once during our last night but the moon normally illuminated the whole place. In the morning we usually got up between five and six. Firstly, because breakfast started at 6 o’clock and secondly the mornings were so moody and beautiful there. I can sadly not recommend you any organization for booking a voluntary, because we organized it privately, but I highly recommend this place for spending one week or two weeks of your holidays there.