I found El Dorado

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I found my way to Costa Rica. It was actually quite simple once I boarded a functioning plane, go figure. Before I talk about the actual trip here, let me explain my current surroundings. At this very moment, I am cradled inside a hammock on top of a jungle mezzanine. It’s very breezy, and actually a little “cold” (so about 60 degrees). There are animal sounds echoing in the dark, but they’re not threatening at all, and it smells like summer. I have never been so at peace in my life.

Okay, so to begin my day I shuttled from my cozy first floor hotel room to the nightmare known as DFW. Boarded the plane, and to my delight there was no delay at all. To my surprise, I was actually really calm during this flight for some reason. Even the little Latin boy kicking the back of seat every 30 seconds couldn’t break my positivity. The flight lasted about 3 hours 45 minutes, and though I was very eager to eat the in-flight meals at the time they were served, the last 30 minutes of that flight made me regret all of the meals I’ve eaten my entire life. Let me explain. I’ve flown a fair amount of times, and I’m not afraid of a little turbulence, but what I experienced before landing in Costa Rica was similar to a small earthquake in the air. All of the blood rushed to my face and my turkey sandwich was dangerously close to making a reappearance in my lap.

Finally, we pulled up to the gate and I was able to breathe again. As I was leaving the plane I remember thinking, “That was just too easy!”, and sure enough, just as I rounded the corner, there was a line of about 500 people waiting to get through customs. And that is NOT an exaggeration. But SJO Airport has free WiFi, so I had entertainment for the hour and a half of waiting. I made it through customs successfully, and they didn’t even take away my Clif bars! For some reason I was sure they would. So here I am exiting the airport, and let me tell you, leaving the doors you feel like a damn celebrity. There were about 100 people holding signs, waving, frickin cheering? I don’t even know, it was so bizarre. At least two men asked which resort I was going to, to which I smiled and awkwardly said “thank you”, because I’m a social reject. That’s when I saw him. There was Carlos, the man, the myth, the legend, standing toward the end of the line holding a sign that read ‘Costa Rica Animal Rescue’. That’s my spot! Boy oh boy was I happy to see him. I ran up and hugged him; he was pretty thrown off by that I think, but he greeted me with the double cheek kiss, so classy Carlos. We made our way through the crowds, and I was shocked that there was another volunteer! And she was American! So the three amigos skipped through the streets of Costa Rica, just kidding, but I did almost get hit by a bus.

The drive to the center was wonderful. Everything is so green and fresh here. I was experiencing major culture shock when we started going through the various villages though. So many people waiting for buses, and driving those old-school 70s style vans with the round headlights ya know? It’s exactly what I pictured it to look like, but everyone seems much more friendly than I imagined. The center is fabulous. We arrived at around 3pm, and got a full tour right away. Of course there are sloths and monkeys, but we also have hedgehogs, pigs, goats, porcupines, chickens, toucans, peacocks, turtles, dogs, squirrels, and a parrot. It’s a very summer-camp style layout. There’s a large community room, outdoors of course, with a bunch of tables and chairs, and that’s attached to the kitchen. Then next to the human kitchen is the animal kitchen, where the animals food is prepared and dished up. There’s a spiral staircase in the center of the whole place, which leads to the mezzanine I’m currently relaxing in. This is a popular place because there are hammocks and outlets, plus the WiFi has the strongest signal up here. The actual bunks are basically replicas of those seen in a little film called, The Parent Trap. I’ve actually been scoping out all the volunteers here to see if I find my long lost English twin. I got my bed, and started meeting everyone immediately. There’s about 35 volunteers staying here right now; a lot of German’s, a few American’s, and a handful of English people. Very few Latin people…

This just in, literally just witnessed a rogue cat capture a rat larger than Mr. Rathburn. Blood and all, that was horrifying. Okay, back on topic, everyone is very nice so far. Tomorrow I’m being put on a “team” and starting my actual duties. I’m so tired, I’m going to cut this a lot shorter than I wanted to. Let me end by explaining the shower situation. So I obviously wasn’t expecting anything glamorous, but I feel like I’m on an episode of Survivor! Like, spiders crawling up the walls, unheated, and no roof! I secretly kind of dig it…

Okay, I must sleep now. But tomorrow, I will hash out my experience being 3 inches from a sloth, with painful detail.

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