I have always wanted to Volunteer overseas, however volunteering at a surf camp wasn’t quite what I had in mind but when you are on a budget, who would say no to free accomodation and cheap food in exchange for a few hours work a day? Not me! DreamSea surf camp is located on the pacific side of Costa Rica in a town called Tamarindo (or Tamagringo as the locals like to call it). It took us 6 hours by hot and sweaty public buses to get from San Jose to Tamarindo. The roads in Costa Rica are truly terrible. There’s nothing quite like bumping down a road with all your fat jiggling for 6 hours straight to remind you to stop eat so much crap on your trip before you turn into a whale! The town of Tamarindo is extremely touristy. I felt like I could be anywhere in the world whilst I was wondering down the streets. Almost everyone speaks English and it is filled with American tourists and Expats. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a really cool beach town worth checking out.
The surf camp itself is located 10 minutes from the town, down an extremely bumpy dirt road in the middle of the jungle. A surf camp in the jungle?! I hear you say. That was my thoughts exactly when we arrived. The accomodation in the camp is called ‘Glamping’ which is basically the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’ merged together. Camping with a little bit of luxury, if you will. Now don’t get too excited, if you were to Google image Glamping that is not what we stayed in. DreamSea’s version of Glamping is a tent on a raised platform with electricity (fan, light and power point) and proper mattresses to sleep on. It was everything we needed to make our camping stay that little bit more comfortable and the tents looked amazing lit up at night. It was perfect except for the bugs! Oh the bugs. For a girly girl like me, it was truly horrifying finding all sorts of bugs in our tent every time we went in there, but I got used to it after a while..well sort of.
For those who know me, you would be well aware of my ridiculous , irrational fear of moths. On our first night after getting back from the beach after dark, I decided to go have a shower. As I opened the shower door I couldn’t help but notice the 50 moths and a few spiders just chilling around the light on the shower wall. I wanted to cry. How the hell was I going to shower with all these moths?! I stepped in and got undressed and began to shower feeling really proud of myself for doing so. That was until out of no where a GIANT flying cockroach flew right at me several times. I ran out of the shower naked and screaming. Thank goodness no one was around to see me! From then on, I showered in the open shower with my bikini on.
Everything at the camp was located outside. From the dining room, the kitchen, the bar, the treehouse to the toothbrushing area and the showers. It was so pleasing to look at but thank goodness it didn’t rain whilst we were there. It was nice to being outside and really in touch with nature. There were plenty of howler monkeys up in the trees throwing down mangos and waking us up with their loud howling noises as the sun rose. It was a cool experience.
The actual volunteering part was really simple. I was appointed the job of raking up the leaves and picking up the Mangos that had fallen from the tree (or that the monkeys had thrown down) for an hour or two a day and then we piled into the jeep (and by piled, I mean really piled. One time we fit 14 people in there!) and drove down the bumpy road to the beach for the day. The beach is located right in town so we had access to the shops and restaurants. The waves at the beach are perfect for learning and if you swim across the river mouth (watch out for crocodiles!) the waves are better suited for the more advanced surfers. It was here that I first learnt to surf! What an amazing feeling that was.
During my week stay, we had a trip to another beach called Mabella which had black sand, we had a movie night, free yoga every morning under the mango tree and sunset yoga on the beach (my favourite part of the week!) a beach and pool crawl for Sunday funday, we went to a typical Costa Rican festival and we had a few other nights out on the town.
DreamSea definitely had its fair share of problems, mainly disorganisation, but like most places you travel to in the world it’s the people you meet that really solidify your experience. The people I met here were all truly amazing and I learnt something new from every single one of them. My favourite person at the camp was Guapo! A little baby, orphaned Coatimundi (from the raccoon family) he is absolutely adorable and a pain in the ass all at once. I wish I could take him home with me.
Thanks Dreamsea for a once in a life time experience! Look after Guapo for me.