[3 minute read]
It was 5:45am when my phone alarm went off. I woke up feeling refreshed, well-rested and with absolutely no idea what day of the week it was. What’s more, it felt so good and so right that I had no desire or care in the world to know what day it was. It simply didn’t matter. That’s how tranquil the place was. That’s how deep in ‘the zone’ I was.
A few minutes later and I was up. The sun had already begun its slow ascent over the fields of bananas, plantains, and coffee at Finca Siempre Verde, bathing them in the coming glow of daylight. Located in the southern mountains of Costa Rica this family-run organic farm was remote and exactly what I needed after 3 months on the road as a backpacker. They had no Wi-Fi, no television, and very limited phone coverage. While some people might baulk at this, I absolutely loved it.
Every day I would help out for roughly 5 hours around the property and in return would receive three hearty, organic, and delicious meals from Jenny as well as a warm bed for the night. Replanting crops, cooking with Yuca, conducting my first Yoga class with the other volunteers, constructing and lacquering picture frames with Marcos, as well as building a mosaic were some of the activities I helped out with during my stay. And all of this in just a short week!
I had woken up extra-early that day in order to go for a jog before breakfast and commencing the day’s activities. But before I could run nature called. So I made the obligatory stop at the compostable toilet. Sitting down on the wooden throne I was rewarded with an uninterrupted view of the forest right before me. As I did my business I wasn’t aware that I was about to experience one of the most special moments of my trip. Pardon the pun, but nature called again.
This time, it came in the form of four small Toucans which all flew into the frame I was quietly contemplating. They perched on the branches of the tree which was right in front of me, both surprising and delighting me in equal measure. It was my first ever wild Toucan sighting! And at such close proximity I was simply left gobsmacked. They must not have noticed my stinky silhouette sitting on the loo because for the following ten minutes they continued to jump around, socialize and enjoy the first rays of daylight before literally nose-diving and gliding serenely away.
The entire time I was fully entranced by their totally natural behaviour. I had a massive grin across my face and my eyes must have grown and sparkled with amazement like in the Japanese cartoons. I didn’t even dare to wipe my bum during the special spectacle out of fear of revealing myself and ruining the moment. A little later, after jogging down the dirt road and up the grassy hill near the farm, accompanied by Marcos and Jenny’s crazy but gorgeous dog as my only companion I felt a deep love for nature and all its mysterious wonders.
I had come into this volunteering experience seeking to simply recharge my batteries before the next round of rapid backpacking but left with so much more. And it was from sources I could have never expected. Maybe that is what is at the heart of a good adventure.