For the month of May 2014, I had my second field school experience with VIU, this time in Costa Rica for the Heart of Gold project. This year’s field school was incredible. It was such an unbelievable experience. There were moments that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I feel so lucky to have experienced everything I did. From start to finish it was amazing, but there were three things that stood out to me more than anything else: the people, the scenery, and the project itself. I am going to expand on each of them.
The first one that I am going to talk about is the people. I have met my share of people around the world, but I have never met people that are so welcoming before. I thought that Canadians were hospitable, but we have nothing on Costa Ricans. Each and everyone I met greeted us with open arms and took all of us in like we were their own families. Part of the project was for us to get to know the families and they made it extremely easy to do that. These people have the biggest hearts out of all the people I have encountered. I have made connections that will last a lifetime. After only meeting them for a short period of time, without hesitation, I can say that I have gained so many family members. These people are the most beautiful people inside and out. I will admit that I have a family oriented mind, but Costa Ricans are so wonderfully amazing! Everyday I am not with them, I will be thinking of them for sure.
Speaking of people, I am a firm believer that the people you are actually travelling with can make or break your trip. I seriously could not have picked out a better group of people to share this adventure. Each and every one of the 9 others I was travelling with have their own unique and lovely personalities. All of them were so accepting of one another. When we needed encouragement from each other, we always knew what to do. Everyone truly had a heart of gold!
Secondly, the scenery! Before I left I had numerous people telling me how beautiful Costa Rica is. I have seen my fair share of beautiful places, but this country does not even come close to comparing to any of them. There were times when my breath was actually taken away, because of the pure beauty that surrounded me. I even had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually alive to witness the beauty. Starting 3500 metres above sea level and ending right at the Pacific Ocean, we got to experience all different terrains. Sometimes the views were in a location where you could see 360 degrees with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other side, or in a place being sheltered by huge green luscious trees. I took some pictures, but they certainly do not do this place justice.
Last, but not least, the project. I had heard about this project ever since I entered first year in the tourism program at VIU. However, it was not until this past fall that I got really interested. I knew it was a life changing experience for some, but now I am part of that group of people. I know why this project is called the heart of gold. I got to experience more then I could have ever imagined. The project has so much love, support, and joy. I seriously have nothing bad to say about it. During the second day of hiking, I felt an overwhelming amount of love pass through me. All the people that I was with at that moment made me feel so comfortable and welcoming. It also had to do with knowing how many different people had taken this same journey previously and how they had stepped on the path before me. Hearing all the stories about how this trail came to be made me realize how the land itself has had so much love. Experiencing all three of those things made tears fall, happy tears and I am so grateful for them. Now that I know how much the project can change my life, I have made a promise to the land and to the people and to myself that I will return next year. As I was leaving the country, I did not say goodbye Costa Rica, I said hasta luego (see you later)! Muchos Gracias (many thanks)!