I’m Afraid of Bugs, Dirt, and Germs (& I can’t swim). Was Caño Palma has Tough as I Thought it Would Be?

As part of our GCELE experience we have to blog about our experiences in Costa Rica. The posts have be short which makes sense, so I picked 3 very specific topics. If you have any questions about things I didn’t cover, feel free to reach out @AmeliaR_N. These blogs will also be reposted on my personal blog.

Before Cano Palma people who knew me would crinkle their faces and respond with “Why are you going?” or worse, they’d smirk and say “You’re going to die.” I’m not very big on the great outdoors.

When I got back most people would say “You survived!?! Was it as bad as you thought?”

Here’s the thing. It was amazing and I’m extremely proud of the work I did there. That being said it wasn’t like I showed up and was greeted by a 5 star or even 2 star resort. Conservation work is extremely hard and when you Google ‘how many Sea Turtles are left?” or some other question, the amount of work that went in to that answer you searched in 0.40 seconds is staggering.

fbpost^As soon as I got WiFi I wanted to tell the world what was happening.^

Here is a list of some of the tougher things we experienced on our trip ( a small look at all the work conservationist do):

  • Washroom Things
    There was no hot water –ever. To conserve water you flushed by pouring half a bottle of rain water into the toilet. The water on base tasted heavily like metal. I used very little water to shower or brush my teeth (which I did in the company of giant bugs).


  • Bedroom Things

It was always hot in the rainforest and never dry. We had a fan we could use if Necessary. Since people worked all hours of the day and night, the rooms were almost always dark (so people could sleep whenever) and very quiet. We slept in bunk-beds which we had to cover with Mosquito nets. Those nets made it extra hot but it was either that or get eaten alive –your call.


  • Workload Things

The shifts were varied and 24/7. Patrolling the beach to protect Sea Turtles, Hiking in the jungle to track animals and record data, working in the community, tagging trees, maintenance around the station. The chores were endless, usually very physical, and never ending. We were told that Centennial’s presence was a big help because it allowed overworked-scientists to catch up on rest and recover from illnesses.

workload^Wearing dark clothes with long sleeves for the hot Night patrol (can’t scare the turtles away!)^

  • The Nature Thing

It was always hot and always wet.  Clothes never dried. Shoes and feet were always damp. This meant you were always, damp, itchy and sore. Bugs might not be a problem for everyone but the bugs were huge. A bird flew in the room once which was cool until I realized it was actually just a big bug.walk^My regular walk from the dorms to the kitchen^

  • The Isolation Thing

WiFi was scarce and you were working nonstop but in the few off times you’d sometimes notice how out of touch you were with your ‘home-life’ and while it’s not always a bad thing, it can be lonely.us^IT HELPED THAT THESE GREAT PEOPLE WERE HERE.^

Stay tuned to read about my favourite part of the trip!


Internship in Costa Rica – Villas Mastatal

Hello everyone!

My name is Alberto, I am a student of Project Management at Centennial College. I am doing my internship at Villas Mastatal in Costa Rica. Mastatal is a small village (about 80 people) in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle, midway between the capital (San Jose) and the Pacific Ocean.

Villas Mastatal is an eco-sustainable organic farm owned by a friendly and young family, Javier, Raquel and their little son Andres (just 4 years old!) I have been here since July 1st but I haven’t been able to post because the Internet connection here is quite bad. Although it is frustrating at times to be without wifi, it is very peaceful to feel completely disconnected in a small paradise.

Butterflies The place where we do yoga in the afternoons!

There are several volunteers at the farm who help the family to maintain it. When I got here we were sixteen, now we are like eight, it depends, as all of them are travelers coming in and out. I have met so many different and unique types of people from all over the world on the finca (farm). We are all very different but have similar characteristics. Villas Mastatal attracts similar people who are spontaneous, open-minded, and adventurous. We are like a family here and switch off helping with meals and cleaning. To help with meals we go out on the farm to collect the leaves for the salad and other fruits and vegetables.    Some of the work we do

They also do have several small-scale projects in the farm, such as:

  • Create a butterfly garden
  • Compost and eco-friendly toilets
  • Protect and fix trails at La Cangreja National Park
  • Design and construct a greenhouse for tomatoes
  • Other necessary stuff that needs to be done to maintain the farm, like digging, shoveling out, planting, etcetera.


– Alberto