30 nights in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. That’s how I would spend my first Workaway experience. Nestled 30 minutes outside of the lovely Tamarindo, lies Dreamsea Surf Camp. A ‘glamping’ camp experience that offers yoga and surfing to the adventurous traveler.
Workaway is the world’s leading community for sustainable travel and cultural exchange. They Promote Volunteering, Family Exchanges, Homestays, Farmstays, Working Holidays, Travel Buddies, Language Learning and Cultural Exchange. With almost 40,000 hosts, in over 184 countries there is an absolute abundant of opportunities.
I first heard of Workaway a couple years back before taking off on my travels to Southeast Asia. Many travelers use it as a means to save money and travel slower on the road, while simultaneously offering a service in exchange.
Workaway offers many opportunities, from teaching english, yoga, or surfing to picking berries, building hostels, and in my case- running the social media for Dreamsea Surf Camp.
In exchange for running the social media (Instagram and Facebook), I received accommodation, Breakfast and Dinner. The camp offered a yoga class every morning (also included) and surf lessons (for a very discounted price).
A DAY IN THE LIFE AT CAMP
No two days are ever the same at Dreamsea, but a typical schedule looked as follows:
5:45- 6AM: wake up to howling monkeys in the jungle, kidding only kind of
7 AM: Yoga (optional)
8 AM: Brekky. Eggs, Fruit, Toast (doesn’t matter, was good everyday) served by other workaway volunteers- aka don’t be late
10 AM: shuttle to town
10:30 AM: Most days you could find me at a cafe, aggressively using the wifi in exchange for an overpriced but delicious coffee (it’s fine) because of the social media job I was doing for Dreamsea. At this time, depending on your volunteer trade, everyone tends to do their own thing. Surf instructors teach lessons to guests and volunteers alike, others explore Tamarindo and the surrounding beaches. Some volunteers will have already completed their work as they are on Breakfast crew, a yoga instructor, leaf raker (so the list goes).
10 AM- 6 PM: Free time to do as you please.
6 PM: Shuttle pick up to return to camp if you’d like
7:30 PM: Dinner (also always amazing)
Post dinner there is usually an activity ranging from salsa lessons to meditation.
In conclusion, a few hours of work per day gave me all of this and more.
There were a lot of firsts that happened during my month at Dreamsea.
- Learning to salsa for the first time and earning second place in the salsa competition!
- Learning to surf for the first time. Bless every kickass surf instructor who put up with my blissful unintelligence behind the whole concept of surfing- I think I improved a bit!
- Sleeping in a hammock under the stars for the first time! An hour from Tamarindo lies Playa Minas. A small beach nestled through the jungle, where our crew went completely off the grid for an entire day. No service, beautiful hiking, a bonfire, and sleeping under the stars as a lightning storm rolled in!
Yoga every morning under the monkey tree, on a wooden platform.
A little bit different than the hot vinyasa studio back at home, but I learned to appreciate the nature around me so much more. One morning as we were beginning yoga class it started pouring down rain (1 of the 2 times while I was in Tamarindo) and every single one of us embraced the moment. Soaking wet, covered in dirt. Mat and all!
Because renting a car in Tamarindo is so cheap, my friends and I were able to do it a couple of times and take some killer roadtrips.
Intended to go to a local National Park and waterfall, my friends and I conveniently noticed as we were heading out that the park was closed. Classic rookie mistake. We decided to road trip to Guanacaste National Park, and again, fail. We unknowingly took the back, unpaved road to the park and the bumper ended up halfway off the car. This day turned into a good one nonetheless, as we ended up at a deserted little beach north of Tamarindo to salvage the day under the sun!
We made up for it the next day by road tripping to Monteverde and hiking the Cloud Forest. Unaware of the unpaved roads (yes, again), we quickly learned that we should not opt for the 2 wheel, front wheel drive next time. Although having 3 locals pull over and reverse our car up a steep hill was quite entertaining.
An hour and a half north of Tamarindo lies Llanos De Cortes waterfall. A beautiful little oasis to swim in and jump off a cliff as many times as your heart desires! Post Llanos De Cortes, our crew headed to Palo Verde National Park where I proceeded to almost drift us off of a bridge and run out of gas in the middle of the National Park- again, sorry.
The second day we headed to Rio Celeste (Tenorio Volcano National Park). This hike takes only about 2.5 hours total round trip, but includes one of the most spectacular waterfalls I have seen to date. The drive into the National Park is what I always pictured Costa Rica looking like: abundantly green, filled with colorful houses and new wildlife with every other turn!
On your last night at Dreamsea, you state your philosophy that you’ll be taking with you. Mine?
Stop waiting. For tomorrow, for next Monday, for next year. No matter how slow time feels in the land of Pura Vida, the truth is that it doesn’t stop. Every single day we have the choice to wake up with a purpose and create the life we want. There’s no time like the present, so just go for it.
All in all, I couldn’t have dreamt of a better first Workaway experience. It’s a hard feeling to put into words, but there is something about waking up with 16 other people in your open-aired dorm. All sharing one power strip to charge your phones and laughing about a love/hate relationship to the howling monkey alarm, the swarm of bees at the sink and in the shower, the random skunk in your room and the fact that at any moment the bunk bed might collapse.
Slowly, and without even knowing it, these strangers became your forever friends. Dozens of like minded individuals that see you quite possibly at your worst. I’m not sure I was ever really clean for a month. Constantly covered in sand and sweat, my sheets were always dirty and so was I.
But these same individuals saw me at my best, too. In my element. Surrounded by the sand and the sea. Trying new things, working on passions, sharing stories and creating moments of life together.
These are the experiences that remind me to follow my heart, believe in the good of others and to never stop dreaming.
Until next time Workaway!