I have joined the “Refuge for wildlife” animal project for one month. My plan was to stay there for six months. In this post I will try to present to you why I left earlier.
The whole process obviously started with me applying there. After just a few days I got the assurance back that I could volunteer there. I must admit that the woman I was in contact with was very helpful when I asked her something.
Soon I was sent the agreement which said that I would be working for five days a week and had to pay a security deposit (150 US-dollars) which I would get back after the agreed time. It included different other things such as that I agreed with getting a flu shot. I put my signature and sent it back not knowing what was going to happen…
I came there on a Monday night and got told that I would start working on thursday which was good because I had two more days to enjoy the beach. At the beginning everybody seemed friendly but that was soon going to change.
On my first working day I was told to clean the dust in the kitchen and clean vases and lots of other stuff that just included cleaning the house. You have to keep in mind that you will have the most interaction with animals when you enter a cage to get water bottles out and fill in new hot water. This was literally the best part of my day for the first week.
After one week I was allowed to take out the baby monkeys regularly. This was truly an experience to observe these little fighters that are already so strong. Still this just filled 20 minutes of an 8 hour day while the rest was not fun nor enriched me in any way.
There are different shifts during the day. An early one (6:30-2:30), one during the day (10-6) and a late one (1-9).
The early shift is probably the hardest one because a lot has to be done then. Normally I had to clean the small cages, cut fruits and vegetables, clean the salad, organise the laundry room, do laundry and clean the house in general. This type of work might appeal to some people but I mostly felt like I was the person to do the work others did not like.
The two other shifts included less work but more awkward situations where I wandered around to see if anybody was in need of help. At around 4pm it was time to clean the big cage that always took two people and an hour of work because these little monkeys can make a huge mess consisting of food, pee and poo. So this part was pretty nasty.
Moreover when there was nothing to do I felt like I was in the way of the staff. I just did not feel like I was appreciated there for what I was doing. Furthermore the woman that was in charge of the volunteers only spoke to you when it was time to pay for the accomodation.
Even on rainy days, Costa Ricas nature is still beautiful and impressive
I don’t only want to criticise this organisation but I want to make other possible volunteers aware of what the work is going to look like there.
You will not be able feed infant wildlife or even put food in the cages because you’re always told it’s too dangerous or you’re not experienced enough.
Well I thought I would come there to make these experiences and learn how to interact with the wildlife.
What I learned at the refuge was how to cut fruit the best and fastest way possible and how to get poo out of clothes. Definetely an experience but not one that I wanted.
The only thing that kept me optimistic was the time with Enya and Estephania in our appartment and my two days off that I spent with friends at the beach. What I should mention here is that the beach was 40 minutes walking distance away from the refuge so you did not really have a chance to go there on your working days. This sadly was a big con to me because I just got bored when I finished my work during the day and it felt like there was nothing to look forward to…
All in all I unfortunately just felt used and not integrated into this project.
The most amazing sunsets ever