We all do it. We all speed through our busy lives, often taking for granted the beauty of life itself. During a recent United Planet trip, Yi-Ju Chen, a medical doctor from Taiwan, reminds herself and the rest of us to stop and take the time to enjoy life’s little moments. Yi-Ju provided us with a touching testimonial about her two week experience volunteering in Costa Rica with our Sea Turtle Project. Although halfway around the world – Costa Rica, it seems, is not so different from Yi-Ju’s home in Taiwan. In her own words, Yi-Ju recalls:
Costa Rica’s culture didn’t bring me a big shock. The food culture (rice and beans as a main course) is really similar to Asia’s. The flexibility and friendliness of locals are just like the Taiwanese, and the hierarchy of man and woman are strict just like in the Asian world. I was even surprised how similar the climate is to Taiwan, hot and humid like in the late spring.
Yi-Ju chose to volunteer with our Sea Turtle project and had quite a learning experience.
The Pacific beach of Costa Rica was really great, and I enjoyed the nature so much. Since the main purpose of this project was approaching sea turtles, everyone crossed their fingers when going on patrol. During the two-week program, I saw two sea turtles. One came on shore but didn’t find a good place to lay her eggs. The other dug a nest, laid her eggs, and even got misled by street lamps as she wandered toward the forest instead of crawling back in the water. The staff leader had to guide her with blue lamps, and she finally [found] her way home. [The staff orientation] was awesome. We [learned] a lot about the sea turtle life cycle, behavior, types, current risks, and about how to determine [whether our work] helps the sea turtle population grow.
During her free time, Yi-Ju was able to go on an excursion to explore the beauty of Costa Rican nature and to relax and get to know fellow volunteers from around the world.
During my two-week stay, I had one day off and went to Manuel Antonio National Park nearby with other volunteers. We saw colorful grasshoppers, poisonous frogs, wild monkeys jumping around, and white beautiful beaches, which was different from the dark volcano-sand beach where the project took place. It was a really special two weeks. During leisure hours volunteers gathered around beach side to enjoy the warm sun and warm sea water and to take surfing lessons from a coach living near our house. In the rainy late afternoon, we often sat by the front porch to play UNO and chit-chat. Sometimes the cake lady came by, bringing some treats to fill our sweet-luring souls. The jewelry lady dropped by also, bringing beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. She even braided our hair with colorful threads.
Yi-Ju reminds us all of the need to just take a moment in our busy lives and enjoy the beauty of life around us.
Life is simple without being bothered by phone calls and texts, and you have more time to think when internet/email/Facebook is out of reach. At first I was so not used to my silent iPhone, which had become a piece of metal that temporarily functioned as a flashlight and iPod. But when I started to notice the nature around me, I suddenly realized it had been a long time [since] I stopped my busy mind and spared time for things besides work. I noticed the leaf-cutter ants forming a green trail on muddy roads. Yellow cows wandering on grass land, even crossing roads, [not giving] a damn of the running cars. Dogs running around the garden chasing iguanas, or fighting over kitchen leftovers. Roosters that sound at any minute during day or night- [roosters that] we threatened to kill [in various] ways but that eventually always survived.
One day some guys spotted a dog running around with her head stuck in a white bottle, bumping blindly into trees. Me and some volunteers and staff chased behind the dog in circles. We finally caught her and managed to pull the bottle off from her head. It was certainly a nice workout before breakfast.
These events were great memories from the trip, and I really suggest youngster attend projects like this when finance is available, to see more of the world, to be more thankful for the things you take for granted, and to have an open heart. I look forward to my next volunteer project, hope to share my experience with others, and wish these projects can not only help the locals, but also influence me [in return].
Thank you, Yi-Ju, for sharing your experience.