During the two years of IGCSE a few subjects really fascinated me. They were magnetic to me but i never got to know them better because I took way too many subjects (ten). Biology and in particular, conservation of diversity was one of them. As soon as my IGCSE ended I decided to explore my interest.
I went to Costa Rica. My friends at home were really worried because I’m going to a “Central American” country. I was going to be surrounded with complete strangers, in a place miles far from home. They went to the extent of asking me if i was alright in my head to do so but i told them that I had to do what I had to in order to know more about myself; i wanted to add another dimension to who i was.
I chose Rustic Pathways as my travel company because of the reason that their program was designed especially for students who were passionate about turtle conservation and wanted to experience a “rustic” lifestyle… which completely described me.
My first glimpses of Costa Rica was when i was looking out of the window, during landing. At that moment i knew this land had abundant natural resources- from its rainforests to its volcanic peaks to its two coasts, every corner seemed like it was home uncountable number of flora and fauna.
When i met Andrez, my trip manager, i realised that Costa Ricans are immensely proud and protective of their land, and have made the country known as the world leader in eco-tourism and environmental protection. Mr. Andrez was someone who i got really close to and took care of me while i was there.
I was a little nervous at first because I was about to spend 7 days with people from all over the world: all over the United States, France, and Switzerland. There were 13 of us, 4 boys and 7 girls. Getting along with people of different cultures and races was much harder than I thought, but soon I realised that we were all on the same boat. They wanted to get to know me as much as I wanted to get to know them. In fact, we got so close that at the end of the trip, we also decided to come back here 5 years later as a group.
As soon as the Olive Ridley turtle lay eggs at night, the raccoons hunt the nets down and eat the eggs. Even though this prey-predator relationship can be seen as something natural, the population of raccoons grew extensively in the recent years due to an imbalance in the food web caused by human activities. This is why I was there.
We learned to save water. Every morning we would wake up 4 and put out 4 huge tanks of water as the storm started at 5 am every day. We lived in a tree house, with iguanas in our rooms. It was truly a “rustic” experience. We would use the rain water to wash our clothes. Everyone had to wash their own clothes, something I wasn’t every used to initially. We would not shampoo our hair every day to avoid unnecessary use of chemicals and wasting excessive water. No matter how dirty we were after the afternoon beach clean ups, we would only have a bath once a day. After afternoon beach clean, in the evening we would work on constructing the hatchery. carrying heavy sandbags to lay the foundation and build a fence around the hatchery. Overall I did 30 hrs of community service. From 11 pm to 3 am we would have night patrol to go and collect turtle eggs and get them back to hatchery we were working on. We would approximately 8 kms alternate night. These long walks is what really got all of us together. Sitting under the starry night on tree barks, not being able to see anything but the bio-luminescent algae on the ground and the stars in the sky.
We also visited the city on the weekend, went to world’s longest zip lining, had a white water rafting experience, and surfed. I hate butterfly in your stomach feeling most people crave for. So I was freaking out. And just when i thought that my experience can’t get scarier – it had to take out my glasses. After every zip line – my friend Henr Safdie and Hannah Robertson would go like “ney! step! step! another step. careful”. My situation simply added more adventure i guess. I love water sports so rest of the actives were AWESOME!
My experience was very physically exhausting but it was worth it. I swear to you, 3 more weeks and i would go from fat to abs. I could see the change I was making (when we saw the turtles hatch). Prior to this trip, I was not the kind of person who did extensive sports. This trip introduced and motivated me to work on the fields. I learned the importance of physical stamina, and it changed my lifestyle.
I want to go somewhere new everyday. I want to know more about people around me and what I’m a part of.
Neysa Sanghavi – ‘Pura Vida’ Pure Life
Student IBDP 11, Singapore International School
+91 98202 26117
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