Archive for volunteers blog
Greetings from Costa Rica, friends! My name is Katie, I’m the new volunteer at Shaka. I arrived Thursday night and have spent the last couple of days getting settled in and getting to know the guests and staff. I’m originally from Iowa, USA, but have also had addresses in Utah, Colorado, Indiana, and The Netherlands. I left my most recent job in Human Resources and my roller derby ream in Iowa to come to Costa Rica and to see some more of the world. My time here is part vacation (yoga, hopefully some surfing, and what I’ve come to know as Pura Vida) and one part work (volunteering).
I found the volunteer opportunity at Shaka through a Google search for volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica. I got in touch with Krista and we both felt the experience could be a good fit. My interest in Costa Rica in general stemmed from an internship in college with a company in Colorado that runs adventure and eco tours in Central and South America. For them, I made calls to Costa Rican resorts and ecolodges that are known for sustainability practices. A bit of a hippy, I love living green; a tree hugger so to speak.
I’m looking forward to learning Spanish, enjoying the beach, deepening my yoga practice and getting a little hospitality experience; my degree is in Tourism Management. I can’t wait to share more about my experience here at Shaka!
Love and Light,
Wow, I am actually here! I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself, my name is Megan Panchinin. I am a yoga instructor and wellness coach, from Denver, Co. This last month was filled with excitement and anticipation as I prepared to leave the country. My original plan was to come to Costa Rica for a month to volunteer at Shaka Beach Retreat, that one month turned into seven. The family here at Shaka have been kind enough to host me as a volunteer for the month of November. Lucky for me, teaching opportunities have presented themselves that will keep me in this amazing location until May 2013!
From Denver to Costa Rica
A bittersweet transition, as I was saying ”hello to a Costa Rican adventure ” I was also saying many “see you laters”, as I would like to call them, to friends, family and students, that I have grown to love along the way. That was the bitter part….the sweet part was arriving here, welcomed by new friends, new family and new students! I knew there was a chance I may fall in love with Costa Rica….what’s not to love??
This place is unbelievable, the locals are helpful, the beaches untouched and the land an explosive celebration of life! When my taxi arrived at Shaka, after a “smooth”, but lengthy journey (you have to travel a ways to find paradise), I was greeted by the most recent volunteer Matt and one of Shaka’s guests Steve.Matt a recent graduate and surfer extraordinaire, Steve a Canadian Life Saver….seriously…EMT and fire rescue professional. The guys were hanging out in the Rancho, Shaka’s common place where meals are served and good conversations a plenty.
Shortly after settling in, I immediately headed to Playa Hermosa to enjoy a late afternoon swim. After a lovely stroll through the jungle canopy, the vibrantly colored path continued to stimulate my senses. I was immediately welcomed by the warmth of the sun and the peaceful sounds of the ocean…a tropical paradise. I found the perfect spot…on this beach, every spot is perfect. I took in the scenery and then went for a swim. The water is warm and the view of the landscape is like the green section of a jumbo sized crayon box. All of this seems to melt the month of preparation to leave Denver away. Finally…I had reached my destination….now what?
Getting into the Costa Groove
After a rejuvenating swim, I arrived back at the camp, where I met Haydee and Jerry, longtime friends of Shaka and staples here in the Rancho. Haydee, who has been an part of Skaka for a few years, is here from LA. She is surf photographer and a charismatic entrepreneur, here launching her new company “Pollo Pass“. Right away I realize she is quite the entertainer, with her great sense of humor that is perfect for guest relations.
Then of course we have Jerry, a Captain and surf instructor from West Plam Beach, Fl. Jerry, a veteran of Shaka and childhood friend of Frank Bauer (co-owner), has spent several seasons here providing top notch surf lessons while also proving to be quite the comedian! I then have the pleasure of meeting the Mo’e family co-owners, Chris and Krista. They are also an absolute delight.
Their children are a direct reflection of that! Ki’ili, age seven, their daughter, helped me prepare the rooms for the Ocean Healing Group that arrives with Frank today. Atua, age ten, their son, was my translater as I negotiated with the neighbor regarding a place to live next door to Shaka…smart kid…he said he’d do it for an ice cream! He did a good job, because I got the place and that is a huge relief for me! I’m stoked to live in Playa Hermosa, which is apparently prime real estate!
Great New Possibilities
The best part about this trip, thus far, is the recent discussion to build a yoga shala right here at Shaka! Allowing me to assist in this potential creation is beyond fabulous! This land is sacred and would be the perfect place to have a yoga center! We walked the land yesterday and found the ideal spot, nestled under a green canopy and surrounded by old growth….absolutely gorgeous! A yoga girl’s dream come true!! Toto, I don’t think we’re in Denver anymore….Oh My!!
So, October is supposed to be the peak of rainy season but in this first week it has only really poured down once, while light showers have sprinkled down here and there every so often. The locals are a bit worried because their wells might run a bit dry this year, but I have no complaints because I was able to surf two solid sessions today. There was a light offshore during the morning that made available some speedy low/tide barrels. The sun got hot early and my back was feeling burnt approaching my second hour in the water. The afternoon session didn’t have such a fortunate offshore but it was still clean and the swell filled in a bit more, offering overhead peaks up and down the beach.
My psuedo- routine is slowly taking form here, surf, eat, chill in the hammock reading, random activity (see what Carlos the maintenance dude is tooling around with and if I can help, maybe bike around, go to the store in search of produce or little Tico snacks, maybe flip through some Spanish note cards, draft blog posts, etc) surf again, eat again, and so on. You might think it would get lonely here by myself at night but the family dog, Vida, has taken a liking to me and has been chillin with me here just about every night. She pretty much does my job for me, yapping away at anything and everything that comes near. There are also plenty of jungle noises like cicadas, howler monkeys and off/road vehicles to keep me company at night.
Everyone says the same thing about this place, but I am part of that everyone and I will repeat it, ‘the people here are really nice.’ This place is teeming with smiles, even if you cannot hold a meaningful conversation in the native tongue (I am working on it). I know how to communicate to get what I really need, and I look forward to maybe someday having more philosophical conversations with the Ticos (regardless of the fact that the philosophy here doesn’t need to go much deeper than two words, Pura Vida). That being said, did you know that many nonverbal communication scholars believe that smiles were originally a sign of either submissiveness or threat? Such has been observed in several studies of the ‘higher level’ primates and is assumed to be true for our early human ancestors. This thought popped into my head today after about my 36th smile of the day and was kinda trippin me out because I am sure some of my smiles have at least a little bit of that original submissiveness in them. I am still the new kid in the village, you know. (Note, I got my bachelor degree in Communication and one of my last classes I took was Nonverbal Communication, not just completely pulling facts out of thin air. Matter of fact, the air here isn’t thin at all. It is rich with damp, beachy, rainforesty oxygen). Pure Life, Pure Life. Pura Vida.
Hola a todos. My name is Matt and I will be checking in with you as Shaka’s latest volunteer. Proudly hailing from the golden state of California (San Luis Obispo to be exact), I am here in Playa Hermosa for the warm surf and tranquilo lifestyle. I have been in Costa Rica for almost three months now, just recently returning from my first ‘visa run’ to Nicaragua. Prior to landing at Shaka, I was volunteering as a Research Assistant for PRETOMA, patrolling the beach of Costa De Oro for nesting sea turtles. Two months of long night walks on the beach, tagging and measuring turtles and collecting their eggs was unlike anything I have ever done in my life, but the surf wasn’t much to write home about. After being here in Playa Hermosa just two days, I have already caught some sick waves and am sure I have made the right move coming here.
Back in January, fresh out of college (USC) and free to begin my own personal endless summer, I started Google searching stuff like ‘surf work volunteer Costa Rica.’ This is how I found both PRETOMA and Shaka. So I did the whole 9 to 5 thing for a few months in Cali, to save up cash for the flight and whatnot, then hopped on a plane to Pura Vida land. I have been here since early July and not sure if I will be ready to leave when my time is up (though I always look forward to Thanksgiving with the fam when November comes around). Who knows, maybe I’ll skip the flight if I find another opportunity like the one I have here, near paradise. Vamos a Ver (We’ll see!)
For now, all I know is that I will be here for the whole month of October, holding down the fort as night watch while everything is closed for the rainy season. I’ve been hooked up with a bed in the ‘board room,’ access to the fully equipped kitchen and a laptop with fast internet, so, needless to say, I am stoked.
Hola! I’m Erica, Shaka’s first Irish volunteer. I’ve been here a few weeks and it’s been great. Playa Hermosa is like a desert island – coconuts and driftwood being lapped by the waves and howler monkeys swinging from the trees. The best view of the playa is from “out the back” beyond the broken waves, where I was catching (or rather attempting to catch) green waves with Chris, Shaka’s surf instructor and one of the guests last week. You can sit on your board and take it all in while you wait for the next wave…nothing but lush forest canopy from the hills to the shore. It was one of those perfect days – clean, consistent waves, not a cloud in the sky and very few surfers out. If only I could find me lucky charms that Chris winds me up about, every day would be like that!
Surfing here in warm water and hot weather is quite different to memories of surfing in Ireland – squeezing into wet, thick wetsuits, turning blue and numb, teeth chattering, and racing from the blustery weather for a hot shower! Ireland makes up for its weather in other ways, but I’m happy in Costa Rica for now and looking forward to improving my surfing
Hi everyone, its Kelsey the new volunteer here at Shaka.
I’m a snowboard instructor from Whistler, British Columbia, Canada and this is my second trip to Costa Rica. I’ve been staying here at camp for just over a week and I couldn’t be happier! My first day here I took a quad to Montezuma with Brian, the previous volunteer, and it was a great way to get to know the area. On the second night a small earthquake shook the support beams of the rancho, my first earthquake ever! I’ve been surfing in the white wash, and waiting for the waves to calm down a bit to a size I can handle. The beach is so beautiful and has a nice sandy bottom, great for surfing or just relaxing and soaking up the sun. It took me two nights to master the Indo Board but I’ve got it down now; its a great way to keep fit and have lots of laughs with friends at camp once the sun goes down. I’ve biked into town to get groceries, including the most fresh and delicious pineapple I’ve ever had. Swinging on the hammock with a book in hand is a great way to relax after a day at the beach.
I have already met so many great people, both locals and expats, and I can’t wait to find out what Shaka has in store for me next!
The Balance board is a great way to gain core strength in the lower body. It simulates the rotation of weight from the back and front legs while surfing. It usually starts off with one of us crouching really low (as if we were inside of a barrel), and then doing a one-footed stance, and then escalates to using one foot and one hand to balance. I recommend balance boards at all surf camps because they are a great when the waves are not ideal or at night.
Moe, Jed, Drew(2 guests here at Shaka), and I traveled to the hardware store yesterday to buy PVC pipe to create homemade surfboard racks for our bicycles. We got enough supplies for three racks (plus some extras) and the cost was around $15 per rack. The racks only took about 20 minutes to make and are expected to withstand the rain and mud from the rainy season. I would reccomend checking out this website for easy, step-by-step instructions! http://www.surfing-waves.com/howto/make_bike_rack.htm .