During your leisure time in Costa Rica there are a number of activities that some of our guests enjoy if they want their vacation to include a hands-on cultural dimension. Travelers can participate in some community projects or activities to gain an insight into the Costa Rica culture. What better way to become a temporary member of the Tico community! (TICO pronounced tee-koh is the commonly used endearment term for Costa Ricans).
These are not staged situations to mimic reality, rather they are in fact a chance to join local groups in currently on-going projects or activities at the time of your vacation in Costa Rica. Ask your Concierge cultural activities and other things to do in Costa Rica. At Costa Rica Star Villas, we share the philosophy of being good corporate citizens and from top management to staff members there is a great deal of participation in such activities so your concierge is likely to find something of interest to you. Some of these activities are suitable for participation by children and older adults as well so if you are interested on doing this as a family, it’s quite possible that it could be arranged.
Here are some examples of cultural things to do in Costa Rica:
- Local artists, some of them renowned, lead community groups in painting educational awareness murals in public places such as area schools, playgrounds, street signs, even public trash containers! You don’t need to be an artist yourself and these are great, fun ways to meet people from town, local resident expats and other tourists. Immerse yourself in the fun maybe for half a day and contribute to the aesthetics of the area and environmental education of the community.
- Beach cleanup, where volunteers meet at the beach and trash bags are issued to help pick up trash from the sandy areas-some of it left behind by less responsible visitors or even drift trash from the sea. This often ends with a party of sorts at the beach. Periodically while volunteers clean the beach, certified divers from participating local dive shops, clean the ocean. This is a constant effort and a frequent activity.
- We have a number of things to do in Costa Rica with children in mind. It’s one of our most popular requests. Options include volunteering your time at one of the schools or pre-schools. You can teach the children some craft or talent you might have or teach English or tutor them with their English lessons, for example. Or you might simply request to visit a school and provide a cultural experience to the kids as well by sharing stories or games or practicing your Spanish and having them practice their English with you. This international cultural exchange will be highly valued by the children and you might find it rewarding as well.
- If time is tight you can also make a difference by asking your concierge to connect you with a worthwhile local cause that could use a monetary donation. You might even want to sponsor a child through school and receive reports on their progress. Some people establish a relationship with a school or church or some other organization or even with an individual family and correspond, visit on subsequent trips, or stay in touch electronically. It is a great enrichment for many kids that will not have the opportunity to personally visit another country or become friends with some nice people from abroad. If you are trying to learn or improve your Spanish language skills, this too could be helpful to you.
- Area schools can always use supplies and other materials. There is a group that holds an annual fundraiser to provide a backpack stocked with the school supplies at the beginning of each school year. Others provide the uniforms. In Costa Rica all school children in both private and public schools, wear uniforms.
- If you are an animal lover, there are plenty of things to do in Costa Rica for you here too. There are a couple of animal care organizations that hold monthly neutering and spaying clinics. The cost is minimal but even so, some people can’t afford it and a sponsor would solve the problem. Dedicated volunteers help and many are English speaking expats so if this is your interest, they can always welcome another pair of hands. Or donations for supplies and medications. These groups also find forever homes for dogs and cats and you might be surprised how many Tico dogs have found a family in the US, Canada or some other foreign lands…Even airlines have been known to donate their transportation on special occasions!
- We have a large monkey population in the area and it’s very likely you will get to see them. We of course can never actually guarantee this as they do not live in a zoo, they live as nature intended them too, free on the trees of the area which were their home before the towns existed or the tourists began arriving. As the original villages grew, the surrounding wilderness recessed and in time, the wildlife habitats became reduced and some animals displaced. Monkeys learned to live in proximity with humans and while they don’t directly interact, they are much more likely to come relatively close for you to observe. They travel the same route on their tree canopy trails as they have for years following the new growth of their favorite trees which is their staple food. And so they have their territories and as the new growth is consumed in one area, they move on to another in their circuit. In approximate 10 to 14 days or so they will make their way back to the same area which by then has had time to sprout succulent new growth. The monkeys in the areas where you will stay have become over time used to the presence of humans and have adopted a philosophy of live and let live. They will not come close enough to touch and if they did you never should-these are still wild creatures and could scratch or bite you if they feel threatened, and neither humans nor monkeys are used to physical contact with the other species and either could get ill from some germ for which they have no immunity. However, they will make you laugh and entertain you as they jump from branch to branch and seem to pose for your pictures as they too, observe you. This will likely be one of the unique experiences of your vacation. However, as trees in their feeding route are cut down to make room for streets and buildings, they find themselves without stretches of their ´´tree highway´´ and no way to cross to the next trees in the route. Being resourceful creatures, they discovered that electric and phone lines can be used as bridges and so they climb the poles and walk on the electric cables…and now and then, get electrocuted. This is very sad and there are several organized and coordinated groups working in cooperation with the local electric company to insulate the transformers and electric cables and to install hammock bridges for the monkeys to use instead. The cost of all this, however, is not in the budget of the electric company which does donate the labor of their staff and their equipment to install them in the places which the community helps identify as traditional monkey routes. Much progress has been made and the sad reports of monkeys hurt or worse are not as common but still happen more often than everyone would like. A donation to the local group would be very welcomed and if you were interested on this or in learning more about the program, yourCosta Rica Star Villa concierge will be able to put you in touch with them. The lead people in those groups are local expats and you will be able to communicate with them in English.
- There are animal sanctuaries/rescue places where the staff tends to injured wildlife and tries to restore their health. These places too depend on donations and the help of volunteers.
- These are examples of some community work you could become involved in if you are looking for a rewarding way to become a part of the local community even if in a limited way. Sometimes long term bonds start this way and personal friendships and cooperation extends beyond the one meeting.
If you decide you would be interested in exploring some of these activities to enrich your Costa Rican vacation, mention it to your concierge as early as possible so she can start investigating what will be going on locally at the time of your vacation.