This week we are sharing the confessions of a volunteer and the Barefoot Blogger, aka Lara Healy.
Lara has been one of our longest residential volunteers staying with us for nearly 8 months. With her knowledge and foresight, she has been an instrumental force in growing our organic garden.
What made you decide to volunteer at Blue Osa?
When I decided to travel abroad for a year I began looking for an eco-yoga retreat in Costa Rica that needed a volunteer gardener. When I stumbled upon Blue Osa I thought it was too good to be true! It was everything I was looking for. After chatting with Aaron and Adam on Skype I knew I had found my new home.
What was your first impression of Blue Osa when you got here and how has it changed?
I felt like I had landed in paradise. From the very first moment I arrived I felt like a part of the Blue Osa family. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. Looking around that first day, I’m sure I looked like a kid at Disney Land with my mouth gaping open and stars in my eyes. I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.
After living here for six magical months I continue to revisit those first moments of awe. It remains just as spectacular now as it was on my first day. However, it is even more precious now because I have been able to build relationships with my fellow volunteers, co-workers, and the local community. Every day I give thanks for being invited to volunteer at Blue Osa.
What is your favorite thing about Blue Osa?
It is nearly impossible to pick just one thing. However, if I have to choose I would say that the people here are what make it most special. Everyone genuinely cares for one another. They help and support each other, and we laugh together so much! The community here has become a part of my family.
What will be your fondest memory when you leave Blue Osa?
There have been so many over the last six months. I cannot pick one, but, I can give you a top 5:
- Days in the garden ~ The precious moments that passed in the Blue Osa garden will remain with me forever. It was a site of growth for me. It challenged me physically, demanded of me emotionally, and offered an abundant education. The garden was also the location where I made many friends with the Blue Osa staff, guests and other volunteers. We helped each other and learned together as our organic gardening experiment unfolded. It was a community effort and the days in the garden were a huge highlight of my experience.
- Evenings at the dinner table ~ So many evenings of laughing so hard that we could hardly breathe, mixed with indulging in delicious farm-to-table meals. Those nights will always stand out in my mind when I think back on my time at Blue Osa.
- Sunrise each morning ~ Waking up early has never been my thing, however, at Blue Osa, I found myself eager to watch the sunrise each morning. It became my daily ritual. It offered a quiet and meditative start to my day.
- Yoga ~ The yoga at Blue Osa has changed my life. Having the opportunity to participate in so many different classes taught by international teachers has expanded and deepened my personal practice dramatically. I am so grateful for all the instructors that I have had the privilege to know and learn from.
- Being immersed in nature ~ The Osa Peninsula is such a remote, bio-diverse, and unique environment. Being surrounded by a dense tropical rainforest set the stage for a totally unique and life-altering experience.
What did you find most rewarding about volunteering?
The most rewarding part of my volunteer experience here has been watching the garden evolve. It has been such a thrill to witnessing the growth of the seeds we planted six months ago that are now producing food for our kitchen. And it has been an honor to watch the staff members get excited about contributing their knowledge, experience, and efforts to growing the organic garden; it has really been a community mission. There are moments when I stand in the garden, surrounded by tomato and pepper plants, and tears come to my eyes. It has been an unforgettable experience to be a part of this beautiful transformation.
What did you find most challenging about volunteering?
The physical labor that goes into building a garden has been the most difficult for me. It is really hard work! I’m up and in the garden by 6:00 a.m. every day. The sun starts to get really hot by 7:30 a.m. But at the end of each day I go to bed feeling fulfilled and satisfied by the work I’ve put in, and I wake up eager to do it again the next morning.
What piece of advice do you want to leave behind for future volunteers?
Arrive at Blue Osa with an open heart and an intent to serve. Work hard and laugh a lot. This place is truly paradise, and what you put into it, you will receive back ten-fold.
Thank you Blue Osa for all the amazing memories, I’m so grateful for everything you have given to me and I will always smile fondly when I remember the experience.
About the author
Lara is the current garden volunteer at Blue Osa. She is originally from Minnesota and spent the last three years in Colorado. In 2013 she decided to spend a year abroad focusing on travel, yoga & gardening.