I arrived at midnight at what was going to be my new home for the next three months. Rachael, my internship coordinator was waiting for me in front of a reasonable big green house, La casa verde. She had mentioned it to me before in an email when we were communicating about my tasks as the new communications coordinator of Abriendo Mentes, an NGO set up by two Americans in the rural communities of Potrero and Brasilito in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. I was surprised at the surroundings of La Casa Verde. The surroundings were mostly green and wild with vegetation growing everywhere. Monkeys were lying on branches high in the trees were there was somewhat more of a breeze to escape the overwhelming heat of the place. All around the neighbourhood there were local families living either in tin shed huts or houses made out of wood and earth. The wealthier ones were able to afford a house made out of brick and stones. There was a fence built all around La Casa Verde, which I was guessing was to keep intruders out.
When I opened my front door, I stepped in to what was a true luxury of a house, even in the context of European housing. The living room had a sofa and two armchairs that surrounded a small table in the middle. Furthermore there was a TV and shelves filled with novels in English that other volunteers had been leaving since the first one that joined the organisation. The kitchen was quite big too. There was a huge family-sized table for all the volunteers to sit at and share a meal as would be done by the local Ticos. There was big fridge to store most of the food that risks rotting in the insufferable heat of the place. There were ceiling fans in the kitchen, the living room and all bedrooms in the house, which truly was a luxury. Then, there was a small stove with some pots and pans placed on top of it that looked ancient and needed to be scrubbed profoundly before use. Next to the kitchen there was what I call the laundry area with a washing machine almost the size of the fridge dating from around World War 2. There were some metal threads span across the little room that functioned as a drying racks.
I got to choose a room out of two that were left. I went for the bigger one with a private bathroom. I sat down on the bed with my backpack still on my back and contemplated the light blue painted walls around me. A smile appeared on my face at the surprise of what a cosy and beautiful home I was lucky enough to have for the next three months of my life. That night I went to sleep peacefully and excited to what I would start discovering the next days about the community of Potrero.
As beaming rays of sun shone through my window, I woke up to the sound of tropical birds, barking dogs, miauing cats and crowing hens. Aaa, good morning Costa Rica! I was surprised to see it was 6 in the morning and I was wide-awake to start my day. It was probably the jetlag that tricked my body into thinking it was later because I never wake up that early if I don’t have to. Today was my first day of work at Abriendo Mentes as the new Communications Coordinator! I was excited to start learning more about what my tasks and responsibilities would be in the organization and with what kind of projects I would be helping out with. I had 3 hours to kill before I had to report to the office for my first meeting with my new colleagues. I put on a bikini, a t-shirt, some shorts, jumped into my flip-flops and left the house to go and explore my neighbourhood.
There was no one on the streets and everything, by that I mean the one café and supermarket around the corner, were closed. The day was yet to start in the small town of Potrero and I was ahead of everyone else. I walked along a small sandy path that was aligned with wooden houses of local people on one side and a lawn with many trees on the other. I kept on walking and arrived at what was a small bay with the most beautiful white sand and blue waters I had ever seen. Playa Penca was the name of this hidden treasure that would become my private beach to laze around on Sundays when I was off duty.