My names Joshua Nyul and I’m 23 years old. September last year I decided to volunteer in the Costa Rica Torgeguru National park working with the turtles and animals there. Looking online for places to potentially go and volunteer for I found a few companies, one was by the name of GVI.
I found GVI when I was looking online for some volunteering courses abroad. I haven’t travelled much beforehand but have a keen interest in looking after animals and the planet. It took a while to decide who to go with and where to go but GVI seemed to stand out to me. As quite a professional organisation they look as if they are doing something good for the planet and its inhabitants. The website was very welcoming and easy to navigate. Thankfully I also had a bit of help from old tutors of mine who helped determine that GVI was a respectable organisation to go with. Looking through their array of volunteering options I knew I wanted to do conservation, although I also like the idea of teaching abroad.
I’m a bit of a bug and snake person so I knew I wanted to volunteer with the more exotic animals. I looked for more isolated rainforest locations which led me to pick Costa Rica. I then picked the Reptile and Amphibian diversity research project, I’m so glad I did.
I live in the UK so travelling from Cornwall to Costa Rica by myself was such a scary thought. It’s not something I’ve ever done before and I was nervous, but it just shows you got to go for things in your life. Having not travelled before I managed to bring a phone that didn’t work in Costa Rica, a new sim I bought also didn’t work. To make things worse, my plane landed in Panama City rather than Costa Rica the first night. Luckily, I met someone else who was on the same project as me who could speak Spanish. We explored Panama before our next flight to Costa Rica, GVI kept in contact with her and sent someone out the next day for us. Arriving in Costa Rica we met with a staff member named Amber who help us get to the site of Jalova.
When arriving in Jalova, I was instantly welcomed with open arms from strangers who I can now call my friends. The staff were very down to earth people who taught me all I needed to know about living in Costa Rica. I learnt a lot about the culture, completing surveys and the importance of coconuts, which I later made into shoes. I have to thank Amber the most, she was such a lovely person who never had a negative thing to say about anyone. I loved the way it was there, so far away from the grid and being able to just live life how it was intended. Being a meat eater going to a pure vegetarian diet really did me some good, I felt a lot healthier.
My project was more focused in the rainforests, doing surveys with birds and reptiles, although I had a lot of time to work with the sea turtles and the jaguars as well. The jag-walk which was a 15-mile trip on the beaches was one of the most rewarding experiences I could have asked for… and I did it twice! I’m glad I had such a varied time there.
I generally think working abroad in an organisation like this helps your future within conservation. It helps give you a taste of what to expect before fully committing yourself to a degree in it. Plus, it’s helping the planet and that’s always a good thing. I aim to go back and It has concreted my love for conservation.