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Trip Down Memory Lane

Seetha Viswanathan

SeethaFive hundred words about my experiences in Costa Rica and what it means to you to travel with purpose – that is what I am supposed to be writing. I had so much to write about!!! “Pleasantly surprised” and “trip down memory lane” are the two major thoughts that came to mind when I looked back at my volunteer trip to Costa Rica with ConservationVIP.

Pleasantly surprised – because the trip exceeded the expectations I had built up in my head, of what to expect. My preconceived expectations were largely through stories I had heard from many of my friends who had visited Costa Rica before me and the numerous wildlife TV shows I have watched over the years. Reality, however, was nothing like my expectations. I knew that Costa Rica had a great reputation for all the wildlife it has but actually being able to see so many exotic, beautiful animals and birds, sometimes up close and personal in the wild, was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

I was even pleasantly surprised by how much of an emotional and spiritual experience releasing the newborn Olive Ridley (and some Greenback) Sea turtle hatchlings was. When I watched the little ones just automatically know which way to go, it made me think of the wondrous ways in which nature works. Like Marco our wonderful guide said, ‘they were setting up their internal GPS system’, 😊.

Two images will stay with me forever – 1. the image of little flippers and heads poking out of the surface of the water as the receding waves carried the hatchlings along into the ocean and 2. The image of the beautiful crisscrossing tracks the turtles left on the sand as they made their way to the ocean, through what must have seemed liked an obstacle course to them.

Turtle heads bobbing in the ocean    turtle tracks crisscrossing

Trip down memory lane – because I found myself saying, “we used to do this in India when I was growing up”, “we had this plant in our garden when I was growing up in India”, “we had monkeys raiding our kitchen when I was growing up in India”. I bet my fellow volunteers got tired of hearing me say this multiple times a day. As annoying as I might have sounded, all these trips down memory lane were my way of grounding myself and reminding myself of all the kindness from strangers that has got me from that village girl to where I am today. They also reminded me of why I ‘travel with purpose’. This is my small way of giving back. It was priceless to see a whole community come together to help each other and lead by example to show the next generation.

Thank you ConservationVIP for providing this opportunity. It is truly my pleasure to have found such a great group of individuals to travel with.

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