What Living in the Costa Rica Rainforest Taught Me

November 4, 2016
What Living in the Costa Rica Rainforest Taught Me

My home is located quite literally in the center of the Costa Rica rainforest. When I open my door each morning, a sea of green awaits. Looming trees, dense ferns and the occasional purple wild jungle flower surround the red one-story house where I dwell with my coworkers.

For the past six months, I have been living in the rainforest of Costa Rica, working for Outward Bound, an outdoor educational company. Our base is located in the mountains near San Jose. We are at such a high elevation that there aren’t any sloths, monkeys, toucans, or any of the colorful animals that Costa Rica is known for. But while I may not be greeted by monkeys on a daily basis, butterflies, moths and insects galore are part of my daily scene.

From what to wear in the ever-changing climate to harmonizing with creepy crawlies, I’ve had to learn many lessons in order to survive in the rainforest. Though I’m a long way from mastering the art of living in the jungle, “poco a poco” I’ve started to adapt to this new environment. The rainforest has also taught me five important life lessons:

What Living in the Costa Rica Rainforest Taught Me

1. Be adaptable

Weather patterns in my area of the rainforest read like a middle school math equation with an endless number of permutations. Mornings are usually sunny and relatively warm, but beyond that there’s no predicting what the day will bring… low temperatures, high temperatures, rain that lasts for 20 minutes, rain that lasts all evening… the only guarantees are that the weather will change every hour and I’ll likely end up cold.

The jungle has taught me to dress in layers, anticipate the changing weather, and always be open to change.

2. Not all jungles are the same

Before I moved to the rainforest, I had a very distinct image in my mind of what this ecosystem looked like. The image included monkeys, colorful birds and light, afternoon rain showers. In reality, the jungle where I live has no monkeys, few birds and two distinct seasons – the dry season, which is sunny and the wet season, which has heavy rains that usually last all day.

In fact, there are many different types of rain forests found on our planet. And, in the jungle, as in life, broad-brushing stereotypes seldom prove to be true.

3. Exposure can help you overcome your fears

Costa Rica has taught me I have many fears I wasn’t previously aware of. One night, when I came home to find two fist-sized spiders in my room, my fear of spiders was revealed. When I first encountered spiders, I would panic and ask one of my co-workers to remove them for me. With each spider sighting my fear lessened and I became more and more comfortable being able to remove them myself.

Fears of spiders, just like most of our fears in life, can be overcome by exposing ourselves to them time and time again.

4. Get up early if you want to enjoy the daylight

In Costa Rica, the sun sets between 5 and 6 p.m. year round. On top of this, during the rainy season, it usually starts raining around noon, and might continue all afternoon and night, making after work hours feel like midnight. The sun rises around 6 a.m. and usually the mornings are clear and slightly warm so I’ve started getting up earlier to enjoy some sunlight before starting work. The early bird catches the worm in life and in the rainforest.

5. Kindness Matters Most

No matter what ecosystem you find yourself in, change is always difficult. Learning how to adapt to a rainy jungle and bleak darkness in a relatively isolated rainforest where I am often alone, has been challenging for me. On rough days when I have had an especially upsetting encounter with a spider or have found myself craving the comforts of my life back in the United States, nothing makes me feel as at peace as a smile from a stranger or co-worker.

Little gestures, such as an understanding ear have made all the difference to me as I’ve adapted to my new life here. Above all, kindness from others has given me the strength to move forward and look for the bright side within my rainy jungle.

What Living in the Costa Rica Rainforest Taught Me

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Have you enjoyed traveling to Costa Rica? What where your impressions? Email us to share your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

What Living in the Costa Rica Rainforest Taught Me

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About Lauren Salisbury

Lauren Salisbury is the founder of Something in Her Ramblings, a travel blog aimed at inspiring women and solo travelers to explore the open road. A California native, she has found the best way to get to know a region of the world is to live there, and with that in mind has worked in four countries.

While earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, she wrote for NBC News and spent six months living in Melbourne, Australia. After graduating, she moved to Florida to work in Public Affairs at Walt Disney World Resort. In 2013 she took a leap of faith and left her settled existence in the United States behind to teach English in Madrid. During this year she fulfilled her goal of visiting 25 countries in her 25th year of life.

Lauren’s next adventure takes place in Costa Rica, where she is currently living in the rainforest and working as Social Media & Marketing Manager for Outward Bound.

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