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A Volunteer Experience at Cascada Elysiana, Costa Rica

Updated: Dec 8, 2018

At Cascada Elysiana, we thrive to co-create a community of locals, workshop leaders, and volunteers. Our volunteer house can host up to 6 people at a time. We thought it’s a good idea to lift the curtain a bit and show you what you can expect from volunteering with us.

Love Breakfast? Create delicious meals for our guests and community :)

Meet our volunteer Elana O’Shea, 23, from California, who stayed with us for three weeks.

My decision to work at Cascada Elysiana was very spontaneous: a good friend of mine worked in San José. She told me about the beauty of Costa Rica. I browsed WorkAway and found the Eco Lodge. I contacted Michael, one of the owners, and asked if I could come down on (very) short notice. “No problem,” he said.

So, two days later, I found myself on a plane to San Jose.

Local Hospitality and an Early Arrival My adventure kicked off before I even showed up at the lodge.

The bus arrived much earlier than I had expected. I found myself waiting at a makeshift bus stop, wet from the rain. I could not contact Anne, the manager, but waiting two hours was no option for me. So I decided to hitchhike the 5 kilometers.

A jam-packed car pulled over; the driver motioned me to come in.

We squeezed all my bags in the trunk and wobbled up the gravel road. The people were really friendly and I was happy to practice my Spanish. On both sides of the road, lush green hills extended for as far as I could see. The driver pointed to what seemed like the horizon, saying that it was actually the sea. After two kilometers, we reached a fork in the road.

The car went left, the Lodge was located further on the right.

Just then a local guy who I’d seen on the bus walked up. He laughed and offered to help me with my bags. And so we walked all the way to Cascada Elysiana, chatting and laughing in the rain. When Anne saw me, she was shocked at my early – and soaking wet – arrival.

But it was all good, I had gotten my first taste of adventure.

Slow Down, Breath – The Life at the Eco Lodge Let me tell you a bit about my daily routine at the lodge...

Typically, I awoke at 5.30 am when the sun came up. I had plenty of time to do yoga and meditate on the wooden deck. At times, Toucans sat in the trees just next to me; Monkeys came by every now and then. After my morning practices I made breakfast and coffee, read a bit before starting my shift. The next four hours I dedicated to work: cooking for the guests, sweeping the decks and raking the hiking paths, watering plants in the greenhouse, shopping for food, doing laundry and all kinds of other work.

At first, I found it difficult to adjust to the flow of the jungle and quiet down my mind: I was used to the busy life of the city, always thinking and multitasking. After a while, I really enjoyed the slower pace and rooted myself in the moment by doing simple work.

I gave myself time to think with a fresh perspective.

In the afternoon, I lazed in the hammocks, went on hikes, swam in the waterfall or practiced more meditation: a habit I’d picked up from two fellow volunteers. Night fell around 5:30 pm. We would cook dinner together, sit around the bonfire or watch movies on the big screen.

I went to bed around 9:30 pm and enjoyed this healthy sleeping rhythm.

A Magical Experience At the risk of sounding airy, my time at Cascada Elysiana felt dreamlike to me.

The waterfall is magical and often carried me into a state of deep introspection and relaxation. Nature around the lodge is beautiful and raw: all the different butterflies, birds, and plants, plus we grew bananas, spinach, pineapples, and a lot more!

At night, I loved listening to the sounds of the jungle!

This waterfall is just a 7-minute walk from our lodge !

In retrospect, I learned to calm down my thinking and rejoiced in simple work. Cooking became one of my favorite things to do. I expressed myself artistically behind the pan and pot, created new dishes with all-fresh ingredients.

I would recommend Cascada Elysiana to everyone willing to leave behind the hustle and bustle and open up to experiencing a slower, more connected way of life.

Feeling Called to Volunteer in Costa Rica?

At Cascada Elysiana, we see volunteering as a way to take a break from the fast pace of city life, reground yourself in the jungle by doing simple, physical work and putting your unique skills to use to co-create our community and preserve nature.

If you want to come down to Costa Rica and put your skills to use at the lodge, talk to us about what you want to do. We’re happy to design projects according to your skill set, especially if you’re good in the kitchen or handy with woodwork. But also if you just want to get out of the city and lend us a hand with daily tasks, reach out to us.

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