Costa Rica represented my first real international experience. I was lucky enough to take a trip here to work with local communities in the heart of the country. We worked on a farm, carrying wooden posts through the rainforest as monkeys swung overhead, and ran a football (soccer) camp for the local children. Seeing the Costa Rican lifestyle and its differences from my own American upbringing shifted my worldview tremendously, and began the love of travel that still guides me today.
Years later, I returned to this region as a more experienced traveler, and spent a few months traveling through Nicaragua and Guatemala with some close friends, volunteering and backpacking while learning about the culture and practicing my Spanish.