' I LOVE this experience in chitwan for though short period! '

Xue Ying Fiona Wang

medical volunteer

medical volunteer

Costa Rica FAQs

Disclaimer: The information given in this FAQ's page is generic. You should verify critical information such as visa-related issues, health and safety, customs and transportation with the relevant authorities prior to traveling. Please be aware that information given in FAQ's may change at any time. In effect, we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. For the latest updates, please contact us or our in-country coordinator(s).

General Information

The founder of RCDP has been involved in volunteer abroad business for the last 10 years. During this time, he has worked with more than 2000 volunteers and more than 200 universities, colleges, and schools groups.

Working with inspiring college students and humanitarian volunteers was very motivating as well as very enjoyable and presented many exciting learning opportunities. This experience encouraged him to start his own volunteer abroad program where affordable prices, premium programs and meaningful contributions to deprived communities would become the key components of the programs.

With this in mind, while setting up volunteer and travel abroad organization, we have selected many safe and culturally rich destinations where volunteers can make meaningful contributions, immerse in local culture, and get enriched from volunteer abroad experience. In each destination, we have carefully selected projects, host families, travel coordinating staff, and placed local support staff. We have provided them with extensive training to manage the program with professional services that will be delivered with care and respect for all volunteers. We are now proud of our coordinators, host families, host projects, and staff as all of them have at least 4 years of working experience with international volunteers. To meet your expectation, they are committed to working hard, delivering professional services, and turning your volunteer abroad experience into a memorable journey.

Information on Application

Starting application

There are two options available to those applying for volunteer positions in the Argentina programs:

After submitting application

Once RCDP receives your application, it will immediately be forwarded to Costa Rica for processing. Our Costa Rica In-Country coordinator will then carefully review your application to ensure you get placed in the project that matches your criteria and qualifications.

Duration of the application process

Once the Costa Rica In-Country coordinator finalizes and forwards us the detail, we will immediately send it to you. The whole process normally takes 1-2 weeks. However, this can sometimes take longer.

You will also find an invoice requesting you to pay the program fee along with the placement details.

Preparation

Once you receive the placement details, you can even call our Costa Rica office directly and speak to our In-Country coordinator and ask any questions that might help you prepare for the trip.

Preparation for a Costa Rica trip includes: reading about Costa Rica, vaccination, Visa arrangement, booking tickets. If you experience ANY problems, please call RCDP office.

Once you purchase air tickets, they should immediately submit the flight details to BOTH RCDP and Costa Rica office.

Information on Airport and Arrival

Arrival Airport

Please arrive at Gale Juan Santa Maria International Airport (SJO) San Jose, Costa Rica.

One of our representatives will be waiting for you in the arrival lounge holding a placard with your name on it. This will happen without fail when you provide your travel itinerary to our office. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can call the Costa Rica office and talk to our In-Country coordinator prior to your departure for Costa Rica.

Flight Delayed or Missed

If your flight gets delayed or if you miss your flight and book yourself on a later flight, please let us know immediately by either calling our office. You must try to call first and then email the details if possible. Look at your placement details for all the contact information.

If you can not make any contact and no one receives you at the airport, look at your placement details, hire a taxi and go to the hotels recommended on it. In the airport in Gale Juan Santa Maria International Airport San Jose, take a pre-paid taxi.

Let the In-Country coordinator know your whereabouts and he will arrange pick up for you.

Arrival Day

Ideally, volunteers must arrive one day before the start of the program. If volunteers arrive more than one day earlier or remain after the close of their program, they will be responsible for their own for providing their own accommodation and meal.

Information on Accommodation and Meal

RCDP runs a home stay program in Costa Rica. Volunteers will enjoy this service. You will have a private room and share the kitchen and bathroom facilities. Many host families do not have hot water. You can ask someone to do your dirty laundry for a small fee. The arrangement entirely depended on you and the host family.

You will enjoy three local meals every day. You can request your lunch to be packed to take it with you, if you will be away during lunch. We do not cater any special dietary needs. You are more than welcomed to bring your own special diets and prepare them yourself.

Please rest assured that your stay at home stay will be safe and comfortable.

Once the volunteer program start, our local staff stays in touch with volunteers. We visit our volunteers every 2 weeks (if possible) and you are always welcome at the office. We recommend that the volunteers stop by the office once a week if they are in the local area just to let us know how they are doing with their home stay and project. If your project is very far, then our local staff maintains communication by email and phone.

Information on Visa

If you are a citizen of US, UK or Canada, you can get a visa of 90 days upon arrival. You are warned though that applying upon arrival can sometimes take a long time, so we generally recommend you to get a visa in your home country before your arrival.
Others are advised to get the visa prior arrival. For details of Costa Rican embassies or consulates in your country, visit: http://www.learn4good.com/travel/costa_rica_embassies.htm

If you intend to stay more than 90 days, please apply for extension in the first week in Costa Rica with Immigration Department. Alternatively, you can exit the country for minimum of 72 hours before re-entering on a new visa.

Information on Health and Safety

Visit the sites listed below and acquire as much information as possible. Remember there is no harm in knowing more when it comes to health and safety.

General Health Tips for Volunteer in costa rica

  • In most of the project locations, drinking water is safe. However, in rural areas, drink only bottled, boiled water or carbonated drinks of cans and bottles. In the beaches, tap water is not considered clean.
  • Buy bottled water from proper outlets. Be wary of fake bottled water which are available everywhere. Always make sure the seal is not broken and the cap not tampered.
  • Avoid eating food from road-side stalls. Eat unpeeled fruits and avoid fresh salads, especially in small hotels. If you are forced to eat food at some place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot.
  • Avoid eating food from road side stalls/vendors. Don't eat unpeeled fruits or fruits that have already been cut by unknown handlers on the street. If you are forced to eat food at a place that you have doubts about, make sure the food is served hot and well cooked.
  • If you require any prescription drugs, bring enough for the duration of your stay in Costa Rica. They will need to be carried in their original prescription bottle and the prescription must be in your name.
  • Please carry a small health kit which should include medicines to cure upset stomachs, some antiseptic cream, hydration powder, deer mosquito repellant, sun block, band aids, etc.

Information on Vaccinations

Please visit Center for Disease Control's website ( www.cdc.gov ) for traveler's health recommendations. Your travel doctor will be knowledgeable about current epidemics and should be consulted.

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

See a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to South America including Argentina. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • Routine: such as for influenza, chickenpox (or varicella), polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) are given at all stages of life
  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • Hepatitis B , especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • Malaria: if you are traveling to a malaria-risk area in this region, see your health care provider for a prescription anti-malarial drug.
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
  • Yellow fever , for travelers to endemic areas in Panama
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria , measles , and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.

Required Vaccinations

  • None

Against mosquito born diseases wear long-sleeves and pants (especially early evening) and also use insect repellants.

Information on Monetary Issues

Currency

Costa Rican currency is "Colon."

Exchanging

Dollars can be changed at the exchange counters inside the airport. Many businesses accept dollars at the current exchange rate.

ATM/Debit Card/Debit Card/Travelers Checks

ATM machines are available at various regions throughout Costa Rica, especially in San Jose and the airport, where the option to take out US dollars or Colon is available.

Do not arrive in Costa Rica without any cash as ATM machines aren't reliable and may fail to accept your card. Check with your bank to confirm that your card will work overseas. Debit cards and credit cards are acceptable at major stores. Travelers' checks are exchanged at the banks. In most locations, you won't be able to exchange them. Debit card is the best way of getting money out and ATM vendors are available in San Jose and other places. Visa, Master Card and American Express are accepted in large stores and hotels in larger cities.

Credit card fraud is a big problem in Costa Rica. Do not use cards at any smaller or non-reputable locations.

Find the Exchange Rate for Real at http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Budget

You can get by with $20 a day provided you are careful in taking your money out. Accommodation and meal during your project comes with program fee but if you want to explore Costa Rica and shop, budget accordingly.

Information on Field Support and Supervision

We keep in touch with our volunteers. Our staffs visit volunteers every 2 weeks. You are encouraged to contact us if you want to speak with us on anything. You can also visit us. You will be provided with all the contact information.

If you work in projects that are far from our program office, you will be contacted by email, phone and fax.

Information on Communicating

Internet cafes are found in and around San Jose.

You can also use international phone cards to call home. You will be provided with full contact details of our office in Costa Rica. You are encouraged to call us should you want to do so. In addition, our program staff will visit you regularly to check upon you.

Information on Weather

The weather in Costa Rica is predominantly tropical and subtropical. From December to April, Costa Rica is in the midst of dry season. From May until November, rainy season comes to the country. The highlands in Costa Rica enjoy cooler temperature.

Typically though, the northern regions are hotter, while Patagonia and further south is extremely cold.

Information on Materials to Bring

  • Camera
  • Mobile phone (you can use mobile phones after changing SIM cards)
  • Sleeping bag (only if you want to camp outside)
  • Mosquito repellents
  • Insect repellents
  • Sun block lotions
  • Volunteer hat (if you are joining conservation or construction project)
  • Some books of Costa Rica
  • Map of Costa Rica
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid kits
  • Flash light
  • Electricity adapter/converter
  • Sunglasses
  • Walking shoes (for work and travel)
  • Towel

Information on Bringing Gifts for Project

It will be a nice gesture if you bring items like books, pencils, color pens, toys and games, especially if you are volunteering in schools and orphanages.

You can also bring things like chocolates, CD, T-Shirts to the host family.

More Information on Costa Rica

History

Costa Rica gain independence from Spain in 1823. Democracy began to appear in Costa Rica in the 1920's and 1930's. General Tomas Guardia Gutierrez contributed many things to Costa Rica during his presidency, mainly a railroad projects that allowed new exports and attracted foreign business. The wealthy foreign investors started banana plantations along the railways run mostly by American businessmen.

Coffee became the country's major crop. People willing to grow coffee were given free land to work on and the government further assisted its flourishing by constructing roads to transport harvests to the markets. The people who became wealthy by growing coffee gained political influence. They used this influence to improve education and infrastructure.

The election in 1948 was the most divisive and led to a civil war due to political and civil unrest. A junta ruled briefly following the completion of war. A new constitution was adopted in 1949 by an elected constituent assembly and the government was handed over, from the junta to a new president and Legislative Assembly.

The 1980's were characterized by political and military conflicts, wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador, with ongoing war in Guatemala. In late 80s, the crisis was over and Costa Rica saw steady economic growth.

Culture and Religion

The official religion in Costa Rica is Roman Catholic. The religious affiliation is mostly followed as custom, through baptisms, communion, weddings and funerals. The Roman Catholic religion is a demonstration of Costa Rica's Spanish history. The country is a Spanish conquest that maintains the language and religion of Spain.

The most definitive aspect of the Costa Rica culture is their devotion to getting along. They begin and end every conversation with greetings and compliments and maintain good ground at all costs, with everyone.

The culture is family oriented. Most Costa Rican's have their most intimate friendships with other family members. People in the higher classes have more opportunities to have relationships outside of their families. The people of Costa Rica identify as part of their family, as a Costa Rican and as a world citizen. Traditional roles are maintained in Costa Rican families, for the most part, men enjoy more freedom than women, reflecting the machismo of the larger society.

Geography

Costa Rica borders Nicaragua in the North. It has a shared border with Panama to the southeast and both the west and east boarders are shoreline, the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The interior is a highland of continuous mountain ranges with several active volcanoes.

Cuisine

Costa Rican cuisine relies heavily on starches and red meat, although the ingredients vary according to social class and urban or rural residence. Rice, beans, plantains, and potatoes are the staples. Like many Latin American countries, sweet pastries, breads, and cakes are very popular. The food tastes good and is seasoned without being overly spicy. Food is seasoned with a mixture of dry spices and sauces that give it a Costa Rican flavor. Some of the most common spices include fresh coriander and jalapeno chili peppers. There are many food in Costa Rica's palate that are Spanish in origin, a classic beef stew and vegetable stew, also a common breakfast plate known as Gallo Pinto.