|--- LETTER 1 ---
I'm thrilled that Finca La Flor would pass me on as a reference for them! I had the privilege and great pleasure of volunteering on the finca from October 2002- January 2003. It can be quite cool and rainy at this time in the central valley and warm clothes (and water proof) are highly recommended.
There have been a lot of changes since I was there, but I understand (from continued contact) that the programs and opportunities have been enriched even more since that time.
I took my beginning Spanish lessons there (I had no prior language training) and found myself quite well able to move about the country thereafter. Transportation around Costa Rica is cheap and easy, but be careful in San Jose where I had my pack stolen. Keep it attached to your body at all times!
I was also traveling alone for the first time (at 42 years of age!) and somewhat nervous when I first arrived. Everyone was so warm and welcoming I felt like a family member in no time! Also, the wide variety of guests/volunteers from around the world was fascinating. Much of the work I did involved feeding and cleaning goat habitat, harvesting plant material for animal feed, harvesting plant material for human food, and other tasks expected in the normal maintenance of a property. It is advisable to have a good pair of gardening and leather gloves.
The finca is well integrated into the tiny community of La Flor and I had wonderful experiences with some of the families there (birthdays, graduations, funerals).
I'm truly envious if you are heading down this year. I will return as soon as I have the time again.
--- LETTER 2 ---
We would like to thank you for our wonderful experience at the farm.
From the moment we arrived everyone was friendly and helpful. We loved our cabin and settled in right away. We found our Spanish classes, and being immersed in the language throughout the day, challenging and stimulating. We have come away with improved skills and with a new vigor and determination to continue with the language.
The work at the farm was an incredible experience. From the start we felt safe and secure. The work was carefully chosen and appropriately supervised. Something that we both noticed was that each task was given meaning. We came to the end of each day having accomplished something, having learned and having a lot of laughs, too!
Beyond the peace and beauty, and the pleasure of the work, there were two things that struck us particularly. First was the relationship with our food. Day to day here we have come so far from our food. It was such a pleasure to work at growing our food, to see the how and the why, and to savour every bite. Second was the energy of our hosts - all of you - and your desire to share and to learn. It was amazing to see how many times one or more of you would make the journey to Cartago or to San Jose and return to the farm with fresh knowledge that you could share and put into practice right away.
Please extend our greetings and thanks to everyone.
Sheila and Hugo
---LETTER 3 ---
My experience as a volunteer at "Finca La Flor del Paraíso"
I stayed at the Finca about 5 weeks and it was more than worth it. To me it was an excellent way to get to know Costa Rica from the inside. I haven't been travelling a lot through the country because I felt I could get to know it better by simply staying here, working, talking to the locals and learning what they think and feel. People here are really friendly and I highly recommend you to learn Spanish for you will miss a lot if you can't talk to them.
If you're interested in nature and organic agriculture there's also a lot to learn here. To me it was really impressive. Work sometimes can be tough, especially in the rainy season, but this is just part of daily life here and still I liked it a lot.
Be aware that the village, La Flor, is on the countryside and there are no bars around. I didn't mind at all, because we always had good fun here. You definetly don't need alcohol and drugs to enjoy yourself.
By the way- the food is delicious here (non-vegetarians have survived pretty well so far).
--- LETTER 4 ---
I worked as a volunteer at Finca La Flor for six weeks. During that time, I worked on the farm in the mornings and in the afternoons studied with ASODECAH's Alternative Language School. The classes were small so I benefitted from intensive tution but in a relaxed and friendly environment. I came to Costa Rica with no Spanish so specifically choose to start my 3-month trip at Finca La Flor - and it provided the perfect opportunity to volunteer at a worthwhile project whilst learning the language. Because the finca employes local workers, you have real motivation to learn Spanish so you can work usefully and get to know everybody that bit better. I'm very glad I started my trip at Finca La Flor because you have a chance to see 'everyday' Costa Rica rather than just travelling the usual back-packer route. It is also a lovely, friendly place to return to - I went back to the farm for a couple of weeks before going home to the UK, and I wasn't the only volunteer to make repeat visits.