Introducing Johannah

 Johannah's own crooked path from Bayfield, WI  to Samara, Costa Rica

If you want to know the whole story, we should prolly sit and have a coffee and contemplate life choices for a minute. I sometimes think something as simple as playing basketball versus joining the ski team, in high school, was a turning point to how I got to Costa Rica. Pretty wild, huh? Anyway... for now I will give you a brief look at how a volunteer trip in 2006 led me to living in Playa Sámara, Costa Rica for the last 10 years --they have been the best 10 years of my life.
I first came to Costa Rica on a volunteer program in 2006. The program started with one week studying Spanish at Intercultura Heredia Campus (language immersion and homestay), then two weeks volunteering and two more weeks traveling the country. I came with zero Spanish but quickly felt embraced by the country; its people, its language, culture and more. With that experience I knew I needed Spanish language in my life. When I returned to my home university, I started taking Spanish classes, changed my major to Environmental Science and continued on my ever evolving journey.
In the next few years I'd enjoyed multiple trips through Central America; ie Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and lots of ports in between. By 2010, I was heading for South America, sola, and thought another chunk of time spent in Costa Rica would be good to build confidence, improve Spanish and prepare for another continent. After plenty of research online I remembered my positive experience with ‘Intercultura Spanish School’, and I reached out about the possibility of an internship with them. At that time, their positions in Heredia were full, but they reviewed my resume and thought I would be a good fit for La Asociación CREAR, a non-profit they were hosting at the time at their Playa Sámara Campus.
Ahhh the nostalgia just thinking about this… Playa Sámara… After almost five years of traveling in Costa Rica, I had not heard of this place and I thought, why not? I'll give it a go. So, before heading to South America I agreed to volunteer in Playa Sámara at La Asociación CREAR for three months and THEN I would travel to Peru, Colombia and final destination Mexico.
Once I arrived in Sámara, everything changed. I fell completely in love with this little beach community. It was everything I wanted and more. Subconsciously, I had been searching for my place. Somewhere to lay my roots.
In Samara, I was living in a little apartment with a cold shower, riding a bicycle with a basket, carrying my daily lunch of fresh cut plantains and local fish to work at CREAR. I loved working with kids, speaking Spanish all day, meeting new people and feeling more and more like this place was my new home. After getting out of college I had been struggling with the idea that “I had to change the world”, but when I was in Sámara, I realized my definition of the world had to change. I didn't have to overwhelm myself with everything on such a large scale, my world could be defined as I choose. The people in the same room with me, or the children in my lessons. One minute of connection, sharing ideas and new thoughts; that can be enough to make a difference. That is when I knew Sámara was my new home.
- Johannah


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