Quite literally my first moments of arrival at Campanario – helping move this heavy, yet successful raft into the water as our “official” jumping platform and place to hoist our flag!

2 long travel days after leaving Paradise Farms and I arrived at Campanario. I was immediately greeted by the 2 volunteers (M&O) that I’d be spending the rest of my time there with.

To give a little bit of insight into Campanario, this was not my first time here. I came ~2 years earlier on a study abroad trip! That’s how I knew about Campanario and ended up landing a position there so quickly after applying.
Campanario is a biological research station that is devoted to conservation and environmental education, taking in student groups from all over the world (both high school and college). When I came as a college student, we did hermit crab population surveys, studied bee behaviors, and learned about the rainforest ecosystem, as well as gaining better understanding of how conservation is implemented and rewarded throughout Costa Rica.

Reflecting on this time, it’s hard to put into words what I experienced there. I was growing as a person (as always – but it was hitting harder than usual at this time). While growth is indeed beautiful and perfect, it’s sometimes pretty hard. There were times I was completely overjoyed and others painfully overwhelmed.

Over this time, I often found myself taking things personally and feeling alone (taking things personally is a great way to constantly upset yourself – a piece of advice from Lizard is don’t take things personally!!!). But this is not at all to say I didn’t have some of the GRANDEST of times there – these are just reflections of some of the harder parts of my stay before we get to the great parts.

It was also over this time that my sister had her baby. It was an emergency c-section at 6 months after my sister had multiple seizures. It was really scary being so far away, even though I knew if I was close by there would still be nothing I could do.

I was afraid to loose my new nephew, I was afraid to loose my sister. It was a reality to loose both of them, and I found myself extremely grateful for the new wifi installation at Campanario, making it easier to connect back home. I spent a lot of time by the wifi because of this. This simultaneously made me feel disconnected from the authentic rainforest experience I had been craving though.

With all of this having been said, damn, I had so much fun and true adventure whilst I was there! 
Discovering hidden waterfalls, beaches, caves, clothe-dying snails, and so much more (don't worry, pictures will follow!).

We were able to take a guided hiking trip into Corcovado National Park.

I felt so honored and lucky to be able to do this a second time (the first time being nearly 3 years earlier). The fact that you can literally hike into the park from Campanario is so beautiful. It was ~10 miles roundtrip.

This day was full of bird watching, waterfalls, no-see-em bites, agoutis (large and cute rodents), beautiful, enormous trees, and at the end, a tremendous down pour of rain where we took a rather sketchy and steep path made by tapirs to get back home! It was incredible.

I hung out with monkeys and also got pelted by fruit carcasses that the same monkeys (and scarlet macaws too) tossed down on me. 
I snorkeled with lobsters hiding in crevices in the rock outcrops and coral, explored abandoned infrastructure in the rainforest, worked with chainsaws clearing trails, touched a fer de lance just for the hell of it (don't tell Mrs. Nancy), sipped wine with the Campanario crew while watching live news reports of the raid on the White House - I did it all.

The hike the the End of the World!

Even hitching a ride on the back of a four-wheeler with M&O on one of our 7 hour round trip hikes into the nearest town to get supplies. 
Not to mention going on a successful mushroom foraging expedition on one of these trips.
We lived exciting lives, and granted the personal stuff I was working through, I had a hell of a time. I can also gratefully include that I finally found closure 1 year after TaaΓ±oo (my Senegalese puppy) died.

Did mention I was there over the Christmas/New Years holidays?

Do you like my hand-made “snow”man? πŸ˜‰ Made from beach scavenged shells and clay, plus a Halloween crab’s leg exoskeleton (used as the scarf).

On one occasion, M&O and I took a day trip, which turned into a spontaneous overnight trip, to Drake Bay – about 4-6 hours one way on foot. One thing to mention about Campanario is that it’s located in the Osa Peninsula, only being accessible by boat or foot traffic, as no roads run in or out of Campanario or anywhere locally. This means anytime we wanted to go anywhere, a boat trip needed to be arranged, which is a big hassle, or we were going on a hiking expedition.

Drake Bay is the largest town in the Osa Peninsula and a lot of tourist go there. You can tell Drake Bay was more populated the closer we got because the monkeys became food aggressive from tourists often feeding them and the trails became wider, more accessible, and obviously more used. Plus we started seeing lots of people – an uncommon sight at Campanario.

Our trip to Drake Bay was full of bonding and adventure, with us having been literally living inside the rainforest for weeks, it felt nice to be in city of sorts and enjoy regular luxuries like a cold drink and easily available snacks. Plus clean sheets we didn’t have to wash by hand! Below are various scenes from this expedition (oh plus our four wheeler hitching adventure!).


You can just barely see the tip of one of the canoe boats on the other side of the Rio Claro – sure enough, we blew the whistle and a young guy canoed across to us, loaded us up, and took us to the other side. A beautiful and smart way to make money.

A month flew by and before I knew it, I was in San Jose, chugging a beer an officer told us to down (it was an alcohol free zone) on the roof of a building over-looking the city with a new friend.

I had to go to san jose ~5 days before my flight home to get a covid test, the restrictions to come back stateside were everchanging.

And then I was landing in Las Vegas, Nevada and D was surprising-hugging me from behind as I waited for my bag.

With Love and Light,


I’m absolutely stoked to share my time volunteering at Campanario in this capacity. I sometimes post picture albums on Facebook with minimal details in random captions and maybe a series of pictures on Instagram, but never anything as detailed as this. It was fun creating but also took a lot of time. So, thank you for reading along with me and taking a closer look into my life. I appreciate your care and interest! With that being said ;), if you would like to continue helping me make this life style a reality, here are the ways to do so:

  • Paypal:
  • Cashapp: $elizabethbuttram
  • Venmo: @elizabeth-buttram-1

Published by roaminglizard

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