Our best travel experiences are when we are immersed in a culture, living with the locals and giving back to communities. These kinds of experiences also happen to cost the least amount of money (like maybe $100 for the week). Recently, our family spent a week living, working and having new experiences at a spiritual retreat centre in the Northern part of Costa Rica. We found this work exchange experience on WorldPackers – and online platform that connects travelers with hosts around the world who are looking to exchange their skills for accommodation. We spent the first half of each day volunteering our time to help out in the garden and taking care of the children. The second half of the day was spent in ceremony, drum making, dancing and eating delicious food. We experienced a sweat lodge for the first time, tried Aztec dancing, sang songs, celebrated a special birthday, learned to make a drum using wood and cow hide and went deep in a sharing circle and cacao ceremony. It was such a wonderful experience for our entire family, including our 3-year old daughter and pup. These are the kind of travel experiences we will remember forever.
You can learn more about WorldPackers and find your own amazing work exchange experience here: It normally costs $49 to be a member for the entire year, but the Hopscotch Tribe gets $10 off by using discount code HOPSCOTCH and you can go on as many exchanges as you'd like.
The volunteer experiences we did at Echoes of Light:
A special thanks to WorldPackers for sponsoring this video.
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We're spending the next few days living With a medicine man a medicine woman And their four children at their Spiritual center called echoes of light Over the next 72 hours we'll be in a Sweat lodge after eating some cactus Infused chocolates Learning the traditional method of Making drums from wood and hide Practicing aztec dancing and diving deep Into our emotions with a ceremonial Sharing circle i have to say as a family We've never done a volunteer experience Like this before so we'll see how it Goes [Music] This week we're in the more northern Part of costa rica close to nicaragua Where we're doing a work exchange we are Doing our work exchange at a nature Retreat that specializes in plant Medicine and cultural experiences we're Going to be tending to the garden Helping out with the kids that live here And taking part in different activities And experiences that they offer [Music] Echoes of light is run by valerie and Her husband rudiko experts in plant Medicine and spiritual healing Experiences the two now live in costa Rica but have ancestry in both egypt and Mexico Their property is stunning a food forest
And garden with edible plants where many Of the delicious plant-based meals come From we're also not the only ones here There are other volunteers from around The globe who found this place from a Site called world packers that's how we Found this place too world packers is an Online subscription-based platform for Travelers to connect with different Hosts around the world who are offering Different cultural experiences in what's Called a work exchange in exchange for These cultural experiences that also Sometimes come with accommodations or Meals or extra activities you are Volunteering your time the best part About world packers is you're really Culturally immersing yourself as well as Potentially learning a new language and Giving back this week c and i are going To take turns volunteering in different Parts of this place so that could be Gardening and taking care of the kids as Well as partaking in some of the Activities and offerings that they have Here the day we arrived we jumped right In with plant medicine and ate some Cacao infused with medicinal cactus Then we swiftly made our way into the First sweat lodge we've ever experienced Called the temazcal To give some reference this is what it Looked like during the day A tiny jungle igloo made with branches
And covered in multiple layers of cloth There was a fire pit in the middle where Glowing hot rocks were placed inside and Doused with water to make us sweat like We have never sweat before we'd be here For the next two hours listening to Chanting and drumming while our bodies Endured the 110 degree fahrenheit heat In complete darkness The experience was actually a lot harder Than i anticipated and once we came Outside and looked at ourselves in the Mirror we were shocked at what we saw That was a very unique experience And i like that i didn't know What to expect going in i had never done One before there were points where i was Like I want to get out it's so hot like i Want to get out i was getting a little a Little bit restless but then they just Surrendered to it And then at the halfway mark I thought it was the end and she's like Oh we're halfway done and i was like oh My gosh I couldn't possibly stay in for the rest Of it but i did and i'm glad i did Because it was like a whole other wave Of experience Coming out it's like a rebirth Of leaving behind you know things that About myself that Do me no good right that i just want to
Leave behind And be birthed out Like a new Version of myself Good morning everyone today is day one Of volunteer work here I'm gonna be out volunteering tending to The garden this was the Room we were in There's a Double bed there's another bed Over here for kai Lots of space for Clothes and gear it's really nice and It's super clean This is the eldest son abidan apprentice To his father the medicine man rudiko I'll be helping him today to do some Work around the property starting with Cleaning the sweat lodge from last night These were all the musical instruments From last night maracas and Shakers These were antlers That they used to Lift the rocks Into the Pit in the middle [Music] [Applause] We've hung all the blankets and sheets That were covering the sweat lodge this Cover we're going to leave here To dry off in the sun
We're going to remove all of these Rubber mats on the inside And scrub them in the river Using the natural resources on the land Is part of the experience so i was shown How to use the river a rock and a brush To clean the rubber mats [Music] [Music] It's one down 10 more to go now this took me way Longer than anticipated especially when I knew i could pressure wash these mats In five minutes and move on to my next Task But there was something very peaceful About using the river to complete this Task Without the use of electricity or noisy Equipment [Music] So today sia is out and helping with the Garden and just some other tasks around The yard and i am with the kids just Hanging out playing I'm here [Music] You got it you got it While kristen spends time with the kids I moved on to my next task chopping down A bamboo fence [Music] I'm taking down a whole bamboo fence They used to have a horse here but now
They move the horse to another piece of Land So there's this old bamboo fence that's Rotting away full of termites and if i Find a lot of termites i've just been Tossing it in the chicken coop and the Chickens are just losing their minds Eating like millions of termites [Music] These are all termites And they don't bite [Music] These are old termites Yeah Maybe Chickens will eat them okay While i'm on you They're so it's like what i'm gonna feed Chickens Chickens [Music] Do [Music] Dad needs your muscles if only there was Somebody really strong That could help me lift this Okay get on the other side of it Okay lift it up lift it up Carry it over there My morning of physical labor is complete Time for a delicious plant-based lunch Before heading back to the garden the Food here is incredible we had handmade Corn tortillas with vegetables
[Music] Fueling me up for my afternoon of Volunteer work where i'd be clearing the Jungle floor to make space for Ceremonies happening by the river and Tonight we'll be making our very own Ceremonial drum Volunteering on the land is both Rewarding and relaxing after my first Day of working at echoes of light i Wanted to hear from the other volunteers Living here My name's lauren i'm from indiana and I've been here for about A little over a year now i originally Found echoes of light through world Packers after removing myself from my Doctorate program i wanted to do some Traveling and kind of get out there and Experience different cultures and a Different way of living prior to coming Here i was introduced to the medicine in The united states And i was on a quest to Find a space where i could practice with The medicine intimately and Share and learn with others so Being here i think it was about two Weeks and valeno rico had asked me to be The godmother of their children so It was really right off the bat quite a Fit and I actually didn't go Really anywhere else other than here and
I've been helping to run the retreat Center for about a year now and i help Care for the children Help with the cooking and the cleaning And assist in medicinal ceremonies so You're on this big quest and this was Like stop one this is top one yeah the Plan was actually to go like All over the world really to be honest I've learned more in this last year than I have in my entire life Wow Well my name is amish i'm from Uh los angeles california and i'm i've Been here for about a month and a half And um yeah i'm probably gonna be here For another week and then i'm going back To the other side of the country i've Just been helping around uh with the House cleaning up and taking care of the Kids and it's been super fun the Family's been welcoming and with their Hearts open and It's been a great experience over here Are you sleeping in one of the tents yes Yeah i'm sleeping in my new tent back There it's just a cozy experience over There i'm sure it sounds amazing too yes Definitely My name is amy i'm from montreal canada Um i've been staying here for two weeks And my experience is really nice really Calming if you want to connect deeper With yourself like it's the best like
Place to be i'm here on a two-week Volunteer trip i wake up at six and i Start working at 6 30 to clean the area And like during the day i take i go off Some for some walk with the kids i'm Sleeping in a tent yeah there's a Camping area up there like the the Volunteering are sleeping there yeah can We go see the tent yeah sure go see the Tent There are the showers for the volunteers There's a cold shower and a hot shower And these are the tents That's my chance and that's the other Volunteer tent Nice yeah can we see inside your tent Yeah it's a little messy but yeah sure So yeah that's where i sleep every night And get ready during the day I got my little snack For my midnight stack you need to have The midnight snacks yeah exactly But we get a really great launch every Day so i feel pretty cool anyway so Lunch is included yeah lunch is included And We go in town to buy some foods for like Cooking breakfast and dinner so would You recommend this experience yeah 100 Like it would have cost me so much more Money to just like travel around costa Rica then like now i got a place to stay And like i meet some really cool people Too
Rainy season here in costa rica means it Rains each day typically in the Afternoon and evening so we headed Indoors for our private drum making Lesson with the medicine man I'm making a drum Like the ones that we were Listening to the drum beats last night In the sweat lodge it's like a drum Similar to that it's cool to make your Own instrument Especially something like this it's just So like earthy and something really Special about it and i can't wait to Like have it displayed in our home here [Music] Do [Music] Do [Music] We need a lot of muscle for this It's not easy [Music] Keep pulling over here [Music] That is solid This took probably about An hour and a half It's It's incredible look at that Right now the hide is wet so tomorrow We're going to leave it out in the sun For a few hours to dry it up so that we Can play it because if we were to play
It now which you shouldn't it would Leave dents in the drum I can't wait to test it out it's so Beautiful you're looking at the finished Product of the drum we made last night It feels so cool it looks so organic and Beautiful how does it sound [Music] You made this yeah [Music] What do you think do you like it yeah as Far as look how cool that is you want to Hold it yeah hold it right here like This [Music] Anywhere [Music] Drumming is a big part of each ceremony Here and that's especially true for our Aztec dance lesson Rurico led us in a traditional dance Meant to honor the gods and the Repetitive movements are meant to be a Form of meditation in motion I'm actually impressed with how we did What do you think So Just fixing my hair Because i just did like five minutes of Aztec dancing and i'm ready i'm ready It's really fun but what a workout oh my God So much fun this is like the best way to Work out
Dancing having fun Something cultural learning something New So I Might puke my lunch up just like two Hours ago So So [Music] With our asic dancing lesson complete i Volunteered a few hours removing weeds From walkways and had a relaxing Afternoon with kai and her new friend Quezel [Music] [Music] So [Music] [Music] So [Music] That night after the kids went to bed The adults got together for a peaceful Evening in their ceremonial hut for a Sharing circle and singing by the fire Opening our hearts and voices to each Other in a safe and sacred space But it's encouraged to share every time It comes to you because then you kind of You go kind of deeper and deeper every Time [Music] This was our first experience on a world
Packers work exchange and we can Definitely see the appeal for both hosts And volunteers We had three days of completely new Cultural experiences Mixed with the phenomenal plant-based Food all while hanging out with Travelers animals and the wonderful Family that call this place home if You're interested in a world packers Work exchange visit the website by Clicking the link below [Music] [Laughter] [Music]