Arriving in Costa Rica

Training center in Cartago

As of tomorrow (2/29), I will officially be in Costa Rica for one week! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here that long since Tuesday – Friday, February 23-26 was spent at our training retreat covering a slewwww of different topics related to our upcoming service (healthcare, safety, post locations, Peace Corps values and goals, icebreakers, team building activities, etc.). BUT, I just gotta mention how exciting it is to be here. Anyone who has ever considered, applied, or served in the Peace Corps knows that just getting to this point of arriving in country is a long and emotional journey. So, to actually fo real be here is so amazing and exciting.

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  • Exciting Key Points:
    I don’t need to bore anyone (including myself) with a detailed narration of my first week. Here are some highlights:
  • Tico 31 (the name they give to the groups serving) is comprised of two different sectors, Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and Community Economic Development (CED).
  • Our group of 38 arrived at the Houston International Airport at 5am on Tuesday (2/23) morning to depart for Costa Rica. After standing at the American Airlines check-in station for 30 minutes we found out we needed to be at United Airlines. We had to take a tiny It’s a Small World-esque subway ride to terminal E from terminal A (not close). Our ride broke along the way and some of us had to walk at least half a mile to terminal E with 100+ pounds of luggage. Off to a good start.


  • Our training site in Cartago had wifi, warm showers, delicious food, and an amazing view of San José.
Gallo pinto (rice and beans) eggs, fruit and natilla (sour cream-ish)
  • A group of us woke up at 5:30am on the last day of our training session and did a HIIT workout while watching the sun rise. #FitCorps
  • I was surprised and delighted to see the majority of in-country Peace Corps Costa Rica staff are actually locals. They all seem extremely happy and passionate about the Cuerpo de Paz (Peace Corps).
  • I saw a MASSIVE toad. Upon further investigation, I discovered it is a Giant Toad or Cane Toad (in Spanish Sapo Grande) and it emits toxins from its neck. The toxins are so poisonous they can kill a crocodile. Yeah.
  • Everyone in Tico 31 is totally awesome.
  • I haven’t stopped drinking coffee and I don’t plan to any time soon.
  • GAH sloth money



Peace Corps Packing List

Below is a list of everything I packed in my suitcases for the next two years!

UPDATE (after being here for almost 4 months here’s what I wish I would have brought):

  • 1 more sweatshirt (I’m in the mountains)
  • 1-2 more pairs of loose-fitting jeans
  • 1-3 more pair of running shorts (if you run a lot) and running/yoga leggings
  • I wear skirts a lot
  • (5) Less dress shirts
  • Quick drying shirts and pants are wonderful
  • Travel coffee mug

As a Peace Corps volunteer, you are allowed:

  • 2 checked bags (each cannot weigh over 50 pounds)
  • 1 carry-on bag
  • 1 personal item

Luggage I brought:

  • 1 North Face 36” Rolling Thunder – 48 lbs
    • This bag is huge. The 30” or a smaller option would have been perfect. Highly recommend the rolling duffelbag style.
  • 1 55-liter backpacking bag – 46 lbs
  • 1 carry-on bag (a Marmot Granite backpack)
  • 1 personal item – my ukulele (and a clip-on tuner)

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.01.51 PM

My Peace Corps Packing List:


  • (6) business casual/casual shirts
  • (6) casual tank tops
  • (6) workout tops
  • (8) dresses
  • (6) skirts (mostly knee length and maxi skirts)
  • (8) shorts (2 for hiking, 2 for running)
  • (3) yoga/running pants
  • (6) bras (1 neutral, 1 black, 2 others and 2 sports bras)
  • (?) lots of underwear
  • (15) pairs of socks
  • (4) swimsuit tops
  • (3) swimsuit bottoms
  • (3) coats (1 jean jacket, 1 gortex raincoat, 1 lightweight raincoat)
  • (2) hats (1 sunhat, 1 running hat)

**a lot of this you can buy in-country but I figured it would be cheaper to buy in the US and just take as much down as I could.

  • (4) tubes of toothpaste (I’m picky. Here’s what I’m into:
  • (3) tubes of face specific sunscreenIMG_8942
  • (5) essential oils
  • (1) bottle of face wash
  • (6) toothbrushes (I bought this pack off Amazon)
  • (1) dental flosser + replacement heads (this is the bomb)
  • (3) sticks of deodorant
  • (1) tube of shaving cream
  • (2) nail files
  •  (5) workout headbands
  • (1) big thing of conditioner
  • (1) big thing of shampoo
  • (1) bar of soap
  • (1) travel size hairspray
  • (1) DivaCup (being a woman really did just get easier)
  • ponytails, BB creme, mascara, and a few more other light items

SHOES:Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.37.15 AM

  • (1) low-rise lightweight hiking boots (love these from Salomon)
  • (1) TOMS
  • (1) cheap black flats
  • (1) Chacos
  • (1) dress sandal
  • (1) dressy flip flops
  • (1) beach-style flip flops
  • (1) strappy casual sandal


  • (1) eye mask (in case I need to sleep on a long bus ride :))
  • (1) headlight
  • (1) super intense flashlight
  • (2) pairs of sunglasses
  • (1) expandable bagIMG_8943
  • (1) yoga strap
  • (1) tripod for taking photos with my phone
  • (1) hammock
  • (1) small globe
  • (1) quick dry towel
  • (1) Vapur water bottle (water bag. I love this thing)
  • (1) small bag of pens and pencils
  • (3) reusable travel zip bags
  • (3) adult coloring books
  • (1) set of watercolor coloring pencils
  • (2) sets of normal colored pencils
  • (1) resistant bag for working out
  • (1) Braza Secret Stash for carrying extra emergency cash
  • (2) journals
  • a few pieces of jewelry
  • a few cards from friends and family to read when I’m feeling sad