This category contains 49 posts

Leaving the monastery

Time moves slowly at the monastery. This is proof that the adage “time flies when you’re having fun” isn’t always true, for I’ve enjoyed every day, yet my three weeks here have felt like a few months. Perhaps time slows here because even though each day is full, there is a notable lack of stress. … Continue reading

A day in the life of a monastery volunteer (Part 1)

In my last post I said the heavens would have to open and emit the mighty sound of OM before I’d have a chance to post some pictures. Well, it finally happened, although I had to leave the monastery to do it. Yesterday was a day off for us so another volunteer (Aksana) and I … Continue reading

Of monks and monasteries…

In the last post, I mentioned I would elaborate on the monastery and its inhabitants. The mission of the Namo Buddha monastery is to educate young monks grades 1 through 9 (another sister monastery handles the higher grades). Previously, the young monks only learned a traditional Tibetan Buddhism curriculum that included subjects like Tibetan writing, … Continue reading

Going with the flow at the monastery…

When you travel, you must learn to be flexible. This is especially true when traveling to developing countries, but even more true when volunteering. As a self-described “recovering” Type-A personality, mental flexibility isn’t a trait that always came easily to me (and sometimes still doesn’t, particularly when something needs to be cleaned), but I credit … Continue reading

Life happens in Shambhala

“Life happens.” This is the nicer version of what people say to explain the unforeseen events that happen in everyone’s lives. Indeed, life does happen and there’s no getting around that, but the saying has a degree of resignation to it—a feeling of giving up one’s own power and leaving it in the hands of … Continue reading

Saying adios to Reserva Playa Tortuga

It seemed like every day at the Reserva Playa Tortuga was a new adventure, so we were sad when the time finally came to move on with the rest of our trip. We were there for just over a week and during that time, helped build cabanas for the sea turtle hatchery, went on a … Continue reading

Things that make discomfort bearable

I bet with all my talk of caimans and machetes, you’re thinking I’m really brave and adventurous by now. However, there are a few things that really push me outside of my comfort zone. If you read about my attempt at learning to kiteboard in Ecuador, then you know that one of those things is … Continue reading

A gringo’s guide to clearing rainforest with a machete

It isn’t all about caimans and sea turtles here. As I mentioned before, RPT has numerous projects and each day is broken up into work on one of those projects. One day hatchery work and caiman monitoring, another day reforestation. This morning, David and I had the opportunity to work on the latter as we … Continue reading

A day in the life of a volunteer…part 2

As dusk approaches later the same day, we ready some kayaks to paddle them up a short length of the Tortuga river where Oscar knows there are caiman. Caiman is a type of crocodile that is recognizable for its smaller size and the distinctive bony structure of its forehead. It has become endangered due to … Continue reading

A day in the life of a volunteer…part 1

After a muggy night of sleeping to the lullaby of the rainforest, we arise for the day’s work. We eat breakfast and then head over to the hatchery site at Playa Tortuga (“Turtle Beach”). The hatchery is a large square of sand that has been painstakingly cleaned and sifted to remove contaminants and debris, and … Continue reading

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