We are not a resort. We are not a hotel or a hostel. This is a private, non-commercial farm. We are in the tropics. There will be rain and mud and bugs and animal poop. We are in a developing nation, and things will not be as you are used to having them. Things will not necessarily be convenient or easy. English is not widely spoken in non-touristic areas such as ours. Things do not always go as planned. Wifi is not available everywhere, and you will need to travel to neighboring towns for access.
We have many animals – a horse, 9 rescue dogs, a cat, 3 chickens, a goat and a pig – and you will be assisting with their care. You will be preparing food for them, feeding them, walking them, washing them, grooming them, picking up their poop, playing with them, making sure they have water, and at times you will be administering medical care (ointments, dealing with parasites, etc.). Other times you will be putting their needs before yours. We frequently take in sick or injured animals – domestic and wild. While here, the animals will be your responsibility and priority. If you wish to come here, you must be comfortable with animals big and small, and you must be willing to commit to their care.
We are up and working at 5:45 am. Sometimes the pig wakes up earlier and will need a bit of food thrown to him. We take care of all the animals before we have our breakfast (we eat around 7, and finish work for the day around 12:30).
What we are looking for:
People to help with the everyday chores on the farm. We do not ask you to do anything we do not do ourselves.
People who can think of the farm as their home while they are here. That means picking up after yourself and sometimes picking up after others.
People who don’t mind helping, even after hours, with simple things like making sure the animals have water, or picking up a piece of trash as opposed to stepping over it.
People that can work unsupervised and will not just hang out and talk the moment we turn our backs.
People that can use basic hand tools (shovel, hoe, hammer, pick).
People who REALLY care for animals.
People who understand that they are actually expected to work.
People who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
People who are dedicated to working the entire period for which they committed.
People who come to the farm without expectations.
If you are sick and unable to work on days scheduled to work, you may consider the day as your day off. If you have no days off available for the remainder of your stay, you can pay a non-working guest rate of $17 for food and lodging.
If early mornings are not for you or if you are prone to miss work, perhaps you should reconsider your intent to apply. If you are unable or unwilling to perform the tasks at hand, can’t work unsupervised, are insubordinate, disrespectful, or intent on doing things your own way, you will be asked to leave in order to make room for others.
For each week at the farm, you will work 5 days. Please to not ask us to rearrange our schedule and everyone else’s schedule to accommodate yours. If you are coming to the farm to use it as a home base of which to interweave with your other vacation plans, you are coming to the farm for the wrong reason. We also will not change your days off so everyone on the farm can be off at the same time.
We can not accept all who apply. We receive multiple inquiries daily. We can only accommodate 1-6 individuals at the same time. Your stay is not considered confirmed until you submit your application, we notify you of acceptance, and you submit your lodging payment (when applicable). Many people ask for the same time periods, and we accept those who complete the confirmation steps first. We are selective. If you are a smoker, even an occasional smoker, please don’t apply.
We do not hold spaces open for anyone. Once accepted, please confirm your stay in order to get put on the calendar. If you delay confirming your stay, please check back with us to make sure the space is still available.
If you are not certain that you can come, please do not confirm your stay. Once you do, we are effectively turning down others for that spot. Canceling your confirmed stay makes it difficult and often impossible to fill the vacancy, as people most often make their plans months in advance. If we end up being short-handed, we must hire locals to perform the work.
We (as the owners of the farm) are vegan. For those unfamiliar with veganism, it is more of a lifestyle as opposed to a just a diet. It is about doing your best not to cause harm to any creature, big or small. That means not eating animals or animal products. This includes milk, eggs and cheese. If you don’t understand how milk, egg and cheese contribute to the abuse or death of animals, we will be happy to explain. Just ask. We don’t ride the horse. We don’t kill bugs just to kill them. We don’t, however, willingly permit parasites to attack us or the animals.
We eat plant based-food on the farm. That does not mean we accept only vegans. Many omnivores, pescatarians and vegetarians come to work on the farm. If you are not vegan, or at least vegetarian, we suggest you try it yourself for a week – eliminate all animal products and processed foods from your diet. Some find an animal product-free diet of fresh fruits and vegetables too challenging. In addition, we do not cook with oil and use very little salt. We also do not utilize refrigeration (we prepare what we can consume). NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS WHATSOEVER are to be brought to or consumed on the farm.
We provide breakfast and lunch on your working days. Pasta, black beans and rice are available for you to prepare for your dinner on your working days. Otherwise, dinner is on your own. Meals on your days off (on or off the farm) are on your own. Meals on your arrival and departure days are on your own. If you require snacks between breakfast and lunch, you are responsible for these. There is a small grocery store within walking distance. You prepare your own food for evenings/days off. Keep in mind that the groceries available here will not be the same as you are used to in your home country. There is little to no pre-prepared food. You will be most likely making your meals from scratch using fresh ingredients. Please, do not prey upon the kindness of others for your meals in the evenings or on your days off.
On your days off and on your arrival and departure days, you may prepare your own food, or you may purchase meals here for $4 per meal (providing they are already being prepared for others). No food is to be taken from the cafe to be eaten elsewhere (for example: don’t take bananas from the farm so you can have a snack on your hike). Do not keep food or snacks in the casita – it will draw ants.
The food we grow on the farm is organic. We buy from local markets what we do not produce. It is not all organic, as organic produce is difficult to find locally.
We receive work/stay guests up to 7 pm. If you do not feel you can make it to the farm by 7 pm, please make other arrangements for the evening. There are many inexpensive hostels near the airport in Alajuela and in San Jose. Since most of us go to bed relatively early, late arrivals tend to disrupt our rest and our subsequent work day.
On your final day on the farm, please make arrangements to leave no later than 11 am. Please clean the casita (or your other lodging area) and your bathroom prior to departure, and bring us your bed sheets and towel for washing.
Your stay in Costa Rica will not be without expenses. You will need money for buses, internet, food, excursions, etc. Do not prey upon the generosity of other farm workers or our Costa Rican neighbors and friends for meals at night or on your days off. Also, if you need medical care, the health care providers will expect you to pay for the care when the service is rendered. Even if you have foreign travel health insurance coverage, you must have the means to pay for your care. Typically you submit your paid receipts to the insurance company for reimbursement. The Costa Rican health care providers will not file the claims for you and wait for payment.
If you are unaccustomed to garden and other physical work, our farm may not be the place for you. Most of the work is outdoors and is with some type of hand tool. It may be a shovel. It may be a machete. The terrain can be challenging. Bring gloves to avoid blisters. Bring long pants, long sleeved shirts and socks to avoid bug bites. Bring DEET free insect repellent. Please check the “What to Bring” section, as you will need these items and we do not provide them. Be prepared to start work the day after you arrive on the farm.
Bring rain gear. Our farm is in the tropics. It can be rainy, sometimes for days. Anticipate this and bring appropriate gear. We do not cancel work because it is raining. We work in the rain.
Expect to get dirty. You will be handling dogs, a cat, a horse, a goat and a large pig. You will be cleaning out pens and shoveling poop. We all take part in this. Bring appropriate clothing.
You must have the ability to work unsupervised and solo. If you are traveling with a companion, you will not necessarily work together. Do not invite other workers to assist you with your projects. When you finish a project and are unsure what to do next, ask.
It is often muddy and you will need rubber boots. You can bring them with you, purchase them once here, or rent them (if your size is available) for $5 for the length of your stay.
Lodging and common areas: Do not invite others into your lodging area. Likewise, do not enter other lodging areas if that is not where you are staying. Example: if you are staying in the tent platform, do not hang out in the casita, even if invited. The cafe is the communal area.
Keep the cafe clean. Everyone shares in the cleanup of the cafe.
Keep the casita clean. Do not put your belongings on anyone’s bed but your own. Please do not allow dogs inside the casita.
Do not expect meals to be waiting for you when you finish work. Everyone shares in meal preparation and clean-up.
We welcome guests from all over the world. In order to communicate with you, however, you would need to be proficient in either English or Spanish. You must be at an intermediate level in at least one of these languages.
We have all seen the beautifully produced videos showing the exotic and tropical sides of Costa Rica. They show the waterfalls, beaches, zip-lines, monkeys, sloths, white water rafting excursions, and other images iconic of this beautiful country. In as much as we would like to imagine this as our everyday life, it simply is not. Just as every day in the US is not a day at Disneyland, life on our farm is not purely a tourist experience. Expect rain, mud and bugs (including spiders, roaches, mosquitoes, ticks, etc.). Lyme disease is not prevalent in Costa Rica. Neither is rabies. It’s always a good idea to be up on your tetanus however.
Some weekend nights can be noisy. We are in a mountain valley, and you may experience some bad karaoke from a neighboring bar. Saturday is usually a noisy night at the bar as well. They sing (badly) until quite late, so bring earplugs if you have trouble sleeping through noise.
We ask that you refrain from using your cell phone / laptop during working hours (unless asked to communicate with the owners while away from the property).
Our most important piece of advice to anyone traveling here (or anywhere) for a work/stay exchange: have a Plan B. Have an alternate plan of action, and the financial resources to carry it out. It is not prudent to commit yourself to months of stay before you know how you will adapt. Likewise, we will not commit to hosting you for months until we determine that the work/stay exchange is a good fit.
Please keep in mind that the work/stay exchange is not a profitable enterprise for us. We are not a commercial farm. Your assistance does not make the farm money. We must work outside the farm in order to continually support the program. We do this because we enjoy meeting people from around the world and introducing them to our Costa Rican friends and neighbors. We enjoy sharing a glimpse into the Costa Rican culture with those whose intent is to experience the country in a non-touristic way. We enjoy helping animals in need.
We are looking for people interested in learning about life in Costa Rica. We are looking for people interested in animal welfare, farming, the Spanish language, the Ticos, and their culture. If this describes you, we invite you to complete your application and submit it for our review!