Jonathan- Costa Rica Reflections

Thairis air an cola-deag a bha sinn thall thairis chunnaic mi torr rudan iongatach is mìorbhaileach is bi na rudan sin anns an cuimhne agam gu bràth ach se nuair a bha mi cluich na phiob agam a chord ruim gu h-àraid. Chord e ruim airson chan eil moran de dhaoine air cothrom seo fhaighinn. Nuair a bha sinn ann an Boruca ionnsaich sinn faclan anns a cànan aca fhein is se an facal aca airson damh a chordadh ruim airson cha robh fhios agam gun robh feidh aca ann an Chosta Rica! Nam robh mi airson rudeigin a toirt air ais dhan t-eilean Sgithanach, tagh mi an dòigh a bah iad ag obair anns an coimhearsnachd aca airson bha iad uile a cuideachadh a cheile !

Beach sunset 

Over the two week exchange in Costa Rica I experienced many unique and amazing things, from the thrilling zip wire across a valley to a toucan chewing my arm. I feel soo grateful to have been selected to be part of this wonderful project and I can’t thank the people who made this possible enough. It lived up to all my expections and more.The things i saw, the memories made and the friends I met will stay with me forever and it was so hard to choose just one favourite memory, but in the end I decided to choose my BagPipes! I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity and play my bagpipes in Costa Rica as I doubt many pipes have been played in the rainforest! It brought me much joy to play my national instrument along with Charlotte to the Borucan and San Vicente people as it was the first time

Margarita having a go! Boruca

most of them had seen them and in fact i think it came as a bit of surprise to them as when we finished playing them for the first time i turned around to notice that half of the village of Boruca had come around to investigate the strange noise coming from their hall!  The pipes showed me how a even a simple instrument can unite people and was so humbled at one point when an elderly man can up to us in tears to thank us as he had always hoped he would hear and see the pipes one day. It made me so happy to see the joy that our music brought to the people and the amount of interest they had in them, I was even stopped in airport security in Liberia airport by a security officer asking me to play them !!


Charlotte and I playing our pipes.

While in costa rica we also shared Gaidhlig with the Borucan Kids and they shared their local Borucan language with us. One of the Borucan words that caught my eye (or Ear) was Suturi as this is the word for Stag. It was one of the few animals we had both a borucan and Gaidhlig translation-with Dàmh being its Gaidhlig word- as we unfortunately do not have words for toucan and armadillo! I was so pleased  to see that they had an animal that plays such key roll in our highland identity was shared with the people over there. We also regularly visited the community museum where we learned about the local history, cloth making (which was surprisingly similar to the old highland way dyeing wool) and stories such a the story of Quasran who is said to protect the village and about the dance of the devils which takes place around new year. We became very close with the kids in Boruca and it was very emotional to say good bye to them but we continue to stay in contact through the internet and we will hopefully see some of them up here in Skye next year! 🙂

Hallie ,Charlotte and i outside the museum with the Portuguese and Borucan kids 

Though many miles lie between them and us we all are brought together through our shared passion for music, dance, art and community spirit.  The exchange changed me as a person in so may ways. It made me proud of my island background, improved my confidence and gave me skills which will stay with me forever. I never thought I would ever have had the nerves or confidence to travel to another country let alone go across the Atlantic to Central America!  I was to bring anything back to Skye it would the sense of community and belonging in which I experienced within the villages. All the people, young and old, work together with respect for each other,to get things done. Everyone i meet was so open warm and welcoming which was so nice to experience as we in Scotland can be quite cold and keep our selves to our selves and i think its shame.  They are all proud of their local culture and I felt so honoured to have been able to learn the history of the people and to also share our culture with them.

Catherine with the Toucan!

I will let you some of the other things we got up to 🙂

After arriving in playa hermosa on the first evening we went on a short walk to beach and us tourist decided to go swimming. When i ran into the sea instinctively braced myself to hit by the cold but i was pleasantly surprised! I’m used to the freezing cold Atlantic which usually makes you turn blue with the cold within two minutes but this water was warm!( The only place i had experienced warm water was in a bath!) Another interesting thing about the beaches is that the sand was black! Im also not used to black sand either so took it home and I later found out the sand was black as it is volcanic. Yet another thing I noticed at the beach that first night was that Catherine (or chatherine as I called her) was walking strangely while in the sea. I just thought it was her being daft -because she’s American you see- but it turns out she was doing a ‘sting ray shuffle’. Unfortunately the sting ray shuffle isn’t some kind off cool dance move but a technique to scare the sting rays away! On the second day we went on a trip to Diamante echo adventure park where we got to see sloths, butterflies and many more exotic animals. While in the park we also did a zip wire and Costa Rica doesn’t have your average zip wires but ones that go from one mountain to another… 60Mph!! Im not really an adrenaline junky so to say i was scared as i was getting roped up is an understatement. Now i think about it though, the zip wire wasn’t all that scary, and now that I’ve done it it’ll give me the confidence to do other things of that sort. The scariest thing of that day was in fact the dodgy van that took up the really, really steep hill to the zip line !

View from the waterfall.

In Boruca and  San Vicinte we also got up to some interesting things. We took part in dances, shared photographs, made pottery and they took us on walks around the village to places like the school and a sacred waterfall with beautiful view! I even saw pig wrestling which i will leave to you to figure out!


I really can thank all those involved in the project throughout the world enough for making it all possible, and to especially Jamie, Karen, John and Catherine for the great banter we had and for also keeping us safe and healthy at the same time ,i couldn’t have asked for better . Costa Rica will always stay in my heart and  will shape the way i am as person for the better. Role on the next part of the exchange and thanks for reading!




Hallie, Catherine and I in the waterfall, Boruca


“I left with friends and came back with best friends”


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