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Ethical Adventure Trail - Central America

Mirlah Thornley recently finished Frontier's Central America Ethical Adventure Trail. She describes trip highlights, (un)typical days, future plans and essential backpack items! We think it's safe to say that Mirlah had a good time.

Into the Wild: Why did you choose the Central America Ethical Adventure Trail and what placement did this include?

Mirlah ThornleyMirlah: It was a toss up between this or the South East Asia Trail. What swung it for me was that I didn't actually know too much about the countries you visit in Central America and neither did my friends or family. So that decided it, I would go and find out and report back and I'm so glad I did. I also loved that it was a mix of travelling and voluntary work - spending a week in a Honduran school and a 4 week conservation project in Costa Rica deep in the jungle! Perfect Mix.

Into the Wild: Did you enjoy the project? What is your favourite memory?

Mirlah: I can say without a doubt it was the best experience of my life. I made new friends, learnt a little bit of spanish and ate great food. To pick one memory is pretty difficult but perhaps waking up at 4am and trekking through the jungle to see the sunrise on the beach is up there in my top memories.

Into the Wild: Describe a typical day on the trail?

Mirlah: Action packed for sure. And to be honest no day is the same. One day you could be haggling on a local market, the next, zip lining through the canopy and then swimming under waterfalls. The amount of activities we got up to really made this trip and you began to think how the next day could possibly top it, but amazingly it never failed to impress.

Into the Wild: Why did you choose to include a placement with your travels?

Mirlah: Just to give a different perspective really. It's lovely to travel around and immerse yourself in the culture but it's equally as nice to feel as though you're giving something back. Plus, for me staying in the jungle for 4 weeks was a bit of personal challenge and pushed me out my comfort zone. I loved every minute of it though and now I'm over my fear of frogs! Win!

Into the Wild: What are the benefits to volunteering abroad?

Mirlah: The sense of achievement and being part of a group who are all working towards the Mirlah and her fellow volunteers were able to enjoy the stunning countrysidesame goal are all benefits, but add that to a stunningly beautiful country, gorgeous weather and amazing locals it makes it all the more worthwhile.

Into the Wild: Have you ever travelled in a developing country before and how did you find the experience?

Mirlah: The furthest I've travelled is Turkey and although we did venture into more rural areas I've never been to a developing country before. I'm pretty open-minded anyway so was ready to see and hear anything, the experience was amazing everyone just 'got on' with life. Material possessions didn't seem to matter and people we're just trying to make a living, whether it was selling you mangoes or making jewellery. It really made you think about life back at home and how much we take for granted.

Into the Wild: Would you recommend the project to others?

Mirlah: The fact I've not stopped raving about it since I got back makes it a definite Yes, Do it, you won't regret it.

Into the Wild: Are you planning on volunteering or travelling again in the future?

Mirlah: I've definitely got that famous 'travel bug' now. I think I'll do lots of city breaks, explore Europe a bit more and then save up for another big trip. Where? Who knows.

Into the Wild: What did you do in your spare time on the project?

Mirlah: Reading, writing in my diary and cards featured a lot especially in the Jungle. We even created a new card game which went down pretty well. Also heading down to the lagoon was a nice way to relax after walking on surveys.

Into the Wild: Have you learnt anything about yourself from the experience?

There was never a dull moment on Mirlah trail in Central America with FrontierMirlah: I kind of knew this already but it has reinforced the fact that I like to be kept busy. I love seeing and doing new things so since I've been back I've enrolled in a Spanish course and tried to busy myself and get involved with as many local things as possible.

Into the Wild: What was your essential backpack item?

Mirlah: That's a tough one, it's a toss up between a headtorch and baby wipes.

Into the Wild: Describe the trip in three words.


For more information on all of the Ethical Adventure Trails, as well as all projects in South and Central America, please visit the Frontier website.

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