I’ve never had much worry about what I look like. I feel good when I’m in casual, comfortable clothes, and that’s the most important thing for me. Being on a permaculture farm in the middle of nowhere has now given me even more motivation to make my clothes as practical as possible with what little I have.

With limited resources, a limited budget, and the prospect of a 2 hour bus ride (one way) to the nearest town with clothing stores, I’ve been getting into the typical traveller mode of creating new, more functional clothing by ripping apart and reusing the clothes that I brought with me. So far, my entire wardrobe consists of about ten or twelve items, including socks and underwear. I decided within the first week of being in Costa Rica that my leggings were much more useful as shorts for wearing under a dress, so I cut them to just above the knee. One of my only regrets on this trip has been throwing away the legs instead of repurposing them, but at the time, carrying a handful of fabric with me seemed to be a waste of valuable space and weight. Now that I’m on the farm, that pair of shorts has been the one thing I wear more than any other item. I wear them every day for work in the morning, wash them in my shower if they need it, and then often wear them in the afternoon if we walk down to the waterfalls or into town. I’ve gotten around the issue of underwear limiting the time between laundry days by rotating three pairs of underwear that I wash in the afternoon shower. They dry quickly, usually before I need them the following day or so. I have one pair of socks for working, which I pull up all the way to protect my calves from the rubber boots. They only get washed once a week, but they are just dirty and that’s life. The work shirt has been the most difficult thing to figure out. I was using a tank top, but tight shirts are really not ideal for working in hot humid climates under the blazing sun, and by week two of work I was so itchy I couldn’t stand to wear it any more. Whether that was really from sweat, the tightness, or the rampant fleas from petting the dogs is not entirely clear, but I had to find another solution. I’ve been using my button-up long-sleeved shirt as a cooling overshirt for work, and I love it more than anything else, especially after dipping it into the rainbarrel, which has the advantages of cooling me by pouring cold water down my back, reducing the amount of sweat my body has to produce in order to cool itself, and masking how much sweat my body actually produces while working. I tried wearing it as my only work shirt, but that made it much more difficult to take off and dip in the rain barrel, which I like to do at least two or three times on a hot morning. So, I decided to sacrifice my back-up long-sleeved shirt as my new work shirt. The best thing about this decision is that I now have a lovely loose tank top (wife-beater really) and a really great pair of leggings that is perfect for protecting the area between my shorts and my socks, which had been severely attacked by every mosquito, blackfly, noseeum, and whatever else might have noticed the prime area of soft skin on the back of my knees. I think I look pretty classy with leggings that match my work shirt, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.


My work outfit with nifty matching leggings

Apart from this lovely ensemble for work-days, I have two options for afternoon strolls. I can wear my sarong as a skirt with a t-shirt, or, more often than not, I just throw on my little sundress that I bought when I arrived in Costa Rica. It’s hard to imagine how I could love my clothes any more than I do, even though they are nothing special and they will likely fall apart in a pretty short amount of time given how much I wear them, but I’ve got my sewing kit with me, so I’m ready to take on any repair jobs that come my way. Already on the list is repairing the seam in my shorts which has been steadily creeping up to about mid-thigh, and my favourite sports bra that was already falling apart in Canada is now desperately in need of attention, so I’m repurposing the abandoned clothes from previous volunteers to patch the holes and find a way to keep my leg-warmer style leggings up on my legs instead of slipping down after an hour or two of work. Designing my own garter belt might be the next project, but it’s a little over my head.


Bra pre-repairal

It’s been really nice to take a break from trying to impress anyone, to embrace the inner hippy that has always been longing to be fully out there, and to take on new projects that save me heaps of money (or at least a bus trip, meals spent in town, and a few bucks on clothing). With the plan to see how long this trip and my money will last, every penny saved could add up to weeks or months of extra travel time. Taking a hit on the fashion scale is certainly worth the opportunity to explore new life experiences later.