Costa Rica (Days 1-2)

The reason I haven’t been updating recently is because I have had no internet connection while travelling to Costa Rica.

In late March,  I became blatantly aware of the airline voucher I had yet to use which was rapidly approaching its expiration date. I pulled up a map of the places where the airline flies and spent quite a while deliberating where I should go. Mostly it was to places within the USA, a lot I had been to, the rest there was no real pull for me to visit. The airline also happens to fly to a few places in Mexico and the Caribbean. I don’t have a lot of money and there is no way I could afford hotels, and some of these places didn’t have hostels. I didn’t know what there was for me to do in these places anyhow.

As I debated back and forth about where I should go, I thought about something that I had wanted to be a part of for a long time. Sea turtle conservation. I have been obsessed with sea turtles for at least 15 years. Throughout this time I had seen and heard about organizations that allow people to help out, but I always found them to pricey, and with school it was difficult to accomplish this yearning. A quick google search and some hours of research later, I found an organization in Costa Rica called La Tortuga Feliz.

I decided, somewhat compulsively, to book a ticket and a week working with this organization. Two weeks later I found myself on a plane to San Jose, Costa Rica. The ride from the airport to the hotel was a little disheartening. My first view of Costa Rica was infiltrated by corporate America. Driving down the highway was: Subway, Pizza Hut, Denny’s, McDonald’s, and Walmart. I spent the night in the city. The next morning I made my way to the bus terminal, to take a bus to a small town called Bataan. From there we were picked up by two workers, took a taxi to the canals, then a 40 minute boat ride to the strip of land where the organization operated.

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Journey through the canals.

We arrived around 2pm and after a quick orientation warning us about various wildlife, we settled into our room. From there we had a training on how to collect turtle eggs. Basically we try to get to the turtles and their eggs before the poachers. Once we have the eggs we bring them back to the hatchery, build a replica of the nest, and plant the eggs. One of our main jobs is patrolling the beach at night with a local keeping an eye out for turtles crawling on the shore to build their nest. My first night there I had a shift from 8pm to midnight. I donned all black clothing and met my guide.

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Portion of the beach we patrolled.

The beach is 7km long and we walked up and down in search of turtles. I only saw one that night for about 15 seconds. She had come up, decided not to build a nest, and was on her way back into the sea. I caught her at this last part. By the way, these girls are enormous! I could easily say they are my height from head to back flippers. After a 4 hour jaunt through soft sand I fell asleep almost instantly in my bunk to the roar of the ocean.

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Sleeping quarters with other volunteers.

Stop by tomorrow to read about the subsequent days since there is too much to write for one post.

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