Hola! I would love to make this a bilingual post, but I am battling a head cold or some obnoxious allergies, and I want to sleep, so this will be quick and in English only.
This past weekend was a long one due to Costa Rican Independence Day on September 15. There was a whole week of activities to celebrate semana civica, which was pretty cool. I always love seeing the cultural traditions that take place leading up to la día de la independencia, like singing, dancing, and, of course, FOOD. Another highlight was hearing Laura Chinchilla, the ex-president of Costa Rica (yes, they’ve had a woman president, like most other countries), speak to our students about the importance of being a good citizen and contributing to Costa Rican society.
But anyway, back to the turtles. In case you didn’t guess from the title of this post, Tortuguero is named as such because of the turtles (tortugas) that go there every year to nest. It is in the province of Limón, which is on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
Due to the aforementioned killer head cold slash allergies, this post will now turn into a bulleted list of all the things I want to remember from Tortuguero.
- drove to La Pavona and left rental car (flat tire and all) in the parking lot (safely guarded, don’t worry)
- took two-hour boat ride through the shallow canals to Tortuguero
- checked into hotel (Rana Roja Lodge), took a nap, chilled by the pools for a while
- hung out with some monkeys at the hotel
- took a water taxi over to the main town and walked around a bit
- hung out at La Taberna for dinner and a gorgeous sunset
- took a night tour to the beach to see the turtles nesting
Ok, here’s where I need to jump in and interrupt my list. Seeing the turtle nesting was the COOLEST THING EVER. I felt so honored to be able to see it! And before you ask, no, there are no pictures. No one is allowed to bring cameras to the nests, due to the fact that they might scare the momma turtles and send them back to sea, without having laid the eggs. But hey, if you must see it, feel free to watch this video that I found for you.
Basically the whole process is done in a few steps. Once the momma turtle finds a spot she likes and that is well hidden, she digs a hole with her flippers. She then kind of hangs over the hole and drops a whole bunch of ping-pong-ball-looking-but-slimier eggs into the hole. Once that’s done, she uses her flippers to fling the sand back over the hole, covering the eggs and camouflaging the area (side note: camouflaging is extremely difficult to spell). Once that’s done, she makes her way out to sea and never sees her little babies again! ¡Qué triste! But alas, that’s nature, folks!
There are many stray beach dogs and street dogs in Tortuguero, which is an issue because a lot of times, they feed on the turtle eggs if they find the nests. It is one of the reasons that much needs to be done to preserve the turtles; there are so many risks to the babies, and the survival rate of the hatchlings isn’t very high, I’m sorry to say.
Watching the process and simply being an observer of nature was definitely a highlight of the weekend for me.
- woke up at 5am to head out for an early morning canoe tour of the river
- went on the tour and saw lizards, toucans (both kinds!), monkeys (howler and white-faced), a cayman (although not close enough for Pod’s liking), tons of birds, and probably some other animals I am forgetting (no jaguars though)
- took nap (well timed, because we slept through the morning downpours)
- went on hike through the jaguar trail (I feel like it wasn’t jaguar, but a different cat name here…I can’t remember what it was though)
- saw a bazillion lizards on the trail, which was nervewracking, considering the fact that I was wearing flip flops
- got food, hung out with friends at their pool
- got up, had breakfast, waited for a boat back to La Pavona
- struggled a bit finding a boat because the guy who promised us a ride ended up ditching us
- ended up finding a boat; took two-hour ride back to La Pavona
- got to watch our boat driver (ship’s captain? What’s the right thing to call him?) get out in the middle of the river (he does not fear Caymans) and change the propellor, so that we could get through the shallow water
- side note: can we all please just agree that climate change is a thing? They are really feeling its effects in Tortuguero, where the water was almost a meter shallower than it should have been.
- changed flat tire
- came home
That’s about all I have energy for – sorry this isn’t the most well-written post ever. But hey, here are some pics to make up for it!