My life

Trip Start Sep 10, 2006
1
59
Trip End ??? ??, 2007


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Flag of Costa Rica  ,
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hey all sorry its been a while, but things have been busy and I have no Internet when I am living now.
I have been at the Pacuare Reserve for 2 weeks now, Casey spent the 1st week there with me and then went off to training for EPI. Life is simple and good.Let me tell you a bit about the place. It is set on a 6km stretch of black sand beach adjacent to a rain forest. It is beautiful. Our living conditions are simple, shared bathroom and showers, no electricity and a common dinning area with a cook. As of now I have my own room which Casey when at the reserve can share with me, but I may get a roommate soon. Once the sun goes down it is candle power. The food is good our cook Anna can do wonders with rice and beans. There is little meat and lots of vegiīs and like I said rice and beans with EVERY meal. The only difference being for breakfast they are mixed together (gallo pinto). The work is mostly at night during our nightly patrols. This consists of us walking the beach looking for turtles. Right now we are doing the whole stretch of beach totaling 11km every night. Patrols leave at 9pm and 12am and can last from 4 to 7 hours depending on how many turtles we come across. When we ind a Letherback turtle we watch her start to nest and then either count the eggs as she is laying them or catch them in a sack to relocate them to a new nest to protect them from the sea or poachers. While they are covering there nest we check for tags if there are none we tag her. This is a metal tag that we put in her rear flipper kinda like giving her earing. We then measure her length and width and check for damages. After she has returned to the sea we try our best to camouflage the nest to make it more difficult for poachers to find. It is amazing working so closely with such a beautiful animal, they can be as big as 165cm long. It is an amazing sight watching these turtles come to land and return to the sea. The other night I left on the 12am patrol and returned to the base at 7:30 in the morning. I have taken to napping during the day and after dinner, every little hour helps. The days have been mostly maintenance work and reading and learning about turtles. I have learned a ton. Leatherback are truly fascinating creatures. Another duty we share is to do a morning conteo (track count) We walk the beach at 5:30am looking for any tracks we may have missed in the night and to see if there is any signs of poaching. Sometimes we have to do this after a night on patrol. and some days we do both conteo and patrol on the same day which makes for a 22km day, about 13 miles. In the 2 weeks I have been there I have easily walked over 100 miles. We also have a trail in the forest which is very cool. I have seen howler, spider, and white face monkeys, an ant eater, a sloth, a tyra, some poison dart frogs and cool lizards. The monkeys are a daily occurrence. There are 2 other research assistants (thats what I am) one Lucy is from england and is weird, annoying and I worry about her ability to work with a group of students in the field. The other Sylvia is form Spain and she is very nice but has little English. We try our best to talk to each other with our limited vocab which makes for interesting conversations. I am the only one with little Spanish skills and this can make most meals and some other times very lonely as conversations are mostly in Spanish. I get snid bits hear and there but enough. Some is translated for me but most just goes the way of fast conversations and meal time chatter.This might be the hardest part about being here. Of the 2 research assist. Sylvia is the only one I would be friends with but we canīt have real conversations yet. My 2 bosses Ramon and Tomas are great guys, they both speak English but force my Spanish most of the time. I am learning slowly.. Things are good but as usual I have my ups and downs, but they mostly seem to be up. When I do get down if we see a turtle that night I feel much better.
Anyway I hope that gives you a insight to what I am doing for the next 4 months. If you want to see more about the Reserve check here .... http://www.play-costa-rica.com/costa-rica-sea-turtles.html
I will be able to check email probably twice a month when I get to go to town to help with the shopping, so I would love to hear from everyone in the outside world. Sorry if I donīt write back.
Well... miss ya all
Matt
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Comments

tracyltrout
tracyltrout on

turtle love
Matt - That is great you are working with Leatherbacks. Your job sounds exactly like mine while I was in Hawaii - except I was working with Hawksbills. I will never forget the experience of witnessing a mama turtle laying her eggs! Enjoy!

annanddan
annanddan on

walking the black sand beaches
Your Pauare sea turtle experience sounds rigorous but quite unique. The descriptions of the nocturnal patrols of the leatherbacks are fascinating, as though they are out of a National Geographic article. It does seem a bit isolated but it is good you are able to get to the village from time to time. Write more when you can and send photos! And remember, beans are nutritious!

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