Turtle time

Trip Start Jul 23, 2012
1
7
17
Trip End Sep 05, 2012


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Where I stayed

Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Saturday, July 28, 2012

Because its the weekend, and we don't have work, the other volunteers and I took a weekend trip to Tortuguero, on the Atlantic Coast of Costa Rica to see turtles.
Getting here was an adventure in itself. Tortuguero is only accessible by boat, so we had to get a bus from San Joaquin to Heredia, a bus from Heredia to San Jose, then a bus from San Jose to Cariari. Then we missed the bus from Cariari to the port, so had to get a taxi along the worlds bumpiest road. Never been so uncomfortable in my life! Then, we had to get on a boat along Tortuguero Canal, which took about an hour. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing places I've ever seen, so many trees plus we saw monkeys and even 2 crocodiles which was a bit disconcerting.. 6 hours after leaving home, we arrived in the village, which is really pretty and friendly.
It's very popular with tourists, and turtles. The turtles come to nest here on the beach, and we decided to take a tour to go and see them. The tours only happen at night, because the turtles feel safer laying in the dark. We walked for about 40 minutes from the hostel to the area we were going to see the turtles. For a while, we were worried we wouldn't see any. They send scouts onto the beach, who radio back to the guides to say if a turtle has appeared, and we waited for about half an hour before we heard there was a turtle about to lay her eggs.
We got to the beach, and waited for the turtle to finish digging a hole. Just as we were about to move closer, she changed her mind and started to move back towards the ocean. We watched her shuffle off, I never realised how big turtles are or how slow they move!
Our guide Ray took us over to see the hole she had dug, to try and figure out why she had left. The bottom of the hole was very wet, and Ray explained that turtles are very picky about where to lay. By the time the turtle had realised the sand at the bottom was wet, she was too tired to start again, and went back to the sea and will lay at a later date.
As we were walking back, Ray got a message saying a turtle further down the beach had finished laying, and was about to start camouflaging her nest. We went to find it. The turtle was covering the nest with sand, using her flippers, to try and hide it from predators. It was pretty impressive, but there is still only a 1/1000 chance that a baby turtle will survive.
The walk back was interesting too. We saw baby iguanas, a red eyed frog and a cocoon that was about to turn into a butterfly. Ray could notice them in the leaves almost immediately, definitely a skill I'll never acquire.
We were planning to go for a drink afterwards, but when we got back at 12.30am we had been awake 19 hours and were all too tired. Rubbish backpackers!
Headed back today, another 6 hour journey coming up..
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