Bus and collectivos bright and early to Moin to catch a boat to Tortugera. All the usual fun of having no clue what’s going on, getting on the wrong boat… ending up on the shit boat despite paying the same as other good boats.. you know the drill. Journey was great (after moving our rucksacks from the top tip of the boat.. I don’t care how many trips have been done without any falling into the river!). Through the rainforest seeing Caiman, baby pink flamingos and many other cool birds I can’t name. Hostel by the (non swimmable, volcano, shark infested water) beach, but with a great bar and view – fresh juices, cervesa and reggae music. Riverside dinner… then the heavens opened. Though it’s rainy season this was the first we’d really experienced it. No chance of it passing so chucked our stuff in a bin bag and waded home knee deep in muddy water. Always fun, and finally saw some frogs!
Up at 5:30 a.m. for a dugout canoe ride through the rainforest. Spent ages deciding on a tour guide and we totally lucked out. He loved Manatees (which are there, but you can’t see), hated the motorboats and their noise, and liked to take things slow, loved his job and exploring the rainforest. So whilst the motorboats powered past we (he) slowly paddled showing us things we never would have spotted. Jesus Christ Lizards (nicknamed so because they can walk on water), Caiman (and baby ones), Cappuccino, Spider and Howler monkeys, Toucans, Herons, Kingfishers, Swallows, Iguanas. The flora and fauna was just incredible; the greens so vivid and contrasting. He also managed to source out the blue jean frogs (because they look like they are wearing jeans…) through the noise. When fully grown they are about the size of a 50p pence piece. Poisonous venom used to be used on the end of hunting spears. With all the other boats racing to get back after the tour he said, ‘they are all in a race, a competition. I am out of the competition’. I had to bite my tongue from saying, ‘but we are the winners’.
Breakfast over the river – pancakes, fresh coffee, fresh pineapple juice, banana and syrup Incredible. See!
Discussing the trip Si said he’d never be able to do something as long as my South America trip (6 months, I was 18). As much as I was loving it all, and certainly was not ready to go home after a week, I can agree. The week before Kenya, seeing all my wonderful friends and family… (and Tildy)… I’ll be happy. Exploring the world, but knowing how wonderful home is too… it’s a good place to be in.
Before our Turtle Tour we went for a walk in the national park – mainly for something todo – rather than thinking there would be much to see. We stumbled across a large group of Spider Monkeys at feeding time and after about five minutes we heard some loud shrieks and the monkeys all ran off and hid… cowering in the trees. (Later we were told this would have been the mothers and babies hiding from the males, who could be violent to, or kill the babies!) David Attenborough’s we were not and we figured if they weren’t safe… we weren’t either… and left.
Walked back across the volcanic beach, past all the unused/unsuitable turtle nests, scattered broken egg shells (the remains of their predators lunch) and over the sand marks left by the turtles to and from the sea. Thank god we did this, as I forget I get a lot more anxious now than I used to – so at least when we were out there later in pitch black I knew roughly what my surroundings were and gave me a small degree of comfort.
About 7pm we waited with our Costa Rican no bullshit-hard man-adventure-cowboy-type ranger guy, Ernesto at the ‘Ranger Station’ for the sign that a turtle had been spotted. Walked out onto the beach (through the same nature trail we’d been on earlier) and a red light was suddenly shone on this massive 200kg turtle that was about a metre in front of us all. I’ve seen turtles before whilst, diving, snorkelling, in zoos, even had terrapins as a kid, but this was just something else. It blows my mind how they instinctively come back to the same place each year, all following the same rituals. I certainly wouldn’t be able to find my birth place if I wasn’t told…
You are only allowed to shine light on the turtles returning to the sea as otherwise you would distract, and upset the ritual; possibly making them then return to the ocean before laying their eggs. Between the ages of 30 and 60 years old the turtles return each year, and then less frequently after 60. It takes roughly two hours from the water to the top of the beach where they build their nest. If the temperature isn’t right after building the nest they return to the ocean and try again the next night. If it’s fine, they will go into a trance like state and lay roughly 100 eggs in about 20 minutes. We got to watch this. You can’t really describe it without being incredibly cheesy, or sounding like a complete dick, taking into account how beautiful turtles are in the first place, but it really was pretty gosh darn incredible. And that I’m very thankful for; otherwise the fact my rain jacket was more like a windbreaker, my legs (with only about 2 cm uncovered) had been bitten to an inflated mess, my wellies were too tight and blistered my feet, or the two mozzie bites right by each eye may have bothered me a bit…
Ahh last thing. The Costa Rican Currency is Colones and the coins look like pirate booty… Amazing! Thick, heavy gold coloured token like coins. OOOO ARRR!!