Showing posts from November, 2011

Learning in threes

NOVEMBER 30, 2008
Finally, my day off! It's been a week and half. Yes, I was keeping track. Last night during my first patrol it started lightening really badly, so we decided to only go down the beach once. On our second patrol it was pouring rain and we only went once then, too. Plus, since I was doing doubles, no hatchery. Guess I got a bit of a break. We also saw the biggest toad I have ever seen in the kitchen last night. He was escaping the rain, too. So that makes one huge cockroach, toad, and box turtle yesterday.

It is raining a lot, again today. I have to do the hatchery this afternoon with Margarita, and do some cooking. She is, by far the better cook being from Columbia and all. I am learning, though. I have beans soaking for dinner later, and lunch will probably contain rice. I wanted to lay out a bit today, and I tried to this morning, but the rain has been sporadic; the sun, even more so.

I am spotting today (the past two days, actually) and I am not…

Light under the sand

NOVEMBER 29, 2008
Not many pages left. Pretty soon I may not have much to write about, though. This morning I had patrol from 4:30-7:30am. There were tracks to explore. I found a washed up jellyfish (the first i'd seen) and a bloated fish that sort of resembles a puffer, but with no spikes. We also found a female trying to lay right up by the hatchery, which is further than females normally like to nest. But I have found that females will nest almost anywhere. I also found out last night that the specks of light in the sand when I walked are some sort of micro organism (see dinoflagellates--not a dinosaur, or a flatulence). Sarah and I were walking back from North Caletas on patrol and particular areas of the moist beach would leave traces of light after each step we took. It was like unspoken magic; unlike anything I've seen.

It was nice to get a shower when I got back. It has been very humid, especially in the mornings and nights. With summer approaching, it wil…


NOVEMBER 28, 2008
It is extremely hot today and there is little relief. Our tent is baking and I can't get comfortable in the hammock. Eventually I'll have to suck it up and do exhumations, but for now, I am sitting on an over-turned bucket enjoying the breeze.

We had gobs and gobs of tourists this morning. So bizarre to walk out of my tent with my toothbrush hanging out of my mouth and see a large group of white folks touring our home. I'm feeling a little apprehensive and guarded from the visit. We are in the middle of no where. How do people know about us? We're all completely taken aback.

Sarah is boiling the leftover chicken carcass in the old makeshift stove to save using the propane tank from the gas stove. I think I'll go get a bucket of water to place by it, in case it catches fire. If you could see this thing, you would notice that it is almost entirely made from wood. There is one wire grate taken from a grill, and aluminum foil wrapped aroun…

Gringo holiday

NOVEMBER 27, 2008
I just got back from my 3-6am patrol; chomping on some leftovers that I made last night for dinner--spaghetti w/onions, garlic, chickpeas, curry, and an olive oil packet for flavoring. Also this salsa stuff that reminds me of skyline chili (Salsa Lizano). I think that it's ok, but I'll eat anything that isn't repulsive at this point. I was irritated about dinner last night. Alan did not even get up to help and there is still a pile of dirty dishes. I'll clean the bowls for this morning's breakfast, but he can do the rest. I have hatchery duty at 7am and depending on if there are any releases, Sarah and I are heading to town to use the internet and bake a pie for tonight's Thanksgiving "feast".

Thanksgiving dinner was a success! Alec cooked 3 small hens, while Sarah, Chris and I made mashed sweet yuccas, mashed potatoes, stuffing, an apple pie and a squash pie! I know that sounds odd, but with all the appropriate spices, the …

Surf's up

NOVEMBER 26, 2008

This morning Sarah, Chris and I walked to the bar to pick up our order of weekly vegetable that we ordered on Monday. We had to take the sandy, then dusty road, over someone's fence, through the cornfield, and then through the tall grass to the jungle to Playa Coyote. We had virgin piña coladas while we rested. I tended to a gashed open toe that I cut on a slick rock on the way there; munched on bbq corn chips, and watched animal rescues in Africa on the tube.

After I returned, I planned on giving my knee a break and laying around in the hammock, but decided to do dishes instead and took some turtles down the beach. Now I am in and out of cooking lunch. It's 5:37pm. It was Alan's meal really, but he's upset because his surfboard was stolen and he's not really talking much to anyone at the moment. So I cut up two onions, red pepper, tomato and sautéed them. He finally came back to add some mixed veggies to the beans, and I guess fry up s…

A typical day

NOVEMBER 25, 2008

Impressive. I actually got 5 hours of mostly solid sleep last night. I probably could have gotten more if I hadn't have had to get up for hatchery duty at 5am. Alan hasn't been signing up for any evening hatchery duties and it's pretty irritating to everyone. Especially when most of us are having to set our alarms at odd hours of the night/early morning to get up and do it, or drink pot after pot of coffee just to stay awake. Not to mention that if we find hatchlings, we have to walk them down the beach no mater the circumstances.

This would be a nice time to walk you through a typical day. You knew it was coming, eventually.

The first and most consistent thing we do is hatchery duty. Hatchery duty is divided into two chunks of time: from 10am-9pm is when the two people on kitchen duty divide up the times to check the hatchery every hour. From 10pm-9am everyone else not on kitchen duty is to split up the evening based on when they are scheduled…

Fire in the south

NOVEMBER 24, 2008
I actually got some consistent sleep last night. Well, it was only 2 hours, but they were straight through. I feel so much better this morning.

Last night's patrol was from 2-5am. There was a fire far down at the end of South Caletas that had spread over several hundred meters. Natalia helped me put the flames out in two sections, but the embers were still bright red-orange and we both knew that there was nothing we could do. The sand was so hot from the heat of the fire that the bottoms of my shoes started to melt. I just couldn't let it burn like that--out of control. There is lots of dried, dead driftwood close to the vegetation east of the beach. My fear was that, even though the fire was still about 3000m away from our camp, that it was going to catch the field ablaze and burn all the way down to us. The wind seemed to be blowing west, though, so for now, this is good.

This morning, the fire still appears to be burning. Gray smoke is billowi…


NOVEMBER 23, 2008
DAY 8 - Today was meant to be a day for catching up on sleep. I got to bed about 7:30am, but the heat awoke me and I was up by 9:30am. It's been troublesome. I was able to take an hour nap in the hammock, which is surprisingly uncomfortable. Tried again for another hour. I think that I hit REM earlier in the morning because I do remember dreaming.

It was mac n'cheese for lunch today, so I had a can of corn, some saltines and hot sauce instead. I am lactose intolerant and have certain dietary restrictions so it can be rather difficult at times to eat some of the meals that the group makes because nobody is used to taking such food intolerances into account.

The sun is mostly down now and it's cloudy and sprinkling. It's also really humid, too. I am hesitant to change into my evening clothes and lay down because I don't want to get hot. I go out on patrol late tonight. I can't remember the time, but I am thinking 2am probably because…

Una lapiz and seconds, please?

NOVEMBER 22, 2008
Feels like I didn't get any sleep. I really am anticipating, hoping that things will begin to get easier soon. I went to bed around 3am from my second patrol that started at 12:30am. We got all of the way down to sector 38 before realizing that the first patrol removed the pencil from the South pack we carry with gear for collecting data and sea turtle eggs for relocation at the hatchery. South is broken up 20-50 sectors. Each marker represent 100m, so South Caletas is 3000m long, or 3k. The last half kilometer is tougher sand with lots of little rocks and very large pieces of driftwood that meets the Bongo. I am always leery of running into crocodiles here at night. If we get to the end early, it's equally amazing to sit at the South end of Caletas to appreciate the stars, but sometimes there are drunk fisherman down here and we try to remain quiet as not to start trouble. Anyway, back to the pencil ordeal...

Margarita had to store all of our data…

Healing and dealing

NOVEMBER 21, 2008

It's 8:22am. I just got back a little while ago from my 4am patrol. It was nice seeing the sunrise. I had a North patrol and retreived my camera after the first half to take pictures. It's particularly cloudy, though. I also did laundry for the first time since I have been here. Hand-washing doesn't get anything clean, but at least makes things smell nice.

Last night, while Joel and I were on our 6pm patrol, we collected 6 nests before running out of plastic bags to contain the eggs in. We could have had at least two more nests heading back to camp since we passed two females already digging on the beach. Joel had 5 nests in the pack and said it was incredibly heavy. I only had one that I carried in my hands with ~80 eggs and that was heavy enough. That's nearly ~420 potential hatchlings we have collected. We were exhausted and irritable at each other by the time it was done, for our 3 hour patrol had turned into 5. I saw my first scorpi…

Travels with Lucas

NOVEMBER 20, 2008
[Book: Travels With Charlie]

It's 1:24am and I am stirring dinner for Chris as he takes some hatchlings down the beach. The thought of returning them to the same spot, no matter how many kilometers we must walk, or what time of day/night is unnerving. I am so tired right now. I just got another 3 1/2 hours of sleep. We all feel like zombies; worked to the bone. Part of me just wants to go home because I am so exhausted. I am glad to not have patrol tonight. I know we will all feel better once acclimated to the routine. I think I will sleep more during the day later.

It's weird to say that it's day 5, but it is even though we are having day 4's dinner. Maybe we should call this breakfast. Still, I know how nice it is for us all to come home to a hot meal together.

Lucas woke me up barking. He's our camp/turtle dog. Not sure whose he is, but he's for sure camp's. There is also Tigre, which is Alec's boxer and two other mu…

Dead tired

NOVEMBER 19, 2008

Some of the rewarding benefits to doing this are the continuous sounds of the ocean--perfect for any time of the day when you are catching up on sleep. Seeing the sunset into the Pacific everyday is also an amazing added bonus. I am waiting for a sunset in a perfectly clear sky, or a sunrise while still out on patrol.

I wrote that after a night of two, 3 hour patrols (so, 6 hours) at a total distance of 14k. I was able to enjoy the sunset right before my first patrol, and then see the sunrise by the end of the second patrol. I was so exhausted. We had to come back and bury 2 nests and then I crashed from 6:30-7am, checked the hatchery at 7, back to bed until 8, checked the hatchery again before Sarah told me to go to bed for real. I certainly did until 10am.

Today I had to walk about 4k to retrieve the measuring tape that I had accidentally forgotten on the beach during second patrol. It was nice, though because I found 5 sand dollars. I can't wait to g…


NOVEMBER 18, 2008
Is it really only day 3?
The old coordinators and Alec leave today to let us fend for ourselves. Last night was our last patrol with them and I only had to go out once. We left at 8:00pm and went North. It was my first time going North and in complete darkness you really can't appreciate the terrain. We walk in blackness, only turning on our lights when the moon has not risen, has already set, or when there are large pieces of driftwood in our path. The driftwood I've seen isn't some small tree branch--these are nearly entire trees eroded and shaped by the ebb and flow of the tides. Apparently on strong current nights, they might disappear from the face of our beach entirely. Without lights you can still see shapes in the darkness, so once your eyes adjust it is fairly easy to maneuver. I swear, it makes me feel like an earthwalker... or a ninja. And like I said before, the reflection of the moonlight on the rastros make them much easier to s…

Bump on a log

NOVEMBER 17, 2008

Where to begin? I'd like to first start off by saying that I am sitting in our backyard, spellbound over the enchanting Pacific Ocean. The day is exceptionally beautiful, though yesterday was fairly cloudy. Ahh, welcome to Playa Caletas.

Yesterday was tough. First, I awoke at 3:30am in San José to pack my things and take a shower before my 6 hour travels by bus across the country. There were over-ripened bananas and white sandwich bread piled carelessly on a table by the office--this must be their version of a continental breakfast, San José style. I was still leery and unsure of exposed food, and it only being my second day on Typhoid preventative medication. I should have never listened to anyone about getting sick. Fear is a nasty disease within itself.

After checking out, and spending my last brief minutes on the internet contacting those I love until god knows when, it was time to carry on away from San José. The purchase of the bus tickets turned …

Swinging on a branch that'll last

"If I had to describe you--I would say you remind me of the sun. You have the brightest inner light, a warm spirit, and a contagious energy. I'm sending you tons of love, peace, and happiness for your journey."

The three year anniversary of my departure to Playa Caletas, Costa Rica is soon to arrive, and it finally feels like an appropriate time to share some of my personal experiences.  For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I moved to Costa Rica for 3 months to work with a non-profit called PRETOMA, which stands for "Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas."  PRETOMA is the most actively successful, and respected sea turtle and shark marine NGO in Costa Rica, and has partnered with many other non-profits in the collective fight of protecting these two essential umbrella species in Central America.  They have been a prominent voice in their campaigns and are still an influential motivator in my life.  My experiences at Playa Caletas changed the foundat…