Costa Rica Wrap-up

Written By Rosalie

As I’m writing this, we are heading into our final week together as a group after nearly three months of travel. Tomorrow, we leave Costa Rica, and I have to say that our last week here has been one of the most impactful, at least for me. Despite the many giant spiders I encountered and then willfully tried and failed to ignore (they remain seared into the back of my mind and continue to persist whilst I attempt to fall asleep each night).

We spent this past week with CIRENAS, an organization focused on permaculture practice as well as sea turtle conservation. The road to reach the somewhat (very) isolated lodging was one of our more adventurous drives, which is definitely something. But after stalling out a few times, we eventually reached our base for the week, a secluded clearing in the middle of the wilderness with a path leading directly to the beach, where the turtle hatchery was located.
For me, this week brought a larger lesson on the perfect duality of beauty and pain as it exists in nature. This was presented to me through our work with the baby sea turtles at the hatchery. Our first day working there was spent checking nests which had hatched recently to count the number of underdeveloped eggs and to check for any remaining stragglers too sleepy to emerge with their eager cohorts the previous night. That day, we had the experience of digging through sand only to discover tiny fins peaking out and beginning to wiggle as the babies used all their strength to pull themselves up, eager to meet the world. We watched as they woke up slowly and began to run wildly around their little box, stepping on each other’s heads in their quest to find the ocean. In the midst of all this beauty and excitement, we also found eggs that had not been so lucky, whose little babies had lost access to their nutrients and not made it to hatching. We buried them with some sand from their nest in a little baby turtle graveyard behind the hatchery. After doing so, we returned to the eager babies clamoring for their release and brought them to the edge of the water, watching as they ran as fast as they could, leaving little mini turtle tracks behind in the sand. We stood firmly planted as they ran up to our feet, climbing over our toes, or bumped into each other in confusion. Through all this bumbling, they never lost their persistence, and we watched as they were swept away by the water, their little fins experiencing the sensation of swimming for the first time.

This week, we again participated in night patrols, which consisted of spending nights at the beach and watching the hatchery. Cailin, one of the women we worked with, would bring a large mattress out onto the sand for us, so while she biked up and down the beach in search of mamma turtles laying eggs, we’d lay and look up at the stars while listening to the water in the distance. The night I participated in patrol, two nests hatched, so we were again able to watch the incredible wonder of the baby turtles as their little heads poked up from beneath the sand. As they fought for the surface, they moved as one collective unit, resting and moving in unison, rippling the sand above them.
Other notable events of the week would have to include the scorpion we found in our room, (a mother carrying all her venomous babies on her back, YIKES) as well as the afternoon spent making mud balls, which was one of my favorite activities. All in all, it was a thoroughly memorable week, made even more memorable by the people we were able to work with and learn from. So that’s a wrap on Costa Rica! Pura Vida.