Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pura Vida! - closing thoughts

Costa rica pura vida

Day 47, flying over the costa rican rainforests, im on route to mi casa linda. Feeling recharged, and carrying a luggageful of memories, interesting anecdotes, and endearing lessons.

I think above all i feel so incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to immerse myself into the jungle for 7 weeks, as well as coming back with and even deeper appreciation of what and who is waiting for me back home: lots of love from my family and close friends, a sprinkle of unknown (facing the big UE again) aaaaand clean soft bed sheets and sketchy smell free towels.  Aaaah!

Tortuguero showed me that i am tougher than i thought, and taught me i have the capacity to adapt to a jungle lifestyle.  (bring it Survivor2012 haha). Dipped in with the creepily unknown, i did learn that an open mind, and corazon ligero allowed me to feel a less wrinkle-in-between my eyebrows nervous over my surroundings.  As Moby or Alexi Murdochs' genius artisty suggests, "just breathe."   it showed me that dangerous, rustic, uncomfortable, unknown and unpampering situations can also feel like home - ok ok,maybe a filthy scorpion filled home, but nonetheless a "honey im home!" feel, one that figuratively at the of the day foot massages me, pats me on the back, and greets me saying how was your day after after a long night patrol.  This part Possible only because of my fellow RAs/ aka jungle family. Delfina, Ani, Carolyn, Seh Ling, Borja, Andy, and Bjorn!  Dont think i wldbe survived without you!

Tortuguero taught me more about pacience - not just with the high commitment to relax over the impunctualities, but also while socratically trained to work sea turtles, forced to trust the sometimes frustrating' baby bird push out of nest process;' preserverance - on a daily basis facing the blindfolded night patrols perfecting the tagging methods, sometimes during vampire mosquitoe and sand flee attacks and tropical storms breaking the 7 second lightning to thunder rule; discipline - being a part of a team you are proud to equally contribute in and solidarily wake up and do our job fueled with merely 2-3 hours of sleep; and the happy easy going lessons: 
 giving into the pura vida way and  gozar del buen companerismo/ enjoying the comraderie we ' boa constructed ' (fyi: gozar and disfrutar is a muuuuch better word than flimsy 'enjoy').

I pride myself for being someone who is prepared, sometimes overly prepared, EXCEling itineraries with a handful of aproaches in order to maximize efficiency and proudly super pack my days. The  Pura vida way, as the night lava flow guide told Bill and I a few days ago about the arenal volcano in 1968, "came out and said hello," and seemed to clash with me almost imediately.  This thankfully changed.  And returning to the hustle and bustle US, i hope  i at least meet this feeling half way.  Maybe i can master the recipe for the tican coco loco and have that be my ticket back to lala land.

The turtles, similar to what i literally was trained to do, have marked me for life.  I feel a closer connection to nature, to the conservation process,  and priveledged to have been granted the one-on-one exchange with the turtle mamas and their hatchlings.  a deeper respect and awe over the selflessness, dedication, strife, trajectory, tenderness and care these prehistoric creatures  demonstrated- all of which i think serves as lessons to mankind.

This trip retraced/strengthened my theory that the unkown surprises, trips or unfortunate turn of events, not only become of the most imprtant/memorable/laughable  part of the adventure, they are character and strength builders.  And Im proud of my tortuguero battle wounds :).  

Buddhism related- during my dundee comfrontations, ive felt "in rhythm" with and protected by the universe.  A good karma builder.  Like this time and place is where i was meant to be, so anything that would happen, good or bad, would carry a reflect worthy experience.  I kind of felt like i was given a temporary pass from feeling the pressures of the enduring questions of humanity for singing up as  one of santas little helpers.  Felt good.  Ive always wanted and focused on somehow contributing to smiles, to the improvement of my surroundings... but i suppose the inyour faceness of this one granted me an in your face level eurakaness too.

I realize (as many a times during this daily discertationesque blog process) that im runningout of "space" to write in...  So i will close with saying thank you for reading my blog, and for virtually accompanying me on this tortuadventure.  I hope the wrinklefree lifestyle rubbed off not only on me, and that we can all get together, prop our feet up, be late for something, shrug our shoulders and say Pura Vida!

Arenal - lava flow


here of the up to date arenal features as well as funny anecdotes according to bill & gigi:

- the arenal observatory is the best viewspot of this awesome currently lavaless but still impactful volcano destination.  If you have the means to stay their, ask for smithsonian room 29, the river and big ant hill are bam rit there, closest one can enclosingly get.

- this spot as well as others is slightly off the beaten path, so it is recommended to rent so engined device.  Otherwise, spending 50 on cabs minimum is you daily surprise.

- the main attraction is this active volcano and its july4th display of excitement; however its kept a bit of a secret that the volcano hasnt flourenscently decorated the scenary in 10 months.  Began as a disappointing realization mid way our 80 buck one hr tour to the "dont take the free old lava flow hike, theres no lava their anymore, go with irnguide to the 1968 lave national park where the new lava flowmhike is," Can you say chi ching wrip off?  Eh, B was very cool and eased my latin spice....but thankfully the easy to make fun of guide made this expensive magmaless trek laughable and memorable.  The surprise rain very intricate telescope seeming dvd pllayer and the red eye frog added to it too.

- free hike o  observatory premisses:  we got our cloud forrest fix.  learning from the previous lava flow night's error, early sunday morning the "volcano said hello" with a bit a smoke atop around and we prepped for the free guided 3 hour hike (which we missed, courtesy of the pura vidan waiter).  Self led, we discfetely hopped over a couple hanging bridges, got sprinkled by a pretty intimidating waterfall, prettended to be farmers on tractors, took 'when dreams may come' tree photos (the trees looks like they were planted by a painter), bullied some uninterested horses and one very interesting and ed bull, and oooed and aaaed over some funny tropical plants, fruits, birds, while a few spider monkeys did a few oos and aa a as of their own above us.

- la fortuna catarata: after our wallet emptying taxi lift, we decided tomike our way under the tican sun to the falls, well... Almost to thenfalls.  My thumb mid way up the gazillionth sweat dripping pebnlestoned uphill, accidentally propped up the side of the road and stopped to spanish tourists heading to the same destination.  Guilt tripped a bit by Bill pointingout my two second earlier comment "we are so earning the swanky hotsprings later", we arrive about 1 k later to the lovely reception.  We then discover 480 steep and mossy steps downhill (pointing out the obvious gulp, what goes down must come up theory), us Bill eased on the guilt trip ;)

We arrive to fall and scarelessly (or just a splash) jump into this fresh, crisp, rejuvenating waterfall..... Like one pulled out of jurassic park.  The most incredible waterfall ive even been to, and swam in!  Yes you guessed it: 480 gasping steps back up... We earn our butter cookies we were savoruing since hike, AND the

- swanky hotsprings - Tabacon : the hotsprings hotsppot.   Yes pricey ($45 entrance and $25 very well designed and delicious buffet dinner if aftrr 6pm), but worth every penny.  Doesnt feel fake.  Vegetation is enveloping, options infinate, conditions impecable, staff on target, and crowdedness to a minimum.  Aaaaand the bracelet lasts for 2 days (which now on day 2 on plane a hot spring sounds darn good)

That was our arenal trip highlights.  
We leisurely made our way out of this mountain paradise, on a 5 hr $3.45dollar pubkic bus to the smoggy captial.  Walked on dusty promenada, taking in the entire trip and not wanting to end the pura vida way,  we end at el patio for dinner and order two very american plates : lox bagel type dish and cesar salad.  Good warm up.

Gran hotel for final hours and up to now, in houston afte rthe first 4 hours of travel....  

Closing thoughts to come.

BIll in Tortuguero

Bill in tortuguero

6 days ago i received a visit from Bill, who id describe as that favorite easy going company some of us have the fortune to turn to.

He arrived to tortuguero, after over an 18 hour trajectory, flying, lay overing, bus to bus to shuttle, to boat.... Completely committed to get the intensive tortuga experience.  I am happy to report he got exactly that.

Because my hosting days didnt grant me the time to blog, i will share it all in one.  The week combo blog :).

First me and my fellow turtle family greeted and welcomed bill as one of the group, inviting him to stay for dinner, touring facilities, and  introduced him to our on site jungle pets: spotting our neighbir sloth who lives up on one of our trees, the jurasiclike juancho our largest of 4 royaltylike iguanas, our very own 24/7s - the leaf cutter ants who run an enormous operation all over our site, and a few vaslisk lizards, aka the jesus walking on water reptiles, running on back legs like jugglers at a street light.  

Once the introductions were over, on to business- learning turtle ropes, using our very attractive model turtle and the video at thenvisitor center, B learned about tortuguero, tourism, the nesting stages and what we do as RAs- aka what hed be participating in midnight (minus tagging).  Luckily we didnt loose him, still stoked.  And later that night he was able to sit through and observe cuatriflippers at work during middle stages, measure and check for abnormalites on 3 turtles, see us tag, and mark a nest from start to finish (72 eggs i believe).  Sweetness.  And thank you seh ling for staying 90 minutes more (thats 5:30am in human time) in order to make this happen!

Next couple days i took it easy, or i shuld say easiER on him, as we finalized the remaining turtle moments worth experiencing- excavating a .85 cm deep nest with 92 eggs, 76ish which happily hatched and about a dozen yummy rotten ones we had the fortune to pop open and pour juicyness only latexed hands.  Newfound appciation for science:  check!  

Next on thenlist, the ra gigi despedida dinner, bar time, and canopy tour just as important S the nesting phases, is to experience RAs as whole in all diffeent delirious stages.  Provoked by lack of sleep, unknown bites, colo locos or imperiales (local beer) or our time off destinatio: :dessert hunt and budda cafe.  All fun fun fun.  Nxt day, as mentioned, we all went to a canopy tour. About 7 thingys, abit crowded, slow and small,  sounding like a  bad review but quite the opposite....

On we return for a couple final 5 mile beach walks, one pre beach closing where we spotted over a dozen surfs up prepping hatchling heads bursying out oftheir nest, and later vanilla icing their way into the water..... Not to forget that during this trip we were offered by localings (little tortuguero children) small coconutlike fruits (pichos o think?),  that i monkely scratched my head and then hit them together not strongky enough, unknowing how to get to the good stuff.  The boy chuckled, took them both,and bam bam here you go enjoy.... Oura vida!

 And then the vip access quarter moon, very intricately and eternally camouflaging turtle we accompanied for over 90 minutes (record breaker) so that we could then walk beside her back to see (which was our only turtle on land action we hadnt covered).  Mission accomplished.

If interested in a gigi turte tour, my business cards are on the table.  ;)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Last morning survey

The lasts of this trip was getting to me yesterday. Exhausted and partially not wanting to say goodbye to this new life, i head to night patrol a bit trantrum stompingly.

Thankfully, my park patrol was woth Borja. Who will turn a frowny face around in seconds.
We had a great time. I started my turtle goodbyes, as well as my shooting star lit sky goodbyes sniff sniff. we worked really well with tourist groups.

Super sore, i dont even know how i made it to my top bunk. But there i was at 5:30 am waking up for my final morning survey. Boca with Catalina.

Heated day, but nice conversation AND we saw hatchlings from green turtle nest emerge from start to finish. I n c r e d i b l e!! Packs of 5-10-15-25 tortugueritas excitingly digging their way out and swooping nonstop to ocean. What a site! I stopped complaining then and there of my suoer duper activity packed week, and realized once again how fortunate i was to be here.

The blisters, paper cuts, sun burns, bites, body pit stumbles, turtle slaps, sometimes eternal tackless walks, troncodrilo scares, stepping on huge crabs startles(last night) and dark eyes circles - all these made this story what it it, plus will heal and go away. The push was this time compensated with an entire tortuguita family. :)Thank you tortguero.

Now, at day 40 im getting ready for the arrival of Bill, who i cant wait to share all of this with!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Photoshoot and environmental education

Busy bee today.

12-4am patrol

9-11 photoshoot 1: yoga at beach

11-2 cinderella cleaning

2-3 school environmental education presentation

4-5:30 photo shoot 2 and 3, biblioteca and stairs

6-7 dinner and cleaning part 2

8-12 now, off to patrol.

No time to blog nor think. Exhausted. Smiling on todays overall success and the sudden creation of a masterpiece portfolio by bjorn johansson. Last official night patrol.

Followed by morning survey. God help me.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Being a part of something

My latest observations have helped me strengthen a basic theory ive had on my mind: that all living beings search for being a part of something. The companionship, direction, and purpose.

Take my morning survey for example:

- Each dog tha accompanies me on morning partol. He doesnt ask for anythung in return (im sureits hoping food, but never gets it).... Except the companionship as he leads the way. Today, my beach dog warned carolyn and i of a boa constrictr on our path. Yes, he was part of the morning team.

- the hatchlings in group motivating each other to climb up stuffy nest, ride down the warming sand, and to plunge into waves. And ive noticed they sometimes even choose the straight marked path left behind by the preious night's mama who laid a new nest beside theirs. They found direction, companionship, and purpose. The stragglers always need a push and inspiration.

- even i find myself walking straight lined behind the atv tracks without thinking about it. I cld also be a bit ocd like jack nicholsons character in as good as it gets, but id like to think it has to do w the relief of having a marked destination/purpose and compnionship

not sure im going anywhere else with this basic observation,; hkwever, i find it comforting to think we all want to be connected. cause we are.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Outweighing the bad

During my time in Tortuguero, ive made sure to focus on the good of what we do and what this jungle town stands for, rather than the unfortunate sacrifices and consequences that happen because of it. Ive sprinkled on this thruout the blog - that is, the weight we/ CCC, community and the immense income coming from turtle salivating tourists add on nature. On paper, this formula is wrapped in a nice pink, or rather green, ribbon. But at times, like during last nights patrol, we are reminded that this ribbon is not quite properly fastened... And these glitches hurt to acknowledge.

Last night the fabulous Borja and Delfina and myself were released into the once again moonless night - tourist shift. Using the spotters and tour lights as amo, since we cld barely see the end of our own limbs much less identify tracks, we used our charm to share their turtles, 3 of them. All of which were notibly disturbed and behaving unnatural in their nesting process. I dont blame them.

Turtle one: after performing stellarly in 5/7 of the way, heavily perturbed digs herself and gets stuck under vegeteation. We were able tomlocateher eventually, called on spotters to muscularily pull out tree roots tongive her room to moveout. Frightened and shooken up, she leaves escorted by ccc and spotters.

Turtle two: as weve unusually experienced this month, she left for sea mid oviposition stage, dragging a 40 or so full cloaca down track and releasing eggs tidbits at a time. Ccc to the rescue, tourists "give way", gloves on, egg chamber fastened, and eggs carefully placed to bed.

Turtle three: missed a step and laid her eggs without an eggchamber, or in an illfiiting chamber, and we witnessed her going thru the next covering steps, but without the chamber, she broke (some not all) her defenseless eggs with her amorousnback flipper covering motions (unknowingly). To try and help i feverishly shoved piles of fresh cool sand and anything on my path in the waynof the turtles to be, to make the shoves less harmful

None of these can be directly related to one cause or another, but one thing is certain.... Interfering w the nesting process isnt natural, and if a mamas reacts unnaturally, the hinting cause and effect is unavoiidable. As is the pain to witness.

turtle 1, 2 and 3 above made me question the invasive/interfereing nature of our work here.

Conservation vs preservation. It reminded me of the red head girl from tiny toons, who loved pets and animals soo much she suffocated them... And growing up i told myself i wldnt become that. Consevration behind a desk. Defending the causes intellectualy, theoreticalky, through the arts, and even the practice.... (i realize the contradiction, but life is squiggly gray lines anyways).

C and P overlap and in end are part of the same team of thought to protect the environment. C involves human empowerment, while p is reserved and distant. In the grander scheme i see C as more realisic as its inclusive and us humans are in everything.

Blablabla i can go on and on.

Defense- the good outweighs the bad.
i can pep my way out of this one singlehandedly, knowing that CCC has the best most rigorous and turtle considerate training in the "industry," adding also that the amount of "bad lemons" (aka bad nesting interferences) dont compare with the amount of turtles that have been measured, tagged, inspected, and even gawked at by tourists almost completey unperturbed (from what we can tell). Not to mention what science can do or the spcies.

Ive probaly worked over 100 turtles and can work them CONFIDENTALLY because i am proud of the research we are collecting and the way iperform. Also, i feel a dear connection with the mamas, and use my interaction also to try and communicate w them that the quick discfomfort will pass and bring good things to their kind. "welcome to conservation." I also try and clean up after our messes (inckuding all three incidents above).... I can practically replicate all sevel nesing stages now in case the mama ever needs the night off or babysitting haha.

Anyways, last night put this on my mind, and on my night off im still thinking of turtles. Figures. 5am survey in boca. A dormir.

In case its not obvious: i strongly invite Dialogue on the matter.... Appeases me. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dont mind if i do

9/16 - Park - 12:20-4:35am - Andy & Gigi

Turtle tracks have been slimming, fortunately, finding the few emerged ones perfectly staged have not. Feeling very lucky -- if there was a casino id put 100 on 11.

Two nights in a row of breaking previously set records.... Tooting my own horn? Dont mind if i do.

Andy and i left our site feeling groggy, half of me still laying on my pillow trying to figure out why i was dreaming of my childhood nanny and juancho the iguana here in tortuguero. So fogged out, that when Luis called to inform us that we forgot the callipers back at camp, we were practically measuring our first candidate with ur arms and not even realizing we were missing our duck looking measurattus haha (jk). Back we go... This time thru the town (our little secret).

Rush back where we eft off, 3.2, and identify a couple Mrs Bodypits. No miss camou, no miss eggchambers. On to jaguar territory, and Fuuuuaaa (as the drunk mexican from youtube wld say), the holy grail of tracks. Off to work go. The work part was pretty usual. Happy to now realize that we've reached a usual feel: professional, efficient, on it, ninja style. All but my forgetfulness and one miss sensitive nesty lady.

Forgetfulness- Besides the caliper incident, after worked far ms. Mile 4.3, and begignning to work on the other back to backs, Andy discovers the tag bag missing. Off to my second would-have-been-unnecesary-otherwise jog back. (as my mom wld say when i was a child about my being distracted, "if i didnt have my head attached, i would loose that too" or "if there was one puddle in the world, i would somehow manage to fall in it" although the latter invites a whole other story).

I find the turtle still camouflaging, and a 2 foot high pile of heavenly soft dark sand where we once stood. Oh boy! A new record only a sand bath and spring away, Dig in i go.meanwhile mrs #1 sand mound splashes me everywhere! Spit cough cough. (q tips were quite the venure this morning). I find it. Run back and voila, we reach our target #. Nueve!

- hyper sensitive momma: left me flabberghasted. With my mastered oh so sentive touch handling nests, i cant explain why she left mid lay :(. There was this freakishly persisent crab that popped out next to me which made both me and then turtle fuss a bit, but id be surprised that that would be the cause ofnher early departure. Being in jag territorry, maybe she sensed a feline nearby... Which in that case, me being the softer and easier meat access lady, i am eternally grateful for her taking one for the team. Still, not a proud moment. Mama slowly and half transically headed back to ocean, laying an additional 40ish eggs on route. We fetched, egg chambered, covered, and finished flagging nest. Odd, a mean,,, soooo tortuguero. ;)

And theeeen, on our after curfew stroll back we encounter multiple flashes on then beach. We found the dad from hunny inshrunk the kids (or lokalile), wearing a baseball sized LED head lamp, full flashing confidently.... "i wanna see me some turtles." big nono. A nice old nerdy city traveller (relieved it wasnt a poacher), but very clueless on the disturbance he was causing. We hand hold him back to his lodge.... And rush back home.

Wish u cldve seen our record breaking, sand covered exhausting faces. It was priceless.

Aspiring to be the turtle whisperer of the season! Aslong as i keep breaking my own record (curled up hand rub on chest), i think i will stay on the board a bit longer afyer i leave next thursday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

New record

We did it!

Carolyn, Abelardo, and I worked 8 cooperative beautiful and healthy turtle mamas, as well as marked 2 hefty sized nests. Yay for team turtle whisperers!

Nests: 138 eggs and 115. Mostly in vegetation or border. My mama, aka Park 58 was next to town right under the street lightmand beach signs. Playing with fire mama. I will check on her nest tomorrow On my way to town and the next three days if i can! (3 days is the latest that poachers will stretch digging up nest for consumption/ black market).

Saw one tronkodrilo (logadile: fake croc) amd was very entertained watching carolyn try and save abelardos life from this viscious old stump. Hahaha

Other than that, i think our efficiency is worth mentioning. we were on it! Guess Emmas pep talk mustve given us an extra push. And our rare successful naps didnt hurt either.

Hope ill stay on our board of fame for a while after i go! :) sniff sniff

Good job team, and thank u late night t's.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Slip & Slide hawksbill

Started with my 5am wakeup call and ipad screening of my bed - check. and clothing, - ummm, whats that?. fortunately only finding a gargantuos grasshopper In my stuff. Haunted by the other visitors ive had, i turned to my dear comadre carolyn, who quickly shoved it out the dorm. Off we go hitch a ride to boca.

Sun greeted us full force around 7am so we picked up the pace. However, along the way, while checking our marked nests approaching their due dates (60-65 day mark) we saw a couple that were starting to burst w hatchings.

Cool to see, but scorchingly bad timing to head to waves. The first nest, we found 3 hawksbills already on route, one flipped on its back from exhaustion.... We rescued them, pouring some water and supervising the rest of their journey. All of a sudden one trips and... Whered it go? Down the infinite black hole it goes, and carolyn begins to dig frantically, my baby!

"What happened carolyn? ". It fell into the crab hole! (an itty bitty crab hole craftily engineered to perfection) Its all my fault, oh no!! Dig dig dig. 2 feet im,and nothing... Are u sure?

Yes! Dig sommore, and reaching arms length, she feels its head... Cookie cut arpund it and out she goes. Good job mama caro! And mis respetos a los cangrejos! Quite the masterful slide and sliding traps. The turtke bebe regains ita compusure and refocuses on the finishline, into the waves she paddles, and pops her marbleita head out towards us and signals a little thank you w her bitesize flipper. (haha im cheesy today)

We added fresh moist sand on that nest and another two, to keep the illtimed tortuguitas cooled down and entertained (comi out in the heat isna death sentence and we were told not to piggy back them anymore...). I Wish i had someone to cool me down!

Anyways, the day contiued w delightful daily to dos w my turtle family, such as creating the turtle log boards, cinderella cleaning chores, walking around town, and enjoying juanitas miraculous cheesecake under the granted foggy weather weve been pleading for.

it was a coca cola aaahhh kind of day. And with this company, ill make it a double "ahhh"

Now, prepping for midnight shift, buenas noches sshhhhicos.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Logadile and Lanterns

Happy Costa Rican independance day everyone (coincidentally mexicos too)! This is sweetly celebrated in town by hundreds of kids dressed in traditional flag colored dresses, carrying intricately crafted lanterns, looping all around town. The lanterns are In conmemoration of one hero who 190 years ago today, in a small town near the capital, knocked door to door with her lantern/ torch uniting everyone to claim their independance the following morning.

Everyone and their grandmother was out. CCC was invited to view the procession; so weplayfully decided to join in the crafts, being the only 10 childless adults walking around town with milk carton lanterns. Fun times. I particularily enjoy recognizing faces around town; even tho im the obvious foreigner, i feel like im getting this bbc exclusive in person.

New story:
Someone else who was out and about theprevious night, getting ready for the festivities, on the beach 2 meters away from my early pm patrollers, was a 3 meter crocodile. This is not normal. River/canals: crocodiles. Ocean: hammerheads. Beach: jaguars, poachers, feisty toursits and mosquitoes. These are our concerns according to location. Now this log looking creature is coming over to our patrols. Oh man! Apparently, Emma and Carolyn were patrolling as usual in mid conversation when the third patroller, Bernardo (also a new addition, nestors replacement), said "alto, paren q hay cocodrilo!" emma and carolyn chuckle, as he is new and is fogged and confused... "no no, its just a logadile... No crocs on this side". As they get closer, they see it come alive! Feeling outnumbered the croc agressively kabooses its way back to the ocean, and from what i hear he even did a little jesus walk-on-water move too (must be related to the vasilisk). Swooosh. And might i add: phew!

What freaks me out with this story, is that this took place in probably the best lit patrolling night in the history of CCC and still we wldve noramlly just climbed over this sharp toothed log. Unrecognizable i am being told. What r we supposed to do on the dark nights? I forsee a bunch of paranoid patrolees taking the long way around the beach the next couple days. Hehe

Proceed w caution. We're being told to run in zig zag if we are ever being chased by one, however i dont see how that wld help... Clumsy chasing clumsy. Haha later that night i took over 12-4am, and i was able to identify more than 5 croc looking logs. I also found the intruder's dinosaur sized tracks. Hahaha ummm :/ Nervous laughter.

PS i wldve given anything to see carolyn's crocodile dance.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Full Moon and Full Sun

and half sleep.

Last night we had a wonderous full moon, and im happy to have spent it patrolling with the lovely Emma Harrison, the Directos of CCC, and Abelardo, our latest addition.

the patrol night was usual, we worked 4 turtles, marked a nest, and as the early shift brings, had quite a few turtle crosswalk encounters.  One worth mentioning: 

As we were looking for our second tican turtle on our first mile, we encountered a turtle returning to sea... and as we always do, we politely and statueesquely held our positions.  This time, however, where we held our positions happened to be where the next mile 2 2/8 turtle wanted to pop out.  she came out, surveyed the area and must've thought, "i dont remember these odd looking trees being here... eh."  She carries on.  literally bumped into us, made a quick diagonal swerve and turtled on up.  lit by the moon, i was able to see her on mission in detail.  Tortuguero HD. haha.  pretty cool.  happens a lot.  im still taken.

Abelardo did great, enjoying teaching him the ropes.  And it was also my first night out with Emma in a small group, who i'd already decided is awesomo. she simply continued strenthening that sentiment.

Few sun risinghrs later, Abelardo and i decide to hit the morning survey at 5ish to try and beat the heat. nope. Heat was there. but so was this friendly cinnamon coloured doggy who followed me on my entire 5 mile track, letting menknow when danger was near (she sniffed and got scared after spotting jag marks...moments later a new turtke victim). she was even good with hatchlings.  :). Could this be a new turtle patroler?

Abelardo:  his first days tracking.... we had to redo some 1/8s and i had to work both ends of the beach... but he's cool so i kept my cool.  he's growing on me, especially now that he's comfortably become a smiley chatterbox.

Heeeeeeat. we excavated. and i had the nose plug priveledge of looking thru the remaining rotten eggs, depradated, pipped, half or full embroyed, and multi maggotted eggs.  i struggled.  im glad there wasn't an audience. Yuuj!

we also found two live but "damaged" hatchlings. broke my heart to see they we lacking either in frontal or posterior flipper abilities.  tried my best mama them into the water. &nbs hope theyll do well with only one pair of functioning flippers.  b r o k e   my  h e a r t.

Came back thirst and delirious full.... Directly to my assigned cinderella chores, where one ofnthe tasks includes sensibly brushing the sand of every page of both our patrol books with a toothbrush. this monotenous act reminds me of Harold Crick (will ferrell)in stranger than fiction, when filing hundreds of irs audits, saying the folder made the "same sound as a wave scrapping against the sand." I to o have listened to enough waves To constitute a "deep and endless ocean."

Haha . A bloggers creative right to exaggerate and embelish

Monday, September 12, 2011

How bad can a few bug bites be?

This unexperienced remark would come from someone who clearly doesnt taste good. Some tasteless, carefree, smooth skin walking in the jungle, not undergoing what looks like itchy puberty at 30. haha.

Last night i was the opposite, the cranky chewed up sleepless patrol girl.  the shift was gifted with 4 turtles we "eh" worked, a bunch of teaser noncooperative ones, a gaziliiom flies to keep us alert, and a bitchy RA (me). Haha.  later to be explained by my roomies who, before jumping in shower, discovered my constellation of beach flea bites on my back.  ugg!  Itch, slap, sting, smack were last night's motions.  I found myself practicing some "ujai" breathes just to zone out the itch and the taunting and try and do my job.  (sorry guys).  enough about that.  only 8 Ex PM's left.  slept like a baby at last...

today, refreshed, i woke up and went straight to town for another errand day.
main target: repelant store and then as i bonus and distraction from all meals of the day (on master cleanse) i went gift shopping.  In a place where it takes you 12 days to find an icecube container, you'd be surprised how much turtle gift variety there is. haha.  i had fun.   and now with my 4th bottle of repelant, i will have protected fun for the remainder of my tikan time.

off to go submit environmental education proposals at the 2 schools in town.  hoping to get an invite to the independence day paper lantern festivities.  wish me luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One month plus

i passed my one month mark, and i am alive and possibly in one of the most exciting times of my life. Fortunate to have lived all over the world, collecting unique experiences, memorable slips, and laughable lessons learned.... This one is no different, maybe better.

The now is what is mostly contributing to what i will be tomorrow, and i can confidently say it will be a better, less afraid of the dark and a more open to surprises me. Throughout the years, My connection with nature has moved from a philosophical and behind the desk, a hookah (college days) or a cup of spiked coffee stage, to a close, palpitating, and respectful 'because its there in front of me' fuzzy and awestruck place. Now moremthan ever.

Nature and the gifts it brings have an intrinsic value of their own, separate to what we attribute to of gain from them.  Stewards  is our role(uuu thesis reminiscing). In Tortuguero, the formula is set. the gift of the turtle arrivada, carrying over 17,000 turtles per season to this 5 mile stretch of sand, fortunately also provides for the improved lifestyle if a community of 500+ junglers (almost noninstrusively), and even tho the scheme is still broken and corrupted by the black market poachers and greedy competitors, the potential here is huge. A community that relies on the success of prosperity of a species.  What a lovely eureka formula. If only this foot tripping community wasnt so. i guess there's time to grow.  Baby steps...

Back to being philosophical, guess the hookah baileys drinking humanities gal is still in here somewhere.

The socratic training at CCC has been maturing.  As the training wheels come off, i think we are all developing a sense of pride in how far we've come, and for me a bit of prenostalgia, hoping this piece of jungle adventure wont turn into a past life feel (what having lived in japan now feels like). The family connection we've built and the stories we've created have been, as credit card ads say, priceless, and the turtle time legendary. Gathering tales of jungle kings.

-- there will be lots of noted lasts these days, and im happy today was one of the good ones:  9/11/11 stormy 6 hour day survey @ park with Carolyn where we were assigned to excavate a nest that appeared to be in the mother nature's agenda as well, punctually showcasing dozens of emerging hatchlings waiting to be escorted by 2 lovely ccc RAs.  We encountered the first layer headies popping out, afterwards the first brave ones heading for the waves.  amazing little pitter patts heading to the water. in total, 113 tortuguinas. we guarded e/ and every one to sea.  shoo vultures, shoo crabs, dogs, and tourists...   then while returning thru national park, i had my usual conversation with the howler monkeys, then we were followed by a family of flirty spider monkeys, a snake slicked over my feet, and we bumped into another black wood somehting fresh water turtle.

even tho we later were told that our 2 hours guarding and excavating move with the hatch's was a wrong one, my newly developed maternal instincts told me otherwise, that combined with the butterflies in my stomach and the photo opp.  it was a good day.   thank you carolyn for joining me, my frantic snake dance you will take to your grave thank you very much.  i will do the same with your spider web shimmy. lol

Saturday, September 10, 2011

7 seconds apart or less

Went from one clear lit sky to a thunder storm adventure.

Andy, abelardo and i went to Boca at 12:05 am, and at 12:20 the thunder roars began.
Aberlardo is our latest RA addition, sent to ease some work off the crew now that nestor leaves tomorrow and i leave in 12 days. He's from an indigenous tribe in Panama, the first in his family to work turtles, 7 siblings, supee quite.... But im happy to say i broke the awkward silence patrol last night and even caught a couple smiles.

Still, it was pouring cats and dogs last night. Luckily i had my poncho, and my shunken long sleeve shirt turned mosquito robber mask. We worked 6 mamas in the muddy sand, one which laid and laid and laid for over 35 min and then i started working her and she left w/out covering, later to find out she only laid a dozen eggs. Odd. We covered for her.... Im getting pretty good at playing both ra and turtle now :).

My fellow scientist tell me that such an occurence can be due to ingesting plastic and that obstructing the exitting process. That once they found a turtle expunge 5 meters of stomached thru plastic while laying a nest. Now thats what i call a stomach made of stone.

While working that mystery mama, the rain went from a small indie rock band, to a full fletched bethoveen symphony. Lots of emotion coming from mother nature. Tortuguero needed the rain, and we were bound to experience this. But let me just say, tagging with muddy pliers, mosquitoes finding their way in ur poncho made roof lit by red head lamp, openning chunky sand filled calipers to measure scl, and notetaking during this concerto was a bit of a challenge. Mud faced laughter most of the time, this felt like i was in the army, so hardcore.

Moments in, Lightning flash, then 1, 2, 3 bang, repeat Lf 1, 2, 3, 4 bang. Lf 1 bang. Andy was the official thunder light counter of the night. The rule is, if lightining and thunder are less than 7 seconds apart, thats our cue to head back to center.... Unless we feel like toast.
Andy: "time to head back." gigi, the new record holder turned greedy haha: "maybe after we finish working this one, lets give it 2 more minutes, abelardo what do u think?" Abe, indegenous macho never admitting fear or lack of knowledge about anything: "we can stay." we stay, that particular turtle as ive already given away doesnt cooperate, BUT the storm settles and 30 min later, pocket of stars appear. Good call.

New ingredients: hardcore and patience.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stars & Turtles aligned

After a day of showering and eating in the dark, my fully charged ipad carrying me thru day w the remaining episodes of Mad Men season 1. 8pm Bjorn and i go out to Boca for another magnificently moonlit patrol. When the moon is on ur shift u almost feel as tho u are cheating, the beach is so well defined.

Clearly identified turtles emerging over 50 meters away, spotters holding their posts waiting for the perfect turtle to arrive in their sector to then entertain his tour group, even the sand being brushed out of the mamas' nests when bodypitting was visible from the high tide lime. Ahhh! Q delicia, no bending over to feel the edges of every single track, no hopeful old track climbing, no squinting eyes and attempt to focus so much that u begin to see turtle shaped tree trunks moving up to nest.

Still, it was a slow turtle night. In the first mile, we had only seen 2 tracks, aproprieted fully by the spotters (when, to gain some pt of comparison, on our morning tracks we usually count on average about 8-15 turtle tracks / 1/8 pf a mile so we r talking about missing at leAst 6 turtles during this early shift) Oh well, spotter informs us there are a cpl turtles on sector 1 (all the way north to the airport). At least itll b a clear night without falling into bodypits, i think.

On we go, and suddenly we arrive to my turtle promised land, mile 1 5/8. Its pulled thru for me before, and it did again times 7. Recordip matching 7. Not only that, it was as if the turtles consciously lined up and decided to space out their nesting 10-15 minutes apart, giving us the lerfect time to work each one nonrushingly, some considerabke turtles even grnted us an apple and philosophizing break. We did, we even marked a nest. What a night. We did initially have 9 or 10 turtles in that blessed section, but it seemed that the same roucous their sororeity girls were causing was scaring them away. That and one of our break conservations haha.

Bjorn and i started having the "30 years old or around there" conversation (hes 30, im a cpl blocks away). The expected accomplishments, milestones, offspring and more.... Cmbined with the mixup of wanting that and everything else (adventure, travel, more selfsih time), and right when we (in our separate situations) saying things are not to be pressured, that maybe it is possuble to have it all, and that age shldnt dictate lifechanging decisions... Our runner up turtle , as if on cue, pops out from a baby palm tree, out from her tap dancing (my fav) egg chamber stage (aka making tidy for le babies) and back to the water. We made a believer out of her too. She was one of us now. Haha.

We skipped on, luckily the other mama a few meters away got the memo and invited us to mark her nest. 111 turtle eggs. My 4th nest marked. I will never tire from being part of that.

Then i tag another conservation virgin and it was as if i was the scorpion. I notched her once (i hadnt notched since my first) because of her sudden out of trance bitch slap, after which she decided the eggs cld cover themselves. Time to be time smart. When the turtle mamas start leaving nest, the most crucial part is one, that she leaves tagged, and two that she leaves tagged correclty. All the other, measurements... Body check, not necesarry if she reacts so franctically.

Ive sort of come into my own wayof tagging, that may endure more violence from the turtle at times and take cpl more gets at it, but it assures me as much as possible i wont notch her, q hago? I position the tagger on the precise mid armpit section (or pre first scale), wait a sec to see if her camo strokes are going to kick in, and then simlply close the peircer a bit, to let her know im there.... And then loosen my hand on tagger to give her theroom to bruskily do her "get ur hands of me move," then, becquse the tag is half way in and well situatued now, the final is to click it thru, one direct strong move (or sometimes more, but only using the one tag, and riding on the same pinch... Which in tell myself hurts her less). My hands end up cut and bruised from her flipper to shell karate moves... But It works for me. At during that moment, nothing hurts. Scars r all good as theyll remind me of my turtle times.

So crunch time, shes leaving at the turtle version of 100 horsepower, click yes! Almost click, shes getting ready for take off. So we pull our bow down trick, that i dont thinj ive talked to u about yet... The trick is to w both hands cupped facing her, u cover her eyes as shes shoving thru sand (without touching her is ideal, altho bjorn has a cap technique that isntin the books but works well). Once she sees dark, like an ostrige, they calm down, this being demonstrated by her head just lowering down.... "guess ill wait til the power comes back on"

Click again. We are good. We decide not to do more, even if shes being sub,isive, because we already disturbed her enought during her magical time. Not cool to think of oneself as a bully, a conservatn bully even. Bjorn and i return to her nest and finish camouflaging for her, scooping piles pf sand to the predicted egg chamber area. We got ur back mama.

And well, i notice this blog was a bit novelesque in size, but hopefully entertaining too.
7 turtles, 1 marked nest (not common during 8-12), and only 5 more turtle tracks on site. Mother nature was on our side.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ninjas of the night

We are quite the turtle ninja crew! Just got back from working fully vegetated turtles, some stuck under branches, tags flipped, one accidentally flinging other turtle eggs as she dug her own nest, and one turtle walking over another turtle camoflaging,... What a night. And we handled it swell. 3 of the 4 we worked we worked in front of groups of 20-35 tourists at a time.... And we stil keptour cool. :).

Im especially going to remember my puzzling my way thru on turtle under tree branhes and roots in order to adjus and read her tag, plus while moments before unknowinkly sitting on an agressive ant nest which then welcomed hundreds to join me on my expedition.... Biting me the entire time i trapped myself deep in the roots. All keeping the professional act in front of tourists. Hahaha what a hoot.

Mpsquitoes are getting brighter, but so are we.

Off to bed. im patrolling again at 5am and excavating under the unforgiving sun.

Town is shutting down electricity from8-3pm so i will go internet and ventilator craaaaazy.

Have aglass of icey cold water for me. Aaaaaah!

Added later in the day:
I hear heatwave is pretty bad in sd (and surrounding areas) and that u had a power outage? Or still have one?Crazy.Still, a bit comforting that in our opposite worlds right now we coincidentally experienced a power outage, overlapping at some points im sure!  Ours was because of menacing monkeys.... But still. :)

We r in the dark together!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Getting off the boat at boca 6am, we cld already feel the heat. Uff, its going to be a boiling survey day. All 30ish nests looked untouched, and after marking over 85 turtle tracks we head back heat stricken.

My lemons and lemonade were drank by this weeks workshop peeps, together with my prize coke can.... Grrr, so i was forced to postpone MC until further notice. Hurray because it was a festive eating day after all.

The roof of our dorm is a metal shield, which on days like these keeps us happy, if we were iguanas. Unfortunately we are NOT. Sleeping in our days oven not an option so i choose a sauna couch time to watch me new favorite show: mad men. I loaded all 5 seasons and started
watching last night during my insomnia time between red eye shifts (this new working schedule is going to work wonders for my already calleneged sleep when i return, luckily i have 9 royal excedrin pms left for the remainder ofmmy time... To use wisely). Already on my 9th 48 min episode and am quite taken by don drapers use of words and cabronness. one of todays episodes draper and the boss go for lunch hr martinis and oysters, which reminded me of my happy hr days w caro atmoceanaire. Mmmm one more thi gnto add tomthe when i get back list.

Headache heat continued throughout, luckily our wonderful coordinator scheduled our 2nd pool excursion. Flwd by an education project w 60 kids from the elementary in the town across the river. Very cute. Bellys full of more variations of rice and beans, courtesy of the school group, i am getting geared up tonpatrol.

My first night patrolling w the moon out since training. Very excited about not going out wearing nature blindfold. Nomrecord yet, but nestor is coming out tonight entonces todo es posible.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More unusual firsts

Somemore unusuals have occurred during midngiht patrols lately.

1. Startled mama: we found a trial of a green going back to sea, abruptly in the middle of digging her eggchamber and not fastenning her egg laying. The track looks like a bunny trial, with little clumpsof 2-4 eggs every 3 strokes from start to finish. We inspected and noticed it was quite fresh, and between the 5 patrollers covering the entire beah, we recovered and nested these huevitos de la mama asustadita. Hope they turn out ok, being a foster parent and all.

2. The temptermental tagger: ive conquered the tagging fear and feel pretty confident w the process now, and i come across this tagger last night while introducing one small mama into conservation that just wldnt have it. One tag, doesnt puncture thru tag nor the bottom layer of the turtles flipper. Remove, inspect and notivce a bent head. Weird. Again, weird, again.... Hmmm, "borja u try i think im being retarded." 7 tags later, and a resigned turtle mama we forfeit. Call the directosr, explain the sich, and we head back to the center for another tagger. Perfecion from then on. So we do know what we r doing! We blame the apparatus, but back at camp they rnt so cnvinced... The mystery on the tagger is still haunting us as well as la aleta mordisquiada - the hole punched flipper:/.

3. Ninja mosquitoes: not only do i have to bathe in repelant before going to bed, now under mybgarments before going out as well. My theory of the biting thru clothes mosquitoes was proven true. Im catching on to these little suckers! Altho my armament is running low.

4. The hitchhiking turtle: whilst following up tracks last night in search of the perfectly staged mama, we found one that took exit 19 out (off the beach into the vegetatn tourist path) This mama was on holiday! We saw a few bodypits started by her, but the rough path's sand wasnt going to work. Inshe goes thru the back path.... Now shes really lost. We cldnt find her and thoughtnthis meant poachers awaited her on the other side.... We leave the lonely up path and hope the morning patrollers will come with a happier conslusion. They did: apparently she was lost near exit 20-21 and then there was a clear flipped track of someone dragging her back to SEA. Poachers opposite. Once she was dragged to the cushiony sand, she was flipped back and she disorientedly went back to sea. Good luck next time.

:). Day off tonight. On day 4 of cleanse too. Me lemons were taken by workshoppers so i may have to stop today.

Pura vida ticos

Monday, September 5, 2011

family feel

3 weeks in reflection time:

our well balanced, talented and multicultural sea turtle crew is becoming my family away from home. Theres a unique and cherishable sense of unity amongst us, and i really feel fortunate to be a part of this.

I will be one of the first to leave the group in a couple weeks, and i know this experience and these friendships will last a lifetime. 

I was asked to present at the STC workshop that started today, about my previous work with sea turtles through Pro Peninsula, The Ocean Foundation and collaborating groups in Baja.  It went very well.  felt good to present again on something i feel so close to.  and felt so great to have the entire RA gang appear to show their support :).  gracias familia!

nap time calls.  the new record to break here is 7 turtles in a 4 hr night shift.   Nestor, who leaves this weekend really wants it and makes me walk at paso redoblado speed in order to find the best staged turtles the fastest.