Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 14 - The Beginning

Date: 7/14/12

Start: Tibás, Costa Rica
End: Playa San Miguel, San Francisco de Coyote, San Francisco

Word of the day: Bajes - Get off

Turtle Fact:   Many of the suspicions surrounding turtles nesting (moon phase, weather, temperature, etc) are all hear-say. There is no-one theory completely correct.

I wake up early 4:05am to make sure I have ample time to get ready and not have a repeat of yesterday. The Taxi driver (the same one from yesterday that dropped me of to the Widecast Office from the bus Terminal) was going to pick me up ay 5:15am in order to make my 6am bus. Well it’s about 5:20am now and there is no taxi driver in sight. Thinking he is running a couple minutes late, I wait. Nothing. I call his cell which I happen to get ( 1- very smart of me, 2- no he was not cute) and do the best that I can to communicate with him. Out of the conversation I got that he was not going to pick me up as his previous passenger has taken him far away.

Knowing this, I immediately head for the Park Central three blocks away, where I have seen cabs lining up during the day time. I’m in luck. There was hardly any traffic and I arrive in a matter of know time. When I get out the car I instantly get greeted by a bunch of people trying to offer me things and wanting to offer me cab rides (as if they did not see me get off bus. Fools. I head over to the correct bus and place my bags in the belly of the truck. Yes – there is space. I go to coffee shop directly in front of the bus and order myself an chicken empanada and chocolate milk. MMMM. I head to the bus and find my spot in the back left, window seat. Yes – there is space and window seat.

One bus change, a cliff bar and six hour bus ride later we arrive in San Miguel.

SIDENOTE: For those of you looking to travel/visit me in the Nicoya Peninsula, it is a 6 hour bus ride ($9) or a 4 hour rental car ride. The first 2 hours are spent driving through semi-suburban (for Costa Rica) areas and the remaining time is traveling through a luscious landscape of fields, mountains, over rivers and on the edges of the forest. The last 40mins is on a dirt road that would effect the strongest of bladders. None of the time do you see the cost until you are literaly ¼ mile from the ocean. A hidden gem!

I made sure to note all the establishments, and closest towns when we nearly arrived (or lack of). At first glance this place was very simple. One main dirt road with houses scattered to either side of the street and a number of fruit and palm/coconut trees scattered throughout the yards.

I am greeted by the 2 coordinators of Pretoma. ENTER Maddie and Courtney: These ladies were both with Pretoma last year at this site as assistant coordinators (what I am) but where soon to be bumped when their coordinators did arrive. They walk me down 2 “blocks" and we arrived at the Pretoma San Miguel Project site
SIDENOTE: I was assigned to help start a new project site at Playa de Oro, which is 7km south from this site. As of right now, the logistics, housing and final details are being resolved and we will not be moving in for a couple weeks. Meanwhile at Playa San Miguel we will be learning our best practices so we can be efficient and produce quality results once we get things going.

I meet a couple of volunteers (Kristen and Lauren) already staying in the house (more like bunkers) that are working on their own scholastic programs in conjunction with Pretoma’s initiatives. They give me a penny tour of the area and we head to lunch (more info to come in later updates). Afterwards we get the prep talk of the does and don’ts and what precautions are taken with our personal items and the program's equipment. Next, I get settled (a little), gather some coconut water and meat as a peace offering to my new “family” and we all talk about our background. Before you know it, it’s dinner time. We head back to the same place as lunch: Flying Scorpion (more to come later on this place) around 6pm. During dinner, we are notified that we are going out on the first patrol of the year (yay) tonight as they will teach us the basics and foundation for the next 3.5 months.

It’s now about 9pm and we stroll out on the beach (7 deep), with no flash lights on and patrol the beach. We walk down to one end of the beach and head back. As we walk back we see our first set of turtle tracks! We follow the tracks up the beach only to find an Olive Ridley turtle in a little bit of vegetation, preparing her nest. She starts to dig her nest, but half way through, she aborts as there is too many roots in the ground. At this point the turtle either says “I’m fed up with this $hit and I’ll try again later” (in a couple hours up to a few days) or “let me try over here” (she’ll move 5 feet away and try again). After a good 20 minutes of digging, she lays her eggs. I collect them as they drop, put them in a bag and we continue on with performing most of the same data collection (minus the tissue sampling) that we preformed in Nicoya with Widecast. After all was said and done, we continue walking down the beach until we get to the hatchery. The hatchery looks like a checkerboard with rope in the sand as the lines of the board. We place the turtle eggs only in the “black squares” so that there is room for the eggs in other quadrants, or at least until all of the black squares are filled. Then at that point we would move onto the “red squares”.

The hole is dug to same specification that it’s mother had laid them in (depth and size). Once placed back in the hole, we fill it in and pack it slightly. We continue along the beach in hopes to find more turtles on the south end (our house is located in the center). But no luck. We return back to the house to clean up our tools and then head to bed. WHAT A FIRST NIGHT. Sleep

*To not bore you and save some content for later, I left some procedural steps in the turtle egg searching gathering process out of the above info.

  •  Using your computer at night will attract more bugs than using it during the day
  • Used toilette paper is thrown in a waste basket and not flushed.
  • Our beach is really large during low tide
  • We have bats in the showers.
Food:  Chicken Empanadas
Animals: Olive Ridley Turtle!

Something I am thankful for:  Communication and the resources/channels around you in which you can use to relay information between two parties. Sounds a little scientific I know.

Something I don't want to admit: I thought I missed my bus connection and stop like 3 times each. I didn’t necessarily communicate with the driver when my stop was, nor did ask all the right questions to the people of Pretoma before I left, regarding the details of my stop. Luckily the last 15 mins of the trip I over heard to girls (from England) mention that they were going to work with turtles… so I just followed their lead and let fate do the rest.

Days of Rain: 6/11

Sign in front of the house

Sign? in the bus... How I knew I was heading to the correct place... or did I

View to the south of my new house

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