Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day 19 - The Hatchery

Date: 7/19/12
Location: Playa San Miguel, Costa Rica

Word of the day: Sudor - Sweat
Turtle Fact: If a dead turtle washes up on shore. It will take about 3 full days before it is bare bones.

 6:30am wakeup. We have an early and exciting day at the San Miguel house. That is because this morning (7am) we are going to walk down the beach (south) to Costa de Oro (Gold Coast). We will be heading to the house I will be living in and start construction on the hatchery near the property. This will be the first time that any one has seen the house or project site.

It takes about 45mins (taking our time) to walk the 3km down the beach. Not too sure which house it is, (based on non descriptive descriptions) we wait around on the beach in the general area until the other volunteers and superiors show up.  We ended up only being about 200m away from the back yard of our new house. They wave us down and we walk over.

From the back side of house I can already tell this house is going to be awesome. We take a walk around inside the 3 bedroom 2 bath house. It has a living room, a complete kitchen (stove, microwave, refrigerator, freezer and sink), outdoor back porch, separate grilling area and a POOL! Once we move in (August 1st), I’ll really be living in paradise.

The place where we plan to build the hatchery is actually in the neighbors lot next door (big advocates of Pretoma and suggested having the hatchery on their property to help get around building a hatchery on public land – government). The placement is about 200ft from the beach and 200ft from the back of the house. With that said, we are going to have to dig out a 40’x20’x 3’ hole and replace that dirt with nice sand. That is A LOT of dirt. Luckily there was another volunteer group from another organization there to help. All in all we were about 20 people, 4 wheel barrels and 9 shovels. We spend a continues 3.5 hours on the hatchery before we quit for the day (noonish). We were able to complete a quarter of hatchery. The hard part was getting to the depth and width and then working across the length from there. The labor was pretty intense as we had to move these heavy wheel barrels full of “earth” across sandy like ground, which our wheel barrels got stuck 33% of the time. We dumped the earth/dirt about 100m west of the hatchery, creating a natural barrier from higher tides during the rainy season. This dirt is also a perfect opportunity to plant a garden (which both Matt and I came up with the idea separately).

PLOT: As we slow down our production of digging out the hatchery for the day, a Muni (Government Official) vehicle drop up from the beach to the project site, where we were working. They demanded (in a nice way) to see our permits for building a hatchery. A revolving theme you will find, like most political stories, is that the government works sometimes with outside organizations (poachers). Fortunately we have permits, however we physically did not have them at the site. Reassured that the next time we work, they will be frames, laminated and posted on a palm tree near by for all to see! Luckily today, we stopped just in time to not cause any friction.

Soaked in sweat (wearing a white long sleeved, breathable shirt) I rehydrate myself which fresh green coconut. One swift bash against a tree and the young coconut opens a seem into the center – just large enough crack to drink out of, but not splash all over your face, when holding if over your head to drink out of. This white shirt is perfect for being out in the sun (covers me), retains some moisture (keeps my body cool) and is awesome because it from the Bangs Lake Triathlon I participated many years ago. Now I just have to make sure to keep coconut water off of it, before it turns a nasty, rusty brown – coconut water stains everything if left untreated.
For being such awesome workers today, we were treated to complimentary lunch and cocktails at Hotel Laguna Mar. We get a ride to this place which is on the way back to San Miguel. Upon first glance, this hotel is very retro-modern with a 3rd world/forest backdrop. As soon as we walk in, you see the clean, clear blue pool with fabric draped from the ceiling for accent. We all sit around bar and enjoy a margarita and some pasta.

Afterwards, Courtney and I make small talk with the owner Drew. It seems that there may be some need for a person with a Marketing background in Costa Rica…we will see what develops. After some time relaxing in the pool, we head back home.

Chillax. Dinner. Siesa. Patrol/ Matt and I have morning patrol. This consists of walking the beach at 4am to see if any of the night shifts happen to miss a turtle or perhaps find a late night/early morning nester. We both walk alone in separate directions of the beach. Never the less, no turtles or tracks to be found.

  • You never really loose being afraid of the dark. Perhaps it because you know more, not necessarily because of your imagination
  • Dad’s pasta is still ranks #1 internationally for me.
  • You can shovel the ground without shoes/sandles – if you’re a native or a bad ass.

Food:  Italian Pasta and Garlic Bread
Animals: Crabs, Dogs

Something I am thankful for: A desk job. Labor intensive jobs are really under rated. Sure it’s work and has to be done by someone. But just think every structure that sleep, live and eat in was built by someone, who sweat a lot making it.
Something I don't want to admit: I am not going to lie, it was kind of scary at first patrolling by yourself in the dark, foreign country, thought of aggressive poachers…etc. However near 5am, the sun started to brighten up the beach and bring a little calmness to my nerves.

Days of Rain: 8/16
Total Turtle Eggs I have saved: 258

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