Sunday, October 7, 2012

Visa Run Day 8: All Good Things Must Come to an End

DISCLAIMER: Alison here . . .  I’m writing a series of guest blogs covering 9/30-10/7 – the dates where Nick, Minh and I joined Vic on his visa run to Nicaragua and the journey through Costa Rica back to Costa de Oro. 
Date: Sunday 10/7/12

Location: Playa de Costa de Oro, drive through Guanacaste province, San Jose airport, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago (home!)

Word of the day: Patria - home or home country; As in patria is where the heart is. Obviously, casa means house. But the word patria signifies a person's homeland or motherland, which seems about as close as I could come to describing the idea that home is a feeling you get in a place you feel native. Today, I am going back to mine in Chicago while Vic maintains his new dual-patria (well, that one I made up) in Playa Costa de Oro.

 Costa Rica Fact: The San Jose airport is named for Juan Santamaria, a national hero in Costa Rica. Juan’s claim to fame came in 1856 when William Walker, an American from Nashville, TN (not proud), marched into Central America on his own accord hoping to overthrow the entire region all by his lonesome (don't laugh - he came close). Walker's story is quite ridiculous, but he did manage to overthrow Nicaragua, which is when Costa Rica started taking him seriously. That’s when the Costa Rican government formed an army of citizen to opposed Walker. Juan Santamaria is one of the civilians that volunteered and he eventually gave his life to set fire to a hostel which smoked out Walker’s men and helped Costa Rica retain their freedom! 

2AM wake up for last patrol of my trip. It's just Vic and I for this one and when we get back to the house, I have to eat breakfast and hit the road to make my flight out of San Jose in the early afternoon. 

We wake up no problem and get ready to head to the beach. The bugs have been a bit thick lately - so we are wearing pants and bug spray to fend against them. We check the hatchery before heading out and find a few babies! We put them into the bucket and carry them with us on our trek.

We make the first half of the walk without event and come to the end of the beach by the estuary. Here we find tracks! 

We follow them dilligently up the beach and to the area we assume is the nest. We can see, though, that she only stopped here briefly and then continued on to another spot a couple feet up the beach. We check for the nest there as well. Vic pokes with the nest-finding-stick many times but it is clear after many attempts that this was a false crawl. 

These aren't that common, but they happen occasionally when a momma turtle comes up on the beach to lay her nest and is bothered by debris or something else and heads back into the water without laying any eggs. In this case - we think it's the driftwood that is clearly obstructing the path she tried to take. 

We are bummed to find no nest, but comforted as we release the babies in the bucket that we brought from the hatchery. There aren't too many of them, so it doesn't take long for them to get swept out by the currents.

After releasing the turtles, we eat the snack Vic brought for our mid-patrol and take a brief break before heading back down the beach toward the house. We do come across one more poached nest - obvious from the footprints covering the tracks. We are bummed, but it's still the tail end of Saturday night so an increased number of poachers is to be expected.

We get back to the house just as the sun is rising. I'm sad to see patrol come to an end since I know the next part is all the business of hitting the road and getting to San Jose in time. 
But one more bit of fun before it's time to go . . . Vic makes us a breakfast of cereal with granola and honey - delicious!  We make coffee as well and have a bit with our cereal. But as we finish eating, Vic begins to brainstorm possible ways I can take my coffee lleavr so I can drink it in the car (my hero). 

After scoping out the kitchen - he salvages a tin can from the beans we made the other night - perfect to hold the coffee! But then there is an issue of the lid. BINGO - the Trits container fits perfectly and is of a light enough material that Vic can cut a drinking whole in one side with a vent whole on the other. And for the finishing touch - he creates a coffee sleeve from an old egg-bag and a latex glove - voila! 

It worked perfectly for sipping and kept my coffee hot the whole morning! 

I had packed everything up the night before - so my bags were ready to go. We loaded them into the car along with my pre-programmed GPS and cafe llevar and it was time to hit the road. It's of course sad to say goodbye since it was such a fun week and I know I won't see Vic for another few months. Leaving is hard - but the business of the road trip is still an adventure to be had. 

I start out the trip comparing the GPS route with the hand written direction Courtney's father gave me. It's dead on. 
The road is hilariously less hilly and crazy than our previous route and I cruise! I slow down to take some pictures because I know the boys will be incredulous at the bump-free, cow-free and hill-free route we could have taken. 

The scenery is gorgeous despite the lack of hills. It is a cloudy and drizzly morning, but as the sun comes out and rises in the sky, the clouds are burning off and the sunrise light is gorgeous. I make it all the way to the next major town and pull in to fuel up on some gasoline. 

I'm a little nervous since I'm alone, speak no Spanish and have to talk to the pump attendant - but it's no problem! I immediately feel like I can do anything and conquer the world. 

The next section of the trip through Guanacaste is easy and I know what to expect becuase of our multitude of road trips through this route. I pass familiar places and reminisce about the week. I even know where to stop to refill my coffee! 

I grab another cafe con leche just outside of Puntarenas and fill up my homemade to-go cup. Round two and it's still trucking! With all the coffee and the snacks Vic packed for me - I'm golden until San Jose! 

The only road block (ha - forgive the pun) in my trip was that I missed an exit off the highway to the airport near San Jose. But when the GPS rerouted me, it took me the non-highway way which was beautiful and went through a couple small towns. A perfect last look at Costa Rica before I make it to the airport. 

When I get there, I return the car without issue and shuttle back to the airport where I check my bag, pay my exit tax and make my way through security with no issues. 

I settle in for a long flight, a layover in Fort Lauderdale and a final leg to Chicago. My turtle adventures have come to an end, but the trip was more amazing than I could have ever planned for. 

Great company, non-plans that turned into incredible plans, the cutest little turtles and the sense that I really got to see, live and feel these places. In marketing, we always talk about immersive experiences (which is a made up word to serve our own marketing-y purposes). But on this trip, that word came to life for me. It was an amazing experience and I feel so luck to have lived it. I am looking forward to continuing to live it vicariously through Vic and the Helping Turtles blog. 

Signing off! - Alison

  • There is nothing that rivals a long walk on the beach; it trumps all things
  • There's no better friend than the one that understand the importance of to-go coffee on a road trip
  • It's not that scary to road trip it alone! You just have to go for it and not be afraid to speak Spanglish to the gas station attendant
  • Beer on a layover = sleep on a flight
  • Café con leche
  • Cereal with honey & granola
  • Cafe con leche . . . illevar!!
  • Airport food (and here's where the good things must end . . .)
Animals: turtles and lots of drug-sniffing dogs in American customs

Something I am thankful for: good directions! They day before my solo drive to the San Jose airport, Courtney's Dad (who was visiting) gave Vic and I the best directions to get across the Nicoya peninsula without having to go over the crazy mountains. That drive was very fun when we were all together to enjoy the sights - but I wasn't excited about attempting it on my own with a plane to catch. With his directions and the trusty GPS - Vic was able to get way-points in for my drive and it was SMOOTH SAILING all the way across the peninsula and toward the airport. 

Something I don't want to admit: I got really choked up when it was time to hit the road! I'm never so good at endings to things, especially things as amazing as this trip was, but I definitely didn't plan for the out pouring of emotion when I left. I'm sure Vic didn't either . . .

Total Nest I have saved: Two!!
Total Nests Poached on my Patrol:  Zero
Total Turtle Eggs I saved: 204+
Total Baby Turtles I Released: 320+ (I’m not the scientist – so we will be dealing with rounded numbers on my count :)
Days of Rain: 1.5
Miles traveled: 205km (158 miles) by car & 5,450km (3,387 miles) by plane

1 comment:

  1. You are the bravest, sweetest girl I know. It makes sense that you have such wonderful, interesting friends.