Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Few Days---

Billboard for Future of our Property
Puddles on the Road
We landed Thursday in Liberia, Costa Rica after an all night red-eye  flight.  Had lunch a Lola's in Avellanes and had a great meal of pizza and Thai chicken right on the beach. Then we drove by our property in Playa Negra because it is the rainy season there were huge puddles in the red dirt road (I was worried we were going to float across).  We then met up with Steve, he owns the property next to ours and well as other real estate,  who put us up in his beautiful brand new condominiums. The next morning we ate had an amazing Costa Rica breakfast with the best coffee I have ever had (Sorry Starbucks) and hoped in the car and headed south. We drove through Samara which is where all the Hollywood stars own places and ate lunch at a great burger place in the next beach town. We made it all the way to Corozalita that night.

Saturday morning we went to seek out coffee from the Rhodeside Cafe which promised great coffee and cinnamon rolls but much to our dismay they were closed and showed no sign of being opened any time soon. So we got back in the car and continued south with no real plan but hoped to make it to Malpais, a little hippie town. Driving in Costa Rica is very different than the US, there is never a warning that a rode might be flooded until you get there. So we drove about 5 km down this dirt rode only to see a 1/4 mile river flowing down the middle of the rode. We turned around and once again continued south (or so we thought). We finally made it to the decent sized town of Jiracal at 2 in the afternoon and stopped for lunch. We picked a place that had a lot of locals thinking this was the spot, but since we obviously weren't locals they brought us to the back room where there was AC and SKY TV! The food was great and the locals were so friendly. We then got a map to see how much further we had until we got to Malpais only to discover we had drive East for about 2 hours. The ocean we were seeing was actually on the Eastern side of the Peninsula and  we could see main land Costa Rica. So sadly we realized Malpais was not going to happen this trip. We continued back to Corozalito  and San Miguel.

Pool at the Main Restaurant at the Punta Islita Hotel
Sunday morning I went to breakfast with one of Pretomas researchers, Sandra, who is from Spain and is very passionate about Sea turtles. After breakfast my dad, two volunteers from Canada and I went up to the Punto Islita Hotel which in the off season charges at least $350 a night for a room! Its crazy that a hotel that nice could be basically in the middle of nowhere. We at lunch and enjoyed fruity cocktails at the swim up bar before heading back to begin work. After a quick training Sandra took me and my dad to the beach to begin looking for turtles. We hadn't walked more that 100 yards before we saw one just beginning to dig her hole. We watched as this amazing creature meticulously removed sand with her back flippers. After about 10 minutes the hole was finished and she began to lay the eggs. I placed my hand into the hole and collected the eggs as the fell and put them in a bag. After she had laid almost 100 eggs we measured her shell and placed an ID tag on both of the front flippers and she covered her nest with sand. As soon as there was no longer evidence of the hole she basically ran back into the ocean. We found one more turtle that night and did the same procedure. Then we returned to the hatchery and dug a hole for both of the nests we collected.

Tuesday morning one of the volunteers and I woke up around 7:30 and since it was already pretty warm we hopped in the ocean for a morning swim. The water is so warm it wasn't even refreshing, so we walked 300 yard to the estuary. We got there at the perfect time the tide was coming in to the river was deep and clear. We swam across to a sand bar and enjoyed the much cooler water and the sun. After breakfast we received a call from the headquarters saying since the volunteers were suppose to be heading to Corozalito for the night there and the new coordinator wasn't going to be there for another week, so I headed to Corozalito as well.

That night I went out to the beach from 9 until almost 2 in the morning and saw over 25 turtles or turtle tracks. We moved some of the nests, hid others and some we made look like the nest was already poached. Things are different in Corozalito because the house is a 40 minute walk to the beach, there are way more turtles each night, more poachers and there isn't a protected hatchery like in San Miguel. For the first 3 nights it poured and it was cold rain and every night I would return to the house soaked to the bone and covered in sand. So a quick hop in the pool was the best option to get rid of the sand. I also learned really quickly even if it is hot to wear pants. I have over 300 sand flea bites on my legs and bug spray doesn't seem to stop them!

Yesterday was finally sunny again and we spent most of the day playing uno in the pool and just enjoying the sun. We also got to release 8 babies whose eggs were saved from a nest that was deprecated by a raccoon. Pictures from the drive      Baby Turtle Pictures


  1. Courtney- I look forward to following your posts! Tell us more about the work you are doing, how long, etc. It all sounds incredible. Keep writing!
    Charlene O'Brien (your ol' neighbor!)

  2. Its great to hear from you! How is everyone?

    I am in Costa Rica right now working with a company called Pretoma to help conserve sea turtle for 4 months. I absolutely love the work and I am hoping to return next year.