Tuesday, 21 May 2013

14th september- Independence, kindness and the joy of dancing

Today was my day off and independence day in Costa Rica. 

Still I worked th 9-12 shift despite only getting to bed at 4:30am. Exhausted! Felt drunk and dizzy

No hatchlings this morning. 

I cleared the beach of driftwood a little until it started raining. I was almost falling asleep while in the shelter. 

Irvin came along to say hi, and maybe he was still feeling bad about the branch incident as he brought me a bottle of juice and some crisps. Such kindness and care. 

I went home and slept from 1:30-2:20 and by 3pm was at the dock for our lagoon boat trip with Jason. Me, Ilse, Sarah and Eric.

It was great- We saw much the same as I saw on the cano negro,monkeys,birds,lizards and caimen but closer and in a smaller boat which we got to row as a team! great fun! Jason pulled us up close to an overhanging tree, where we found these fuzzy little pods.

fuzzy little fruit- guava seed pod
we love pink!

coasting along the river
do you see him? a basalisk lizard
taking a break from rowing
view from parismina dock

We arrived back to the village just in time to see all the chilren come out of the school with their fabulously colourful independance day lanterns ready to do a parade around the village. I walked home and was ready to see them come around again. There was so much energy, shouting, singing, drumming and excitment filled the air.

Dinner tonight was heavenly! Small and recognisably simple. A hamburger! Yippee! Ate it all and it was good! Tummy was vvvv happy to not be so full.

Around 8:30 I went to the bar to go dancing. Since it was such a special day for the village I wanted to join in the fun.

It was a little intimidating walking in alone, but I ordered a beer and sat down alone until Randy called me over to his table. I sat with him and some of his family and danced a while with one of them.

Later Jerry came to talk to me. We talked about the project, about Scotland, cultural things and a little about what I do. He was so supportive and said he would  help me on Sunday if I wanted to work with the children and show them some jewellery making ideas. As long as i keep it simple it'll be perfectly fine. 

Jerry asked me to dance as I'd said I don’t get to dance enough in Scotland.

IT WAS GREAT FUN!  We danced solo and salsa! I love salsa! Soooooo dizzy but fun. Apparently I dance well! YEAH!

Stayed out dancing until just after 11pm, and then Jerry kindly walked me most of the way home. 

I could have danced some more but I was very tired, and it was another very happy day in Parismina.

Friday, 10 May 2013

13th September - yeah tortuga mama and good luck!

Tonight I saw my first green turtle mama laying her eggs while on patrol with Alberto, Irvin and Ilse and I helped 3 leatherback tortugitas make their way to the sea, while on duty at the hatchery, the last leatherback hatchlings of the season.

 The leatherbacks nest- covered up to stop animals digging

We got to Tortuga mama as she was finishing her digging of the nest. A mesmerising process where she uses her back flippers to dig down to the full length of her flipper and makes a bulb shape at the bottom of the hole. It looked like really hard work. This makes as much space as possible for her eggs. Turtles can lay anywhere between 40-150 eggs per nest.

Over 70 eggs tonight.

I helped to collect and count the eggs. It was incredible, even though I got amniotic fluid on my arm! 

Ilse and Alberto headed back to the hatchery to rebury the eggs in safety, while me and Irvin waited for mama to fill in her nest and cover it up. 

It took a surprisingly long time. She was very diligent to make sure it was hard for predators to figure out where her eggs were laid. After she was done kicking sand at us- we had to stand further and further away- and off back into the ocean, Irvin and I carried on with the patrol. 

I spoke a little Spanish with Irvin. He said I am learning well. I said to learn is good! 

We got rained on a while but I was well prepared- head to toe waterproofs are the best! I could sit in the sand without getting wet and any sand in my pants!

At one point Irvin pulled a big branch out of the path, off the sand so we wouldn't trip in the dark. He let go and it smacked me on the side of the face! It took me a second to realise what had happened, quite a sting. No blood though and my eye closed fast. I felt sorrier for Irvin; he kept checking that I was ok and saying sorry. Sweet. I felt taken care of. :)

When we got to the Rio mouth we sat a while until Irvin noticed more rain clouds forming.

Correr! RUN! Rapido! Quickly!

The fast walk back was fairly uneventful until we found a nest that had obviously been poached, and the poachers had left one egg behind. 

a solo O

It was sad, but I hoped all the more for the long lives of the eggs that we collected earlier in the evening.

Buena Suerte!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

12th September- the night time drama!

My heart!

We must have been about 45mins into our walk and we came upon some turtle tracks. (We = me, Ivan & Jose) I of course I hadn’t a clue what they were saying but it seemed like something was up.

They noticed an empty nest and then some flattened vegetation heading into  the woods.
They started darting into and out of the woods, talking loudly and animatedly. After a while they started calling someone on their mobile. Jerry -the head guide and the Policia!....


I was kinda scared!

I had to trust them and followed them through the undergrowth and trees, being led by my adrenaline and my heart rate- pretty fast! They started to see tell tale tracks on the dirt road, like the scuffling of feet and something being dragged. Time passed, god knows how much. We walked and walked along the dirt road in the jungle.

Eventually the police arrived and they joined in the search. They all kept going in and out of the jungle, different areas, deeper and deeper. Check and double check. Some I followed, some I was told to stay on the road.
Aspere aqui!

I really didn’t want to be in the jungle since I was afraid of snakes and we were going through prime snake territory!

It was around 9:15pm when we found her, dragged deep into the jungle, past tangled branches and cut wire fences.

The beautiful creatures' body flipped upside down, struggling. I had no idea how long they could be out of the water for. Adult turtles can’t flip themselves over. That is how the poachers trap them. They had dragged  and carried her though the jungle and left her there until morning when they probably would have come back to kill her.

I felt like crying, right there next to her upturned body. I didn’t, adrenaline was still running and I held on to the amazing fact that we HAD found her and she may live.

The guides moved her and checked her for injury. I think she was nicked in a couple of places but nothing bad, but she was in such distress, struggling and flailing her flippers. At one point she stopped struggling and I was afraid that she was gone, but no she was still blinking and took the occasional deep breath, like a sigh of the greatest woe.
We waited for Jerry.

When he and Ilse arrived the action started again. 2 of the men started to drag her out of the jungle, slowly to the road. Jerry told Ilse and I to go wait on the road as it was dangerous in the jungle!

I knew it!!!!

Once they got to the road with her, 5 grown men carried her with great difficulty to the beach. Ilse and I lighting the way with our head torches and trying to stay out of the way of such immense effort by the guys.

She wiggled to get free, with her huge, strong, razor sharp flippers. A couple of the guys got some cuts on their hands and bled.
When we got her to the beach the guys flipped her over and after a short beat she made a dash for the sea. Our nosey dog companion was standing in front of her - nose to nose! A sight to see! Until he got scared and she got too fast for him and he ran away.
We watched her slide her beautiful sleek body to the sea, where the waves caught her and she was gone.

We sat and rested for a while, drinking water and exclaiming at the drama of it all. Mainly we watched the sea make great mountains with it waves, crashing with such ferociousness and turmoil.

Silently I went into my thoughts, my heart and breath calming my body, still hardly able to take in what we had just helped to do. A feeling of elation swept through me and tears welled up.
We continued on our patrol and on the way we saw 2 more green turtles, both who had turned and were heading back to the sea. So no nesting but 3 turtles in one night, how lucky am I!

What an INCREDIBLE night. xx

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

My first tortugita!- 11th September

I am the happiest girl in the world!

I saw my first baby tortugita this afternoon! WOWOWOWOW! I held it and set it free!

I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my life! I was beside myself with joy. I felt like a little kid meeting their favourite person in the world.


I’ve waitied so long and I’M HERE RIGHT NOW

Tears are streaming down my face

When I came back to the house after the turtle training I sat on the bed and sobbed and sobbed and when I had a shower I sobbed some more!

Muy Muy Muy feliz! Oh my god I’m so happy!

I want to share this with someone, all that I feel right now. It's the realisation that now I can do anything.  I would so love to do this again one day- and I’m only on day 2!

Imagine what else is in store for me! Wonders exist that I’ve never imagined!

To sleep now for my shift at 8pm. You did it Jaimie! Xxxxxxoooooooo

Friday, 14 December 2012

10th September- The road to dreams

La Fortuna to Siquirres

Thank god I packed last night! Woke with 10 mins before my shuttle bus was due to collect me.

Feeling dazed I handed in my key at reception and sat for a few minutes before I spotted the driver walking down the path to get me.


I travelled to Siquirres with a lovely couple from California . It was Steve’s birthday. Costa Rica was his birthday treat. We waited a while at the bus station in Gaupiles for change overs, and met another American couple on their way to Puerto Viejo.

Siquirres to cano blanco
I was a little uncertain as I was dropped off at a restaurant at the side of the road outside Siquirres. Helpfully, the shuttle bus driver asked the owner of the restaurant to call a taxi for me. I waited maybe around 10 minutes and the taxi driver took me to the bank – where I was to get enough money to last me my time in Parismina, as there are no ATMs in Parismina and last night i'd realised my bank was refusing to let me take out any money. I was very happy that my quick cry for help text  last night worked!  
I jumped back into the taxi and off to the bus station.

Oh my! I’m so happy I could cry! (written on the bus)

I’m bumping along on the bus to Cano Blanco, the only 'gringo' on the bus and the only 'gringo' at the bus station in Siquirres. 
I'm very pleased with myself, I got by with speaking some Spanish. I asked where to buy tickets, bought the tickets, ordered and ate lunch, asked where to buy phonecards, bought phone cards, asked where the bus queue was, asked people in the queue if it was the correct queue, smiled at a friendly girl and said ‘hola’ to her little boy. The most spanish i've spoken in one day since i got here

I love how bumpy this road is! I don’t want to stop feeling like this. I can’t believe I’m here and only 5 days into my trip! TURTLES HERE I COME! OH MY GOD I’M HERE! I just overcame some of my biggest fears, I DID IT, I DID IT, I DID IT! :)

Cano Blanco to Parismina

I heard a man on the bus him telling someone that he was on his way to Parismina. So when i got off the bus I said 'Hola', and we waited at the side of the river for the boat. 

Haltingly we started saying a few things to each other in spanish/english, asking where each other were from, why we were going to parismina etc, the boat was a little late in arriving but when it did he was very kind and told me which one it was and when to get on. 

3 of us wobbled onto the boat, the driver and money collector doing what they needed to. I wedged my rucksack in front of me, trying to keep the weight from rocking the boat. I sat feeling a little stunned but buzzing that I was almost there. Only 10 minutes to go!

Soon we were zipping along the river when the rain started, getting wet, quickly remedied by the money collector rolling down the plastic sides of the boat.
When i arrived it was just like the photos on the website, but looking at the directions I had no idea where I was meant to be going. I asked a few people, 2 girls from Holland and then a local couple who kindly handed my lostness on to a local high school girl. 

She walked me to the project hut where Randy, the co-ordinator met me with a welcoming smile, lots of information to read about the project and some forms to fill in. 
I had a wander around the village with Randy, where he pointed out the major sites in this 500 people village, before going back to get my bag and getting settled into my new home.
I live in the little orange house
4 hours later…
'Parismina is gorgeous! Right now I am lying on my bed in Jean's house, my house mother. Very loud reggaeton music is playing at the pulperia (corner shop) next door. I'm about to have a wee snooze before my first patrol.'

First patrol 8-12pm
Really didn’t feel hard at all, unfortunately no turtles but some really great conversations with one of the other volunteers. Real conversations about people, nature, death, science, the oceans, living life to its fullest, fears, religion, families. It was what I had been longing for, a real conversation. Backpacking in the hostels hadn’t really given me that in the last 5 days.

Richie asked me, 'so what is it about turtles?' 

Well, it’s like I can see their souls, like they have all the secrets, they have wisdom, that they see that we might have wisdom too but aren't using it quite like we could be.
The stars were so clear. I was looking up as we sat in watch for a while, waiting for the turtles to come ashore. I saw falling stars, I saw a few constellations I knew as we are still in the northern hemisphere, but there were millions more twinkling. The Milky Way was visible. I was in awe! I had to pinch myself and I smiled so much that my smile muscles hurt.