Costa Rica Sea Turtle Blog June 20 (day 1)
Written by Remy Jennings (mentor)
Welcome to Costa Rica! We loved meeting all 24 of our awesome students today, and we look forward to a great program! Between airport pickups, we had lunch at a local restaurant and spent plenty of time getting to know each other, including playing several rounds of the card game Uno. Tonight we had a barbeque dinner at our hotel, catered by our local director’s cousin (yum!) as well as our first mentor group meeting. Tomorrow morning we will head to the Caribbean coast and settle in at our Home Base!
CR Sea Turtle Staff
We woke up to sun streaming through our hotel windows in San Jose this morning. The city was drenched in a coat of mystical fog, which illuminated it’s exotic beauty. We enjoyed a breakfast of the Costa Rican staple, “gallo pinto,” a delicious blend of rice, beans, and something special. We also enjoyed eggs, fresh bread, coffee, and hot chocolate. After a group photo, which I’m sure you already saw, we piled into one big van. The six hour drive was ample time for chatting, playing games, and catching up on some much needed sleep. After a stop for a buffet lunch, we headed towards a zip lining adventure.
As we pulled up to our next stop on the edge of the jungle everyone became eager to get off and zip line as soon as possible. We got into our shuttle and took off into the jungle. Our eyes widened and we laughed as we sat passengers to a hilly ride much like a rollercoaster. After a short five minutes, we met our many knowledgeable tour guides who told us about jungle wildlife and got us geared up for zip lining. With our harnesses, helmets, and gloves all set up we headed off deeper into the jungle to begin our adventure. Eager we took our first leap to hover fast through the canopy on a short zip line to get a hang of it. Along the way we even spotted some leaf cutter ants working their hardest and learned a little bit about how they survive and how they live. While going from platform to platform over the next hour or so we learned pro zip lining techniques and soon made it to the largest zip line of them all. We took deep breaths, leaned back, and flew almost a mile throughout the breathtaking jungle canopy. With our hearts racing and foreheads sweating we said goodbye to friendly tour guides and headed off on a long ride to home base.
So a six hour drive later, a good lunch, and a fascinating zip lining tour, we arrived at home base. We unloaded the bags and headed to our rooms where everyone had to shoo out a few unwanted insects. However, we quickly settled in our beds with our bug nets. The cold water showers were not as bad as I, and many others expected, so we took our much needed showers and went to bed.
Hazel Siff, Kaitlyn Ringe, Sara Holland
Today, GLA members spent some time getting to know each other with games and activities. We learned each other’s names in a fun memory game in which we stood in a big circle, then said our name one by one and something that we could have brought to camp that started with the first letter of our name. For example: JP said he brought Jellyfish, Ruth said she brought Rompers and JP brought Jellyfish, Caitlyn said she brought Cats, Ruth brought Rompers, and JP brought Jellyfish. Some of the more fun things that were mentioned were Ring Pops by Ryan, Anteaters by Anya, and Coyotes by Clint. Another game that we played, which also doubled as a trust exercise and practice for the night patrol, involved pairing off into teams of two. One person in the team would be blindfolded, then the other person would have to safely walk the blindfolded person around camp without letting them fall. Talking was also not allowed, as in the field, talking will sometimes scare away the sea turtles back into the ocean. Everyone had a turn being blindfolded and being the leader, and overall it was a very fun experience filled with (surprisingly) few falls. The night patrol itself was incredible when we did go out- the stars in the sky were unlike anything visible in the sky of lit-up cities and suburbs. One could even see the spirals of the Milky Way itself. There was no moon visible, and there were no clouds; we walked by the light of the stars and our red headlights (which we had to turn on occasionally when there was an excess of driftwood and debris).
A major highlight of today was a tour of the organic farm which we are currently staying at. Cabinas Colibri has a two hectare farm, and the food that they produce often goes into the delicious meals that we have here. They have 19 variations of cacao plants alone! We saw water apples, bananas, pineapples, and more! The animal diversity in the farm is also incredible. There were butterflies, hummingbirds, howler monkeys, spiders, termites, beetles, spider monkeys, snakes, and many more animals past the trail that we followed. We were split into two groups for this tour, led by our hosts Pablo and Ariel Rodriguez. They let us sample some of the fruit, and once we returned, they showed us the chocolate making process that they use here. At the end, hot chocolate was made with the chocolate, and we drank it with our lunch. It was a delicious and fun time for all! So far, the experiences here have been incredible and diverse, and we look forward to each new day and what it will bring!
Waking up to chirping birds in the morning is better than any alarm you could ever set. Not only were the chirping birds a pleasant surprise but it just so happened to be the sunniest day here in Costa Rica that we have seen so far. We were all so excited to go to the beach on the sunniest day of the trip and the palest of us were dying to get a nice tan.
Breakfast was early because of the long trek ahead of us. Along with our daily choices of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, we ate sausage, butter toast, beans with rice, pineapple and cereal with milk. The meals here really prepare you for the day ahead and on this particular day we needed all of the energy we could get as we had an hour walk to our snorkeling adventure. An hour walk in the heat may seem impossible but when walking along the edge of the ocean there are no worries, the view is breathtaking and if you get hot the ocean is always right there to cool you off.
We arrived to our snorkeling destination and were taken away by the clear blue water as we rushed to the ocean and dove in. The salty water was warm yet refreshing and this was a very special occasion for some that had never been in the ocean before. We swam, snorkeled, and enjoyed some fresh local fruits. During the snorkeling we spotted fish and sea urchins among the coral reef below, amazing every person as we gazed wide eyed through our snorkeling masks.
After what seemed like an even longer walk back to home base, we settled down for a healthy lunch which included a refreshing fruit smoothie. The walk tuckered everyone out so we headed to our cabins for a two and a half hour break which most of us used to nap or journal.
The last activity of the day was a relaxing beach cleanup at dusk, we spotted sand crabs and a setting sun as we collected pieces of trash that could interfere with the nesting sea turtles. After a fish dinner and a game or two, we headed off to take refreshing showers and got into bed to rest up for the next active day ahead.
By: Kaitlyn Ringe
Waking up this morning to the soft sound of rain splashing on the tropical, green foliage, I found myself feeling so much appreciation just for being here. People, including me, had been complaining about sickness and sunburns, but I had a moment of clarity. I am in a place in which I am awoken each morning by the sound of monkeys howling and toucans chirping, and that in itself is a miracle. Above all, I am appreciative of the friendships I’ve been developing. There’s something very special about meeting people from all over the country; people that speak different languages, literal and figurative. Today the plan was to go surfing, something foreign and exciting to me.
After a breakfast of fresh fruit, we took an hour-long ride to the beach. This was no normal beach. The place could have been photoshopped. The sun shone on the crystal clear, teal water, and the sand glimmered. We split in half, loaded up on sunscreen, and made our way into the ocean. Half started on surfboards, while the others swam. I could have stayed in the water all day. Having a moment to relax amongst the waves was pure bliss.
We switched, and I took to the board. The conditions were perfect, and everyone was in a state of complete contentment. Of course, the salt burned my eyes and choked my lungs, but the fun was worth it. Surfing was way more peaceful than I could have imagined. Looking at the waves head on was terrifying, but being on the board was pure, chill fun.
We lunched on the beach, eating the typical Costa Rican way, out of banana leaves. We then loaded into the van and headed into the town of Puerto Viejo. Our first stop was a café called Bread and Chocolate. Most of us ordered smoothies or sundaes, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the cold, sweet stuff. I have never appreciated it more in my life. We then ventured into town, where we did some shopping (maybe you’ll be getting some presents later), then loaded into the van again.
We headed back home for dinner and a night patrol that was cut short. Everyone was burnt, and I would argue that I had turned into a crisp. Despite this, the food was good, the people are awesome, and life is great. Pura vida!!!
Today we started around 9:00 with breakfast. Our delicious breakfast featured pancakes and pineapple that were prepared by the local family. We had a lot free time because we had a full day yesterday which consisted of surfing with our amazing surf instructors. We played a fun game of mafia and more importantly got to know each other better. The local family has an amazing field which made it easier for us to play Frisbee, soccer, and volleyball. Our chill day was so fun because I was able to learn soccer with Pablo and play volleyball with Ariel. I used today to learn more about the local staff and become more immersed in their way of life.
Lunch was Caribbean style–it consisted of chicken, rice, beans, and salad. It was amazingly prepared and I enjoyed every bite of it. The family prepares delicious meals and always leaves us with full bellies. Our day was very exciting because we got closer as a group and became more of a family; I have met some amazing people on this trip. While most of us played a game of capture the flag, I was able to talk a lot more with Pablo and Ariel and really learn more about their way of life. Our day ended with dinner which was spaghetti with seafood, chips made out of bread fruit, and rice. I can’t wait for our last couple days of adventure in the beautiful Country of Costa Rica.