3day/2night trip to Tortuguero to see the turtles

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End ??? ??, 2009

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Flag of Costa Rica  , Province of Limon,
Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday morning we set off to Tortuguero which is situated on the east coast of Costa Rica. Now unlike Punta Leona, where we stayed the previous week, Tortuguero is on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica and as such it is the Atlantic Ocean that hits it shoreline not the Pacific Ocean. Due to Costa Rica's historic past, the people and the culture on the eastern side of the country is more similar to that of the Caribbean than the Hispanic occupancy in the west. Further more it is its geography and climate that makes it more acceptable to Leatherback, Hawsbill, Loggerhead and Green Turtles.
As this is Costa Rica's main wildlife attraction and with only certain months in the year that host this extraordinary activity, the opportunity could not be passed by.
The 3 hour drive took us through one of Costa Rica's largest National parks which gave Naomi her first glimpse of the sheer scale and magnitude of the rainforest. As there are only a couple of main roads that link south to north and east to west I had actually taken the same route only a few days prior on my rafting day out.
Though the panoramas were stunning it was somewhat ruined by a trio of brash, loud, ignorant, fat, stupid, egotistical Americans. As they were a family of three I may as well throw into the mixing tin the word inbreeded as well, as personally we had no sense of either's relationship with one another. As they were on the same 3 day, 2 night tour our hearts sank knowing that we would have to experience everything with these half wits. If I describe the man of the family to you, then I'm sure it will provide you with a foundation that will allow us to empathise with us. The man entered the coach wearing the following:
-          A hat with the US Army's insignia emblazoned across it
-          A $3 pair of Terminator 2 sunglasses as styled by Arnold Schwarzenegger
-          A blue, red and white Transformers the movie T-Shirt, that had as its logo 'please vote for us now 2008' that I believe must have been a parody for its true meaning which was to vote American Democrats in the forthcoming election.
-          A bum-bag
-          Shorts
-          Socks and sandals
This bloke filmed the entire 3 hour journey on his camcorder that must have been the most boring visual spectacle since the previous three hours recording of his day out in San Jose the day before. As Naomi and I are contained within the recording I hope our royalties are in the post - his certainly did not get either of our consent.
Incidentally if you wish to get hear the stupidity and the annoying accent that followed us over the course of the next two days it can be found on the end of the Cayman (crocodile)/ American video that I have uploaded on this entry - you can just about make out mine and Naomi's skin crawling if you listen closely.
Unfortunately due to Costa Rica's proximity to America it is extremely likely that like us you will have the misfortune to bump into one of these idiots during your time here.
Apart from the aforementioned the drive was pleasant and on our way to the boat to that would take us to our final destination we stopped off at a Del Monte banana factory next to the banana plantations. The factory itself was an open air building, quite modest in size and what with it being a Sunday it was awfully quiet. Our tour guide gave quite an interesting insight into the life of a banana from being picked to being exported. I for one am at an age that can remember the Del Monte adverts from the eighties and in some perverse way found that the sight of the factory and the famous brand logo quite fulfilling - it was as though I had found the source of the Nile.
We finally arrived at the port of the Tortuguero Canals, Limon, where the 3 yanks, Naomi and I were met by our boat that would take us to the lodge.
Though I have never been to Florida (and by earlier outcry I doubt I ever will be allowed through immigration) the boat ride was one that I imagine would resemble that of a trip through the Everglades. We had a nice picnic stop before finally arriving at Tortuga Lodge.
Now I hate to sound like some jumped up rock star but over my years of travel I have slept in many hotels, rain forest lodges, inns, b&bs, castles even, but I have never stayed in a more beautiful place than Tortuga Lodge. Taking into consideration where it was situated i.e. the middle of no where it was a truly beautiful accommodation, incredible food with the right mix of up to date facilities but nothing that was too lavish to upset the eco beliefs and views that they held...it was in fairness a holiday within a holiday and I have not felt so relaxed in quite some time...I would definitely recommended it to anyone visiting Costa Rica just so long that no yanks are residing their at the same time.
Other than relaxing, swimming and taking in the rays at the hotel we also went on a couple of boat trips around the canals taking in the abundance of wildlife and plant life.
The highlight of the tour and what we came to see was the Green Turtle which is the second biggest turtle on the planet reaching up to 1.5metres in length. With it being August it was the time of the nesting of the eggs but in later months the hatching of the baby turtles can be witnessed.
As Tortuguero is a national park and the turtles are now protected species a great deal of protocol is put in place to make sure that the reptiles are not threatened in any way by human kind. In the past tourists used to turn up and wander the beach in search of these animals but now the beach is divided into 6-7 areas and each night people employed by the conservation seek one of the nestings and then radio it back to someone else that is in charge of managing the logistics. Every lodge along the river has a designated time to visit the area and ours was between 10pm-12pm.
No white clothes, cameras, camcorders, lights are allowed on the beach as it would upset the creatures so dressed in our dark ponchos (it was raining tremendously before we set off) we made our way by boat to Area no. 1.
About 20 people in total were there to see the nesting. We each got a turn to sit behind the turtle and watched and waited while she laid its eggs. Apparently whist they are nesting the female turtle enters a trance like state so they are not disturbed by the presence of humans. After an hour and about 150 eggs later we then watched her cover the eggs with her massive flippers and then proceed to push her massive cumbersome frame down the beach and into the ocean where she would then head up to the warmer climates of Nicaragua.
Though we both felt that the experience was truly amazing and a life defining moment, we both felt that it was over shadowed by the close proximity of the main group and we could not help but think that the animal must have felt traumatised by the event. Though we were part of it, we certainly do not have the right to talk, however as the tours now are strongly regulated we both felt that the groups should have stood a greater distance away from the animal and only be brought forward by smaller groups in turn. 
Tuesday morning we were picked up by a small charter plane, headed out on to the makeshift runway opposite the resort and said farewell to a great three days and a time that will always remain in our memories.
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