Tortugeuro Adventure

Trip Start May 16, 2010
Trip End Jun 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel El Icaco

Flag of Costa Rica  , Limón,
Monday, May 31, 2010

Oh man. Another weekend, another enormous

Quicky update on Friday: We went in to town to the Mercado Central, tourist hot
spot and THE place to pick up anything and everything cheap. One of the parents
from our placement, Meriam, waskind enough to bring us down there and show us
where to get the best souvenir items. Good thing she came because we got some
pretty good deals with her bargaining skills! Because she didn't ask for any
compensation, we bought her a rose at roadside florist at the end of the day.
She almost cried. One of the best days I've had here in Costa Rica.

This weekend, we made a trip with three other volunteers to Tortuguero National Park,
which is on the Eastern side of the country (Carribean Side). The wildlife
there is supposed to be the best in the country, and the beaches make it the
perfect spot for turtle nesting (Hence the name, Tortuguero). The park is only
accessible by an hour long boat ride, which waves through the tropical canals
that the park is known for. 

Saturday Morning: 

Woke up bright and early at 4:30AM. Actually, more accurately, rolled out of
bed like a zombie at 4:30AM. Got on the bus at 6AM (air conditioned,
hallelujah!), weaved through some pretty narrow roads at high altitudes at very
high speeds, felt nauseous for most of the ride. 

Funny story of the day: A few of us got off the bus at a rest stop to go to the washroom and get
some food , while Scott and another friend of ours stayed on the bus. Five
minutes in, we see Scott running in to the station yelling at us to go, we book
it out of the station and find that the bus isn't there, but it's parked two
hundred metres away near an intersection (at this point the only thing running
through our heads is wtf). Turns out the bus driver left without us, and Scott
had to beg him a million times to stop. When we got on the bus, everybody was
laughing. The funny part was, my other friend was asleep on the bus. Had Scott
not been there, she would've woken up 300KM away to five empty seats and all
our luggage. Now that would've been funny. 

Arrived at Cariari and waited two and a half hours for the bus to Pavona. The
ride was bumpy, but we got a private van to ourselves. That ride was followed
by an hour long boat ride to the national park, the boat took us through the
canals to a small little town on the island
of Tortuguero. When I say
small, I mean really small. Every road (if you could even call it that) can fit
three people horizontally. The town is purely pedestrian,  and is filled
with tiny houses with lush, green gardens. 

Our hostel is located a mere 20 metres away from the beach. It costs only $10
USD per night and has an amazing hammock area where we can just sit and listen
to the waves crashing in. That was where we spent the majority of the time bonding
and chatting. We changed in to our swim gear and hit up the beach. The waves
were pretty calm, but I almost bled my eyes out from the salt water that was
going in to my eyes. Totally uncool, but totally worth it. We met some other
tourists at the beach who were hanging out with a few (intoxicated) locals, who
poured us all a shot of Nicaraguan Rum. It turns out some of the tourists were
from Montreal
and were travelling across the country. 

At 10PM, we went on a hike
down the beach to look for nesting turtles. Since it wasn't nesting season, our
chances of seeing any turtles was only 30%. Regardless, we chose to take the
risk. The vast, open Atlantic in the moonlight
was like something out of a Van Gogh painting. The scene was eerie but
beautiful. We walked an hour down the beach with no luck. A few other groups
were on the shore as well, and communicated with red lights. Three red blinking
lights mean that they came across a turtle. Just when we were about to head
back, we saw three red blinking lights coming from down the shore, we ran for
about ten minutes to get to the other group (almost died of exhaustion, mind
you). All I saw was a huge black spot in the middle of the sand, but I saw the
reflection of its flippers everytime it moved. I tried to get my eyes to adjust
to the moonlight so I could see better, but the tour guides kept us all at a
safe distance so we do not scare the turtle. A few minutes in, our tour guide
brought us up in little groups to look at the turtle. It was around six feet in
length, and there we were, standing two metres away from a leatherback turtle,
laying eggs into a hole that was around 2 feet deep. Hands down one of the most
amazing things I have ever seen. At around 2AM, we headed back to the hostel
(took a rather..scenic route in the woods, since the tour guides weren't
allowed to be on the beach after 12AM, we had to cut through the woods). 

Woke up the next morning at
4:30AM to see the sunrise and hopped in to a canoe for a two hour canoe trip.
We were taken through some small canals to see the wildlife in the jungle(best
time to see it is in the morning). When everything was quiet, all you could
hear were the distant callings of various monkeys, insects, and birds. It
sounded like something out of a meditation CD, and it was beautiful. I don’t
know how my tour guide managed to spot some rather indiscernible animals in the
jungle, but we were able to see a variety of monkeys and aquatic birds. My tour
guide spotted a small crocodile and decided to row up to it. Little did I know
he would row RIGHT UP to it. Since I was the one closest to the animal, I had a
mini heart attack when my tour guide splashed water on to the crocodile, who
did nothing but blink and open its mouth a little bit wider. Everybody else
seemed to think it was funny. Not true.

After the canoe
trip, we went back to our hostel and had breakfast. I ended up falling asleep
in the hammock, and when I woke up from that sweet slumber I concluded that my
life would not be complete without a hammock. Hence, I will get one for my
house next year. Where I’m going to have it…I’m not exactly sure. But I’ll make
it work.


Then came the most
interesting tour of our trip. I, being the extremely intelligent person I am,
decided to wear shorts in to the jungle tour. Although I drenched myself in mosquito
repellent over and over again, I must’ve been bitten around 20 times. It had
gotten to the point where 4 of us had to move constantly to keep the mosquitoes
away from our bodies. Definitely not the most graceful sight, and it took away
from enjoying the true beauty of the jungle. When we returned, we fell asleep
in the hammock for another few hours and hopped on the boat back to Pavona. The
ride from Pavona to Cariari was bumpy, with no AC whatsoever. The dust had gotten
so bad that everytime I opened my mouth, I could taste little grains of dust in
my mouth. Since I had already been suffering from a cough already, I ended up
coughing up lots of phlegm the morning after. When we got to Cariari, we had to
sprint to another bus station to catch the bus to San Jose. Since we made it just on time, we
were forced to stand in the aisles for two and half hours with out any A/C. It
definitely was not the most pleasant ride, but we had some great conversations
to make up for the horrendous conditions Regardless, we spent about $10 back
and forth for transportation. Score! An adventure isn’t an adventure without
getting down and dirty, and that’s exactly what we did. Another trip, another
great memory with great people!




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