I'm home

Wanted to let everyone know I'm home safe. Flight was on Wednesday and got in at about 12:30 to lax and home by 2:30.

Few more blog posts to come filled with more pictures and an account of what happened my last week in Costa Rica!


I'm alive!

Hey everyone! Interrnet has been kind of spotty on the road  but I just want to let you all know I'm safe.
The last two nights we stayed in Rio Celeste in the northern part of Costa Rica. We got up early this morning to go for a great hike and saw over 20 species of birds.
We are now in the Arenal area staying in La Fortuna. Tomorrow we are going to take a ferry across the lake and spend a day or two in Monteverde. From there we'll plan what we want to do until our flight on Wednesday!
Thought I'd make sure you all knew I was safe though.... And I learned I'm not a huge fan of mud baths... Good thing it was free!


End of turtle season

Here are some pictures from the last few days at Costa de Oro. We had the giant BBQ Monday evening. At 4:30 the neighborhood kids came over to join us. It was our normal turtle release time but we didn't have any turtles to release that night. They hung out a little bit and we had so much food I gave some to them as well.

The next night we had about 300 turtles to release! We all decided that we should dig up the nests to see what was going on. From the time that an olive ridley turtle hatches to them reaching the surface is three days - they fall asleep a lot. With that being said, we thought there should be turtles in a couple nests and that would cut down what we were leaving the our locals to tend to (7 nests). After opening four nests that morning we decided to go and check a couple more just to see what was going on. We did only to find three more nests to come up that had babies hatched and ready to go.

Since it was midday and warm we couldn't release them then and saved them all for our 4:30 release with the neighborhood. During the day of packing we kept going out and checking the hatchery make sure nothing else exciting decided to happen while we were working inside the house. There was a nest we didn't think would have babies yet that we found one hatched from, though when it cooled off and we could sit on the sand we found that there was actually just that one baby that had hatched early.

When it came time for our last sunset pictures, Courtney really wanted her sand man. We were having troubles just building a regular sandman when Alvaro suggested we stick a trunk in the middle and build around it. The architect would suggest that. The kids had a lot of fun building the sandman with us and we put up some little palms for Christmas trees, Court had lights to add, and we decorated the sandman with my easily accessible bathing suit top and hat that weren't packed yet. (Mari and Jon - hope you like the sandman's Solution Surf hat).

Yesterday, Courtney and I  headed north up to Rio Celeste after the guys at the car rental agency in Liberia treating us like we were complete morons who had never been to Costa Rica. I don't think people get off planes looking as dirty as we did...

But none the less we were off and on our way into the rainforest.


Hasta luego Costa de Oro

This morning was a sad one. In fact the past few days have been pretty sad, packing up the house and saying goodbye to everyone. We had our BBQ on Monday and then a clean up day after. Last night was my last sunset at home. It was beautiful and filled with hundreds of baby turtles we had pulled up from their nests that morning. Perfect way to leave. Last night we had dinner at Drew's and brought our luggage up since we were either walking up here this morning or getting a ride with Alvaro on his quad. luckily we got the ride. Our friends live in Javilla and Costa de Oro is about 10 min the opposite direction, we already felt like they were doing us a huge favor we didn't want to inconvenience them any more by asking them to get us.

I don't have last night's sunset or any of the baby releases uploaded. Everything got packed and spent the night at Drew's, except me. I'll get some pictures posted when I get internet next. We are heading up to Liberia to pick up a car and then figuring out where we are going from there. I'll keep you all posted on my whereabouts though!



Saturday we went for a little hike with some friends back in the hills of Javilla. Their property lines up to a waterfall that is about 60 feet high, at least what they told us. Unfortunately, there wasn't a water hole big enough for us to swim in but it was a fun site to see. Once we got the waterfall we then hiked around up to the top to take a look from the top of the waterfall. We talked about going up to the next fall, but I think we were all a little tired and starting to get a tiny bit hungry, so we opted to turn around and go back to the house. We hung out and socialized for a little bit and then they gave us a ride back to the house. They had a new truck, Victor and I were having a discussion on the way up about how nice the bed of the truck was in comparison to others we have sat in on the very bumpy roads here.

Two more nights here, in no way am I ready to leave. I woke up this morning just thinking about all the work that needs to be done. Luckily we are having a BBQ at our house today for all the projects so we can stay at home and get some packing done while everyone comes to us. We are having pork ribs, a leg and some steaks, all cooked on a pit that is going to be dug out on the beach. I was pretty excited when I heard. But it is one more chance to see everyone before we leave.

Our friends we went hiking with are heading up to Liberia on Wednesday so we are going to get a ride with them up that way and pick up a car in Liberia to go out on our adventure. We got lucky that they didn't mind us tagging along because I think Courtney and I were both not looking forward to taking the bus (and 8 hour bus ride).

December 2

Okay okay, I'm lagging with the sunsets a day. Here is last nights sunset from the hatchery. I thought the clouds were too pretty and much more exciting being from the hatchery rather the beach again.


November 28

This picture is a day late, but the good news is today's picture looks exactly the same!
It's been overcast and yesterday it rained a little bit as well, not nearly enough but oh well.
Wednesday is our last day, I don't want to talk about it, I'm starting to get sad about it.


November 27

Last night's sunset wasn't anything special, actually looked like we might get some rain. Unfortunately no rain, just a really hot, sticky night.

Camera is up and running again, leaving it in a bag of rice for a few days seemed to do it good, luckily.


Playing with horses

Sorry for not having another sunset picture last night. We were doing exhumations and the bugs were starting to come out. Only 8 more days here, and I haven't seen a nesting turtle in about a week and a half, maybe longer. It's not summer here and the days are dry and we haven't had a good rain in probably a week, which makes it hard for turtles to nest since the sand on the beach is so soft. Our hatchery is back up and running with babies starting to hatch every night. We have about half our hatchery left to go, which seems like a lot but when Victor came back from his visa run half the hatchery had hatched in the week he was gone.

The other day we went out horse back riding. It was a great way to learn about the area around us. We rode through streams, pastures, saw two troops of monkeys and found a few of the guanacaste trees that this area is named for. All the volunteers said that they had ridden before but not a lot. While we were riding one of the girls told me her father is a horse whisperer, she was actually probably the best at riding when we first started and it all made sense.

Next up will be some hiking to waterfalls up behind Javilla. Courtney and I are in the midst of planning our after trip. We are planning on hitting up Tamarindo, Arenal, and Monte Verde and spending about a day or two in each place. It's official I have a flight out of Costa Rica, I will be heading home on the 12th!


November 25

Camera is still in a bag of rice wanted to really make sure that if its water its dried out. So I went down to the beach tonight with my ipad to get a picture, yes I was that person.


Thanksgiving Feast

As I've said before, Thanksgiving was at Laguna Mar, and it was delicious. We had salad, bread (homemade by Pablo), turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole (new to me), mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and carmel ice cream. Oh my goodness the turkey was so delicous, it was probably the most moist turkey I have ever had. It was brined the night before and then wrapped in banana leaves to help hold in the moisture. Pablo saw I didn't like pumpkin pie and brought me out extra ice cream. The bread was also so delicious that we asked Michael if we could have the left overs the next day. Cranberry sauce was the only thing missing. When Courtney mentioned that usually turkey is so dry we need lots of gravy and cranberry sauce to help Pablo realized he forgot to make the cranberry sauce. This was Pablo's first Thanksgiving that he prepared and he spent three days preparing it. It came out fantastic, though he did look a little tired at the end of the night.

And I'm sorry I did't get a sunset picture tonight, Court and I were working on a couple exhumations and had gross dirty hands. Also, my camera might have water damage, or the LCD screen is going out... so my camera is in a bag of rice just to be on the safe side.

November 23

Courtney and I finally made it home from Laguna Mar. It took us all day to finally make the move. Michael even tried to convince us to stay for dinner and then Pablo (the chef who lives in Costa de Oro) can take us home. Man I wish I took him up on that offer.

We got home in time for sunset and the one exhumation that needed to be done. So we got some babies in with tonight's sunset again. Victor was hoping that the clouds wouldn't rush in and the green flash would be visible. I told him no matter how clear the sky looks the clouds will always rush in at the last minute.

Sure am going to miss these sunsets. Tomorrow we are going to go horseback riding bright and early, I'll be sure to take lots of pictures! Sorry I don't post so many pictures on my blog, I only brought my iPad and Blogger makes it a little difficult to post the pictures, so I'll do lots of picture album posting when I get home!


Happy Thanksgiving

Today's picture is actually taken in Javilla at Laguna Mar, or Drew's. He is hosting the Thanksgiving feast tonight for the Americans on the projects. And I am so thankful that my parents got me room here to stay the night. Actually I am really thankful that my parents supported me coming to Costa Rica because this has all been one great experience. Also joining us are three girls from Corozalito (one of them is from the states) and then there is also Victor, Mickle, and Courtney (who is also staying the night with me).



November 21

Started off this morning with hatchery checks. Had a nest start to come up but they fell asleep. I tried to leave them as long as possible until the sun was up. Then they spent the rest of the day sleeping in my shower until we could release them this afternoon.

Today was pretty cloudy and overcast. Perfect weather to rest up since Courtney and I are spending tomorrow at Drews for Accion de Gracias. I believe Mickle is coming up with us to spend the day lounging by the pool but Victor has yet to decided if he wants to come up in the morning or venture up a little bit later. But all I know is I get a hot shower tomorrow!


Sunset a day

I only have about 15 nights left in Costa de Oro. It's really sad that my time is coming to an end. But I thought I'd let you all enjoy in a sunset a day with me until I'm off to go explore a little more of Costa Rica before heading home.

Tonight's was a little late so I wasn't able to grab all the colors in the sky. We were doing some exhumations and all of a sudden the sun was sinking really low. But I ran back to the house and grabbed my camera real quick for this shot.

Red Handed

On Saturday we went and painted at a local school. They had a wall that needed to be painted and Ingrid asked us on Friday if we would like to go and help them. We were to paint the inside of the surrounding wall. This is more of a fence that surrounds the school, About a month before I got here Courtney, Victor, Matt and our volunteers went and scrapped the wall of the blue paint that was there prior. Well, a couple months later they had us come back to finish the job that was started. We painted the inside of the wall this rusty red color; we have no clue why just the inside of the wall. But with the aid of Victor, Mickle (volunteer from San Diego), Ingrid, and Iona (our Romanian volunteer) we were able to get the whole thing done in just a few hours.

We started off with just one roller and a bunch of paint brushes, and Ingrid and I walked down to the hardware store to grab another roller and some paint trays. Boy was that the best decision of the day, I think we could have been there all week had we not. At one point one of the rollers broke, so I ran back over to buy another roller since we still had another wall to go. Those few times of painting Dad's offices came in handy though, since I have perfected my technique for painting quickly and efficiently.

When we were finishing, Courtney joined us. She had been on a horse tour with the group from San Miguel in the morning and was going to come help when she was done. After cleaning up and washing our very dirty hands we decided we were all starving. Day 2 of Loma Clara! This time I got the Fajitas de Pollo con Tortillas and they even had pineapple-mango smoothies that we all grabbed.

After eating and settling the bill we walked back over towards Coyote and decided to go by Super Rey's to grab ice cream. I also grabbed a Café Brit Iced Coffee, good thing I don't live closer to a super I might develop an addiction to these. And then we headed down 100 meters towards the office to get a ride home.

Another fun successful day in Coyote, well, any day I get ice cream in Coyote is a successful day to me...


Butterfly Farm

A couple days ago we went to Mike's Butterfly Garden, in Bejuco which is about 10 k from our house. Unlike most butterfly gardens his is all outdoors which means we get to see more butterflies come and go with the seasons and we never know what we are going to get. We saw lots over butterflies and learned all about the different plants that they are attracted to and why, even how butterflies mimic each others coloring.

Interestingly enough, Mike used to be an entomologist in the army. Who knew that was even a unit?! They go into survey the area prior to war so they know what kind of insects they might be needing to deal with. Anyways, his true calling is bees and all of his knowledge is fascinating! He has a few different hives.He is currently working on replacing some hives by replacing the queens in some nests to change the type of bees they are. He has lots of honey and we got to try two different kinds.  I even tried pollen which was delicious and learned about how it can help with recovery time in endurance sports.

There was a tree down towards the front of the property called the bat tree. This tree is giant and the root system is all above ground. This is where the bats sleep under the roots in the tree. We also took a walk to go and look at his beehives from afar and he explained how he was in the process of trying to split the hives in half. Needless to say, it was a very fun and informational tour to go on and so many beautiful things to look at. We walked through some trees along a little river and even though it was 9 am it was still mosquito time, or some other little biting bug because I came out with a few fresh bites.

After the tour we got a ride back to the house. Mickle (our new volunteer from San Diego), Iona (one of our German volunteers), and Victor got out of the truck and opted to eat lunch at home. Courtney and I continued our way towards Coyote in the truck. We stopped off at Lotti's house and talked with her. We decided that our official end date will be December 5th.

After talking to Lotti, we continued up the road up to Coyote. We decided we really wanted to go to Loma Clara. Courtney went the week prior and had the steak, which she had said was fantastic. We both ordered the steak, which also comes with some shrimp. We got a choice between veggies or rice and both opted for fresh veggies instead of rice which we get plenty of all the time.

 While eating our food, a friend of Courtney's pulled up, he came by and talked to us. He said he was going to be making a real quick stop here but then had to go run some errands. We were kind of bummed hoping for a ride back to Costa de Oro, even though after eating so much steak we probably could have rolled back down the hill home. We finished our food and got a beer and he was still there so we decided to ask for  ride. And that's how we got our ride home. He asked if it was okay that he needed to make a few stops though and wanted to make sure we weren't in a hurry. When he found out we were going to walk he laughed and realized we weren't in any hurry at all. 

We stopped off at a supermarket and Courtney and I grabbed some ice cream. We were going to stop off at the market across the street to pick up a few more things. There is also a bar right next to the supermarket and we got distracted. It had looked like the bar had been redone recently and looked pretty nice. We grabbed another beer. before we ran to the market next door. We grabbed a few more items and then were off back home. It was a fun day away from the house for a little bit and to go hang out around Coyote.


My Costa Rican Dog

While living here the last few months I've adopted a dog. She is one of a trio that are referred to as the tres hermanas, which is actually a mom and her two puppies. This one is Nonita and she is the cutest little thing. At one point she had been accused of being the hatchery intruder but that was quickly proven false when Courtney and I tied her up for a night across the street and the hatchery was still broken into. She and her sisters are strays on the beach. Someone had at one time owned them but moved out of the area and left the dogs, so all the tourists on the beach take turns caring for the dogs.
I've been told I'm not allowed to bring any pets home but this one is just too cute to leave! She surprised us when she kept returning and looked perfectly fine being tied up the night we did. Might have been all the little meals we kept bringing her throughout the night. These dogs are very much like North Shore dogs. They run wild during the day but these dogs have nowhere to go home for food at night. They love to run up and down the beach and hunt fish in the surf. So maybe I will just send her out to the North Shore to live with Betty and her dogs!


Arribada in Corozalito

Today Lotti and Eric came over early this morning right after we had finished cleaning up breakfast. They told us we had five minutes to get ready -  the arribada in Corozalito was going on. We told our volunteers that we were going and if they wanted to come to they needed to be in the car and ready to go in five minutes.

 An arribada is a turtle nesting phenomenon where thousands of turtles come up onto the beach and nest usually for about 3 nights, but since there are so many turtles they will sometimes come up in the day as well. Arribada's only happen on a select few beaches in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and India which is why this was a special thing to be able to witness. We learned that there is a new protocol this year when counting turtles during an arribada; the turtle is only counted when you see her laying her eggs. When thousands of turtles are coming up a night it is hard to get all their measurements and tag all of them. Also, in Corozalito they don't have a hatchery so they eggs are left on the beach and the coordinator and volunteers will go back and check on the nests and do exhumations on ones that they can find on the beach.

 It was a fun time getting to see the turtles nesting in the day time and as always seeing our friends from other project sits.



Here is a baby update for all you guys!
We had looked into a nest with Lotti today and found some little hatchlings! The nest is still hatching but we did pull 5 babies out. Two of our Volunteers (Julia and Chantal) have not been able to see babies yet so they were very excited to be able to go out and release them even if it was a little rainy outside. Everyone got a chance to take a picture with a baby and see them off to sea.


Feliz Halloween!

Celebrating Halloween yesterday was lots of fun. Laguna Mar hosted a party for the PRETOMA group which included Mahi Mahi fish tacos (I feel like Mari writing this blog post because they were delicious!). The original costume plan was the be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We might have started the DIY process a little late so very last minute we decided to be turtle pirates. We used Victor's Helping Turtles badges for eye patches. Ingrid was going to be our fourth ninja turtle but got her face painted while at the PRETOMA office. All the projects were able to go and it was a lot of fun to socialize with all the projects. So in the pictures there is Ingrid and Danny (he works at Caletes and is from Barcelona). Then there is Victor, Courtney and me sporting our turtle patches. And just because our food was so delicious there is a picture of my Mahi Mahi tacos.


Limon Dulces

The kids have taught us about a new fruit we have in our neighborhood. They are called limon dulces and they are pretty good. We have a huge tree down the street and the kids  all took a lot of joy in teaching us how to eat them. They're kind of weird because you suck the juice and pulp out of them but you have to cut off all the skin as well to get to that. Interesting fruit and we do have a huge bag of them now in our house.

We also had the prettiest sunset I've seen in a while. Courtney and I took a walk along the beach home from the tree so that we could see the sunset and not have to make a separate trip later.

Since we were on the beach and I had a model I thought I would grab a picture of the canyon that was created in our yard from the rain about 2 weeks ago. We are now putting it together that we had caught the tail end of Hurricane Sandy. All along the beach, in almost every sector (we've marked the beach in sections 100 meters long for referencing where we find nests), there is a canyon or river-like divot such as ours. I think this one might be the biggest though...


Shadows at midnight

Let's start off by saying there was an earthquake last week. I believe that the final decision was that it was a 6.6 but everything is ok! We started feeling the quake and Victor and I told our two volunteers from Germany we need to get out of the house and to follow up. Right out our front door is a little open field (car parking) that we were able to go to and not have to worry about coconuts falling from the sky. Once the ground stopped shaking we were back inside closing up the windows grabbing passports, and in my case anything I could shove in my backpack real quick (Mr. Bear, my iPad, camera, whatever clothes I happened to grab, the important stuff), and then were were off to the bus stop. Now the locals have told us that the bus stop is safe if there is a tsunami because there are so many mangroves and fields between it and the beach that the wave would stop.... I'm not sure how I believe this but it was dark and there were mosquitos after to me so I didn't want to go too far. Courtney was taking the night off up at the hotel and so she had left her phone with us, which was a good thing to have. She was able to text us from another phone and asked us to call her at the hotel, except we could not get calls through. So we sat and wait until we deemed it was safe to go back to the house. During that time Lotti was able to call and told us she had the news on and nothing had been said about a tsunami but just to wait about 10 more minutes and she would call us back with an update. We were then able to get in touch with Courtney who also had the news on at the hotel and nothing had been said about a tsunami. We returned home and one of our neighbors, who will sometimes patrol with us, was leaving our house; he had come to check on us. Lotti called us back and told us we might want to take the rest of the night off and just do a morning check just in case there was a large aftershock we needed to make a move for. Guess it wouldn't be ideal to be 2km down the beach if we had to evacuate.

We've also completed our shirts with the kids. Before Courtney left on her visa run we had tie-dyed the shirts and now it was time to paint some turtles on them. We had a giant party out in the rancho, well not so much a party but just lots of kids and the dogs all came over as well.

I've also become quite the bread maker. Everyone one else has troubles getting their bread to rise and mine seems to come out quite well. I've started making rolls for dinner and I guess they are so good they all seem to get eaten . We never have any leftovers when Courtney goes looking. Think we might need to start keeping a secret stash!

It's been really bright at night as we are getting close to a full moon. It was weird going out on the beach last night and having a shadow and stars weren't even visible because it was so bright. This should be better light for turtles, they tend to come up the night before a full moon and the night after a full moon. I did get one turtle last night. Julia (one of our Germans) and I poked around for the nest. I found the chamber and where her nest should have been but there were no eggs. We did pass a poacher on our way towards that turtle so her eggs might have been poached. Talking to Courtney this morning she said to smell the sand next time and if you can smell the eggs you know for sure that it had been poached. This was kind of a bummer we only need 3 more nests in our hatchery to have filled every hole once, and we are starting to push it with getting nests in so late.

I've reached half way with my stay in Costa de Oro. We've found out that our offical project end date will be December 10. It may be just Courtney and me for the last few days; Vic has to get back to the states. Then Courtney and I will be off exploring Costa Rica for a few days and maybe go down to Bocas Del Toro in Panama. They have cheap SCUBA certifications down there so maybe I'll get certified there, much more to see that La Jolla Shores and much warmer water!

We are just about ready for Halloween! Drew is throwing a party at his hotel for us from 12-5 so we can be back in time to nap and patrol. Courtney and I need to get to work on our costumes!


Start building the ark

Thanks to Victor for the pictures of the rain.  

I know, I've been pretty bad at keeping the blog updated this week. Just so much has been happening. Well actually not that much but the fact I started watching Criminal Minds on Netflix after finishing my 4th book here. I'll do a recap of the past week though to bring you all up to speed. Actually part of the reason why I'm lagging is because I haven't had the pictures to keep ya'll entertained while reading my blog.

Last Thursday (if I can remember right), Courtney and I woke up for patrol at 1 am and it was pouring outside. Since the rain was falling so hard we rethought the idea of patrolling. Thelast time we went out in such heavy rain we had to out run a thunderstorm and could hardly see anything. Courtney also had to go get Victor out of the hammock. Vic has been sleeping in the hammock due to a dog problem. He will usually spend the night in the hatchery and then go on early patrol (about 3 or 4 am). So since Courtney and I weren't going to patrol in the middle of the night we thought we might as well get up in the morning and do the 4:30 patrol to make sure the whole beach was covered, a group going north and one going south.

We didn't end up patrolling until closer to 5:30. It was still raining so hard and the tide was still up; we would not have been able to see anything. Between our wake up at 4:30 and our waiting around until 5:30, the power managed to go out (later we found out a transformer went out). Once we started the patrol and despite the rain, while Court and I walked the south end of the beach we found a turtle! She looked really pale so we were not quite sure if she was awake or not until we saw her blink. She fell asleep while digging her nest. We went behind her to see where she was in the process, it looked like she was burying her nest. The sand was so wet and we were so far away from the tide line at this point, it was like trying to dig a hole in the wet sand. We managed to find 12 eggs, but were unable to find an actual nest. Gathering the 12 eggs we marked the nest and continued on the beach. The next day we went out looked again for more eggs, we thought once the sand was a little drier we would be able to find some sort of nest but we think that she only laid the 12 eggs and aborted.

I thought it rained a lot in Rohnert Park, and while I still think it does rain way to much in Northern California it rains way more here. Between 11 PM ish (when it started raining) and 5:30 AM when we went on patrol a whole 5 gallon bucket that we have outside the hatchery had filled, and it wasn't slowing down yet. Our power was still out by the time we got back from patrol so we had to limit our time in and out of the refrigerator. Also, we are on a well system so toilet use was limited too, Victor was told he could go out side if he had to go to the bathroom. But we also run only on electricity at our house, our stove and oven are electric. That really bummed Courtney and I out when we realized we could not make hot chocolate when we got home from patrol. Along with the power being out the internet wasn't working, so it wasn't going to be a rainy Netflix day, however Courtney, our volunteers and I all had books to read (I was only stressed that my iPad battery might die). But no worries we all survived and so did our yard, kind of. It was very flooded and sadly we learned that our hatchery doesn't drain too well either, 4 of our nests drowned.

We've had rainy days since, luckily the power has only gone off one more day since, and our backyard has drained out. Oh and my bug bite is looking much better! Our two American volunteers have since left for home and now we have 2 German girls for the next three weeks. As long as we don't scare them off that is... But Courtney, Victor, I have gotten way to used to it being the three of us so we aren't that exciting to the girls.


Turtle at sunset

The other night one of our local friends came to our house at about 5:30. He wanted to let us know there was a turtle that was coming up! Courtney grabbed the backpack and we walked down tot he beach where Victor was sitting with our neighbor watching the turtle come up. He came over to us and mentioned that she was walking funny and thought she might be missing her front flipper. Courtney went to go look and she had them all. So we waited for her to come up and nest. First she ran into a log and turned around, except she made a loop and kept going instead of retreating back to the water. Some of the other locals that had come out to watch started moving other logs and beach debris so she wouldn't get spooked again. She did try to nest, that is when we realized it wasn't her front flipper that was not working right it was her back two flippers, she was having a hard time moving them and it looked like they were just dragging in her track. Courtney tried to help her dig her nest but the turtle got spooked again. About and hour and a half after she came up and 100 meters down the beach we figured she had finally given up on nesting for now when she just sat on the beach for a few minutes. Our volunteers were awesome and decided that she needed a lift down to the water because the tide had gone out so far in the amount of time she was up.

This was not the last we saw of the turtle though. A couple hours later while we were on patrol she came up again. I was with our volunteers on the beach and our choice was to sit with the turtle for we didn't know how long or keep walking risk her not laying or being poached. I wanted to try and get her eggs. I did manage to help her dig a deeper hole than what she had done before but she hadn't anchored herself right and began to slip back into her hole. She ended p aborting her nest. We did not tag her earlier because we weren't sure what she was going to do, so I wanted to make sure we got tags on her before we let her go back into the ocean. My two awesome volunteers helped hold her still while I got both her tags on, this way we could also try to find out later if she came back and tried to nest again.


Dabbling in Medicinal Plants

I have had the grossest bug bite on my ankle and a few others similar but none quite so large. I finally went down the street to our neighbors house to see Wendy who is studying medicinal plants. We are pretty secluded here on our beach and going to a doctor was not going to be happening any time soon. I decided I should come up some solution and Google was not helping. (I did contemplate texting the Dockweilers a couple times to see if they had a solution).
Wendy had a fix for my bug bites! Medera negra have shown to have an antihistamine in it and mixed with green tea has an anti inflammatory effect. Luckily medera negra grows along the whole street, very easy to get, and it smells like green beans when mushed. Green tea was in my care package of goodies from Mom and Dad, so I can use my used tea bags for my bug bites as well! Between mixing these two together and making a hot compress my disgusting bug bites have shown great improvement!

Lesson learned from my bug bites, I think I know how to make it to the finale on Survivor, I just can't tell anyone about my natural bug bite repellent or anti itch remedies. This has also taught me that I want to look more at the different plants around our beach and see what else they can be used for. The chef up at Drew's hotel, Pablo, said he would take Courtney and me on a nature walk of the beach to teach us what we can use to cook with.


4x4 rally

The most Bro like thing I have done since I've moved home from college. Saturday morning the PRETOMA truck picked us (me and a few volunteers we had) and took us to the rally that was happening just out side of Coyote. Now this rally had been described to me by some ex-pats as a red neck hobby and then cleared it up by saying rich red necks, the Guanacaste peninsula is known for having a red neck population (since we are in the country).

It was quite the experience. We couldn't really see what was going on so a group from Caletes and San Miguel and I decided to walk back into town. It wasn't far but it was still a walk through the mud. There we got to go to the soda for lunch and picked up a few things at Super Rays (the grocery store in Coyote).

It was a lot of fun getting out and hanging out with everyone from other project sites. But needless to say I was unreasonably dirty once I got home and the only way to really clean off was by going for a swim in the ocean (which according to Magic Seaweed is at 85 degrees).



We are so lucky to have our neighbor back in town. He offered us his laundry machine so very clean clothes for me! I was so excited I think my clothes can be saved after this trip, I was beginning think that they would never be clean again.

The other night Victor suggested Asian food for dinner, I kind of took over the dinner menu from there. We had green beans (minus the bacon), cucumber salad, rice and sprinkles (thanks to Mom and Dad for the sprinkles), and then Victor made garbanzo beans with shoyu. They were kind of like teriyaki garbanzo beans, a little funky but still good. I have come to learn that I need protein and without it I get sick so I'll take it anyway I can get it. Thought everyone would enjoy our shoyu here though, salsa de soya.

Sorry for not a lot of turtle pictures. It's been a good week for momma turtles but haven't had so many babies. We have actually been having a dog problem in the hatchery. The people that live across the street from us have been feeding the strays but they've gone home so now I think the strays are looking for food elsewhere. In other words, our hatchery.

Spent the morning moving sand back into the hatchery. After each exhumation we make sure that each hole is cleaned out and leave them open to the clean air for a few days to prevent bugs and fungus growth. So this morning we had a few holes that needed to be filled up so I wanted to make sure those were done before our groups of volunteers start arriving.


Visit to San Miguel

I've been here a month and have yet to visit San Miguel. It's the beach just north of ours and when the tide is low enough we are essentially the same beach just separated by an estuary. With the sky looking like there could be a possibility for rain I packed up a small back pack with money, keys, water, a few snacks and my yoga mat and decided it was time to venture on over to meet the PRETOMA group on our neighboring beach. Every night we walk to the estuary as part of our patrol, it's about a 45 min walk or roughly 2.4 km, and then to the San Miguel station house about another 1.0 km on the north side of the estuary. Okay, so I didn't plan my trip so well with the tides because I was more concerned about the weather. I had to the cross the estuary twice both in about waist deep water and then it started raining pretty heavily once I got to the other side. I brought my yoga mat because at their house they try to do yoga every morning. And like my house mates they did some research on me and saw that I'm a yoga teacher. Unfortunately by the time I got there the outdoor yoga studio in the grass under the trees was pretty wet and everyone was a little preoccupied. But pura vida! There is always next time and they know they can always walk to our beach as well.

I hung out with their new research assistant, Hilary, as well as their two volunteers, Issy and Olivia (Issy stayed with us her first 2 nights in Costa Rica). The station house in San Miguel doesn't get the wifi abilities we have here in Costa de Oro, so we walked down to one of their restaurants down the road so the girls could check their emails and we grabbed a drink. We then headed over to another restaurant for lunch . They don't have a kitchen like us and live in what seems like a slightly larger community so they eat their meals out as part of their living arrangements. My family would be proud being the picky eater I am sometimes I can be a challenge to cook for. But I didn't get a a say in what I wanted to eat and I ate it all. It was pretty good, though I couldn't tell you what it was...

After lunch they were all going to take a nap and offered me one of the extra beds, and to stick around for their exhumation and a few other turtle projects they had going on in the afternoon. I left Victor at home though and figured he was probably getting so bored without me being around that I declined the nap thanked them for having me over and decided to head home.

I wanted to get a different view than the one I see every day so I decided to take the road back. It was nice because I was able to see a little bit more of San Miguel. I talked to Maddie, their coordinator, before I left to see how long the walk would be. She said it was about a kilometer to Javilla and then from previous experience I knew it would be about a 45 minute walk past that. I think I saw flamingos on my way to Javilla, though I am not sure that they live in Costa Rica. Once I was just past Javilla two trucks had passed and a man on a horse before I was offered a ride. Okay, so I technically wasn't hitch hiking my thumb was not being used at all in this process, I was just being shown some Costa Rican hospitality. And I couldn't be the rude American so I took the ride, knowing that you can't drive to fast on our dirt road and I was ready to bail at any minute. I got out at the bus stop that is right at the entrance to our little beach community but had another road to walk down. One of our local friends passed me on his motorcycle but his back seat was already occupied so I figured I wasn't going to get a ride down the road. Not 30 seconds later a truck comes driving by and there were guys sitting in the bed so I hopped in with them and realized it was Wilson with them, he is the local that helps the San Miguel project. I got a ride down the road and when we came to the T at the end I went my way and they continued on theirs. Don't worry everyone, since this adventure I have promised my mom no more accepting rides for strangers.

The best part of the day though,was when we were working on fixing the hatchery again, stinking dogs. Our American neighbor was back in town! He came out to say hi and ask how our project is going. He is wanting to film a documentary about the turtles so soon we will be trained in the equipment since we will be doing most the shooting for him, as well as maybe some interviews. But wait there's more! He said we could come by anytime to use his washer AND dryer! So I think tomorrow Victor and I plan on washing our sheets and get some laundry done at his house.

Lotti, who organizes all the research assistants and coordinators also came by while we were doing some exhumations. We were talking about when we might be closing the project for the season here, either December 1st or 15th, we should know soon. Most the projects go until the 15th, but because we are a pilot project we are not quite sure. But, our time is coming to an end soon, we only have maybe 10 more days to collect eggs for our hatchery before we just stop relocating eggs. We still need to go over the details about what our plan will be once we stop putting nests into the hatchery and hope that we can rely on some local help to make sure the turtle babies are tended to once we are gone.

Boy. this month has passed quickly! And just as I'm settling in it feels like we are going to start wrapping it up! The hardest part moving here was the cultural shock and the inability to communicate. I'm getting much better and everyone is so patient with my Spanish. But I think it will be more weird to go home and not be getting up in the middle of the night to walk the beach for a couple miles and having to listen to spoiled kids whine a lot more.


Night off and three hot showers later

Things have been pretty busy around here so I'm slacking on my blog posting. SORRY, I'll get back on it with more constant updates.
Last Thursday I had the day/night off. Since I've been getting homesick I asked mom if I could go stay at Laguna Mar and have a little time to get away from our station house. I was also lucky enough that Courtney's dad Tom was in town (bringing along two of her sisters- one is Miya's friend and just as entertaining as Miya). He brought me goodies from home like senbei, tea, more candy and my new toy, a slackline (thanks dad!). I went with the Kings to lunch at Tangas, a restaurant that has amazing seafood located right on the beach but was closed when Mom and Dad were here. And then Tom took me up to the hotel where I was able to get a room for the night and take a few hot showers and get some French fries. It was an awesome night to get away and Courtney and her sisters came to stay when they got off patrol too. I was so excited to watch E! and see what was going on in the world of celebrity gossip and was lucky enough to Chatham the end of E! news. Next up was the Soup! Except it wasn't Joel McHale and it was in Spanish and a bunch of shows I didn't know. It was a let down so I went to bed in my air-conditioned room and passed out so quickly after being up almost all night the day before. It was a very nice day off and thanks Mom and Dad for letting me go up to Drew's for the night!


When the peninsula moved

So, after the earthquake the rumor is that the peninsula was raised out of the water a meter and a half. My biggest fear is what happens when another earthquake hits that puts the peninsula back and where is all that water going to go. We don't have sirens like in Hawaii so how do I know I need to get out of my nice beach house and run for the hills?  Last night we had three earthquakes (a 4.4, 3, and 3.5) and all three woke me up. The first and last I laid in bed slightly concerned that maybe I should get up, especially since we heard the dogs all barking in the neighborhood. Luckily there wasn't a need to run from the house last night but just in case any of you would like to keep up to date with the ground moving activity here in Costa Rica, this here is the best site, it gives us more seismic activity than the USGS site.


Since Dad asked for turtles

Here are some babies!

I had a run in with a poacher tonight. Good thing I was with Ingrid who is Costa Rican, she was able to talk to the poacher so we could still get all the measurements we needed and I was able to tag her. We don't think the poacher was too happy with us though, she had not laid many eggs when we got there and she stopped almost right after i tagged her. Olive Ridleys typically don't abort their nests though if we approach them while they are laying eggs. Some turtles we would not be able talk or even get within a certain distance of them while they are laying eggs. But I did have Ingrid teach me how to talk to a poacher if I came upon them without her or another Spanish speaker with me so I could still get all the data I need to get. For all those worrying out there the poachers are NOT dangerous, they are not like the ones in Africa going after elephant tusks. I did learn tonight that poacher make about $40 for three nests a night. Which based off of cost of living here, that is pretty good money if that is what you do for income.


I live in the luxury house

I'm lucky I have walls and a kitchen and even a shower.  I didn't take any pictures there when I went to the Caletes project site but next time I go I will for sure! But here is a link to courtney's blog  she has pictures on this blog post from Caletes.  They would have the camp on survivor everyone would want to merge to.  But we had one guy from this project come take his night off at our house and he even patrolled with us in the rain.


Pinks and blues

Had to share this picture of the prettiest sunset we have had in a long time. The sky was so pink from the house that I braved the mosquitos and ventured out onto the beach to get a few shots.


Learning to do laundry

So I figured it was time to learn to do laundry today. We don't have a laundry machine, Costa Rican or American, but we have a sink outside and our hands. Courtney gave the advice that about every three washes or so you need to go and try to find a washing machine to use because it just doesn't really feel clean no matter how much you wash. Of course I decided to do it after lunch, which was the mistake, and I should have taken care of it in the morning instead. We have been getting afternoon showers, so while working in the hatchery this afternoon and seeing dark clouds start to head in I thought it would be best to move my clothes on to the porch.
I'm really missing hot water, washing and drying machines, my car, and the grocery store thats only 10 minutes away. I've realized that we take way too much for granted.


Found the best itch cream

I know my family, especially Mari and Miya, understand how bad mosquito bites (well most bites from little insects) can be. This has got to be the BEST itch cream I have ever used.... and yes, it does say lidocaine on the package. I would have to say that was the best $8 I have ever spent. Who wants some for Christmas?! hahahah


Nightly Patrols

So I thought about posting pictures from our exhumation the other day but thought better of it. They're kind of gross. So I'll keep them in a special folder on my iPad and iPhone for when I get home and I can show you if you want.

A lot of people are probably wondering what our day to day like activity is like and well we rest a lot during the day. It gets to be pretty hot outside by 8 am, I think usually around 32 C but I could be wrong. But we spend most of our time working in the very late night or very early morning, really depends on what tides are doing. Turtles come up to nest only when it is dark out and usually the babies hatch at night, though we do have exceptions which makes it hard for us to really travel far from the house during the day when we need to check the hatchery.

This morning was no exception to our early mornings, we were up and patrolling at 3 am and bringing babies down the water too. Unfortunately, we went at the wrong side of the tide, turtles came up last night and they had all been poached. We go to bed early when we know that we have to do early morning patrols, so we were in bed by 8 last night, Courtney did the first hatchery check and had to release some babies. I did the second hatchery check at 10:30, I didn't find any babies but I did find Andre in one of our hammocks. Mom and dad, you probably know Andre as Michael's brother, he has started patrolling with us, though we never really know when he is going to show up. It was nice he came though because while we patrolled the north side of the beach and found nothing Courtney and our British volunteer Izzy found 1 nest to bring back to our hatchery!

And of course we had more babies waiting to swim out to sea when we got back!


Leatherback Conservation in California

So we found out this morning that California has a new official Marine Animal! Jerry Brown signed, yesterday I believe, that starting next year October 15th should be used to teach about leatherback conservation in California public schools! Guess this is good news for me and my venture to becoming a high school biology teacher and now working with a sea turtle conservation group! The reason for picking the leatherback as the turtle was because they make an amazing journey each year from Indonesia to the California coast to eat jellyfish. The "new" state flag looks pretty cool too haha.  read the article!

Things that bite

We've started having babies, lots and lots of babies. We are thinking they have all started coming up out of order due to the earthquake. Talking to some of the other camps it sounds like holes might have shifted a little making it hard for the babies to get out.

So I have discovered that a lot of things bite in Costa Rica. The mosquitos and biting flies seem to be the least of my problem, except when they get at my feet. I was thinking that it was ants that bit my feet up but they are still so itchy I don't think it could have been. But compared to the rest of my body my feet are the worst looking part, and I don't think it helps that I'm always barefoot and walking in the sand and dirt.


You can help Green Turtles!

So for my family, when we're driving in Hawaii and we get slowed down driving up to the North Shore between Haleiwa and Waimea it's because we have hit "Turtle Town".  It's this beach that is so popular for the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (or Honu) to come up and sunbath. These are actually the same green turtles that are seen all over the tropical regions, in fact we have some due to come up on our beach this week to lay another nest!

Honus were placed listed on the Endangered Species Act by the US National Marine Fishers Services almost 30 years ago when their nesting population was about 60.  The Hawaiian Sea Turtle population has grown to 800 nesting females a year, but still not the 5,000 nesting females a year they had hoped for to remove them from the Endangered Species Act.  Please sign this petition by October 1st in order to keep the Hawaiian Sea Turtles population growing and in the ocean rather than quickly dwindling down by being slaughtered on public beaches and sold in restaurants and souvenir shops.

Again, here is the petition.

For more information on sea turtles and how to get involved at home look at SeaTurtles.org

Thanks for listening to me and all the support!


Bull Sharks, Turtles, and Trash

So about two days ago, Wendy (an American that lives down the street) told us that she saw a shark about 3 meters long earlier in the day.  She said it did not look like it was swimming aggressively but she got out of the water.  Yesterday while we were with Eric (Lotti's, my boss,  husband) it was brought up, apparently we had a bull shark swimming out in front of our house.

It amazes me, especially after a storm, how much trash washes up on our beach here.  I'm learning everyday how luckily I am to live in California and have such clean beaches.  This picture was taken after a storm (or maybe before I can't remember), but the amount of trash that washes up on our beach just astounds me each time. Courtney and I plan on doing some tie dying with the kids, and now we are thinking that the project will be an incentive for doing a beach clean up.  I mean yesterday Victor came to get the bike to help him pick up a computer monitor! And we are not talking about the nice flat screens we have everywhere these days, but a big boxy desktop computer.

Yesterday we went to the boat to go out with Eric but I didn't really know what we were going to be doing when we went down.  I was nervous I might get sea sick but decided that it would be okay because, no matter what, it would be something different.  The PRETOMA truck came and picked us up at 7 and we got a ride down the Coyote Estuary. This is the estuary that we patrol to in the south every night and we've been told by locals this one is not safe to swim in because of sharks and crocodiles.  

The boat came across the estuary to get us and bring us to the dock to get ready to go out to do some research.  Now we aren't talking about the boats we see in San Diego when we go on Dave's boat; no, these fishing boats were so small almost like dingies with a motor (the Titanic lifeboats might have fit more people).  Needless to say, on a boat this small sitting just outside the surf I got sea sick.  It wasn't unbearable, I had Dad's voice in my head the whole time telling me to look out at the horizon and sit up straight, which I did and was able to keep my breakfast.
We put out a net looking for Hawksbill turtles.  These guys rarely come up on our beach to nest so it would have been really cool getting to see one.  We dropped the net and had to jump in the water with snorkels to make sure that the net was all untangled, but we were also warned that there were jellyfish out.  At one point my leg started stinging.  I've been stung before and it felt similar, but I don't think I was actually hit by one because I never saw the mark on my leg.  So we escaped crocodiles, sharks, and jellyfish!

Our search for Hawksbills was not successful.  We went back twice before deciding it was time to pull up the net.  But when going back to pull up the net we see we have a turtle! We had a Olive Ridley, which is what we get nesting up on our beach most frequently. They were actually recently taken off the endangered list and put on the threatened animal list.
After untangling the turtle from the nest we were able to get it on the middle bench in the boat.  And she wasn't very happy about being on the boat.  Turtles have an instinct to flap their flipper when on their stomach and trying to get away, she didn't realize that she was suspended in air by a bench.  They flap pretty hard, there were these loud slapping sounds coming from her trying to get away until we put a shirt over her head to get her to go to sleep.  Victor held the turtle, Courtney grabbed the measurements and Eric tagged her.  I haven't been able to tag a turtle yet, in fact,  I haven't even seen the whole nesting process. And while Eric offered to teach me how to tag there I didn't feel comfortable tagging a turtle while on a boat and feeling not so great.  So I opted to be the photographer of the event.
She had a cut on the side of her mouth, we believe that it was from a fishing line.  It is really sad to see how beaten up these turtles can get, and we don't always realize what we are doing to contribute.
These were a little bit smaller than the boat we went out on but these are the Costa Rican fishing boats.  They don't use fishing poles but just throw lines out.  Hopefully sometimes soon, when the fish start biting again (we have had big shrimp ships out front that take all the fish and turtles) I will get a chance to go over and help at the fishery some more.

After we got off the boat we went to drop off a new research assistant at the Caletes project.  This project is known as the camping station; they are very secluded from the rest of us and they have made their whole camp.  It was a really cool camp, they had iguanas running around everywhere.  But, I was really glad that I have walls and a ceiling that keep out the mosquitos at night.

Things are about to get really tiring around here. Matt is leaving us tonight and Victor is leaving for his visa run later this week.  Courtney and I are planning on going into Coyote Thursday or Friday to try and gather up some locals to help us patrol.  Girls cannot be alone on the beach so really Courtney and I count as one person together so we really need to find people to walk with us.  This way the whole beach can be covered, but we figured we will probably become vampires staying up all night with nesting turtles and turtle babies about to start hatching! Hopefully when Courtney goes on her visa run it won't be so bad, since Victor can be on the beach alone and we will either have some volunteers or Ingrid (who works for PRETOMA) will be with us.

Probably will have an update tomorrow with babies! They are hatched in their nests (two nests) but we just have to wait for them to come up.  We went and took a look at the hatchery with Lotti when she came by today.  We had to fix the nests, the sand was not packed in tight enough and we weren't sure if this is from the earthquakes, rain, or just not being renested right.