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.