Realizing There is Only a Month Left

The week back from Nicaragua has been a tough one. One week ago I had to say good by to my family and get back into the swing of work and not being on vacation. Even though I only was away for three days it felt much longer, which made falling back into the rhythm of things around the house a little harder. Like for instance, the right after saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, I walked into the house to find a new volunteer!

Lauren, Ryan, Caroline, and Corinna watching our weekend volunteers take their beach pictures


So know our house consists of two Germans, Caroline and Corinna, and Ryan, Lauren, and myself (The American/German house).


Caroline came right before I left for my visa run, maybe two days before, so I have only really gotten to know her this past week and I don't want her to leave! She is 25 and has her masters in architecture. I knew that she studied architecture, but only learned the other day that she had her masters! With her program she spend a month in Guatemala at language school and then came to Costa Rica to work with turtles. She has three weeks in Costa Rica after she leaves us and started planning on what she was going to travel and do during this time. I looked at the calendar and realized that she only has two weeks left, time in flying!


Our other new volunteer in Corinna, she is 19 and also from Germany. She decided to take a year off before going to University and came to Costa Rica. She spend two weeks in language school in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, and then came here to work with the turtles. Corinna, is awesome to have around the house she is funny and always asking what she can do to help out! I have been so lucky with volunteers this year!!!


The group of girls that visited us for the weekend

I feel like life here has been a constant whirl wind and I have had something going on 24/7 and have not really had time to rest. This weekend we hosted twenty Costa Rican girls, three professors, and two of their daughters. They were on an adventure for their survival course and they might have got more than they bargained for since they were camping. The weather has been rainy every day this month, and this weekend was no different. We had a huge storm come in and it rained almost the whole weekend. There was little bit of time from where we were able to do a trash pick up with the girls and take a sunny group picture this morning before they left.

The girls got smart and slept here and the rancho the second night


The girls were awesome, except for the part where they were teenage girls and thought they should get a choice about what they got to eat instead of eating a planned out meal. But I had a lot of fun hanging out with them and speaking spanglish with the girls, mostly Spanish but with and English word thrown in when I did not know the right word for it. But, I also had fun hanging out with the little girls that were here as well, so if high school doesn't work out for me I can always go to elementary school!


How Costa Rican girls make snowmen

Also this weekend was Santos' birthday! Yes, I was not joking it was not stop going the whole weekend. So during a down part on the days activities I ran away real quick to go say happy birthday. I assumed that they had already eaten and ran home because all of Santos' children were there and I needed to take pictures! But oh was I wrong! It was almost like they were waiting for the camera to arrive because as soon as I got back with it we ate arroz con pollo y ensalda (rice and chicken with salad), gelatina y leche condensada (jello with condensed milk), y (cake); their meals go really quickly too, not everyone was done eating arroz con pollo when others started on the gelatina! Of course I still asked the kids where the new puppy was and told everyone that I was going to take the puppy back to the United States with me. I had a ton of fun hanging out with everyone over there which then made me sad that I am leaving in a month!


The birthday decorations
Santos grabbing the huge pot of arroz con pollo
Look at the tub of jello!
The birthday cake

Just the other day, after having my family leave me, I started feeling home sick. Then, after having a "family" birthday celebration I started to get sad thinking that I was going to be leaving such amazing wonderful people, again! So, today when everyone was busy or napping I ran away for a little bit to go and hang out with Don Victor and his family (remember they all live on the same property). It was so much fun to just sit their listen to them talk, talk every once and a while, eat amazing coconut cookies the Josephine made, and drink coffee. But then I had to get home and back to work with an exhumation.

Don victor and Marisol
I found star fruit!


They called my name and posted for a picture



Baby Update

Hatchling update:

Our hatchery is well underway and showing no signs of slowing down. We get a few lulls every couple days from periods of time when we didn't have any mommas coming up to nest. But, on average we have been having about 3 nests come up a night!

39% of our nests have hatched

Our current success rate for our nests is at 89%

And we have released 2,253 babies back into the ocean

Thank you too all that have helped put our hatchery together and relocate eggs! It is truly amazing to see the work that has been accomplished in so little time.




Caught Up in a Whirlwind

I got pretty bad at keeping up with the blog while on my visa run, probably becuase we were constantly moving.

View of San Juan del Sur while zip lining

On Friday morning, Dad, Miya, and I went zip lining. We took about a 15 minute drive from our hotel down the dirt road to the main office, from there we took about another 5 minute drive up the mountain, it was quite the bumpy road Miya and I were waiting for a boulder to come rolling towards us then after falling into a pit of snakes. Up at the top of the mountain we got an amazing view of San Juan del Sur and the whole bay! Dad, Miya, and I also had the luxury of being the only ones, unlike the massive group that I went with when Courtney and I zip lined in Arenal last year. Because it was just the three of us with our two guides we weren't able to take that many pictures because we were constantly swinging from one line to the next. But because it was just the three of us Miya and I were able to go down one of the last lines upside down, with our guides of course.

Miya and I before we started

After that we met up with Mom who waited at the office, and the truck took us into town. San Juan del Sur is a cute little touristy town, far more populated than where I live so I was in a HUGE city! We made a stop by a pharmacy so I could see if they had a wrist brace for Mom, no such luck though. We headed over to a bar that was on the beach that our friend had recommended to us called Iguana, we were all so thirsy that we got drinks and some nachos to share. While sitting at the bar on the beach we were visited by many people walking by trying to sell us things, the only time I showed any interest was when the guys came by selling Nicaraguan vases, which I eneded up buying one from a street vendor instead.

Mom, Miya and I enjoying cold drinks and nachos on the beach
There's Jesus on a cliff

After leaving the bar we walked around town exploring the little nooks and cranny's of the colorful town seeing what they had to offer. I never realized that San Juan del Sur seems to be a gathering place for people all over the world. We met a guy from Argentina, who was nomad traveling the world making jewelry, he seemed pretty cool and nice to talk to, probably because he wanted to sell you some jewelry. By the afternoon we were about ready to head back up to the hotel, and luckily saw the hotel owner driving the panga into town and were able to get a ride back with him.

Guys walking the streets selling beans

We spent the afternoon in the pool relaxing, but in retrospeck Miya and I would have rather traded in our time in town for more time at the beach at Playa Maderas. We did stay in the pool until we got too cold, meaning the sun went down, and headed back to the condo to shower up for dinner. We took our usual table in the restuarant and I ordered my last fish meal of my vacation, fish and chips. Miya made sure to save enough room for desert, carrot cake and ice cream.

A storm came in Dad and I had already headed back to the room, Miya and Mom stayed in the restaurant with the wifi waiting for the storm to pass to get the laptop back without water damage. We packed up as most we could that night since the driver was going to be by at about 8:30 to take us back to the boarder.

Mr Bear had to renew his visa too

The boarder crossing into Costa Rica was much more strict than getting into Nicaragua. When we got to Costa Rica we stood in a line that lead to another line, I felt like I was at Disneyland, but it took us less than an hour to get through the whole process. We were all holding our breathes to see if our rental car would be in the dirt lot that we left it in, luckily it was there waiting for us.

From there we began our journey back down to Costa de Oro, the drive took us a little over four hours. The most enjoyable part might have been watching a group of Costa Ricans trying to get a semi out of a mud puddle in the street, it wasn't just any old semi either it was loaded with wooden logs and stuck there for at least a half an hour. From there I went to Laugna Mar with Mom, Dad, and Miya for dinner, so Miya could experience Pablo's fine cooking. She also enjoyed his desert sampler platter that I believe was intended for the whole table to share but she fought off our forks. Mom, Dad, and Miya patrolled with me a little later that night after we all took naps, unfortunately the only momma turtle they saw had a poacher sitting with her so we just kept walking.

It was sad to see them go the next morning, but even weirder to think that I will be home in a little over a month! I can see the season starting to change with fewer turtles coming up these past few nights. But we have been getitng rain for the past three days, Santos said because it didn't rain that much in October it will rain more in November, we will see if this theory is true.



Beach Day in Nicaragua

Yesterday was an adventurous day to the beach day in Nicaragua.  We learned at breakfast, we are pretty much the only ones staying at the hotel, with the exception of a couple from Chicago we met at the pool yesterday.  The hotel owner drove us down to the “surfing beach” Playa Maderas, where there is a hostel and a couple restaurants.  Upon dropping us off Greg also explained that around the point there are a few other little beaches if we want to go explore. 
Tide pools and slippery rocks
Miya slothing it in the shade

Juanita's Kitchen

My attempt at being Clark Little, I don't think he has much to worry about

Well, we went to explore the other beaches around the point, and about a kilometer later we found a sweet almost secluded beach.  It had a shore break that reminded Miya and me of Waimea Bay and sticky sand that was more North Shore like than Ventura or Costa Rican sand.  We took out Dave’s GoPro for a little fun in the water and spent the day going back and forth from the water and the sand. 

About 1PM we started getting a little hungry.  This is where we were lucky that we were not on a completely isolated beach, because we had Juanita’s Kitchen behind us for some lunch on the beach.  Juanita’s was literally a little shack with two women manning the kitchen and a man taking orders, this might have been because he knew English.  We enjoyed sitting in the shade at the “kitchen” and playing a dice game mom brought me. 

About 3 PM we decided to head back over to the parking lot where we were dropped off at, next to the hostel Los Tres Hermanos.  The surf there did look nice; it wasn’t closing out and seemed to be consistent shoulder to head high waves. 

Once we got back to the hotel, it was about 4PM Miya, Dad, and I went for a swim in the pool, where we met the only other people staying at the hotel.  Mom iced her wrist; she took a nasty fall walking on the wet slick rocks at the beach while walking with her slippahs on.  We took turns slowly making our way back to our house to shower and get ready for dinner. 

The fish has been great here in Nicaragua, Mahi Mahi for every meal!  I haven’t had fish since I left the States, so my goal was to try and have fish at least once a day.  This is a goal that has been easily accomplished.  For dinner on my first night I had some fish tacos (not quite Cholo’s status but still delicious!), yesterday for lunch I had a fishplate, and for dinner a fish sandwich.  My other goal of the trip was not to eat rice and beans for the few days that I am away from the project, and besides my fishplate at lunch I have been succeeding in my goal. 

Kind of scruffy like Kai

Not something you see everyday in Carlsbad

This morning Dad, Miya, and I got up early and made our nature hike hoping to see sloths and monkeys, but just got cows, birds, bugs, chickens, ducks, and dogs.  We did make the 1 KM walk to the swimming beach (Playa Marsella), except it was kind of mucky since the river draining the whole valley opened up onto the beach and decided it was probably filled with lots of cow poop and not an ideal swimming beach.  Next up on the list is to go zip lining, Mom is sitting out on it partly because of her wrist and because she just says she doesn’t want to go.  Miya and I tried to convince her and told her she might regret it later if she doesn’t go.  After zip lining it is a short walk into “town” (San Juan del Sur) and we plan on spending the afternoon looking around and seeing what the colorful city has to offer. 


Buenas Dias from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua!

Yesterday afternoon we made it to San Juan del Sur, and boy was it a fun adventure crossing "no man's land" from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.

We left Costa de Oro about 10 AM and drove by San Miguel real quick to drop off a present my parents brought down for Maddie, though she new exactly what it was since she had ordered it for herself. We made it up to Liberia in time for lunch about 1 PM and stopped off at this nice little restaurant called Cafe Cristina, where is enjoyed my first latte in months! From Liberia we had about an hour left to go to the border, and I think Dad and I spent most of that time making sure that we were following the GPS correctly (she eventually threw a fit about where we were going and stopped giving directions).

Leaving the car in the dirt at the boarder

We made it to the border about 2:30 and parked our car in a sweet dirt lot, since it was a rental it couldn't leave the country, we gathered all our belongs that we cared about and started our trip across the border. We walked the 1Km of "no man's land" only to get to Nicaragua and find out that we had to go through the immigration building in Costa Rica first to get our passport stamped. So, we walked back to Costa Rica and filled out our paperwork just to walk all the way back to Nicaragua, Miya and Mom looked quite sweaty after. Eventually, we made it through the three different stops of immigration to get to Nicaragua and found our driver that was taking us up to the hotel.

San Juan del Sur is about 40 minutes north of the border and it was a really pretty drive. I love how green Nicaragua is, and the flat paved road wasn't to hard to love either. We had to go into town first because our driver needed to go to his boss' house to exchange his car for a 4x4 to make it up the hill to Mango Rosa (home for the next few days). On our way up the hill I was admiring the lush green, rainforesty hills and it dawned on me that there might actually be sloths here since it was rainy and cold like Monteverde. I asked our driver if they had sloths in San Juan del Sur, and Miya picked up what I was asking, and sure enough Miya and I will be sloth hunting in the hills of San Juan del Sur over the next few days.

Costa Rican boarder

Our hotel is very nice, it is more of a condo with two bedrooms and a fully stocked kitchen. We went to the restaurant at the hotel for dinner last night and I enjoyed a some amazing fish soft tacos and a pina colada made with my favorite nicaraguan rum, flor de cana. After dinner, Miya and I decided to go and find the hammock hang out, a lani filled with hammocks and wifi. Well, we found it and only stayed for about 10 minutes before starting to feel the bugs crawl on us and retreated home where I enjoyed my first hot shower in months.

I tired to stay awake for as long as possible to watch the World Series but I ended up asleep in one of the chairs and decided to call it a night.

Mom crossing "no man's land"


Dad getting to the first step of Nicaragua boarder crossing


My Family Made it to Costa Rica!

Mom, Dad, and Miya made it to Costa RIca Tuesday morning and by noon they were in Costa de Oro. We had a fun turtle-y day around the house. I had just had 6 tracks form the night before so I thought Tuesday nights patrol was going to be a really fun one for them. We also had two nests come up the night before that were going to need to be exhumed in the afternoon, which also meant that there were babies to be released with the people around town.


Once I went through the suitcase of things that were brought for me (by the way Courtney, my Dad said it only weighted like 35 lbs) it was about 1:30 and people were starting to get a little hungry. We gathered Lauren and went to Loma Clara, the nicer restaurant up in Coyote that I really like. Miya put her spanish learned form school to good use by ordering after Lauren and just saying "yo tambien." After lunch, we went to the super because I needed to introduce Miya to Trits, my favorite Costa Rican ice cream, which is an ice cream sandwich with graham cracker cookie and a little chocolate syrup in with the vanilla ice cream.


By this time it was about 10 minutes until 4 and we had to get home to do our exhumations. Miya was able to get Dad to take some nice pictures of the exhumation for a project that her marine biology gave her to make up the points that she would miss for the week out of school. Santos came over to visit while we were doing the exhumations and we decided that we would release the babies at 5:30 and I asked him to bring the people from his house.


5:30 came and it was just Santos with three of the kids, but we still had halloween (early since I was going to be in Nicaragua but I had treats for them). Courtney sent me a sweet halloween mask so I dressed up as a bat with a glow in the dark mask. Dad brought some Rocket Fizz candies that were probably consumed as dinner for the night, they were gooey marshmallow (they had a jelly center) eye balls.


At this point Mom, Dad, and Miya were looking pretty tired, their flight had got in about 5 am-ish after a red eye from LA, so they went home and took a nap until patrol at 11. I stayed home to make sure that everything was going smoothly and that everyone would have things covered while I was gone, I kind think me leaving for a few days might be what being a teacher leaving and needing a sub might feel like lots of preparing.


Well the family made it back to patrol and they showed up at 10:30 and I had coffee waiting for them and Miya and I ate our ice creams. I had just had two nests come up at about 10 so those were also in the house waiting to be taken out on patrol and I figured we could just walk them down to the end of the beach during patrol. Unfortunately, we did not have the same luck with turtles that we had the night before on patrol, but by the end of three hours we had released almost 300 babies.




Trip to the Farm

About a month ago one of our locals and I had a conversation while patrolling about how I like milk and cheese, mostly because we use powder milk here and have weird squeaky cheese (named for the squeaky noise it makes when you eat it). Well, during the next week he brought me a jar of fresh milk from his work, he works on a ranch with cows, horses, and pigs. He also told me that next month, when he had to milk cows again, he was going to bring me with him so I would learn to milk cows.

Well fast forward to current time, and it was time for me to go learn to milk my own cow. After a night of patrolling and taking care of babies I was up and ready to go up to the ranch at 5 AM, I got way to little sleep that night. Santos came by and picked me up from the house and I jumped on the back of his motorcycle and headed up into town.

Upon our arrival, one of his friends/coworkers was already herding the cattle up to the barn that we were going to milk them at. There were 12 females and one male walking up the road to greet us, and when we got to the barn there were 12 calfs waiting to be fed. I'm curious as to what time Santos' friend got to the ranch because it seemed like so much had already been set up for us to go, we just needed to go grab the buckets. The calfs were kept in a separate pin and eagerly awaited to be let out to find their momma to be fed. Each calf was let out one at a time they would start to feed and then would be tied up away from the momma cow and the momma's back legs were tied together so she didn't kick us or the bucket of milk.

I was very shocked, milking a cow is not quiet as hard as I would have thought. Except, it takes a lot of hand and forearm strength, I'm surprised carpal tunnel is not a big problem for these guys. We collected two 5 gallon buckets of milk from the cows and each guy was able to take home a few liters of milk to their families. And I got to have cafe con leche with very fresh milk.

After we finished milking the cows I'm pretty sure Santos grabbed a huge shovel to go clean up the poop from the cows in the barn, but I was sent with his friend to go hang out with the pigs, so I will never know! After watching the pigs and seeing them be fed and cleaned, we made our way back to the main barn and there were two horses out! So I pet the horses for a little bit before we made our way back home.

It was 8 AM when I got home and I had already helped milk a dozen cows and fed pigs for the day! I cleaned up and crawled into bed for a little nap before getting up and getting the show running at our house. Where we had a couple visiting from San Jose and we wanted to make sure that they saw an exhumation before they headed back to the capitol. (They were extremely lucky and saw a turtle nest, babies, and the exhumation!).

Tomorrow Mom, Dad, and Miya arrive for a week in Costa Rica/Nicaragua for my visa run. I am so excited to see them! They will be in tomorrow afternoon and I think tomorrow morning will go very slowly with my anticipation of their arrival.



Hatchery Update

Total eggs relocated to the hatchery: 5,999

Total nests relocated to the hatchery: 63

Babies released to date: 555

Average hatch rate: 95%



It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

Lauren found the gallbladder.

Last year we started a tradition that we would release any babies that had come up during the day or from our exhumations with people in town at 5. I last left you with running to do an exhumation. Exhumations are when we go through the nests after they have hatched and count the egg shells and open any unhatched eggs to see what kind of development they might have been at. Occasionally we get one or two little straggler turtles, and these are the ones that I like to hold off and release with people in town.

So this year was no different. After our first nest hatched and we exhumed that nest and had one straggler I decided to pull up a nest where the babies had been poking their head out for the past hour to have everyone in town come and see what we have been growing in our backyard. I went running down our main road to go and let some of our locals and the kids know that we have babies and we will release the babies at 5 on the beach.

Glow stick jewelry making.

We had a great turn out at 5 PM and so many people we excited to see the babies that we had!! I was so excited that they were so excited!

As I noticed that the kids started to lose attention to the baby turtles I pulled out some glow sticks. We had a turtle release rave, or just jewelry making party. The kids left to go get some dinner and the adults hung out a little bit longer, before the lightning came in and they almost all went running back to their homes.


The Costa de Oro group

Today we walked to San Miguel for a Sunday Funday, hoping to watch a little American Football. The restaurant over there was technically closed because her help was sick, but she still made us food and let us know it would just take a little bit longer. We were not able to watch football but she did play it so we could listen. Maddie and Ana (a research assistant in San Miguel) came to join us for a game of apples to apples before we got our lunch and they headed off to their own meal down the road.

PiƱa con leche

We knew our walk back was going to include a swim across the estuary since the tide had been rising. This worked out to our advantage though because we were able to play in the estuary for a little bit before continuing the walk home. Don't worry everyone this is the estuary free of crocodiles and sharks!!

When we got back Lauren had a fishing lesson with one of our locals and Ryan ran out for a sunset surf sesh. We decided that it was a fun Sunday Funday.

Lauren and Santos wrapping up her fishing lesson
Ryan's sunset surf sesh
Our sunset was just to pretty tonight to pass up posting a picture of it