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Carrie’s Baby Turtles at La Tortuga Feliz

This entry is part of the week we spent volunteering at La Tortuga Feliz (a turtle conservation project), near Bataan, Costa Rica.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!
Rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain.
“Guarding” at the school.
Turtle Tally:
Carrie: 43 + 1 Adult
Jonathan: 0
Went on turtle walk last night with guide CJ from 8:00PM-12:00AM. Had a good talk with CJ. 17 years old and already working here for two years. Slept until 8:00 when woken up by Carmen to go to hatchery. Was at school from 8:00AM-12:00PM
Nothing to do really but sit in a hammock and write. Forgot about (didn’t really know about) guard duty this morning, so was looking forward to finally getting some sleep. But no worries. Was woken up by Carmen (from Germany) to remind me. Glad she did, otherwise Amalee (from France, living in Ireland) would just have been sitting here and waiting a long time.
Carrie took someone’s shift at the hatchery last night and helped release 40+ baby turtles. I went on patrol and met CJ (already mentioned, and it’s Miguel actually, but he’s named after his father, so they referred to him as Miguelito for his whole life and now that he’s growing up, he wants to go by something other than little Miguel, understandably). CJ seems wise beyond his years as a 17 year old.

Last night, coming back from walking the sandy beach (hot, sweaty, tired – it’s an 8-10km round trip walk), was the first time I really thought, “I’m so done with this.” Between the biting mosquitoes, ants, and sand fleas, as well as the icky beds and ickier pillows, and the lack of sleep, it’s somewhat difficult to be here.
Robert (person managing the project) said that “done” feeling would probably happen sometime in the first couple of days. That’s last night and this morning for me. It’s a good little mental challenge, but I’m happy to only be here for 7 days this time. I actually think 4 would be just about perfect.
our room at La Tortuga FelizOne of the project’s dogs came into our room last night, and in my sleepy stupor I couldn’t figure out why it smelled bad in our room. I only knew that it smelled like a really smelly wet dog – which was, well, true. I only figured it out when Carrie got down from the top bunk to go to the bathroom and there was enough light to see that a dog was sitting by the door to go out. The dogs here don’t get baths or anything like that, and they sleep in the dirt and mud, so when they get wet (and even when they don’t), they really stink.
I would love to sleep in the hammock here at the school with the falling rain, but there’s this crazy bird that makes a screech – warble – chirp sound. The bird is about 40 feet up, but I can see from here that it has a white coloring around its eyes, but otherwise looks like a raven/crow.
On to some cool stuff:
Last night when walking the beach, the sand would light up with several of the steps. There are little sand mites, or maybe it’s algae, which live in the wet beach sand, and while they are highly annoying and bite aggressively, they are very cool at night. Whatever it is (algae or flies) expresses its displeasure at being kicked by lighting up with quick bursts of white light. On a beach with any man-made light, or even on a night with a full moon, you probably wouldn’t be able to see the lighting up. But in the darkness, sometimes enough of them would light up to make me wonder if I was staring up at a starry sky, when in fact I was looking down at a sandy beach. But after a few steps, just for a brief moment, before the lights would go out, the burst of lights on the beach was disorienting in a fantastic sort of way.
I have the best wife. She walked 500-600 yards in the rain with my breakfast covered, just to keep me company and to bring me breakfast while I’m sitting here at the school.
As mentioned, Carrie released 43 turtles from the hatchery last night.
I thought it was pretty cool that she released each one in the name and spirit of someone she knows or knew, so if you’re reading this, you may have had a turtle released with thoughts of you.

This entry is part of the week we spent volunteering at La Tortuga Feliz (a turtle conservation project), near Bataan, Costa Rica. La Tortuga Feliz is an ecovolunteering program where the money paid by volunteers provides an experience with protecting turtles from poaching and taking part in new turtle life (hatching new turtles, measuring them, and releasing them into the ocean). Income from volunteers (which is minimal, considering what it goes to take care of) supports a community which has depended on turtles as a way of life for hundreds of years. This wouldn’t be a problem (eating and selling turtle meat and eggs), except that the species of turtles which are being poached are all on the brink of extinction. We spent 7 days at La Tortuga Feliz and have shared our experience here (in case you’d perhaps like to volunteer, and/or) in case you’re researching things you might want to know before going to La Tortuga Feliz. This journal was written on paper and later transferred to typed text to post on the site. If you want to see all of our pictures (over 300 from La Tortuga Feliz), visit our pictures page.

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