Pop Goes the Hatchling!

There is a time for work and a time for play; and so far I’ve had quite a bit of fun.

So! – on to the tasks at hand once again.

I finally got myself a (somewhat) new pair of glasses sent down here by my wonderful family, and now that I am once again with proper vision, I’ve been thrown back into the old routine of morning and night patrols along the beach.

A lot happened during the one month I was without glasses and only permitted on morning patrols: I saw my first ever hatchling, a leatherback baby turtle. It was absolutely ADORABLE, and just reminded me why my work here does indeed help. I say that because my coworker and I unknowingly stumbled upon the hatchling as we were checking the state of all the nests in the second part of the beach that we survey. Even more, this little hatchling was attempting to get to the sea from its nest, and was caught in some branches buried in the sand.

If we weren’t out there, and the sun completely rose and exposed its often scorching heat, the poor little hatchling probably would not have survived.

08/07/13: Look at him go!

Jimmy the Leatherback Hatchling –             08/07/13: Look at him go!

Nevertheless, I took it out of the debris, placed it gently in the palm of my hand, and watched as it slowly crawled out of my palm, flopping onto the still warm sand, to finally float and get whisked away into the sea. It was magical.

I also got to see three hatchlings of the rare Hawksbill species dig out of a nest I was excavating. One could even say that I not only saw them, and helped lead them to sea, but I also swam with them (not literally, as my feet were the only things deep in the water, but the hatchlings did swim right by my knees, so it counts as such in my mind!).

Now that I’m back on night patrols, I get to have more close up action with the mothers as they lay their nests, which is always a fascinating sight. Two nights ago, I got to read the tracking tags placed on the turtles’ flippers to monitor their movement between nesting sights for the first time. I also attempted to stop the turtle, but was unsuccessful (this time, at least!).

Ah well, still a work in progress..but isn’t that just life?

Pura Vida,
Moi

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Tengo Pollo Loco en Mis Pantalones!

I recently saw a quote by India’s first prime minister, Jawaharial Nehru, that read,

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

This quote really hit me the past few days ago. I’ve actually given myself the opportunity to explore exactly where I have traveled, at long last.

A look back on my previous posts made me realize that I have been so focused on the work being done here, that I haven’t given myself the slightest of chance to stop – breathe – and look at the different kind of beauty that surrounds me.

I managed to do that this week after a few mishaps put me in that kind of position: nearing the end of last week, I accidentally fell into the canal with my non-waterproof camera strapped around my torso (that was a bit of a scare, but it’s dried out and properly functioning again, phew!); I also lost my glasses two days later in the ocean whilst working a turtle in the dark of night (still haven’t found them, I’m pulling “Velma from Scooby-Doo” everywhere!).

But though I’ve lost quite a bit of sight, I’ve managed to open my eyes to many things I didn’t see before, as Nehru’s quote implies.

Sunrise: Te quiero mucho...

Sunrise: Te quiero mucho…

I finally went to the beach just to relax for the first time. I also finally caught one of the river turtles that swim around by the station’s dock in the canal.

And most importantly, I finally got to breathe and just take it easy, which I oddly hadn’t really done since I got here.

I guess I could say that straight vision often  gives you a straight direction, which, if too focused, can block your view of even the smallest of wonders around you.

Until I get ahold of new frames, being half blind isn’t all too bad. I just need to learn to stop continuously sliding invisible glasses back up my nose.

Pura vida,
Moi

P.S. Thanks Dave for the title idea!

Music for the Moment:

Bienvenidos a la casa de los Ticos!

I absolutely adore Latin people and their culture.

I had this perception from while at home, but I had merely encountered Latin immigrants or those of Latin descent.

Interestingly enough, their culture runs strong through their generations and across borders, because in North America or in Costa Rica, their Latin flavour still runs thick.

This may be a general assumption I am making for a vast array of people, but I’ve met Colombians, Puerta Ricans, Pervuvians, and Spanish alike, and there’s an essence to them that I haven’t quite yet found in any other culture I’ve experienced (which I guess is why there are various cultures around the world that have their own differences and is why I’ll keep travelling to discover them all!).

Yesterday seemed to enhance that opinion when my fellow intern and I made our way over to Doña Blanca’s casa, a woman who lives near the station and who is in need of help learning English.

When we arrived, she welcomed us nicely and we immediately got to work.
IMG_1471
She sat us down in her makeshift hair dresser/craftsman workshop/mani-pedi office/patio and we began talking.

One thing I really admire about the Latin culture, specifically Ticas and Ticos in this context, is that they are very honest and open and will talk you up even if you don’t completely understand everything they’re saying. They are so animated with their words and expressions, and even though I may not be fluent in Spanish, the actions she did while speaking really helped me grasp the main idea.

At a point during our language session, Doña Blanca was comparing the two languages, English and Spanish, as we tried translating a part of a paragraph together. “One word in English,” she said, “can be translated into a whole phrase in Spanish. I guess it’s because Spanish love to just talk and talk, no?” Then she laughed.

What was also refreshing was her intent on learning our language.

She seems to be a woman of the world, dipping her feet in every job she can, and one of them is being a turtle guide, which seems plausible when one grasps the short distance from her house to the Caribbean Sea where the turtles we monitor come to nest.

She knew so much about the turtles and their activities without studying it as a degree in school, which showed me that the Ticas and Ticos that live here are very much in touch with their environment and their home is their livelihood and must be understood and taken care of, which I admire and respect greatly.

Her words became even more animated as she moved onto the art of her pedicures and crafts.

It was a very entertaining visit.

And what made it the sweetest for me was the ending.

As we got up to leave, she offered us some lemonade (“agua con limón en ingles es…?”) and then we talked about culture and why I supposedly have Chinese eyes if I’m not Chinese; and then when we were really ready to leave, she gave us both hugs and kisses and sent us off.

La hospitalidad era demasiado bueno! Comprende?

Gracias Doña Blanca y pura vida,
Moi

P.S. Saw my first leatherback turtle (possibly the last of the season) last night, while the moon was bright, and the night was cool. It was perfectly huge and a sight to see!

Music for the Moment:

What’s poppin’?

Eggs. Turtle eggs to be exact.

Last night (well, this morning really), I encountered my third turtle as an intern at the Caño Palma station here in Costa Ríca.

However, the last two turtles my team and I worked with were both less hands on than this one.

This one was special for me in many a-ways.

For starters, the last two turtles were Hawksbills, which for some are a rarity to encounter. But I was already bored with them and wanted something new.

Last night, I finally got a green.

This green turtle, though, was not too happy to get us as her observers.

I was assigned as ‘egg counter,’ which meant I was to have probably the closest interaction with her.

Suppenschildkröte

Suppenschildkröte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The experience is indescribable, really.

What we must do is place our hands underneath the tail of the turtle and gently cup and then let fall her eggs as she lays them.

I’ll admit I felt uncomfortable at first; and this does not include the fact that my pants were torn all along the crotch and backside, so my bare bottom was cotched in the air. This also doesn’t include the fact that it was pouring rain and I had to tie my poncho, that could protect me against the cold drops, around my waist to protect my tush.

The intense contractions she had whilst my hand was also cupping her tail, could be felt before every egg slowly drops.

For a first-timer, it was a bit of an introduction.

I kept thinking, soaking from  head to toe, “When will this be over?” But then the night continued into morning, and as my team and I rushed back 2 miles to return to the station before 5 a.m., we managed to watch the sun rise and sing Sister Act’s ‘Oh Happy Day’ to the rhythm of the waves.

It wasn’t until I was dry, warm, and for the most part, rested, when I gave myself the chance to ponder on the happenings of the previous night, and realize what I had actually witnessed: the birth of anew.

Unforgettable.

And so this trip continues to be…

Pura vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Why You So Obsessed with Me?

Things are looking up.

They always were, actually; there were just a few clouds blurring my vision of my personal and academic goals whilst here that made it seem otherwise.

I’m not saying that everything is now peachy clean – I’m only two weeks in, so that’s too soon to say – but to finally grasp even a portion of the rhythm of a new environment is just such a relief.

After getting over the hump of an introduction, I’ve started to make other observations while busy-bodying around here (which we do quite often).

One very prominent aspect is the blending of cultures.

Caño Palma is a Canadian biological station situated in Costa Ríca and open to volunteers and interns from around the world.

Luckily for me, I get to experience cultural bits and pieces from people all over while staying put in one place.

So far I’ve encountered Germans, met a few close-to-home Canadians (of course), acquainted myself with a Belgian, befriended a Britain, and joked with a few Dutch.

I also can’t forget the Costa Rícan interactions I have been able to grab ahold of with the station’s weekly cook, Cenia. She is absolutely wonderful, and helping my español greatly (gracias Cenia!).

It’s a bit of a shocker to experience so many different accents and customs so quickly, but fascinating nonetheless.

Still, if there is one thing I can say that is consistent throughout all the cultures at this station (and it may be due to the purpose of the station itself) is the persistent characteristics of passion and dedication.

Whether volunteers or interns, the people from these cultures are all very passionate about what they do here. Even more inspiring, they are all genuinely passionate about life, which a young person like me needs to be surrounded by more, I must say.

Their passionate spirits are really pushing me to be in the same mindset.

I can’t honestly say that I am around such passionate people all too much in my daily life; nor can I say that I am just as passionate about something as my fellow comrades.

I want to be.

But it’s a leap becoming so passionate about something that one will do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

Still, you can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.

So I think it’s about time I start flying, soaring, until the only thing I can see is the sky.

And there’s no where else to go but up.

Pura vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment:

Cool. Cool, cool, cool.

Finally, I’m here.

Where is here exactly? Well, it’s in a (somewhat) little biological station called Caño Palma in Limón, Costa Ríca on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, where interns like me come to basically help save turtles.

It gets much deeper than that, but since this is an introduction, saving turtles is, in a nutshell, what I will be doing.

Costa Rica: On our way to the Cano Palma biological station via the Turtle Lodge boat..

Costa Rica: On our way to the Cano Palma biological station via the Turtle Lodge boat..

This is one of my bigger adventures coming up and boy do I have a lot in store for me here.

The trip to my current destination was not as eventful as that of Atlanta, Georgia. I would give the excuse that it’s because of the lack of varying transportation used as opposed to Hotlanta, but that would be very much incorrect.

My fellow interns and I took a plane, then a bus, stayed at a hostel for a night; then another bus, then a boat, and then we were there.

What a trip.

Thanks to past interns who have traveled this road often traveled though, they left written guides to let us know how to get there conveniently, which really truly helped.

We’ve only been at the station, and in the country, really, for a few hours, but one common thing I can tell (besides the fact that every county in Costa Ríca has at least one church, one school, one medical clinic, and one soccer field, according to our station bus driver), the sense of community is very strong.

I, myself, can be very introverted at times and quite easily get lost within my own thoughts and perceptions.

Though this may help me in some aspects of everyday situations, what one comes to discover in life is that there is a time and place for everything, and I think that this is not the time to have that kind of mindset in this place. Cano Palma is a place of teamwork, co-operation, and understanding; so if I want to fulfill as many goals as possible during my stay, it would be best if I open up and become comfortable with things.

Identify the problem. Want a desirable result. Find the solution and be determined to accomplish it. Simple.

So, as I put myself to sleep and prepare to wake up in 7 hours for my first ever turtle survey, all I can think about now is how excited I am to discover exactly what ‘this side of town’ has to offer.

Pura Vida,
Moi

Music for the Moment: