10.01.2008 - 12.01.2008 86 °F
We last left you in Nosara. When we got in with Kat and Paul, we stopped to get snacks. We got some ice cream and washed it down with cold water as it was sweltering hot. We were in a little market store with pineapples hanging from the ceiling and mangoes occupying barrels and shelves. It must be so nice to have access to fresh fruit all the time!
We were in the internet cafe and some of our roommates came in as well as some of the MINAE guys, so they gave us a lift back, which was nice since my feet were already pulsating (I have had Achilles tendon problems since I was kid).
Oh, yesterday we had an orientation with the others. They explained what they do there and then took us to the hatchery to explain how that works. They are trying really hard to protect these animals.
Steve and I went into town and ordered something to eat since I thought I was missing dinner to do my hatchery shift. The research assistants (Sue, Megan and others) live in the town in an interesting house/cabana. It's colorful, has open windows and hammocks hanging from the upstairs ceiling. Everyone has mosquito nets here, but we didn't seem to need them. Our neighbors used them. The folks in town did also, but they had no screens and there are more lights there.
Steve did a night patrol and met an Aussie named Emma. He walked for 11 miles this time on the southern end of the beach. I stayed at the hatchery with Freydis. It was hard staying awake. The hatchery is on the beach and it is dark and you can't use lights, plus the sounds of the crashing waves invite you to drift off to sleep. On the way there we saw the sun set and the colors of the sky and sand were pink. We HAD to stop to admire the view.
We stopped to take pictures, and a dog began following us to the hatchery. We relieved a guy who was sitting on a log at the hatchery. The eggs are from the critically endangered leatherback and they are watched 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure they are not poached or destroyed by predators. There was a batch there that was due to hatch at month's end.
So, I propped my head up against a log - THAT was a mistake - stiff neck anyone??? The sounds of bats fluttered above our heads. They control the insect population, so it was a welcome sound. For the first 3 hours, Fredyis and I talked about life, relationships, philosophy, Iceland..... I was glad to be there with Freydis. Andres, who is one of the people in charge there stopped by and chatted with us - he is from the Caribbean coast and his family is from Jamaica. It's common on that side of the country for people to have immigrated from Barbados and Jamaica, so it's a very different vibe on the Caribbean side. Next, came some night patrol people. Megan, the Aussie Research Asst, there said the dog was Sacha and she belongs to some of the villagers who own a pizza shop in town. The reserve is in the village. The turtles are their way of life. They are very friendly to us. No one besides turtle people go there. There is the occasional tourist, but not too many. It was nice to have Sacha laying with us - she barked every time someone approached us. The next 3 hours were a test of endurance. Freydis only had 2 hours sleep the night before so I let her sleep for a while, while I pontificated on my life as I waited for the luminescent waves to light up the ocean. We were relieved at midnight by Tara and Paul and began our journey back on the dark beach to find our dorm.
We had a helluva time finding the MINAE building at midnight when our shift was over. We were actuallu making jokes about it. It is pitch black out there and our principal landmark was the expansive ocean. After about an hour, we found the little opening in the brush to the MINAE building. We stumbled upon a huge piece of driftwood that I had studied earlier as a possible photo subject, so I knew we had gone too far. At 1 AM I quietly climbed into bed.
Four hours later I got up with Steve to do a beach cleanup. I was tempted to stay in bed after Steve left, but our roommates all got up and when I asked them if they were doing the beach cleanup and they said yes, I dragged my butt up and crawled myself down to the meeting point to join everyone. We raked sticks and wood onto empty rice sacks and dumped them off the beach. We are in there on our hands and knees and Steve encountered a scorpion! Yikes!!!!! Megan then announced to everyone to be wary of scorpions. I was in there too, on my knees throwing sticks into the rice sacks! We did that until 8:30 AM and headed back for breakfast.
We would again, see baby olive ridleys emerging from the sand. That is a magical experience. Apparently they make their way to the ocean by observing the horizon line. Two Aussies were quickly helping the turtles out of the nest to make room for the others to emerge. Apparently there could be up to 60 in there all trying to get out - and it takes about 2 hours for everyone to filter out. You also need to take care where you step, so as not to crush an emerging turtle baby. They can be anywhere, and they were!
After breakfast, we washed our laundry in an insect-laden basin outside and hung it to dry before showering and taking a little nap. We ran into Wendy (our Costa Rican roomie) after we did laundry and she was telling us she wants to visit the US one day. It is always fun talking about our country with non-Americans.
Oh, I saw that little dog I mentioned the other day. You know, the emaciated one, shivering with his tail between his legs? I saved a package of crackers from dinner hoping I'd see him again, so I fed him those. I also gave him Steve's granola bar. I know it's not good for him, but I thought it was better than starving (I hope I did the right thing!). I don't think Steve was happy when he searched for his granola bar in his backpack to no avail (tee hee). I tried to give him water, but wasn't interested. Megan explained the the MINAE castrated the male dogs since there is such a problem there, but there are still strays running around. In fact, the locals put poison on the beach to cull the population. It is a REALLY sad state of affairs for dogs there
When we awoke from our early siesta nap, the girls asked us if we wanted to go to Playa Guinoes (a surfers paradise near Nosara) - Paul had a hatchery shift. We were really lucky hitching rides. We were with Freydis on the way in as we thought splitting up wold facilitate better hitchhiking. So we met up again on the beach. Playa Guiones is an interesting place. It's in the middle of nowhere and retired American hippies live there with surfers. It is about 20 minutes by car from Ostional. It's the nearest town from Ostional. There is a laid back feel, but also some North American money there as well. We got in and there was an upscale cafe there where we got killer ice creams. It was a very different experience from Ostional where we were staying. Freydis and I got lime-coconut sorbets. Steve got a oatmeal caramel ice cream. What is interesting is the aggressive sales campaign to get North Americans to buy property and/pr condos in Costa Rica. We saw signs and billboards everywhere. I wonder what it will all look like 10 years from now?
The ocean was magical at Guinoes. Few people are on the expansive beach and the sand is soft, the water is warm and glistening, and the waves gently carry you to the shore. Steve picked up a sand dollar from the ocean and showed her to me and we put her back in. That was pretty cool! It was so therapeutic for our feet which are full of blisters and I have some foot problems, so......if felt good to bury them in the soft sand and the water to massage them as it lifted them out.
It was so nice being in the ocean. Jamie, Tara and Kat met up with us on the beach. Steve must have looked like such a stud!! We all hung out at the beach and then all filtered back into the ocean. Afterwards, Steve, me, and Kat headed back to Ostional, since we had shifts we didn't want to be late for. An American ex pat in a dusty late-model Land Rover picked us up to where he was going and then some local Ticos (Costa Ricans) picked us up next. We all got into the back of their pickup. They picked up a couple Canadians also, so there were a bunch of us back there, with a boy and a family member of the Tico family, and some roofing material. We noticed the driver throwing back a few beers as he was driving. Yikes! It was interesting thumbing for rides....but everyone is so nice in the country. On the way we had to ford a few rivers and a small bus was stuck in one of them.
The hospitable Ticos literally dropped us off at the MINAE entrance (sweet - no walking!!!) Sue, who is the volunteer coordinator there (from Switzerland) gave us a hearty goodbye and said she was happy with us and that she likes volunteers like us. So that was cool. (Incidentally she had a similar knee surgery as Steve's.)
We ate dinner & said goodbyes to everyone and exchanged online website information. By the way, Jamy, pronounced "Yummy", prepared all the meals and she did a beautiful job. Everyone raves about her cooking. She is 38 years old and a grandmother. But that is the normal culture there in CR. I was grateful to have homecooked Costa Rican fare for the time we were there. Our workmates were a very cool group. We were really happy with our experience in Ostional with all these people - we could have stayed longer. At night, Steve and I headed out in the dark for another beach patrol with some ISV volunteers, but this was shorter, only about 4 miles. We showered and returned to bed afterward and I laid in bed with my feet hanging over the edges so no pressure would be on them and drifted off to sleep looking at each other in the dark and listening to the ocean.
We got up at 5 this morning (and ran into Tara who was going out to a hatchery shift). A local from Ostional walked us to his house and drove us to Nosara's Playa Guiones (where we were the day before). We sat on our backpacks on the beach and got a bite to eat before Interbus came and got us at 8:45 in front of the Harmony Hotel (where I had made the arrangement for them to get us).
We took 2 buses and at the switch off point I saw some amazing parrots in a tree and took photos. Actually, I hadn't realized there WAS a switchoff point. I thought we were stopping for snacks, so Steve got off the bus for the bathroom and when I noticed everyone get off, I did as well and asked around while Steve was getting snacks and found that we needed to get onto another bus! Steve returned surprised that I was waiting for him outside.
The 2nd bus was interesting. We were with Germans, Canadians and two women from Argentina on there. At one point, single lane bridge was backed up due to construction and we waited 40 minutes to cross it! Finally, we got Quepos to get the rental car.....a very nicely run operation in a run down town. I mean, this place reminded me of Paterson.
In Manuel Antonio, it is like a whole other world: people speak English and there are tourists, we have hot water for the first time we are here and we can put paper in the toilet and flush. It is also more expensive here, but that's not saying much as compared to Ostional! So this is like a 2nd vacation! I arranged for us to stay at Mimo´s hotel for $75 a night. I thought it was a great value! It is very nice - like I said hot water and a toilet you can flush paper in! They also have a restaurant, a pool, free internet, and beach towels and all kinds of little perks. After settling in we went into town (7KM down a windy shady road) and watched the sun slowly set on the beach before getting something to eat.
Tomorrow we rise early to be the early at the national park. They allow only a certain number of visitors per day so as not to destroy it. We stopped at a supermarket for snacks for our pack tomorrow and we plan to spend the day there. They suggest to hire a guide to point out the wildlife. We are very excited!!!
Internet is free at the hotel, so I will try to check in each day. A man is waiting to use it, so I am checking out. So glad that the girls are happy. We love love love hearing stories about them. Thanks to everyone for checking in with us.