Our day started off at 12:00 a.m. for the night patrol in which we look for nesting turtles on the beach. About 15 minutes into our walk, we see the tracks of a Lora turtle leading to a possible nest. Bran, the leader of our patrol, uses a walking stick to find a soft spot in the nest. By poking the sand with a stick you can tell where the eggs could be based on how easily the stick goes into the sand. After finding one of the soft spots, Bran begins to dig. Unfortunately, no eggs are found. After several attempts at finding other soft spots and digging, we come the conclusion that the turtle may have been scared off. We ventured off to the north. About 25 minutes later we head back to patrol the south side of the coast. On the way, we stopped to say hi to Cecil, the local crocodile. Heading towards the south side of the beach and through a hiking trail with barely any light, we began to look for more hints of a turtle. Walking through sand with low visibility is a tiring task, but at last we spot tracks. This time finding the soft spot was easy. Removing a small layer of sand revealed the treasure we were looking for. 79 turtle eggs were counted! We collected the eggs in a plastic bag and walked on to finish the patrol. We finally reached the hatchery and made a new home for the eggs until they hatch. Finding those eggs made the waking up early, staying up late, working and walking on unstable sand in the heat and humidity worth it.
The morning started off like the other days, waking up early after a night of patrolling with breakfast at 8 a.m. at Verdiazul. Breakfast consisted of eggs, toast, watermelon and papaya. NO RICE AND BEANS! After breakfast, the children from the local school of Junquillal came to Verdiazul to spend the morning with us. We went to the beach to play futbol (soccer for the Americans out there). Jerlym, Jacy, Ahalee and I were on a team against some of the boys. Let me just say that they have some fancy footwork. Apparently, I had so many red cards thrown at me that I was ejected from the game and put in jail. At the end I don’t even know who won. We were all covered in sand and exhausted. Overall, it was a fun workout while getting to spend time with some of the local children.
The day was long with some rain in between. Now I am ready for bed at 8:00 p.m. for the night patrol at three in the morning. It’s been a very fun and interesting week so far filled with information and great experiences. I got to hold and release a baby sea turtle! I am looking forward to what these next few days have in store for us. Overall, Costa Rica is a beautiful country with amazing people and I am extremely grateful I got to go on this trip.