Friday night marked the last time that almost all of my friends would be in Costa Rica. It was a bittersweet goodbye for most of them: wanting to go home and see family/friends, but sad to leave life and family/friends here. Because most of us were exhausted and had long travels the following day, we decided to choose a low activity – going to a movie: Transformers 4. While I was a bit confused as to why we would pick something in which we couldn’t talk, it was still great to get a lot of people together for a last event.
After having our last roommate ice cream run, being “forced” to eat an incredible amount of popcorn, laughing obnoxiously at the corny lines in Transformers 4, it was time to say goodbye to people who had accepted me for all my weirdness. Who knows if we’ll ever meet again, but they will be in my heart forever.
Saturday morning, we (Emmanuelle, Morgan, Breenna and I) had a 4 o’clock wake up call so that we could make it to our 6 am bus in San Jose. Long story short, accommodating people who were rather stressed about making our bus on time (I promise it wasn’t me) we ended up getting to San Jose around 5 am. Thankfully, the city was pretty alive and we were able to safely wait for our bus. Around 6:30 am we were on our bus and finally ready to head out on our journey to Tortuguero. The ride there was broken up into a portion before breakfast, a portion after breakfast, a boat ride, and another bus ride (through a the bumpiest and most pothole filled road I’d even been on). Thankfully, I was able to fill the time with many naps, except on the last driving portion.
Once we got to Tortuguero, our Tour Guide, Victor, was waiting for us to direct us to our hotel. After being led to our hotel, directly on the beach 🙂 and settling in we found out that since it was so rainy today we were only going to our turtle tour today and save both the canal and jungle tour for tomorrow. This turned into being a wonderful gift.
We had met two fellow Americans (Bethan and Paul), who were volunteering at an orphanage in Cartago, on our bus ride. When we arrived, we had awkwardly parted ways without getting information to contact each other. However, thankfully Tortuguero (like every other place we have been to) is a small enough town that on our way to lunch we ran into them. And once we made it to lunch, we ran into the other friends we made on the bus, two Chileans. It was a little difficult for the 8 of us to communicate altogether since not everyone spoke english or spanish, but we managed.
After lunch, Emmanuelle, Morgan, Breenna, Bethan, Paul and I went to hangout on the hammocks at our hotel. They happened to have exactly 6. Bethan (from UK) and Paul were really fun to hang out with and it’s moments like these that make you really appreciate traveling and meeting all sorts of people just by being friendly and open…vulnerable. Our hotel sold beer for $2, so everyone was extremely happy chilling especially after waking up so early. However, since Emmanuelle and I don’t drink beer, we went on a walk to the store in order to find other drinks. Our map showed a corner store supposedly right down the “street” from us. Of course, that would be way to simple. So after getting a little lost in this small village, we took the time to enjoy our explorations and got to see why this place was so cool and extremely different from every other place we had traveled.
1. It was an island.
2. Much of the town’s buildings were on stilts and surrounded by water.
3. We were in the Caribbean.
4. There was a mix of people and cultures.
5. It was not filled with english speakers.
After we returned from our mini adventure, we got to know Bethan and Paul a little more – such interesting people! And after adding them on facebook, we realized that Emmanuelle and Bethan had a mutual friend. Not just an acquaintance, but actually someone who they were both good friends with – Thomas. Thomas had lived in Texas for high school and went to the same International School as Emmanuelle. Since then, he has returned to the UK and attends the same school as Bethan. HOW SMALL OF A WORLD? Literally. It’s incredible.
Around sunset, we went out to beach to see the view since the rain had stopped. We ended up spending a bunch of time there, having a handstand photo shoot. Pictures to come that will be able to show how much fun this was. Nevertheless, we got soaked and covered in sand after the waves came crashing into us.
Victor had recommended a nice place for dinner, but when we showed up we didn’t realize how nice it was going to be. In the middle of a “run down” village, was a waterside, gorgeous restaurant. The chefs were so accommodating and lets you change items on your order (this is a first here!!). It was a delicious dinner and great company.
At 9:30 we met up with Victor to begin our turtle night tour. For those of you who are not aware, Tortuguero Beach is a known nesting ground for green sea turtles during June – August (?). At night, turtle conservatory workers search the beach for turtles, take research measures, and alert tour groups (no more than 20 people at a time) to come and see the turtle. It was crazy that we were able to stand extremely close to the turtle without it leaving. The nesting process takes around 1 -2 hour. First the mom has to dig a hole, release the eggs, and then cover up the hole. By the time my group got there, we were able to see the turtle covering up the eggs and the first hole she tried to dig before realizing there were too many roots in that spot (poor turtle – so much energy extended).
We knew it was time to leave once the mama turtle startling kicked sand at us. Afterwards, it was very funny, but we were all unaware this was going to happen. We left the spot, learned a lot more about the nesting process, and then were able to see the mom again. This time, I got blinded by the turtle after it kicked sand into my face – thanks. But thankfully, I was able to get almost all of it out without a problem.
Then we waited for around 30 minutes until the turtle was making its way back to the water. It was such an amazing thing to see and a realization of how big these turtles were. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures, so I guess you’ll all have to go to Tortuguero to see for yourself 🙂
We woke up early on Sunday morning, with the rest of the town, to go on a canal tour. It was so cool to be in a small canoe paddling around the national park waterways but also being able to go into super narrow passageways. We were able to see monkeys, sloths, birds, iguanas, and caimans.
In the afternoon we went on a Jungle hike. Thank goodness for Victor because there would have been no way we would have seen all the awesome animals hidden high up in the tree. He also had incredible binoculars. Who knew binoculars could show you something that amazingly clear. We also saw our first two sloths in the wild! So exciting 🙂 On our way back, we walked along the beach and got to see where turtles had laid their eggs last night. —
Overall, it was an incredible week. Ask me for much more details on all of our tours!
Sidebar: VICTOR WAS AMAZING!!! We got such a good deal (hotel, transportation, turtle night tour, canal tour, and jungle tour for $115) and it was totally worth the few extra dollars for ease of transportation and extra information. If you ever find yourself going to Tortuguero, ask me for his details!!