Tortuguero Part II and Cartago
I’m way late on posting this.
Our final night in Tortuguero included the turtle walk tour that took place from 8-10pm. All I knew was that we were going to try to see some big turtles but that this was not a guarantee. Sometimes they see em’ sometimes they don’t.
Myself and a group of about 10 foreigners strike out on the beach with very specific instructions:
1) Do not take photos.
2) Do not use any flashlights.
3) Stay in a single file line.
4) Don’t fall behind.
Our group included 1 American, 1 Canadian, 2 Israelis, 2 Germans, 2 Aussies, and 2 from Spain.
This trek to find a turtle was really freakin’ trippy. I think I was really dehydrated as I had just gone on the beach run with my new Isreali buddy and was just really tired in general. The night was very dark, just enough light to see the back of the person in front of you. We could hear the waves crashing, we could smell the salt in the air, and the sand was giving way under our feet.
The air was THICK, very humid, and a lightning storm started crashing a few miles off shore. Our only light was a red lighted flashlight the guide used to lead the way. The occasional lightning flash illuminated the immediate area. So there we were, just following the leader, the saying, “Like sheep led to the slaughter…” kept coming to mind.
Finally our group is corralled up with about 10 other groups. Who knew there were this many tourists wanting to see these turtles! We wait for our turn to get a look. Our guide frantically tells us that the time is now and we rush up to within 2 feet of this giant behemoth Green Turtle. Supposedly these turtles are in a ‘trance’ when they are laying their eggs and they apparently have no idea that we are there. I’m pretty sure this was the closest thing to a dinosaur that I have seen. Its sheer size was dang impressive.
The guide reaches down and pulls the flippers to the side to reveal, perhaps, the trippiest sight of the night. The turtle would inhale then exhale and drop 2, 3, and sometimes 4 little illuminescent blue-ish tinted eggs. Apparently they lay about 200-300 eggs at a time and out of the total litter, only 1-2 survive to adulthood!
This natural process was incredible to see.
What happened next was pretty funny. After the giant was done dropping its eggs she moves onto the covering process. This is where the turtle uses its rear flippers to catapult sand behind itself to cover and hide the eggs. However, since we were so close, our legs were getting a fair share of that catapulted sand. Even now, a week after, I distinctly remember the feeling of that sand flying against my shins.
On our way back to the hotel we were all in a daze…digesting what we had seen. Even though it’s a huge tourist attraction, you still walk away feeling like you’ve witnessed something special. Ill certainly never forget that borderline psychedelic beach walk and the subsequent phenomenon of a giant turtle doing what turtles have done on this beach for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, cameras were not allowed so I don’t have any sweet shots of this night. What I do have though are some photos from a day trip to Cartago a few days later. This city lies about 45 minutes from San Jose, higher up in the mountains. Myself, my Canadian friend Annetta and a new Brittish friend wanted to go see this stone doll called, and said to be, the Virgin de los Angeles. This artifact sits on a shrine inside a grand Basilica in Cartago. If you are interested, here is a link to the story of this doll that causes thousands of people to walk over 15 miles, some of that on their knees, to this site (some walk hundreds of miles).
We followed up the Basilica with a trip to the Lankaster Gardens. Annetta has a thing for orchids so we spend a fair amount of time staring intently at the petals of a wide variety of flowers. They also had a cool Japanese garden and a traditional Japanese style home. We each had a zen moment and enjoyed the comfort of the soft bamboo floors.
Both these trips happened over a week ago so I feel like this is old news. A lot has happened since then. This morning I went on a LONG run with a new runner buddy. My next post will be just about this run. It was very very rad. Also, I’m signed up to run a half marathon this Sunday in a town called Turrialba. Me and my new runner buddy are going to take a crack at this race…should be fun. I have no clue how hilly it is, how many people are running it, how the aid stations will work, if I have a chance to win, how hot it is going to be that day, nothing. I know nothing…