The second week started with our first zero turtle day. I’ll try not to complain too much about a day sitting on a beach in Costa Rica, but it is frustrating! There was only one volunteer with us and I felt quite bad for her, but she’s here a while longer so hopefully she’ll have plenty opportunities. On the boat journey back we saw a pod of dolphins playing very close to us, which made up for it as far as I’m concerned.
A larger group of 14-18 year olds arrived for a couple of days after that, and we took them out to the mangroves for a serious day of tree planting and playing in the mud. It was nice to get out and be active all day, plus then we were able to rope them into helping us detangle the nets from the day before.
The third day we were back out on ocean day, and this time had one turtle, a very little hawksbill which was super cute. For the afternoon the biologist came onto shore and I went onto the boat to experience that part of the process. Since we didn’t have any more turtles that day, I didn’t get to learn how to take them out of the net onto the boat, but I did get to experience the frustration of watching them pop their heads up all around us and somehow manage not to get caught! (I say frustration, once more I shouldn’t complain about sitting on a boat in Costa Rica surrounded by sea turtles, should I?)
On Tuesday we had our first day off! We took the bus to Puerto Jiminez, the nearest bigger town about 45 minutes away (if Playa Blanca is a one horse town, Jiminez has maybe five or six). They have restaurants with excellent wifi (all things being relative) and I managed successful FaceTime conversations with the boyfriend and the parents for the first time in about a month.
I was hoping to go whale watching but we were a bit late to organise it – oh well, having spoken to some people it might even be best to wait until a little later in August or even the start of September, as right now we are at the start of the humpback season but in a few weeks we might see them breaching with their calves. I am desperate to see humpbacks, but will just have to exercise some patience – at least now I know how to organise a trip.
Instead we went on a kayak tour through the mangroves. This was brilliant, just me, one of the other RAs, and a guide. We paddled right up the river and through the little channels. The guide knew all the birds and pointed them out to us – including a toucan! Another iconic Costa Rican species successfully spotted.
We got back in time for the last bus back to Playa Blanca, which in turn got us home in time to slot into the usual routine of eating and being in bed by 8pm! (With sore arms, and not looking forward to carrying nets the next day.)
The following ocean day was one turtle again, a larger black/green turtle who put up a pretty serious fight and gave one of the other RAs a bruise with her flipper. We were back to one volunteer, so this was a good opportunity for her to get hands on and help out. She also revealed she has a Masters in Marine Biology, a fact she’d kept pretty quiet about – she’s more qualified to be here than I am!
I have been thinking a lot about doing a Masters, having gone off the idea slightly I’m starting to change my mind yet again. Something to make a decision about when I get back, I suppose.
The final day of this week was a general maintenance day, clearing out the shed, fixing things, etc. It was pretty satisfying to get some of that much needed work done.
When I was in the Netherlands I wrote that in the second week somewhere you can get settled and figure out your routine. I’m not sure I’ve worked out a routine here yet, but I’m making a start, I’ve been for a couple of runs and even (finally) cleaned my room. This week has disappeared, and now I only have two months left in Costa Rica! I think I’ll have properly settled about when it’s time to leave…