LAST Week Seven: Hazards of the Job

In the past week we’ve built a mud pit, entertained a group of nearly 30 kids for a day, visited Corcovado National Park, watched whales from shore, and I got bitten by a turtle. When I mention hazards of the job, I’m not entirely sure if I’m talking about the turtle bite or how spoilt I have become about seeing incredible wildlife.

The mud pit was something we’ve been talking about for a while, as we acquired some free planks of wood and it was badly affected when the really high tides carried all of the rocks into the nursery. We’d dug out the old pit and carried out the wood, so it was just a matter of nailing it all together and burying it, which went surprisingly smoothly. We were all pretty satisfied with it, although we haven’t yet filled it with mud. 

On our day off, J, C, and I headed to Corcovado, a must-do on the Osa Peninsula. The tour started with a bumpy truck ride out to Carate, seeing squirrel monkeys, fire-billed acaris, and tropical screech owls along the way. We then hiked 7km into the park and 7km back out, across beaches, jungle, and crossing rivers, spotting whales in the distance, poison dart frags,  and lots of anteaters and birds. 

I thought the landscapes were stunning and was blown away by the beauty of it all, but the wildlife would have been more impressive eight weeks ago before I’d had close encounters with humpbacks, sloths, and turtles, and watched macaws and red-lored parrots in the garden. We have been so lucky in the time we have spent in this place and the tour really opened my eyes to that. 

7km into the park really isn’t far though, and I still wish I had the time and money to do a proper trek into the park and stay at Sirena station for a night or two, but on this trip it won’t be happening. If I came here for a one or two week holiday I definitely would. 

The day after we had a group of 27 from America coming for one day only, so we took them out on ocean day but also brought 27 mangrove plants to plant a plot of red mangroves. This worked really well and was a good fun busy day. They were on a whirlwind five day school trip around Osa and had had some amazing experiences. We had two turtles, one near the beginning of the day and one near the end, which was a big relief (I always get very nervous when people are only here for one day).

We spent Monday morning doing a big litter pick all around the beach and village to clean up after a sunny holiday weekend. We filled two wheelbarrows and two binbags with litter, as well as fishing line and nets. There definitely hasn’t been a cultural shift about it here yet, but as the local Blue Flag commission aim to get their third star in the next year, I imagine that it is on its way.

The biologist is in San Jose for a few days sorting out some administration, so we were on our own for ocean day. As usual this meant we messed up putting in the nets (why? We do it fine when she is around?). We also had a bit of a stressful day as someone stole our recycling bin (although thankfully did not break into the house). There were no turtles until the very end of the day when we were about to pull up the nets. Then we got a black turtle who was very entangled, and as I was swapping with Jason in our attempts to get it free, managed to chomp down on my pinky finger. Still embarrassed that it was a black (when hawksbills are the aggressive species with the long necks) and that I got bit by a turtle when I somehow never got bit by a seal! It also really hurt, but apparently they can break fingers so I’ll count myself lucky. Typically it was a completely new turtle that had to be tagged and tissue sampled, but all of that went smoothly.

We have a turtle in the rescue centre at the moment, although he is in fact on his way back to the sea after successful rehabilitation at the wildlife hospital. We are delaying him slightly because we are going to put a satellite tracker on him at the start of next week, which I’m really excited for. We have to feed him and change his tank every day, which means filling wheelbarrows of water from the sea and taking them back to the rescue centre – a good workout! The task was made a lot more pleasant by two humpback whales barely 200m from shore – as I said, we are very spoilt. 

We also have a few days off at the end of this week, so I am now in Drake Bay and tomorrow I am going to go dive Cano Island! More on that adventure next time.

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