Saturday, 10 November 2012

Road Trips and Turtles

We have been at the beach house for a week now and it seems like that that is our max before we get itchy feet, so we rented a car and did some road tripping. It felt so good to change up the routine and explore a bit more beyond Samara Beach. We called it a PA day and the kids loved it (the teachers needed a break too!). First stop on our exploration was Ostional Beach where Olive Ridley turtles come to lay their eggs. We had heard that there was an Arribada (an Arrival) and so we ventured to find out. We inquired in town where we were encouraged to take a tour which set me off a bit (it feels like a forced segregation or this lack of confidence that visitors can get around on their own.. or viewed as another opportunity to fill a tour bus) ..  and even when I asked about driving ourselves, people said "too difficult". But we were thinking well, the tours have to get there somehow.. why can't we?   So we set off, hit the road with my feet on the dash and a map in hand..... and a detour and a few river crossings (Liam absolutely loved it.. ) and few hours later, we arrived at Ostional Beach just in time (and parked next to  the tourista  tour buses).  Just after the sunset, we saw the turtles emerging from the surf en-mass! It was like a storming of the beach or an invasion type feeling. The turtles were on automatic pilot and didn't care that there were people walking around them or watching them.. they had a mission to complete! The turtles just kept coming  and it was so amazing to see them emerge out of the surf..  these "rock monsters"(Sean's description). One moment you are looking at the surf and it just seems normal and then the next wave there are 3-4 dark creatures crawling up the beach. It was absolutely magical! We had to be careful not to trip over them when the last of the light had left. There were so many! Over a course of a few days/nights there will be something like 40 thousand turtles during the the Arribada!

This river crossing we didn't try.. found a way around eventually.

We managed this crossing..
Eric is checking out the best angle through.

The Arribada!

rock monster!

The next day, we ventured south along the coast to see what we could see. There was another beach that turtles go to lay their eggs (Camaronal) and we were curious to check it out. We didn't have too much hope to see anything as we were told the tours for this beach leave after dark when the turtles come (no Arribada at this beach). We got there mid day.. wild black sand beach with drift wood (and garbage from the sea) strewn about and angry waves crashing. We were the only ones on the whole beach.. just wandering.. and then a turtle just a few meters ahead of us emerges from the surf!  ( we decided our Bald Eagle we saw in Thunder Bay, our lucky eagle, is definitely still with us.) It's just magical how one minute it's  us on the beach with the surf and water (and Liam and Sean asking "can we go back now?") and the next a sea turtle is there, hauling herself out from the surf! We watched this sea turtle's (Olive Ridley) whole egg laying process from start to finish (it took about 45 minutes, so I wouldn't say we had the boys undivided attention for the whole process ).

She was pretty determined to dig a deep hole!

They crawl up to the softer sand and start digging a hole with their hind flippers,
and they are really good at scooping out the sand, like a hand almost..

Celebration time! She must feel lighter..
they lay about 100 eggs that look just like ping-pong balls. 

We returned the car rental today after loading up with groceries at Nicoya (bigger town about 40 minutes away) and we are back to being beach bound after our turtle adventures and road tripping.  I feel refreshed (to tackle the homeschooling again) and we have surfing lessons lined up on Monday... for all of us. 

Here are a few more pictures from our road trips:

Sean at Playa Garza, just north from Samara

a lunch stop at Punta Islita
(a very expensive lunch stop at a  resort)

views south along the pacific coast line

We did have a little 4x4 rental.. it's a must to drive these roads.

Sunset at Playa Carrillo.. the beach directly south from Samara.. almost home.

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