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Costa Rica Sea Turtle Expedition

July 22, 2018

Our first in country day was today!! We woke up around 7am to get a delicious breakfast of eggs, gallo pinto, fresh fruits, and plátanos. Then we went of a short drive to Crisley’s cheese factory. We all got a chance to take turns milking the cow. After milking the cow we went to the cheese factory part of his farm and got a tour. We were able to see how the cheese is made, and we all helped to make the Costa Rican mozzarella! It started out looking like scrambled eggs. Then we melted it and balled it up! It was incredibly delicious and we now know exactly why Crisley’s cheese is so popular! Afterwards we played get to know you games on the farm. There was an adorable kitten there too named Copa de Nieve (Cup of Snow!). Later, we took dance lessons with Randall and learned to bachata, merengue, and salsa! We learned loads of new moves and danced the night away!!

by Natalie and Hannah

July 23-24, 2018

We have had an incredible two days absolutely FULL of adventures! Monday morning we woke up and headed out on our way to the Pacuare River for our first day of rafting. In classic bus ride fashion we sang, snacked, and napped our way to the river. On our way we stopped for a fabulous brunch and to drop off our luggage for the night. At the river we suited up in life jackets, helmets, and paddles (very trendy & stylish, as always!) and got out on the river. We’re sorry we can’t share photos of the actual rafting, but we couldn’t bring cameras in the boats— trust us, it was epic. Paddling through a rainforest canyon in the rain? Seriously stunning! The funniest part? We caught a fish in our boat on the last run!!

At the end of day 1 rafting we spent the night in riverside cabanas. We officially felt the essence of “Pura Vida” waking up with the sunrise and he birds. Tuesday morning we got up ready to hit the river again! Only this time we were heading over to the Reventazón River to take in some new scenery! We started our day with a fabulously muddy hike up to the top of the mountain to catch our van down to the river— full of epic views and plenty of water! Day two of rafting was increíble— paddling through idyllic farmland, sending it over class 3 rapids, and eating lunch on the banks. We might just have a few future rafting guides in our midst! Tomorrow look for Bella and Reese’s update on our first evening in Parismina (the community we are based in for our service) and our first night sea turtle patrol!!
Pura Vida,
Perry y Chalo

July 25, 2018

After getting stuck in the mud we pulled up our boot straps (also known as water shoes) and prepared for a slippery adventure uphill. After 30 years of walking— maybe thirty minutes— we finally boarded our bus to the Reventazón River. After rafting until our arms fell off we continued on to Parismina! When we arrived we took a tour with our guía, Maya, she showed her town with humble, but fast growing beginnings towards environmental conservation. In the evening we took a 6km night patrol across the beach in search for nesting turtles- no luck there but what we found the next day made up for it! We all crashed at the end of the night and couldn’t imagine how someone could do night patrols for 8 hours every night!
Waking up to the smell of coffee and gallo pinto, we ate breakfast and started our very first official service day with ASTOP (Asociación Salvemos Tortugas Parismina). We dug our own sea turtle nests and had a competition to find our own eggs (shoes) via triangulation. Our simulation was eclipsed by seeing actual turtle hatchlings being released into the ocean from the hatchery!! The three turtles we saw were named after three of the girls in our group: Natalie, Reese, and Chloe! We then raked leaves for the association to help around their office. After taking a small siesta we took a boat tour with Maco, one of ASTOP’s marine experts, to see some wildlife along the nearby rivers and canals of Tortuguero National Park! We saw multiple birds, a sloth, poison dart frogs, a plant that can close itself, and to Bella’s luck, FOUR crocodiles!!
Fingers crossed tonight’s patrol is as full of animal sightings and today was!!
– Reese M. & Bella O.

July 26, 2018

Last night we went on another beach patrol. We didn’t see any turtles, but we saw some old tracks! The hike seemed way shorter than the night before— we’re getting used to it! Today, we originally planned to hike in Tortuguero National Park, but torrential rain changed our plans. We spent the morning playing cards and hanging out in our big common dining space. Chalo braved the rain and bought us our favorite cookies (Chikys and Yipys) and ingredients to make hot cocoa!

After lunch we went to ASTOP (the turtle organization we’ve been working with) learned more about turtles, and held turtle skulls. Many artisans of Parismina set up a “Féria” for us to buy their arts. Then we walked part of the night patrol route to pick up trash and rake debris away from the hatchery. We also got to spend some time enjoying the beach, splashing in the shallows, and playing soccer with a little boy. Tonight, 10 representatives of ASTOP had dinner with us at our hotel. We chatted and read them thank you notes we had written this morning. It was a great way to get to know them better and truly say thanks for letting us in to their community!

– Chloe P. &  Kelen L