Costa Rica, Tortuguero National Park


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Published: May 17th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Before getting in to what we´ve been up to in Costa Rica so far, allow me to say a quick something about airline food. Now I realise we have been conditioned by years of repetitive stand-up comedy to believe that any food served in a plane must be some rotting box of soggy mould, but I just haven’t had the same experience in Latin America. On our flight from Lima to San Jose we were given chicken with herby mashed potatoes and a tomato sauce, with a potato/lettuce/tuna salad, bread rolls and biscuits. Perhaps it’s just my childlike amusement at compartmentalised food, but that meal left me craving seconds to the point where I almost ate the leftovers of the sleeping person sitting next to me. Anyways, on to our various gallivants around Costa Rica.

We spent the first few days in the capital, San José, the personal highlight of which has to be the bakeries. Practically every bakery we passed was selling large loaves, adorned with various sweet and savoury toppings (not simultaneously) such as dulce de leche, cinnamon and ham and cheese. We quickly found ourselves having 3 course meals that consisted entirely of these enormous flavoured loaves. After a day or two of patisserie gorging, and once we had planned our vague route around the country, we made our way to the first stop - Tortuguero National Park. The small village of Tortuguero is only accessible by boat. It lies on a small strip of land with the Caribbean sea on one side and a network of canals that run through the park on the other. It is known for its beaches where, at night, sea turtles come to pop out their eggs and abandon them in the sand after getting cold feet about motherhood. We first did a canoe tour of the canals, where we spotted spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and an unmanageably large number of birds, caiman and lizards. The ability of our guide to spot animals in the undergrowth was frankly ridiculous. He could have probably pointed out individual dew drops on the leaves if he wanted to. He didn´t but I bet he could have. After a walking tour of the nearby jungle we set out on the hunt for the main event - the nesting sea turtles (I don’t mean ‘hunt’ in the literal sense, that would have been illegal). The large majority of this walk was unfortunately rather dispiriting; we walked up the beach for hours getting drenched by absurdly sporadic rainstorms, seeing nothing but sand, and then walked back the opposite way towards our hotel. We were beginning to think that the turtles had in fact not undergone precise pregnancy planning so as to coincide their egg-laying with the exact date and time of our visit. I mean, how inconsiderate of them. But right as we neared the end of the walk, our spirits were immediately lifted, as we saw a Leatherback Turtle starting to dig its hole in which it would soon begin to lay its eggs. It was enormous, although relatively small for a leatherback apparently, but to me it was enormous. The whole process of laying the eggs and burying them in the sand takes about an hour in total. Luckily we got there towards the end of the hole digging part and so didn´t have to wait long before we could see the eggs actually coming out. It was an awesome thing to witness, especially as we weren´t there at the most active part of the nesting season so our chances of seeing one were considerably lower. Once we had watched the eggs plopping in to the hole in the sand, we had a celebratory turtle burger barbeque on the beach. We were arrested and sentenced to 3 months in prison.

So that´s it for our first Costa Rican experience, I better get back to my cell but stay tuned for my next blog - "jailbreak".

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