A Turtle’s Pace Part II
After paying our fees, at an open air shack filled with 5 Ticos wearing some semblance of shirts with turtles on them, making them obvious official turtle guides, we embarked on the second half of our journey. $8 for non-residents, was the fee for our “guided” tour of the beach. There were about 15 students and 10 adults, a salty group ready to stretch their legs. After money changed hands, we were issued our official green passes, and then canvas bags, which we were informed were to be used to gather trash. Cool, we pay to work. So that’s how socialism works. As we began walking towards the beach, the rain clouds moved in. No worries, as long as the turtles were there it would all be worth it. They were not.
We walked and walked and walked. We saw signs of turtles, drag marks, egg pieces and even a big old dead turtle. But no baby turtles and certainly no big momma turtles. After trudging for what seemed like miles in the black gritty sand, our guide finally spoke and asked us to help clean up the driftwood so the turtles would have more nesting room. So not only did we have to pay to see nothing and pick up trash, we had a good 1/2 hour of hard labor. We had resigned to our fate that we had just paid $8 per person to clean up trash, move driftwood, walk in the rain, and do things we could do every day in Guanacaste for free. Perhaps we could find turtles on the other side of the beach. I was clearly not hopeful. For after conversing with several of the turtle attendees who had attended several turtle coming outs in the past, the best time to come was very early in the morning, or at night, not 9 am. As I walked back along the surf lane allowing my feet to be washed off by the ever beating surf, I noticed a small portion of our group gathering up the beach a little. I altered course . As I walked into the small circle I heard cameras clicking, oohs and aahs, and saw some pretty big smiles. There were several baby turtles emerging from beach!
It was amazing to watch, first about six turtles, then 15, 20, 40, 60, 64 at final count. It was like a clown car at a circus, they just kept coming and coming directly out of the black sand. Slowly moving, covered in dirt trying to find their way. A few knew right where to go, others wandered off to the left or the right, but eventually they all seemed to at least point to surf. Maybe not directly, but at least at an angle that would get them there. The journey ahead of them was long and arduous, for they were about the size of a silver dollar, and about 1/3 the weight. Every footprint, stick or pebble presented an obstacle. A few got flipped over, some got stuck, some had to alter course completely, but all were determined to make it to their destination. It was then that I realized we were the turtles. We had a long and arduous journey, we had to alter course, we had to climb up and down the footprints left by nature, but we were determined to make it to our destination. The only difference, the baby turtles got stronger with every flip of their flippers, and we got a little weaker with every pothole.
At least now the journey to the surf had been worth it. We had seen what very few had ever witnessed. The sheer determination and pure beauty of God’s creation. The instinctive drive to survive no matter how hard. Events like these always affirm my belief in a creator. It seems incredulous to me to believe something so perfect as the circle of life could ever happen by accident. If you ever take a quiet moment to think about the true miracle of life, both in humans and creatures, of flora and fauna, it seems impossible to me to come to any conclusion other than the conclusion that it is planned. All of it. Each and every morsel. And nothing will affirm my faith in that more than seeing it in action with my own two eyes.
For many more pictures, video, and commentary enjoy our following two minute documentary.
P.S. On the way in I related a story about a teenager leading us on a false shortcut. On the way home we let a teenager lead us to the best Pizza place in all of Costa Rica. “The road is a little sketchy” he warned, but that pizza is good. When a road is barely passable by bicycle, covered in spider webs, and drops down 100 feet a time; that my friends is not the sign of good pizza place. This trail made the previous trail look like the Autobahn. It was steep, tiny, overgrown, full of fissures, gorges and gashes, muddy, slick and deadly. In short, it was scary. However once we turned down, there was no turning back. What we wouldn’t do for great pizza. How was the pizza? We will never know, it was closed for the season. Needless to say, those of us driving were not too happy with our teenage connoisseur. If you want directions I will give them freely, however be aware because there may be a former Gold Coast teenager roaming the roads chanting, ” the road is sketchy, but the pizza is good, the road is sketchy, but the pizza is good!”