Tag Archives: turtles

Day 4.5 – Lookin for Turtugas and partying at the disco in Tortuguero

After a few hours of resting and relaxing (i.e. drinking on the black sand beach) it was dinner time. In order to save some moolah Lauren and I opted to rustle up a fresh dish of M.R.E. style spaghetti and sauce. I set up the stove err fuel can and tiny portable burner on the porch outside of the room. Lauren brought her ipod outside and put on Rogdrigo y Gabriela as loud as was tolerable and in the outskirts of Costa Rica that means as loud as mechanically possible. No matter, the downstairs tico neighbors were grilling out and greatly appreciated the acoustic tunes.  While we ate, we greeted a couple passing by on the porch with a warm “hola!” They made a nervous gesture which might have meant hello and kept walking.

We piled on servings of spaghetti to each of our mess kit plates and then ate contentedly with chopsticks, screw forks. The couple who had passed by earlier returned and we again greeted them, but this time with a “hey, what’s up?” The two, named Ronnie and Ashley, took much better to this and we struck up a conversation. It turns out they were from Colorado and commencing a two week journey through Costa Rica. We offered up our high opinions of both the Carribean coast and Cuba Libre and then discussed the prospect of hunting for sea turtles, with Lauren and I planning on taking a guided tour at 9:40 pm (that’s 11:40 pm for you South Carolinians back at home) and Ronnie and Ashley toying with the idea of a solo mission for tortugas on the playa. We got along well and were thankful to have found some friends in the remote region of CR. Ashley announced that the two of them were going for a night swim and asked if we’d like to join so Lauren and I said we’d tag along. We only had about 20 or so minutes before we were supposed to meet up with our guide, Alfonso, but we figured we’d just ditch the tour (since we hadn’t paid for it yet) and go to the beach on our own instead.

Yeah, skipping out on a tour in Torteguero isn’t as easy as you’d think. As we were changing into our bathing suits in our room we heard a knock on the door. Lauren answered it readily expecting Ronnie and Ashley to be on the other side and was stunned to find the guide in their place. “Time to go. Are you ready?” he said in a deep thick carribean accent. Lauren kind of stammered and tried to close the door in his face, then looked to me for reassurance and to make the final decision on whether we were to  ditch the tour or commit to it. We both came to the conclusion that since Alfonso was already there to scoop us up, and since he explained that he’d had to pay for a permit to go on the beach late at night, we’d go. However, I did work out a deal with him that if we could convince our two new pals to come along last minute then they’d only have to pay a discounted fee of $20 or so. They caved and came with the group which was fortunate for Lauren and I because they brought a flask of rum with them too.

We met up with our group on the stairs leading to our room. There were four dudes and four chicks, two of each were cool (that being Ronnie and I, Ashley and Lauren) the other people were too serious and generally sucked (but one of the girls busted her ass on a  shadowy and treacherous log of driftwood so it was all good). The search started up as we all tumbled out onto the beach and circled up around big papa alfonso for instructions, like no smoking, drinking, loud noises, cameras, flashlights, the normal stuff when hanging out with bitchy breeding sea turtles. We started walking down the left side of the pitch black shore and continued on for about 15 or so minutes then caught our first, and only, glimpse of a mama tortuga trying to make her way out of the breakers. She must have known a bunch of tourists were out to snap a pic of her because she flapped up her flippy-flaps, said “F that noise!” in her mind and bounced out back into the sea.

Given we hadn’t been walking all that long we trudged on for about 2 miles, stopping every once in a while for Alfonso to either talk to other guides leading groups around or scan the beach with his little red light (which is the only type of light allowed on beaches where turtles nest). Lauren and I took shots from Ronnie and Ashley’s flask during some of these stops until we emptied that ish : ( but even though the rum was gone the tour kept on. Eventually we came to a stopping point and Alfonso reluctantly gave up the ghost whilst some of the group members began to bitch and moan about how long it was taking. I tried to use my camera and was reprimanded for emitting entirely too much light. It started to rain so Lauren and I took our shirts off (remember, we had on bathing suits pervs) and began shoving important crap like cameras and wallets into a dry bag I had. I offered it to other group members and Ronnie threw his camera in, too.

Alfonso had asked at the beginning of the walk that all the miembres de grupo walk in line but, seeing as how Lauren and I can’t do much we’re told, the two of us walked happily zig zagging in and out of the ocean as the raindrops splashed on our bare skin, very freaking tropical yo. As we neared our hotel Ronnie and Ashley made a break for it but Alfonso was too quick for them and chased after them for his well-deserved payment (he searched longer than any of the other guides seemed to). Lauren and I, along with the rest of the group, kept on looking for about another quarter mile on the right side of the beach but no turtles, those elusive bastards.



YouTube Disco in Tortuguero

Our spirits were down because of our failed search so we thought that we’d lift them with some drinks at a local disco we found chilling on the river. We went back to the hotel to change into our evening wear (clean shorts and shirts with some sandals yeauhhh) and scooped up our American amigos then headed “downtown” via muddy pathways or streets if you like. The disco was bumping with loud latin music and inebriated gyrating ticos and ticas. Lauren commanded her way up to the bar and ordered a couple of beers for me and her to sip on and after our buddies got some beverages all four of us made our way to a table facing the river and sat down to enjoy the atmosphere. At the proposition of dancing I chugged my beer and headed to the bar for another. I got distracted from the bailar con Laura by a local guy and some of his visiting friends from Spain.

The local guy had a lot to offer about the area and the best places to go.  He told me how much he loved his new work since he emigrated from Nicaragua to Tortuguero and how rewarding being a guide was.  His friend, the Spaniard had been traveling for months and was preparing to finish his trip in San Jose.  He gave me some tips on my spanish and I tips on his english.  I even threw in a little duetsch for part of the convo,  just for s & g. We traded travel stories while the salsa music and sea of voices crashed in the background.  While I was meeting new and awesome people Lauren and Ashley were getting hit on by some sloppy drunk tico… no bueno. They got a free drink out of it, though, then it was time to head back.

Can you see lauren's head?I stopped at a Soda and picked up some Pollo Rey for drunk munchies. Basically it was two pieces of the most tasty fried chicken I’ve had in my life tossed in a bag with spicy onions and two tortillas (for the equivalent of $1).  Lauren and I shared a bag, as did Ashley and Ronnie, while lounging in hammocks slung under palm trees on the lawn of the hotel facing the beach. We also passed around a llager bottle filled with rum that Ronnie had gotten to-go from the disco (try that in the states). At about 4 am Lauren and I, in good faith, struck out once more for the beach and the turtles to be seen there. The weather was stormy so the sea churned and was pocked with white caps as we bumbled along next to it. At one point Lauren couldn’t restrain herself any longer and lunged into the ocean fully clothed to enjoy the milky warm water. She reemerged and we continued our trek.



YouTube Tropical Wetness

The “tropical wetness” started up again and we got caught in a downpour with only palm trees to huddle under for shelter. Two videos and no turtles later we turned back and headed to bed. We did see a couple empty nests though, and Lauren spotted one that was still covered up with sand. Sleep came at around 7 am with the boat taxi on the canal back to Moin coming only three hours later.

Two days before the big trip!

Only two days left until I’m off to Costa Rica with Lauren to backpack for 2 weeks. Things are starting to shape up a bit better.

ol laurenThere has however been a slight change. Lauren will be going to Costa Rica on the 16th and I won’t be arriving until the 17th. She’s staying about 5 minutes from the airport in San Jose. I’m guessing she’s just going to hang out and stay relatively close to the airport. I really wish I was going but travelocity is AWFUL. This is definitely the first and last time I will use them for ANYTHING. Good luck getting someone who isn’t an Indian named Tom. I spent 4 hours navigating their maze of automated phone lines and worthless customer support. I may have found a way to get a credit back but a lot of good that does us NOW.

Anyhow, some of you might be wondering how illstreet is going to run while I’m trekking around the hillsides and remote beaches of Costa Rica. Well fortunately, most of Costa Rica has relatively decent TDMA cell service. You can’t do a pay as you go plan or get a temporary phone number in Costa Rica because their systems are overloaded. GSM lines won’t have any space for new numbers for three years!

So as a result I’ve had to rent a TDMA phone from cellphonescr.com. So far they’ve been relatively slow with communication and they haven’t been particularly accommodating but you can get unlimited minutes for about $13 a day. Additionally, they deliver the phone to the airport. I’m a little concerned about the delivery process but hopefully it will be smooth. Additionally, I purchased a phone matrix system and 1-800 number for illstreet that will forward to my cell phone for $.23 a minute in CR. This purchase was probably WELL overdue and I’m pretty psyched to see how it works.

So now you’re probably like well yeah, you can talk to people but how are you going to find your away smart guy? Ha! I’ve got that covered too. We have a 4 wheel drive SUV reserved (with rental insurance of course) so we will be driving the long distances between regions and then we will explore on foot for a couple days. Costa Rica is only a few hundred miles long and a couple hundred wide. For offroad, I downloaded an awesome and FREE TOPO map for my Garmin from http://rwsmaps.griffel.se. Thanks to that dude!

For routing and getting out of San Jose, I bought a map from NAVSAT off ebay. They’re the only company authorized by Garmin for mapping CR. I did however find this and there is a torrent seeded on piratebay as well.

Hopefully tomorrow I can post a little something about all the gear I bought. I have tons to write about still so keep up with the blog! We’re going to see volcanoes, sea turtles, monkeys, rain forests, cloud forests, beaches, awesome surf breaks, awesome wind surfing/kiteboarding areas, etc. Also, I haven’t even written about everything that has changed in the states for me! I just moved into an absolutely massive house on the marsh with a three car garage and awesome dock (plenty of room for a nice home office and my cars). I’m right on the 14th hole of the club’s golf course so I’ll be taking up golf I spose. I also bought a ski boat :) Anyhow, stay tuned for details!