Day 9-11: Pacuare Turtle Sanctuary

by - July 29, 2009

The wild Caribbean coast at Pacuare
Day 9 - Wednesday 29th July 2009

Our brief stopover in San Jose was concluded in the morning as we finished some admin (bus tickets, white water rafting tickets etc) and had some food. My brunch consisted of an epic baguette that I made myself with gear from the supermarket. Our bus was at midday and we were travelling to a turtle sanctuary on the Carribbean coast.  This was quite a complex journey - the first section of which was the bus journey from San Jose to Matina.  This was followed by an epic car journey from Matina to a dock on the River Pacuare.  This section of the journey was very good.  We arrived in Matina, which was very stereotypically Caribbean - complete with lazy black men in rocking chairs.  Our lift to the dock was given my three local men in their cars.  One of these was a pick up truck for the bags - a sensible choice considering the dirt track nature of the roads.  The other two vehicles were standard family cars and were considerably less suitable.  My car got stuck in a puddle and was pulled out by the pick up truck with the assistance of the team members who were riding in the back of the truck with the bags.

The last leg of the journey was a boat ride along the river.  This was very ‘Live and Let Die’ as we travelled through a crocodile infested swamp in our motorboat.  Once at the turtle sanctuary we were given a brief talk by Scott - our English eco-warrior boss.  Our meal was provided and was typically rice-based.  At 8pm, half of the group (my tent group and the leaders) went out on patrol.  This was a 4 hour beach walk in the dark (and the rain).  In our massive 7km walk, we saw one baby turtle which we got to hold and watch slowly enter the sea.  Got back to our cabin at about midnight.

Day 10 - Thursday 30th July 2009

When we woke up we were able to fully appreciate our surroundings.  The mosquito net over my bed was covered in bat droppings.  Throughout the night I had heard them (and numerous other animals) moving around. Our room was very basic - bunk beds, candles (no electricity on site) and some clothes pegs.  Our breakfast was provided and we heard that the other group (which had set out at 11pm) had seen nothing.  They didn’t get rained on however.  In the morning we were given a lesson about the history, biology and issues facing sea turtles.  This lasted an hour wand was pretty interesting.  Lunch was at 1pm and was again provided.

At 3pm, all of us but Needers went out for a guided tour through the nearby jungle.  On this walk, we didn’t see much in the way of snakes but saw a variety of birds, insects and butterflies.  On top of this we saw a lot of howler monkeys which were a bonus.  I had a shower when I returned to the site.  The showers were fed by rain water and a well.  Everywhere was very eco-friendly - solar panels, very few lights etc and this was a very pleasant experience.  Although it is cliche to say it, the experience was worthwhile as a stark contrast to our affluent western lives.  At 6pm we had our last dinner at the sanctuary.  My group was doing the late patrol and we decided to stay up talking and playing cards until 11pm.  At 11 we left for our epic journey along the beach for the second time in two days.  Half an hour in we met the returning early shift we had frustratingly seen a full greenback turtle family.  Even more frustrating was teh fact that our group saw no turtles, but collected the data for the other group’s find.  We also had to walk further - 10km in all, so when I returned to my bat dropping covered bed at 2.30am, I felt that the whole process hadn’t been the life changing experience that I had expected.

Day 11 - Friday 31st July 2009

Our orders for the morning were to get up, get packed and get breakfasted by quarter past 9.  The boat left at 9.30 and the journey back to Matina was the exact reverse of the journey on Wednesday - the only difference being that there was another pick up truck and I was able to sit in the back of this with the bags.  The three drivers followed the same policy of trying to race each other back which was amusing.  We also got stuck in the mud again.  We had to wait around in Matina for our bus to arrive and therefore bought a bit of lunch, eaten on the stereotypical Caribbean street which was completed by an old man telling Chris how to fight off Bigfoot, should they ever encounter each other.

The bus journey was good, despite its length.  We walked back from the bus station and then tried to do our jobs for the evening.  This included booking tickets, restaurants etc.  My job was to sort out the kit bags, which sounded easier than it was.  Everyone had to go out, but I stayed in , had a 5 minute swim and then had a shower,  The evening meal consisted of a wonderful burger.  I spent the rest of the evening (a massive effort) working out how to divide the group kit.  on top of this I had to divide the food we had bought. The group had been out and bought supplies that included 3 onions on the nutritional side and 7kg on peanuts on the completely irrelevant (but heavy to carry) side.  At about midnight I had finally packed, itemized the group kit and sorted myself out for the trekking that was coming up.

You May Also Like