Today started at 5:15am. We were supposed to be waking up to a 6am canoe adventure in the rivers of the National Park. Instead, we were greeted with thunder, lightning, heavy rain and no power in our hotel.
We considered rolling over and going back to sleep, but weather changes quickly in Costa Rica so we got up, ate our quick breakfast we’d purchased at the local bakery and waited by our dock for pickup. When the guide arrived, the rain had been stopping and starting but there was still a lot of thunder. He recommended an 8:30 start instead so we wandered off to grab some real breakfast (and coffee) and hope the weather improved.
8:30 arrived with grey but dry skies so we headed out with Roberto, a local who’s been doing canoe tours in Tortuguero for 20 years.
It was so pleasant to float quietly through the forest and see the wildlife. Or more accurately – Roberto saw it, paddled the boat as close as he could, pointed the boat right at it and described the spot 5 times – then we saw the wildlife.
Today was a baby boa constrictor, beautiful herons, huge iguanas, some caiman (small alligators), a pair of basilisks, a pair of spider monkeys and one two-toed sloth having breakfast in the very top of the tree.
We also saw this guy – a tiger heron. He just seems like he’s waiting to be drawn into a Disney film as the extremely cranky but good hearted butler or uncle or teacher or village shamen. Don’t you think?
To be honest, the kids did not love this tour and were happy to point it out a few times while we were canoeing using that whiny, complaining voice every parent is familiar with. *sigh* Perhaps it was the early wake up/false start or that this was our third nature tour in a week. One thing for sure, once Roberto turned us around to head for the dock, CreeperKitty and CreeperPuppy did a lot more paddling.
Afternoon was catching up on our rest and some time playing at the beach.
More rain is expected tomorrow so we moved tomorrow night’s activity to tonight after dinner. We did an adventure we all expected to enjoy and the main reason for coming to Tortuguero- looking for nesting turtles. The Park has strict rules on how the tours work so the turtles aren’t disturbed or deterred. Small groups, only with a licensed guide, dark clothes, no cameras on the beach. It’s in season for Green Turtle nesting so we had our fingers crossed. The 10 to midnight slot is usually better but that’s super late for the kids, especially after starting the day so early in the morning so we took the 8-10pm tour.
Our guide Kevin met us in the middle of town and on the way to the ‘Base’ we picked up two couples to make our group 9. All the tour groups wait at base until the spotters on the beach see a turtle working on a nest. Tours are not allowed to watch the first part of the process where the turtle comes out of the sea, chooses the spot, clears the area and digs the egg chamber because it’s too likely the turtle will get spooked and not finish the nest. But once the turtle starts laying eggs, she goes into a trance-like state and you can get quite close without impacting her.
So our hope was to see a turtle do the last part of the process – laying the eggs, covering them, camouflaging the nest and then heading out to sea. And we did! And it was amazing! The kids (and Mom and Dad for that matter) were riveted. CreeperPuppy even got to hold the turtle’s back flipper while she laid her eggs. He said ‘it didn’t feel slimy, it felt like scales.’
We took no photos since it’s strictly not allowed but the kids said it’s an experience they’ll remember all their lives. Mom and Dad definitely agree. What an amazing end to a very long day.