Tortuguero

Michelle’s and my last hurrah before she left!

Like all good trips around here, our adventure began with a: car, bus, taxi, bus, bus, and water taxi. But for the first time we didn’t have to leave at 4:30am which was nice.

Bus ride there. Who needs roads?

Bus ride there. Who needs roads?

Old water taxi

Old water taxi

Tortuguero (translated means the Land of Turtles) is a region on the Northern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It’s a unique peninsula with a river (and many canals) on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other. The town is tiny and the “streets” are more like muddy ally ways. You come to Tortugero for one reason: to see the animals. And we made sure to plan our trip in right in the middle green turtle nesting season.

"Streets" in town

“Streets” in town

As we stepped off the boat, we met a wonderful guide named Mauricio from Rainforest Life Tours. He showed us to our hostel and then gave us his whole spiel about the tours. Michelle and I didn’t need any convincing. We knew we wanted the tours, we liked him, so we signed right up for his 3 tours.

I almost forgot to mention our trip in… it poured! Now we live in a rainforest, we’re used to rain, but this was a little excessive even for us. Sure enough, when we arrived they were talking about the “big storm” that just passed through losing power for the town. Normally this isn’t a big deal for us (again, we living in a rainforest), but it meant there was no coffee to be found! So we walked around for a few minutes then crawled into bed for our afternoon nap.

The streets of Tortuguero.

The streets of Tortuguero.

The problem with sea turtles is they work on their own schedule. So even though we were pretty tired from our trip we headed out late to see some turtles. We met with Mauricio’s wife, Yolanda, and a local guide. We then hung around for a while before one of “turtle spotters” found a turtle. Now there’s some fun drama around this, because on our night there was a meeting between the normal (ie: trained) turtle spotters and local hotels. So instead, other people were acting in their place. This led to a misidentification of a turtle digging her whole as one covering it, to children getting in the way of turtles, and various other problems. But… we still got to see 3 in our two hour tour including one laying eggs! It is pretty amazing how they are oblivious to the crowds around them.

Turtle tracks all the way up the beach the next morning.

Turtle tracks all the way up the beach the next morning.

The next day we woke up bright an early for our canoe tour of the canals. But again the weather wasn’t cooperating. We woke up to pouring rain, howling winds, and thunder and lightning. But here comes Mauricio barefoot and soaking wet rescheduling us for 3 hours later. Great! Back to sleep we went.
Turtle!Canal tour

The tour ended up being great! The weather held out and we saw tons of amazing animals. This included birds, spider monkeys (which are huge), jesus christ lizards, a chameleon, fresh water turtles, and… the caiman.
Caiman

This is where having a guide really helps you out, because we would have never found him on our own. It was amazing because we were able to get so close to him and he never left!
Caiman close up

We ended the day with a hike through the national park. I think Michelle and I were bad participants on this trip. When you’re visiting Costa Rica, you tend to get very excited about the giant spiders, huge moths, and unique flora. Once you’ve been living here for a while you’ve seen it all a hundred times, and too often in your house.

But we did see a sloth and her baby, some unique cricket things, an itty bitty frog, and (finally) and eyelash viper. It was definitely worth the trip (especially since we got it for “free” after paying for the other 2 tours), but nothing ultra exciting.
Viper

At the hostel we met another traveler doing something really interesting with a can of tuna. Upon asking, we found out you can “cook” a can of tuna using a piece of toilet paper. It was a trick he learned from some Israeli soldiers. Kinda cool…
Cooking tuna

After grabbing our seats on the water taxi, we found our tuna cooking hostel friend sitting next to us. This time we got his name, Ruben, and found out he was finishing his adventures in Costa Rica. He has a very interesting story and has traveled all over the world but is now working in Brazil. He specializes in accent reduction with his own company, Linguistix.

We chatted with Ruben the whole way home including water taxi, bus, bus, bus… etc. He stayed with us that night before leaving early to catch his flight home. It’s always nice to meet interesting people on the road. It makes the actual traveling part much more fun!

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