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Playa Hermosa and Ostional

by Mackenzie Hudson

This past weekend was a little bit of everything. On Thursday we left to go to Playa Hermosa. We took a bus for 2 hours to Jaco and then hopped into taxis for a five minute ride to Playa Hermosa. Jaco is a beach/surf-town and a little touristy. There are lots of people that speak English there. I like Playa Hermosa much more. It is much less crowded so we had the gorgeous beach to ourselves, other than the line of surfers in the water taking waves. We spent Thursday night at a hostel for $15 a night to be right on the beach– not too bad. We sat in the sand with the bright moon above us and just listened to the waves crash. It was the first black sand beach I’ve ever been to. A bunch of us got up really early and spent the whole day on the beach. The black sand was really cool but the only thing that was tough is how hot the sand gets mid-day. If you don’t have sandals to walk across the dry, soft sand, your feet will fry! The waves were huge and it was so cool to watch all the surfers do tricks. At the end of the day we took a bus back to San Jose…not for long though.

Early in the morning we got back on a different bus with my program, AIFS. A five hour bus ride and we arrived in Ostional at a Turtle Reserve. All us girls bunked it up and I immediately threw my bathing suit back on. Gilber and his wife, the people who are in charge of the reserve, made us lunch right there. We then watched a short movie to give us some information about the turtles, the community, and the reserve. The community works together to run the reserve.

A lot of people were shocked to hear that the community actually takes some of the eggs and sells them. Yet, they only take an insignificant amount compared to the amount of eggs that are laid. Each turtle is able to lay 100 eggs at once and they said that turtles come every month and most days to lay eggs. The eggs are sold around the country and are expensive! Although the community is volunteering, selling some eggs leaves them with great benefits. They use the money to help those older than 70 to retire with pension, to build schools, and also to pay for anything a mother or child might need for the first four months after birth (medicine, food, health care, etc.). A lot of the kids in the program were so obsessed with the idea that they sell some of the eggs and eat them, that they ignored that the community is there to help the turtles, clear the beach, and keep predators away from the baby turtles once hatched. There is also a 24/7 guard walking on the beach to keep people from stealing eggs.

That night we went on a walk to see if we could find any turtles coming from the ocean to lay eggs. Unfortuantly it was a full moon, and they come the most on a quarter moon night. We didn’t see any turtles but the walk on the beach was beautiful. The full moon lit everything up and we were still able to see so many stars. There was even a lightning storm in the distance that we watched as we walked back to the main camp.

The next morning we got up early, 6:30, to clear a part of the beach off for turtles. We ripped up weeds on the beach to provide more space for laying eggs. Then we had the rest of the day to ourselves on the beach. Once again there were tons of locals surfing the waves so we had some good entertainment for the rest of the day.

Since so many of us were curious, they offered us turtle eggs to eat. I’m in a new country, so why not? We had them like a shot. We carefully separated the yoke from the egg-white and put the yoke in a shot glass. Then we added a little bit of something they called Sangria (not the type you’re thinking of). The Sangria tasted like Italian dressing to me. So after a toast, “Salud,” we took them right down. Not too bad, I actually liked it. I had two more and I’m glad I did it. It is a part of the community’s culture. It looked just like a chicken egg and it’s food, nothing wrong with that. While some people squirmed watching us, we embraced another part of Costa Rica.

¡Pura Vida!

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