There are few reasons the alarm needs to go off at 4:25 in the morning. To see a sea turtle arribada is one them.
The first night in Hotel Luna Azul was a treat. First, you could hear the ocean from our room, even though we are quite far from the coast. Second, all the crickets making noise all night. We have to sleep with all the windows open and a fan running since we don’t want to pay the $10 a day for A/C. Also, last night, we used the outdoor shower which was so cool. I’m a believer in the outdoor shower. Maybe not in arctic climes, but certainly in the tropics.
A little before midnight, some local nocturnal bird decided to take up outside our front door and call out to the females nearby. It was LOUD.
At first, I thought, “how lovely.” Then after about five minutes of this, knowing that the alarm was to sound in four and a half hours, it was no longer quaint to listen to a loud horny bird. I played with the door handle until he stopped. About and hour later, Evan did the same thing when he started up again.
When the alarm went off at 4:25, the night sky was stunning. The moon was completely full and shining down on the tree tops. It was stunning.
We gathered our things and drove to Ostinal beach to meet a guide to take us to the turtle grounds.
It was still quite dark when we arrived around 5 AM. The guide, Sherri. Walked us down to the beach with a flash light covered with red cellophane. The beach was black sand, so even with the full moon and the rising sun, it was quite dark.
At first we saw one turtle here and another one there. Then we saw more and more tracks of the turtles cris-crossing the sand. Then we could see dozens and dozens of these turtles. They were everywhere. It was like a traffic jam of turtles, with come heading inland to lay eggs and others headed back to sea.
This is called an arribada and is only known to happen with this one species of sea turtle, the Olive Ridley. All other sea turtles lay their eggs alone. But these ones are quite social. Arribada happen ordinarily only at the new moon, so this one happening during a full moon was even more impressive because you could see so much with the moonlight.
When we walked up further inland where the turtles were digging nests, it was chaos and carnage. Turtles were on top of each other. Sand was being flung in all directions as the turtles dug their nests. With the help of the guide, we used her red flash light to show us a turtle depositing the eggs in the nest.
The choas and carnage was coming from the vultures. As the turtles dug their nests, they would sometimes dig up a previously covered bunch of eggs. Eggs would go flying like ping pong balls, and the vultures were there ready to gobble them up. The nesting area was riddles with egg shells and baby turtles.
As the light came on, I looked down and nearly stepped on a little baby turtle frantically trying to make its way to the ocean. A few of the other people would pick up a dozen or so and the bring them to the water’s edge to help them.
Everything about this experience was amazing. The turtles just kept coming out of the water one after the other. The babies kept racing back in to the ocean. The vultures were trying to get breakfast. It was all happening so fast. And the sun was coming up! It was all so glorious.
I was fascinated with the tracks the turtles left on the beach. On this beach they were everywhere and you could not tell one track from another. Later in the morning, we walked to another beach and saw a solitary set of tracks.
So, it’s just before noon, I’ve had a massage, and awesome breakfast, and written this blog, while Evan had his massage. Next up is a river tour. I felt the turtle experience had to be blogged sooner than later.
By the way, the massage, like the shower was done outside. It was so nice.
I do hope our river tour doesn’t end up like this. This is our car on the road near our hotel. I’m not making this up.
And please note: the blog entires are hastily typed on an iPad. Please forgive gross spelling errors and grammar mess ups.