ShelbySkinner's Travel Journals


  • 27 years old
  • From Yellowknife, Canada
  • Currently in San Jose, Costa Rica

My adventures through Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador

Weekly updates of my trip

Las Tortugas!

Costa Rica Tamarindo, Costa Rica  |  Sep 21, 2014
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So my first week of working with the turtles has been great! I do have to admit that I have not seen many since they are only active at night and I have only done two night patrols. I will start at the beginning on how I got to the beautiful Guanacusta Province of Costa Rica. 

I took a bus from San Jose to Matapalo which is on the North Pacific side of the country. It was a beautiful drive and took about 5 hours. My bus ticket only cost me 1600 calones, which is the currency of Costa Rich, which works out to about $3 USD which is insanely cheap for that long of a trip in my mind! When I arrived in Matapalo I was given instructions to call this specific taxi driver but the only pay phone wasn't working! Luckily for me a very nice, English speaking local man called the taxi for me and I was off! It was another 20 minute drive to the volunteer house so I was able to practice some of my Spanish on Don Miguel the taxi driver. When I arrived in was greeted by Alberto from Costa Rica, Elana from Spain, and Sofi from Germany. 

The house is am staying in has one room with four bunk beds and a bathroom. The kitchen is outside on the patio and we are surrounded by forest. The house is within a resort called Bahia de La Pirates but since it is the 'wet' and off season the resort is closed and we volunteers are the only ones living on site. We have two ladies who come Monday to Saturday and cook our meals for us. We eat breakfast and lunch fresh and then heat up whatever they make for dinner later. The food is excellent with lots of pastas, rice, fish, beans, veggies, and fresh fruit all the time.

The schedules not what I was expecting at all! I was thinking we would be working from 8-5 everyday but that is not the case. We have four activities that need to be done daily and then have lots of free time to read, sleep, go to the beach,etc. The activities include measuring nest temperatures at 6am and 1 pm on Playa Njesus, looking for tracks on Playa Real and Playa Onda, and the night patrols on Playa Njesus. The temperature readings are about a 25 minute walk from the house through the forest and along the beach. This is important because you can determine the sex of the baby turtles by the temperature. Warmer nests will have more females and colder nests will have more males. The track walks happen after breakfast at the other two beaches but we rarely see tracks here. The night patrols are the most enjoyable because it is cooler and you actually get to see adult female turtles! There are a lot of poachers on this beach so we often have to relocate the eggs to somewhere else. So far I have only seen turtles digging nests but not laying their eggs.

The temperatures here are very warm even though this is the rainy season. It is usually hot and sunny in the morning, light showers in the afternoon, and then a huge down pour around dinner time. By the time night patrols roll around at 8 pm the rain has cleared but there is still thunder and lightening.

It is so beautiful here! I have seen turtles, hummingbirds, geckos, frogs, bats, shorebirds, iguanas, and white-nosed coati. Besides the natural wildlife around here the volunteer coordinator also has three dogs and two cats. Millie is a pitbull, Kayla is a mutt, and Luna is another mutt. They are the sweetest dogs and I'm so glad they are here is cuddle with. 

There is also a very dangerous truck that comes by every Tuesday and Friday loaded with homemade pastries that are so good! These guys actually gave me a ride up the hill to the volunteer house on Tuesday after I had just finished doing the temperature readings. I was very grateful as the walk up to the house has a very steep incline and it really sucks when it is 20-30 degrees and you have to walk up this beast! These guys make really good chocolate and lemon cake :)

Today is my first day off and I am going to indulge in some pizza, cervasa, and gelato in Tamarindo which is a touristy place nearby. Ciao!

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