Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Cahuita/Playa Buena Vista

Alright, for this post I’ve got two trips to talk about: Cahuita and Playa Buena Vista. Cahuita was a non-program trip with a lot of the group and Playa Buena Vista was a program volunteer trip to save turtles. First, Cahuita:


This is Secret Garden, the hostel that we stayed at in Cahuita. We arrived on a few different buses and at different times so I don’t actually know when this picture was taken. But it represents day one. Those are “I just spent too many hours on a bus with these people” smiles.

I showed up around the middle of the day and pretty much just relaxed on the beach and in that hammock until bed time.

Next day a bunch of us went snorkeling. Julian is drunk.

Not actually. I don’t think they let you snorkel drunk. We went out on a boat to a national park area and snorkeled there. We met a friendly guy named Dr. Nacke and he took some underwater pictures. They’re not that clear but I’ve put a few in here just to give you an idea. These are striped yellow fish.

And this is a spikey animal. I think that’s the scientific name.

I’m not even going to try to name these fish. It was cool seeing the giant school of them. I swam under the water to try to get closer to them but they moved kind of quickly. And at one point while I was under water I forgot that I shouldn’t be using the snorkel anymore and swallowed a bit of the ocean.

This is a close up of coral. And another striped yellow fish. Also there was a shark. We don’t have a picture. Sorry. Go snorkeling if you want to see a shark.

Karina was nice enough to style my hair while I was attempting to take a nap on the beach.

The day ended with me back in the hammock. I actually spent part of the night sleeping in the hammock instead of my bed.

We got up at like 4 am to watch the sunrise. It was kind of cloudy. I apparently thought the solution to that problem was to get marginally closer to the sky.

The last day we went on a hike. This guy just gave a raccoon a cracker. While it was funny and kind of cute, it was also very sad. Please don’t feed animals in national parks. That kind of defeats the purpose of preserving an animal’s natural habitat. At least he didn’t give a mouse a cookie.

If you got that reference you’re a champ. This looks more awesome that it was. But it was pretty awesome. We crossed a small river using low-hanging tree branches. If you take a close look, you’ll notice that I was not in fact extending my hand to help Stephanie. I was more interested in getting the water bottle she was holding. Also, go Red Sox.

Finally, I’ve included this picture for Karina. To help with the beard mourning process.

This is the second trip. We went to a very isolated beach called playa Buena Vista to collect the eggs that turtles were laying and guard them until they hatch. Here I am surveying the river that we had to cross to get to the camp for the volunteers.

Here I am, sans beard. Also, my feet don’t look real. I don’t know what happened. To the left of me are some of the protected nests of eggs.

There’s the group at mealtime. I slept in the room straight back from the end of the table. Good for Lauren for not caving to peer pressure. Who cares if everyone else had stopped eating for a moment to take a picture? When you’re thirsty you’re thirsty. The picture on the bottom shows what we did for three hours the first morning. We dug holes in the sand where eggs had hatched, carried the contaminated sand to a large pile, and then shoveled sand off the beach and carried this clean sand back to refill the holes. It was pretty tiring.

The second night a bunch of nests hatched and the baby turtles were released onto the beach. Almost all of this happened in the middle of the night so there aren’t pictures. During my shift watching the hatchery in the morning, however, Jessica and I noticed that some of the turtles had not made it out of the nests during the night. Here I am freeing one straggler from nest Q14. His name is Lone Ranger Turtle Action the First. I choose to ignore the high probability that Lone Ranger was eaten almost immediately upon entering the ocean and imagine that he’s still swimming around out there.


Here’s Lone Ranger waddling towards freedom, courtesy of Lauren:


Both trips were tiring and a lot of fun. At Playa Buena Vista we met some very nice volunteers who work there for more than just two days. There were several Germans, a Dutch fellow, and a Spaniard. Both trips were great and the turtle one was very unique. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to participate in the effort to maintain the turtle population. Also, I still go to school. Its not particularly exciting.


PS. I want to tell everyone about an experience that I had recently. I went out with friends at night and had no cash on me. A bad idea, I know. They all went to a bar after a while but I was tired so I stayed behind. I went to the ATM to take out money and they were all closed. For my safety apparently. Note to study abroad students. Many ATM’s shut off after 10 pm. Just so you know. So I was in a situation. It is dangerous to walk back to my house late at night and I had no money. I went into McDonald’s and offered a tico guy and girl that I would pay for their food with my debit card if they would pay me back in cash so that I could pay for a cab. They said yes at first but then realized they only had 20 mil bills (which are worth $40). I told them not to worry about it and waited for more people to come in to buy food but the guy, Brandon, came over to me and asked where I lived. I said Santo Domingo and he told me that they didn’t mind driving me home. They got their food, sat and talked with me as they ate, and then drove me home. I just wanted to recount this story because I felt that it was a very kind thing to do and Brandon was telling me about how Costa Ricans feel an obligation to help other people. So here’s a good example. I’m glad there are nice people in the world.


Pura Vida


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