This weekend I got to take another break from the study part of study abroad. I went on a volunteer field trip with some other students from IFSA to Tortuguero to protect the turtles! We all had a little something different imagined for what the trip would be like and what exactly we would be doing, but I think in the end we were all left a little surprised.
After traveling by bus and boat, we arrived at a cute little camp site which would be our home for the weekend. It is literally in the middle of the rainforest full of bugs, animals, and trees. After some basic turtle training that included learning about the four species in the area, and practicing taking measurements of turtles (what we would be doing if we encountered one), we were off to take some power naps before our nighttime journey.
The work involved walking up and down a 3 mile stretch of beach in the dark in search turtles tracks to hopefully find a nesting turtle. Although my group did not find a turtle, we did see two tracks, which was really cool. Even though I was frustrated that after walking 20 miles that weekend and barely being able to walk up the stairs to my room Sunday afternoon, it was still a great experience.
The camp has two purposes when in regards to turtles- check their well-being and monitor eggs that are nested, and maintain a strong presence on the beach to prevent poachers. They also do a lot of other research with the caimans in the river and the other animals near them, such as snakes and bats.
So, even though I stayed up from 8pm-2am and from 9pm-3pm in hopes of getting to see and touch a turtle, at least I was able to help keep them safe so that when my children are older, they will have opportunities to see them as well!