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the beach at night

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Saturday 19th October 2012

Take a dugout canoe 3 miles up the wide river to its opening with the sea with Tom. Takes us 4 hours there and back. Simple thatched houses of the coconut farmers along the way, and small looking Tortuguerro lodge.
My trusty backpack, dug out canoe and T shirt I dyed in Java several months back.

My trusty backpack, dug out canoe and T shirt I dyed in Java several months back.

Search for hatching turtles at dawn. Find one hatched nest with a hundred scampering trails to the sea, just missed them. They will swim for 6 days to reach the Saragossa sea and hide in the sea weed. Fresh coconut bread later, baked in a dutch oven. She lit a fire below a big metal cauldron and another one on the lid. The result was delicious.

Leave the others to their beer and chess and walk for an hour up the dark beach. Solitude, wind waves and inky dark the moon hidden by thick cloud. On the way back a turtle has just arrived and I sit with her for the next hour and half, right through a thunder storm. She digs as I sit beside her watching the almost mechanical motion and rhythm of her back flippers, listening to her heavy breathing. Its a slow struggle digging the nest, she seems on autopilot, faraway look in her milky tear filled eyes. The big crater is made by flinging sand backwards with all four flippers. The nest pit at the base of the crater is dug by the back flippers formed into scoops. She stretches deep down by rocking her shell backwards for extra depth bring up a scoop, of sand then resting for a few seconds before scooping with the other flipper. When she can scoop no more she coyly crosses her back flippers behind her and starts to lay the pingpong ball sized eggs with a gentle rocking action. When finished she kneads the sand back over the egg pit with a side to side action rubbing her rear end across the warm damp sand. Finally there is a great celebratory fling about of sand with all four flippers to disguise the exact location of the egg pit and she starts the laborious haul back the the sea. They will hatch in five weeks and the sex ratio varies with the temperature of the nest.

The experience was very moving, especially when she disappeared into the dark waves, her labours over. The earth feels eons old.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:02 Archived in Costa Rica

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