I left a little piece of my heart in Camaronal beach. When I first arrived at the Sea Turtle Conservation program, it was in the back of a pick-up truck. Camaronal was located in the middle of nowhere it seemed. The air was hot, humid, and there was a slight breeze blowing. All of the facilities, the main area, the kitchen, even the volunteer house were rustic. If anyone wanted to escape the real world with all its technology, this would be the place to do it.
The first day I arrived for volunteering in Costa Rica, I went swimming. The beach at Camaronal seemed out of this world, the sand was black and I had never seen a black sand beach before. There was driftwood everywhere; it was amazing to think that hundreds and thousands of sea turtles lay their nests on this three kilometer beach.
There are many interesting things you could find in Camaronal, for example: there are crabs everywhere, iguanas that live in the gutters and on the roof, and my favorite, Picolina the cat. The funniest thing about these crabs is that they’re literally everywhere. One night while using the bathroom in the volunteer house, I picked up the toilet paper and it felt heavier than usual. When I looked at the roll of toilet paper, there was a crab just chilling on it. Picolina the cat was probably the sweetest little thing there at the project; she did her own thing and always finished the food on your plate if you didn’t want it.
A normal day at the project would start with cleaning the main area when it was too hot to work on the beach. We were working on building the hatchery at the time, so most of the work was done on the beach. It was about 4-6 hours of work during the day, and at night, depending on when your patrol was, it would generally be about 3-4 hours long. During the time of noon to about 3:30pm was free time to chill out and do whatever.
My favorite part of the project, I have two, were the turtles and this little virgin beach about thirty minutes to an hour walking distance. I saw two turtles lay eggs while patrolling. It really is a sight that you can’t describe in words. You will have to experience it yourself. It’s incredible to think that these animals can hold more than 100 eggs. They are such beautiful creatures. My next favorite thing was my last day in Camaronal. It was a free day and we decided to walk to the virgin beach not too far away. We had to go at low tide and climb rocks, but it was all worth it to have fresh coconuts and lay on a white sand beach where we were the only visitors.
The most amazing thing about this project isn’t just the people, the work, or the free time you get. It’s Nelson, the boss. His love and passion for these creatures makes the whole volunteer experience in Camaronal, amazing. Pura Vida!