This is the second in a series of posts, one for each day, of an incredible 2-week volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica in December 2022. I wasn’t sure this trip would happen, but luckily it did.
Here is my volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica, day 2, Playa San Miguel. We piled in the van, embarking on the next part of our adventure. It was approximately a 5-hour ride from San Jose to our next destination Playa San Miguel. We made a couple of stops to break it up. First, at a market to get some snacks, then at an outdoor buffet to have a traditional lunch. It consisted of rice, beans, many meat options, and salad. While enjoying this delicious lunch & being serenaded by a xylophone, we admired the handiwork of the carved tables. They were made out of the beautiful national hardwood tree of Costa Rica, the Guanacaste.
on the road
We made an additional quick stop before lunch so Dara, the group’s youngest traveler, could get a Churchhill. The name comes from the creator’s likeness to the British politician Sir Winston Churchill and is a famous snow cone in Costa Rica. It consists of ice, syrup, condensed milk, powdered milk, ice cream & tamarind, a tropical fruit. I didn’t know what a Churchill was either but by the smile on her face, it was pretty delicious.
bingo & howler monkeys
As we piled back in the van, Jana handed out a bingo sheet that featured many Costa Rican staples. Besides passing the time driving, it was a great way to learn more about Costa Rican culture. Some easy items like colones (Costa Rican currency) and some more challenging things were on it. Soon Ozzy was pulling over so we could jump out to see the family of howler monkeys that Jana expertly spotted. Have you ever heard the sound a howler monkey makes? It’s like an intense, deep bark. Nothing at all that I would guess from what they look like!
Not long after the monkey sighting, we arrived at Casa Crema. It is located in Playa San Miguel in the southeastern Nicoya Peninsula (SPN) of Costa Rica. The group was split up between two houses across the street from the station house, where we would meet for meals & meetings. Between our houses was a covered communal space with a hammock, tables & chairs. It also had an ample beautiful green space with colorful tropical flowers, coconut trees & lots of critters running around.
prepping for turtle patrol
For the next three nights, we were on turtle patrol. To learn about the conservation effort we were helping with, we had a presentation by the organizers of CREMA (Center for the Rescue of Endangered Marine Species) in collaboration with Turtle Trax. We learned about the four main species of turtles & local conservation efforts being made. Our guides for the next few days were the adorable & enthusiastic Pablo & intern Ann from Utah. We were instructed to wear dark clothes, covered shoes & carry red lights so we could see in the dark without being too intrusive. Once Pablo spotted a turtle about to lay her eggs on the beach, we would assist with the egg relocation to a more secure spot.
more about CREMA
The Center for the Rescue of Endangered Marine Species (CREMA) began monitoring sea turtle nesting beaches in the southeastern Nicoya Peninsula (SPN) in 2015. Currently, CREMA in partnership with the company Turtle Trax S.A. monitors four nesting beaches in the SPN from the southeast to the northeast: Costa de Oro (2012-2021), San Miguel (1998-2021), Bejuco (2016-2021) and Corozalito (2008-2021).
These projects were created to support the community in protecting sea turtle nests, which were plundered at an excessive rate in the years before the start of this program (Viejobueno et al. 2011).
Four species of sea turtles nest in the SPN: olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) (Viejobueno et al. 2011).
The most common and abundant species in the Eastern Pacific is the olive ridley turtle, which is currently listed as vulnerable and declining according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (Abreu-Grobois & Plotkin 2008). This species has been extensively studied, however, many aspects of its biology and ecology remain unknown, such as its complex strategy of mass reproduction. To learn more, go to cremacr.org.
sunset in paradise
After a long travel day and an informative presentation, we hung out on the beach, waiting for sunset. And as always, it did not disappoint! We had a delicious dinner, relaxed, and then went to bed. We were excited for day 3, where we would put what we learned about turtle patrol into action!
I hope you enjoyed my volunteer & adventure trip to Costa Rica, day 2, Playa San Miguel. If you missed day 1, click here to catch up from the beginning. A special thanks to my travel mates (& leaders!) for making this an incredible trip and for using some of their photos to supplement mine. Miss you all! 😘
Until the next adventure, my friend!
Pura Vida ❤️