Travels in Panama and Tortugero

We’ve been back in Costa Rica for a little under 2 months now and a lot of our time has been spent adjusting to a new campus, moving apartments (and downsizing in a BIG way), doing some day trips, reconnecting with friends, and then taking two really wonderful trips to Panama and Tortugero. There are still things on our bucket list in Costa Rica and we are in the 2nd year of a 2 year contract down here. That doesn’t necessarily mean that our time is coming to an end but that we have a decision to make. So what better approach to take than, “It’s now or never.” Hopefully we can keep it up.

On our first few weeks back we did some exploring in the area. We went to the wind turbines in Santa Ana which was really neat. It was quite the trip to get up there. Well done, car. There wind turbines supply energy for over 12,000 homes a year. Read more about them here.

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They weren’t kidding.

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Overlooking the Central Valley

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Another weekend we went to University for Peace in Ciudad Colon and hiked in the trails. This is where we went with 20 other new staff members our first weekend here last year. It was fun to reminisce about that trip and all that we have learned and experienced since moving here a year ago. A little dog (that we named “Dee”) joined us at the beginning of the hike, went all the way to the end with us, and turned around and walked us to our car. She and Milo were close friends and we were tempted to scoop her up and bring her home with us.

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University for Peace

We had a 4 day weekend in the middle of September to celebrate Costa Rican Independence Day. Em and I took the opportunity to travel to Bocas del Torro in Panama. It was quite the trek but we had some great travel buddies to keep us company. We stayed at an incredible airbnb. It’s in the middle of nowhere but it was truly heaven on earth. If you are interested in going here’s the link for the place.

I chose a few of my favorite pictures to share and the rest are in the video I made which is posted below.

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Our travel buddies – shout out for waking up at 4am and beating the traffic. Here we are walking over the Panama/Costa Rica border.

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What a cutie

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I finally got my act together and started using the GoPro that Em got me for my graduation from grad school and put together a video of pictures and videos from our trip. Check it out here: Our Panama Video.

One of the big things on Em’s bucket list in Costa Rica was to see turtles. There is a specific season (~June-October) where you can see them on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica in Tortugero National Park. This fall has been busy with moving and getting settled and so we found one weekend that would work. We made the trek for one night, 1.5 days (which in retrospect was crazy) but we crammed a lot in and loved every second of it.

To get to Tortugero you have to take an hour long boat ride to the town where there are no cars (it was the best). So we spent time walking through the town, went in the beautiful pool at the lodge, walked on the beach to look for baby turtles, ate a ton of rice and beans, went on a night walk to see turtles, and got up for the 5:30 morning ride through the canals of the National Park. While we were delirious on our bus ride back we realized we were there for less than 24 hours.

Tangent: The reason I hadn’t used my GoPro a lot was because it was glitchy and would freeze sometimes. I got it working in Panama which was great. I also got it working for half our trip in Tortugero and felt like I learned some things from Panama and was excited to make another video. I was excited to captured our Tortugero trip in that way too. Near the end of the trip it froze and wouldn’t do anything. When I got home I was trouble shooting with no success. So I tried updating the software (as recommended on the website) and it froze during that too. And deleted my entire SD card (and therefore all my shots from Tortugero). So there were tears. And I’m still bitter. Luckily we had taken pictures on Em’s nice camera as well as on our phones. It obviously doesn’t change the fantastic trip we had I was just looking forward to making another video so we could always make it come to life. Tangent over.

Here are some pics from our boat ride to Tortugero. I’m so impressed with the way the boat drivers navigated those massive boats through a shallow, windy canal. Made me miss the days of driving our 15 horsepower rowboats from Danforth to Ossipee Lake. #glorydays #cousins.

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Can’t stop won’t stop.

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Safety first

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Then the canals open up to this

Here are some shots from the lodge where we stayed.

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Lunch time buddy

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Beach for days

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That afternoon we headed into town to explore and then walked back on the beach to look for baby turtles. No luck on the turtle front but the sunset was beautiful.

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Heading to town

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Turtles!

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Ready for our sunset baby turtle hunt

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Tracks from a momma making her way back after laying eggs the night before.

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That night we went on a night tour to look for momma turtles laying eggs on the beach. We dressed in all black, left all electronic devices at home, and were silent. We were real ninjas. We saw 3 Green Sea turtles heading back to the beach from laying eggs – they were HUGE. Like at least 5 feet long huge. We also saw a turtle laying eggs… and she happened to do it on a preexisting nest. So as she laid eggs baby turtles were crawling out and trying to run for their lives. We saw about 50 of them scramble toward the water. Good luck little guys. As this article says, “If you are born a sea turtle, the odds are never in your favor.” 0.1% of all baby turtles will survive to adulthood. Ouch. I was also impressed with how much the guides made sure we didn’t interfere with the process of the turtles. Very impressive and so important.

The next morning we got up bright and early for a 5:30 ride into the National Park to see some wildlife. It did not disappoint. First some shots of the wildlife we saw.

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Sloth sloth sloth – in fairness this was from our bus ride into the park but still.

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Mid jump

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The canals themselves were breath taking.

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Heading into the National Park

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To top it all off, the place we stopped for lunch had a huge butterfly garden. So we got to play around in there for a bit.

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Huge shout out to Em for having such an amazing eye and taking most of these pictures.

All in all it was a great trip. Other places on our Costa Rican bucket list include (and are not limited to): Rio Celeste, Osa Peninsula, Rincón de Vieja, and Bajos del Toro. Come on down and join us!

Finally, this past year my dad decided to join the Peace Corp and the day of his departure has finally arrived. He left yesterday (Monday the 4th). The night before we did a group Skype which was wonderful and hard all at once. As most of you know I’m a huge crier (when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m confused, when I’m tired) so the last few weeks have been pretty ugly. Thanks, Em, for putting up with me. Also, huge shout out to Jeff for being a hardcore Pats fan in the land of the Seahawks.screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-4-02-59-pm

I’m so proud of my dad for going and I know this is something he feels like he needs to do. What a cool leap to take. So after 3 days of training in DC he boarded a plane, took a 10 hour flight, and has arrived in Ghana where he will be stationed for the next 27 months. You can look for pictures if you follow Peace Corps Ghana on Facebook. Here’s a gem of the group he will be with for the next two years.

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That’s it on our end. Hoping to get home for a bit in December. Looking forward to some visits from family in the next few months.

Pura Vida,

K

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