As our Costa Rica travels wind down, we are realizing how many things are still left on our Costa Rican bucket list. After spending nearly the last 2 years exploring this beautiful country from end to end, we still had not yet witnessed baby sea turtles heading out to sea...and this was simply unacceptable to me.
Costa Rica is a country that is all about ecotourism, and it is home to many nesting beaches for four kinds of sea turtle species: olive ridley, hawksbill, green and leatherback.
Numerous local organizations help to preserve and protect these critical nesting habitats of the sea turtles. These organizations also allow tourists the rare opportunity to view the nesting turtles and the courageous and vulnerable baby sea turtles as they slowly but bravely head out to sea.
Reserva Playa Tortuga is a turtle rescue center located along the southern pacific coast of Costa Rica, just before the entrance to the Osa Peninsula, near the town of Ojochal. A non-profit biological research and education center formed in 2009, Reserva Tortuga does important work for the sea turtles in the Costa Ballena area. To learn more you can visit their website: http://reservaplayatortuga.org/
Noticing a post on the Reserva Tortuga Facebook page that they were releasing 55 baby olive ridley sea turtles into the ocean at 4pm one afternoon, and that it could be the last release of the season, we knew we could not miss this incredible experience.
It was finally Turtle Time!
Playa Tortuga, where the baby sea turtles are released between July and December each year, is the closest beach to our house at Osa Mountain Village and is usually deserted.
But when we show up for Turtle Time the beach is packed with rental cars, turtle lovers, and selfie sticks. The roar of the waves was only matched by the excited chattering and shrieks as we all took turns admiring and delicately holding the precious baby sea turtles.
We whisper to some, wish them luck and encourage them on their long, looming journey ahead into the unknown.
The volunteers and biologists at Reserva Tortuga soon collect all the turtles and place them back into the bucket. Excitedly, the small crowd mobs down to the beach, to watch the release of the baby turtles into the calm ocean waters.
Just as the crowd has mobbed toward the beach, the baby turtles now mob toward the ocean, flipping and flopping and struggling to make progress toward the vast sea of freedom lying ahead.
Some showed little patience for their slower neighbors ahead, and climbed their way over the turtle pile to the head of the pack, leading the way to the ocean.
Some were determined and didn't stop until they reached the water...
Some took it slowly, but cheerfully, and paused often to rest and admire the distance and struggles they had come in their short, hard life.
Some were angry at this obsurd inconvenience...
And some were just plain tuckered out and wanted to give up...
But they all eventually made it to the ocean, as we cheered on their determined little turtle souls. The moment they reached the wave line was a victorious moment for all, turtles and humans alike.
As we check another item off our Costa Rican bucket list, we reflect on the message of the experience, as we watch the turtles join the sea.
From the sea turtles we learn that your speed through life does not matter, only your determination does. We learn to never give up, especially when life gets tough, because easier waters are just beyond the next wave. We learn to be at ease in our own shell. And we learn to enjoy each step of the journey, because the journey itself is the adventure.
"Behlold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out."
-James Bryant Conant
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.