Costa Rica/ week II

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D
uring our volunteer program we were obligated to work 5 days a week and had days off over the weekends. Every weekend we were trying to explore as much as we could by going into different parts of Costa Rica, usually hitchhiking or busing.

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First weekend we’ve decided to spend in a nearby town San Juanillo. Where we went hitchhiking. We split into two groups, three people each, and caught rides both ways very fast.

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San Juanillo is a small village few kilometres away from Ostional. It’s big enough to have a restaurant and one bar for not only locals but also for a few tourists.

Our boss – Jairo from the station, organised with his friend to take us on a boat around the bays to see ‘flying’ manta rays. It was also, the very first time we saw loras – adult female turtles.

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Unfortunately, it was too hard to capture flying manta rays as they were jumping out very fast and it was almost impossible to spot them on time and take a quick picture at the same time. Manta rays that do jump out of the water are called devil rays.  Apparently, it’s still a mystery for scientist why do they perform those jumps. Some believes that they are trying to get rid of parasites.

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REFUGIO NACIONAL DE FAUNA SILVESTRE OSTIONAL –  the station

Second week of work at the station was much more pleasant than the first one. Excavations were over and now most of our days we were looking out for hatching nests and make sure predators such as vultures or dogs won’t hurt them.

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Hatching turtle with missing flipper after being attacked by a Vulture

During the days we were also responsible for beach clean up and being educated on how plastic is ruining marine life and how many species are affected by ocean pollution.

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Together with Heather, we were mostly responsible for putting collected data into the system. It was my favourite task as from day one I was fascinated with all of the gathered data and how different factors were affecting the whole process of lying eggs by loras.

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At that stage we haven’t had a chance to work with an adult turtle yet, but we have already known most of the factors that were important while measuring loras. 
There is still so many unanswered questions regarding Sea Turtles, where they mating, why are they always coming back to the exact same beach to lay their eggs and how do they find it after so many years? There is still so much mystery around sea creatures, I think that’s why collecting the data and trying to figure out some possible small answers was so interesting for me.

Pura vida,
W.

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Costa Rica, Playa Ostional // week I

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Volunteering in Costa Rica last summer was one of the most amazing, life changing and eye-opening experiences in my life. After spending over 4 weeks at the Turtle Conservation Program located on the Pacific Coast at Playa Ostional, I’ve realised how important it is to be close to nature and stay open minded.

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It took us around 7 hours, two dusty and bumpy bus rides to get to Refugio Nacional Ostional – the station, where we were allocated into either our dorms or homestay. I was fortunate enough to thourough my stay in Ostional experience both of those options.

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Homestay, that me and the other volunteer got placed at, happen to be the most open and loving home anyone could ask for. Our family was so big that to this day I’m not entirely sure who was related to who and who actually has lived there.

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Conditions of the houses in Ostional were poor but no one has expected anything more than that, we all knew we won’t be having warm showers or clean socks! Plus, it was so hot that it would be an absolute madness to have a warm shower in that heat.

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We were very lucky to have ‘homestay siblings’ who were around our age. Since day one they were showing us things before anyone who was staying in the dorms could see or do since there was no vehicles at the station.  First day, local boys showed us main spots to see hatching turtles. It has absolutely taken my breath away! Seeing these little creatures coming to life on my own eyes, one after another was more than magical! They were appearing every few meters from small holes in sand, catching their firsts breaths.

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They told us we can touch them but we shouldn’t put them into the water ourselves, the walk into the ocean is crucial for their lungs to properly adjust. We were still before the actual training and knew as much us the boys were telling us.

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The next day, together with all the volunteers, we went exploring local jungle. The day was extremely hot so we swim in the waterfalls and had some refreshing coconuts.

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First few days seems to be the hardest out of all the working days at the beach. Since it was hatching time we were straight away introduced to excavations which consisted of digging up old nests that didn’t hatch and opening every single old egg to measure how evolved the embryo was.

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Personally, from the beginning, I was fascinated with all the data we were collecting. During excavations I enjoyed figuring out to what extend eggs were developed and what could be the reason behind it’s failure to hatch. However, it was a really hard work. The heat was already making us sweat, but imagine digging 1×1 m holes and then opening around 80 rotting eggs to see dead embryo inside. My role in that process was to open eggs and divide them into 4 different groups regarding how evolved the embryo was.
It wasn’t the most glamours job, but It was needed at that time and I felt like I’m already making some difference – I’m collecting data that one day might contribute to something much, much bigger in terms of understaning marine live and evolution in general. It was hard for me to see all those dead tiny turtles. Coming from a city into the jungle, being vegetarian and seeing dead animals, all of this has really opened my eyes. I’ve started questioning myself in what do I actually believe, what’s evolution and why does it work this way? To this day I’ve got shivers when I’m thinking about all those turtle eggs  but at the same time it was an experience that I would have never exchange for anything else!

Pura Vida,
W.

Sea Bass

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Tenerife spoiled me with some delicious dishes. I had a chance to try many local delights.

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Sangria with Kawa (champagne) with chopped fruits.

I’m vegetarian but on holidays I do eat seafood and fish so my absolute favourite was a Sea bass in salt at la Torre del mirador, it’s quite expensive but the taste is definitely worth it! I’m pretty sure you can get Sea bass in salt in any other restaurant on the Canary Islands.

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For dessert I highly recommend to order Tenerife famous sweet coffee Barraquito which consist of condensed milk, cinnamon, a bit of lemon peel and most importantly Licor 43.

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I have also tried Gazpacho prepered in the Andalusian style, king prawns in oil which were delicious and seafood Paella, which is probably one of the most famous Spanish dishes.

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Tenerife haven’t spoiled us only with food but also with some amazing sunsets. I wish I had more time since I’ve only stopped here for 3 nights on my way to Poland. Apparently there is much more to explore and I hope I will do it one day !

Pura vida,
W

Costa Adeje Sunrise

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I’ve landed at Tenerife South two nights ago, I was tired enough to almost fall asleep during 20 minutes ride from the airport to my house in Costa Adeje. In the morning I woke up ready to explore, let-lag and need for some refreshment caught me swimming in the ocean at 7 in the morning accompanied by breathtaking sunrise making Costa Adeje sky crying with purple clouds. After breakfast, we rented a car and went to ‘La Laguna’ – colourful old town with many narrow calles and Icod de ‘Los Vinos’ where enormous, 2000 years old dragon tree, is located.

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‘Los Vinos’ has much more to offer than the dragon tree, we spent half an hour trying Spanish vines. I’m definitely a sweet vine girl and my favourite from Los Vinos is very uncommon banana flavoured, sweet vine ‘Latidos de Platanos’.

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For lunch we went to ‘con limón y salt‘, delicious Mexican restaurant in San Cristóbal de La Laguna which I would highly recommend, they have vegetarian options and very reasonable prices.

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There is many atmospheric places and little Spanish towns located at the foot of the volcano – Teide. However, Tenerife seems to me very  touristy which is perfect if you’re planning on going for holidays with your family or for a long-deserved days off work where all you want to do is looking at the stunning views and laying on the beach while enjoying convince of the Canary Islands resort. Long chain of five stars hotels with tourists from all over the world makes Costa Adeje a perfect place for sales of luxury gods, but it also comes with sales of all sorts of fakes.

Pura vida,

New Begginings

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Probably we all know that time when there is no motivation in your life and you’re getting a little bit stuck. My first year at university started off pretty well  – I was excited and couldn’t wait to see what the next day has to offer. By the end of the year I found myself in a very weird, for my creative mind, place. I felt like there is nothing I can do and there was nothing to look forward to, without any particular reason I just felt useless. 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit central New Zealand about two weeks ago didn’t help me with finding motivation.
However, I want to change it now, thought of spending summer lying in bed and doing nothing other than working was depressing. I live in Wellington, NZ but I’m Polish and my whole family lives in Poland so I knew I would go visit them for Christmas, but I wanted to experience something different this summer that’s why I’ve decided to go to Costa Rica to save little sea turtles with IVHQ volunteer program. What’s more on the way to Poland I’m going to stay for a week at one of the Spanish Canary Islands – Tenerife. Currently I am at the Abu Dhabi airport waiting for the flight to Paris and then one more to Tenerife. I’ve made a lot of promises to myself this summer and creating this blog is one of them so follow me on my journey to stay positive and motivated !

Pura vida x
Wika