Where to begin?
I can’t really begin to explain what it’s like, living here in the Costa Rican Jungle. I feel like I’ve stepped into a completely different world, maybe even a different planet. Last night, after arriving on camp at about 6pm, I fell asleep with birds calling all around me and the hum of insects in the night. Today I’ve seen monkeys, birds, some massive spiders, and the most stunning blue butterflies. It just doesn’t feel real.
Would this even be my blog without some minor disasters here and there? Getting to camp on Monday was slightly more eventful than it should have been. I set my alarm nice and early for Monday morning and caught an Uber to the airport. At the check-in desk, the woman told me that I was actually at the wrong airport – it turns out the airline I was flying with to Puerto Jimenez operates out of its own tiny little airport in the center of San Jose, whereas the two other airlines go from the main International airport where I had arrived the day before. In a slight panic, I called another Uber to take me across the city. I still had a full hour and a half before the flight was supposed to leave, and the woman at the desk had assured me it would take only about 30 minutes to get there. She was very wrong. Between 6 and 9 in the morning, the traffic in San Jose is basically gridlock. It took us almost 2 hours to get to the other airport, and I was frantically calling the airline and WhatsApping my parents as I panicked about missing the flight. When we were within 5 minutes of the airport, I watched my flight take off without me…
I had a little cry outside the airport with all the stress of the morning and the day before simply getting the best of me. Then I got back in the Uber and headed back to the main San Jose airport to see if there were any other flights today. Thankfully there was one at 1pm, and despite missing the bus that would take me to camp, I was able to catch a lift with a couple who also live in Carate and happened to be in town that afternoon. After a two hour journey along a very bumpy road, I arrived at camp.
There are 4 Frontier leaders, and the rest of us are volunteers whom change periodically depending on how long each person stays. I seem to be staying the longest of our current set, with one other girl staying for 4 weeks but most staying between 2 and 3 weeks. Everyone is really lovely and welcoming, as are the locals who we interact with in our conservation work.
In a coconut-shell (you’re welcome), each day there are various trails that we go on to collect data about the animals and environment here, from Primates, to Turtles, to Birds, to Reptiles and Amphibians. We walk slowly along the trails and note down any sightings we see, which are then logged. The Turtles conservation is a little different, and is a major part of what we do here. On the morning patrols we excavate nests to see if they are hatched, counting how many empty shells, unhatched or predated shells, etc, there are. Night patrols are about making sure that mother turtles lay their eggs in a suitable place in regards to the tide, and also protecting them from predation by covering them with logs or bamboo cages. If not, we would move these eggs to a better location or to the hatchery.
My role here is going to be helping to run the social media pages – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the blog and the monthly newsletter. I’m still getting to grips with exactly what this means, but I’ll be sure to put some links below so you can all check out what we’re doing a bit more! I’m super excited to get my camera out and show everyone the unbelievably stunning beauty of this place, even in the rain. The baby turtles are like nothing else I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think of the novelty of seeing a monkey in a tree 5 meters away is ever going to wear off.
This first week has already gone by in a bit of a whirlwind. The best part was when we did Turtles one morning and discovered some baby turtles that hadn’t been able to get out of the nest after hatching. They are so tiny, and yet so strong! I also went for a run along the beach front, which was just stunning. The sun finally came out for the whole day on Friday, which made spotting the Macaws in the trees on our survey even better. The Osa Penninsular houses the largest population of Macaws in Costa Rica, and they are truly beautiful birds (if not a little noisy). On Saturday we all went to an 80th birthday party of one of the locals at a nearby bar, which was so much fun – dancing Salsa from 8pm until 1am! I surprised myself with my own skills, after doing it only once before at Salsa Tuesdays at TP (if you know, you know).
I suppose this blog is just to bring you all up to date and introduce you to Camp Osita a bit! I hope the next blogs are a little more interesting as I start to get the grips of life here in the jungle. It’s only been a week but it certainly feels like an age already. I know how idyllic it sounds, but it is really quite hard work. We get up at 4 or 5am most mornings to start the trails, which are anywhere between a 10 and 60 minutes walk away, before actually walking the trail. There’s a lot of stuff we have to do, both on camp and in the local community. It’s definitely worth it of course, but I do seem to have become a chronic napper – it’s the only way!
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the next update!