[Mikael In Transit] Saving the sea turtles on the other side of the world
They called us the “Storytellers” and our job was to take as much as we could out of the trip and share it to the world in our own creative way. On that note, this is my way of sharing that story.
It all started as we flew 26 hours from Manila to Narita to NYC and finally, to our final destination in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. For most of us, it’s a frighteningly long flight, but my excitement for the trip easily outweighed the fatigue of our travels—8 days jam-packed with activities as we circled around the hotspots of Costa Rica.
I had never been there before so I found it interesting just walking around their capital and getting a feel for what life was like on the other side of the world.
I think San Jose reminded me of Baguio the most. The weather was similar in that the sun was bright and hot but there was always a cool breeze blowing over the city.
The highlight of downtown San Jose would probably be Mercado Centrale. This is one of their oldest markets in the capital and from my eyes, it was the Costa Rican version of the ukay-ukay (thrift shops).
Food-wise, It was a mix of meat / seafood markets and street food stalls, and there were also vendors selling general merchandise.
Officially, our Contiki trip started in Tortuguero National Park. Our main mission here was to save the sea turtles! After all, our trip primarily focused on saving these beloved sea creatures. With the help of the Sea Turtle Conservancy Center (STC), we combed the beach at midnight looking for sea turtles that were planning to lay their eggs.
Luckily, we found a huge Leatherback turtle on our first night and observed as the turtle team got to work. During this time, the STC’s job was to monitor how many eggs were laid, mark its location and make sure that they give the soon-to-be-born turtles their best chance of seeing the light of day.
Threats to the safety of the eggs would come from poachers who sell them (which is illegal!), and other predators (jaguars and other dangerous animals) that like munching on them. That also meant that we were also vulnerable to attacks.
Dangers aside, the experience of watching an enormous turtle lay its eggs was surreal. It felt like we were part of such an important, quiet moment and that made it feel really special.
Quite honestly, I felt like I was looking at a dinosaur because the turtle we spotted was so massive. It didn’t really sink in right away that I was just a foot away from it.
Additionally, here’s some trivia that I picked up: our Pawikan is actually a nickname that we use here in the Philippines. It is actually part of the family of Hawksbill turtles, which can be found in other countries as well.
Aside from turtle-saving, we took several canal cruises along Tortuguero as we took in the sights, sounds and various bird species in the area.
It was amazing how they were able to protect such a vast area of their country, and goes to show how much people her value and protect their country’s natural beauty, and there was much more of it I had yet to discover. – Rappler.com
Mikael Daez is passionate about making the most out of life. Food and travel makes his world go around and he will stop at nothing just to search for new experiences. At the same time, he loves getting everyone around him involved, and shares his passion by telling stories of his adventures. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram
Editor: Abby Alcanzare
Graphics and animation: Kookie Santos, Luis Kintanar
Concept by: Mikael Daez and Nicky Daez