The ten of us Steer Your Shippers are somewhere on a beach in Costa Rica. We boarded a van in the dark, took seemingly endless twists and turns, and ended up here. Somewhere. Still in the dark. A mile down the beach from our vehicle. With no flashlights or phones so we don’t disturb the alleged sea turtle over there.
Alleged sea turtle, I say, because all we can see from here is the vague movement of sand. Lights would disturb our alleged creature while she prepares her nest, so we’re watching the stars twenty yards from her. Impatiently.
It’s so humid that all our bits are dripping sweat just from standing still. Even lying still — no difference in sweat output. Our guide doesn’t really speak much English — and what he does speak is in hushed whispers that we can barely discern over the pounding of waves.
We’re tired. We’re a bit bored, to be honest. And we have no idea what happens next.
But this is exactly what we signed up for — the Turtle Tour in Costa Rica. No details were provided, no brochures given. We handed over our money and boarded the van in the name of Adventure.
Adventure so rarely looks the way it does in our heads, where we’ve removed the barriers that others so frequently fall prey to and edited the whole journey for time.
We want to be Indiana Jones, only without the threat of death and the Nazis in hot pursuit. We want to ride the nifty motorcycle with Sean Connery, but we sure as shit don’t want to be in the castle as it burns down at our feet.
Back to the beach: we’re suddenly given the okay to approach. (It still looks like vague flinging of sand from a few hundred paces away, but we’re taking our guide’s word for it.)
We get way up in there, two feet from the back of the turtle. And we wait. And wait.
Adventure, you fickle, fickle thing.
When we’ve been still near the turtle’s rear end for what seems like hours (but is probably about 45 minutes), we ask what’s happening. We see digging, but what are we waiting for? That’s when our guide informs us that the turtle is about to lay eggs.
These lady turtles do a lot of digging, give up on the nest they’re creating, and slip back into the water the vast majority of the time. Fearless Guide Man estimates 20 minutes to the big egg laying show.
Well shit, we can wait twenty minutes. Even with two pregnant ladies, no remaining Oreos, and sweat-saturated clothing that feels like we’re wearing wet towels.
So we wait. Biologists come to nab the eggs — they have a mere 1% chance of survival if left to chance, since these eggs often become vulture snacks — and we watch the eggs emerge. And BOUNCE. (They’ll harden later. The bouncing ensures they get to the nest and settled, intact.) About 20 eggs in, our girl starts letting out sighs. Big ones, deep ones. (It’s a lot like the deep sigh of exhaustion you give before allowing yourself to fall into bed after a long day on your feet.)
To repeat, in case you were momentarily not impressed by the wonder of this world you and I live in: WE HEAR THE SOUNDS AN ENDANGERED SEA TURTLE MAKES WHEN SHE IS BUSY LAYING HER EGGS.
Adventure is amazing, huh!?
I didn’t know sea turtles were capable of making sounds, period. Did you!?
Our turtle wraps up after depositing 65 eggs, the biologists clear out, and we are promptly hit with the sand equivalent of Sea World’s Splash Zone. Our mama is tired, and rests often, but she puts her flippers to serious use. We are absolutely covered in sand.
And on the way out? We find out that our guide knows the word for “vulva tracks,” despite his former communication barriers. There they are, in the sand, which is how you know a turtle is about to give birth. We giggle the whole way home.
Whether you’re in the “what’s going on!?” phase or the “how long till the good stuff?” phase or the “is this actually gonna happen?” phase or the “THIS IS HAPPENING!” phase, I hope your adventures today knock your socks off. (And if you can throw vulva tracks in there, even better.)
I hope you’re gobsmacked by the wonder of being alive on this crazy, wild planet.
And I hope you remember to trust adventure, even when it’s the last thing you want to do or you’ve been waiting for what seems like years for those eggs to finally drop into the nest. The wonder is on its way, friend. Promise.
P.S. You can’t unsee the ocean, and other unfortunate facts about living a wild life.