as soon as we pulled up 'oh my god's and gasps were audible throughout the van; thousands of turtles, as far as the eye could see.
everyone sort of lost their minds, scattering, dazed, walking through the turtle field. it was a time warp. i don't know what happened to our group or where they went or what experience they had. i went crazy with my camera, of course. a tico guide came up to me and dug out a small pit in the sand behind one of the closest turtles. he gestured, conveying that i should watch and as i did i could see the eggs drop from the mama into the hole. i felt embarrassed, as if i was invading on her privacy, but at the same time i could not look away. he told me she'd lay about 80, out of the 80, 50 would hatch, and out of the 50, 3 would live in the ocean. i heard later that only 1 in 800 live to reproduce, making this spectacle all the more outstanding.
they seemed to be in a sort of trance as they windmilled their flippers over and over, throwing sand and digging pits in which to lay their eggs. sand was flying everywhere. eventually russ and i made our way through the nesting madness to the shore where the waves were bringing in more turtles by the second. their tracks covered the beach and turtle heads bobbed on the waves far to the horizon. the turtle tico said that within the hour the beach would be completely covered with turtles, leaving no room to stand.
we probably spent 30 - 45 minutes on the beach before the thunderstorm came, driving everyone back to the vans soaking wet and breathless. the whole way home we were riding high on the thrill of seeing something so alien and so amazing. i know i overuse that word - but this actually was AMAZING.
happy birthday nikki!