~Saved by the Sea Turtles~

~For the past 3 months or so, I’ve been contemplating how to write this story. Do I write it with the swirling emotions I felt because I finally had a chance to see turtles? Or do I write the cold facts about the grievances those poor creatures endure? Does this story end with a broken heart or a happy little turtle scurrying off into the sea as the sun sets beyond the ocean?

This story is not just about the greatest turtle experience ever in the history of all turtle experiences (biased opinion since this was the first and only turtle experience I’ve had so far), but it’s a story with no real happy ending. I set out to learn about the sea turtles and those tiny turtles taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Arriving in Junquillal, Costa Rica on a hot overcrowded bus was uncomfortable, to say the least, but the sunset that evening made it all worthwhile. You really haven’t savored a sunset until you watch fresh newborn baby turtles pushing their tiny legs through the sand fighting for their freedom. Watching those ambitious little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean is beyond any words I can write. It’s an emotional event. I didn’t know if they would make it. And most of them probably didn’t.

13509069_10157119828460444_9055118651432322492_nThe odds are not in the turtles favor, unfortunately, but the biologists and volunteers do everything they can to help save them from poachers and other various threats. I was placed at a small turtle conservation hostel called Verdiazul, which means green/blue in Spanish. In the orientation, I learned a lot about the practices of the project and the harsh realities of the sea turtles demise. The chances of the turtles returning to the beach to nest are slim to none once they are released. If they do happen to survive, the turtles will always come back to the same beach they were born and lay their eggs in the area.

The release is a beautiful thing. It made me feel like I finally had a purpose while traveling and that all of my planning had paid off. My very first night at Verdiazul, we released nearly forty babies.

The three species of turtles that the conservation had interactions with are Black (Negras), Olive Ridley (Loras), and finally the most endangered species on the planet; Leatherback (Baulas).

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Each night the volunteers patrolled the beach for 3-4 hour shifts. Walking up and down the shoreline searching for nests, tracks or nesting mother turtles. We would spend thirty minutes walking to either the south or north ends of the beach in small groups then we rested and sat in the sand under the stars. During the mild nights, it was so tranquil I could just stare at the moon for hours listening to the waves crashing against the shore.  But when the wind picked up you would have to hide your face from sharp spitting sand in your eyes and mouth. My skin stung from some of those windy patrols. But it was the wonderful people who made those nights fly by with laughter and great conversation. I made some lovely new friends and felt very content in the passing of time.

The bitter-sweet part of this story is where I had my dream come true. My wish to encounter a Leatherback; the largest species of turtle in the entire world and the most critically endangered, finally became real on my 3rd patrol on Playa Junquillal. That was the sweet part. The bitter part is that I experienced this incredible event with someone who is no longer in my life. It’s hard to tell the story without him in it as it was such unbelievable trip. It’s a shame these memories are slightly clouded by pain now when I reminisce.

The siting was magnificent regardless. As the glow of the moon bounced off the water, the seven hundred pound mother slowly slid her way onto the beach that night. From twenty feet away she looked like a huge rock and if it hadn’t been for the slightest of grumbles as she pulled herself through the sand, we probably would’ve walked right by. We came to a sudden halt when we realized the beautiful mama Baula was directly in front of us and then slowly backed away to give her some space.

Some would say she was ugly with her wrinkled scaly face and fishy scent, but I was mesmerized by her enormous beauty. The volunteers who had studied sea turtles told us that she was probably more than fifty years old! They determine the age by the size of the turtle. The older they are the bigger they are. We watched in amazement as the mother moved up the beach towards some nearby grass, looking for the perfect nesting spot. Our group leader called the rest of the volunteers from a cell phone as Baulas are rare and she knew everyone would come running to witness the endangered creatures trek to lay her eggs.

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Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I patiently waited to see what would happen. Just as the turtle neared the grassy mound, she started to turn around back towards the sea. At that moment a group of the senior volunteers circled around her to take down some information. I did wonder if she was spooked by the people surrounding her at first, but they started to take measurements and record the markings on her shell. Apparently, this was not the first time the mother had traveled to this beach to nest. I was astonished to learn that the markings on her shell and the irregular shape of her fins matched those of the Leatherback babies we had released from the hatchery earlier that day.

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Although the mother turtle did not end up nesting that night, I felt privileged to be in her presence none the less. The only images I have of her are in my mind, just for me as I was not able to take any photos. Turtles are very sensitive to light and that’s why they come to nest at night, guided by the moon. But through the darkness, I saw something most people never have a chance to witness. To know that her kind is almost extinct and that I had the chance to see a short part of her journey, well, the feeling is indescribable.

Looking back, I understand that a 2-week en-devour did not have a huge impact on the sea turtles at all, nor can I say that I saved them. My wish to save the sea turtles will only ever be a desire and not a fact. I was merely a small aid to the conservation project in its efforts to improve the chances of the turtles survival and educate the community about the threats to these glorious reptiles. I did, however, learn a great deal about the life of a sea turtle and I will forever be grateful for that.

10431871_489861497868477_1069012161_nSo how did the sea turtles save me you ask? Well, they taught me some very valuable lessons:

Swimming out into the unknown will either kill you or make you stronger.

Letting go is an essential part of life and although it may be the most difficult thing you ever do, it will only pave the way for a new life.

And finally; even though your initial release into the deep waters ahead of you may inevitably end in disaster, the only thing you can do is move forward like those little babies swimming their very first strokes towards the depths of the dangerous ocean in the direction of that fading sun while it sinks away.

It may have taken months to come to these conclusions, but now I am here at the shoreline ready to see what lies ahead. And yes, sadly, my story ended with a broken heart, but my survival odds are greater than the turtles and I am very fortunate for that. In the end, my experience with the sea turtles turned out to be much more rewarding than I expected. I left the conservation full of love, knowledge and admiration for those involved with this remarkable cause. It was worth every second and I will never forget it.

And that’s my story of how I was saved by the sea turtles.

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Friday Photo Fun!

1723356_1696194280662945_1862422288_nTiny turtles running in the sand

Tiny turtles jumping from my hand 

Warming up for their very first swim 

For these tiny turtles, I would go out on a limb

To help them reach their ocean life

As the sun sets, they swim into the night

Love Turtles xo

If you haven’t already, please check out my Instagram page for more fun photos! 🙂

TINYTANYAB

 

 

 

Good Morning Monday ~Why I Travel~

~Just two weeks ago I was coming home from Costa Rica after travelling around for over a month. Now I’m home and back to work just as fast as I when I left. Back to the day job and the regular old routine. But while I was travelling I felt like time stood still. It felt like I was gone forever.

The worst thing about travelling… is the travelling part.

Line-ups to check your bags, then more line-ups to scan your other bags and then the terminal gate-wait. Not to mention, the line up to board the plane, the slow pitter patter of shuffling feet, the immigration cards to fill out and all the bags everywhere. Long hours on flights that can get horribly bumpy and cramped. Headaches and nausea can suddenly hit you. Sometimes your legs or arms fall asleep.

It’s the worst!

So why do I travel?

I travel for the stamp on my rugged, worn out passport at my destination.IMG_20160213_175810

I travel for that first glimpse of a place I’ve never seen before.

I travel for the story, the excitement, and of course, the knowledge.

I travel to feel the earth and sand beneath my feet. I mean; to really feel it.

I travel for the joy of travelling.

I travel for the most amazing experiences I’ll ever have. 🙂

These are the BEST parts about travelling!

Travelling is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s helped me appreciate everything on such a deeper level. Travelling gives you something to look forward to and memories to remember forever. It’s extremely difficult to put into words how you feel when you have fear, anxiety, exhilaration and wonder all wrapped up in your belly together like a swirl of emotions all fighting to get out.

I always want to keep coming back to that feeling: Pure joy.

With each flight and bus ride I took on my journey, I would have my hands pressed up against the windows of the buses and planes with that silly little smirk on my face.
There’s a whole world out there and I just went and explored it. Well, a small part of it anyway. 🙂

Travelling changes you. It opens your mind to new things and new sensations. It brings out your inner child and taps into the fascination bursting within your deepest core muscles.  We are not meant to stay in one place on this earth. I believe we were meant to explore and learn about our surroundings. How else will we prosper if we know nothing of the greatness that surrounds us?

Do you feel the same? Do you have a burning passion for travelling around the world, like me?

I want to hear your travel stories!

I also want to pursue a career as a Travel Blogger. It’s been on my bucket list for far too long. So here is where I can start; with you.

The Travel Blog will have to start with some stories of course. There’s a lot of research to be done. And there will be an overhaul of all my current content already on this tiny little blog. I’ve looked into more and more travel blogs to get some ideas on how to make money while you travel as that is what I’ve always wanted to do.  The Freedom-Preneur movement is on an overwhelming up-rise because travel is becoming so much more popular among young people these days.

Over the next year, I will be creating an entirely new blog from a different platform. I’m really excited to start a new project. But for now, I will share some stories with you and I would really love your feedback on my newly discovered content as I try to rebuild my tiny blog after a long hiatus from writing.

So I hope you enjoy my travel stories 🙂 as I always love to share them.

Costa Rica was country #11 for me. How many countries have you been to?

Here is my plan… LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!!

Here is my plan…

~LISTEN UP!~  what has the world come to?CHANGE

It seems that with each scientific breakthrough… everything just gets more confused!

As a whole society what are we to do?

~WHY?~  is there so much madness?? Is there any end to this detrimental sadness??

Well I… I think I have a plan… and it’s gonna consist of every woman and man.Lisa and me!

~WELL!~  there’s one key element you’ve got to know!

It’s absolutely vital for all of us to grow!

You’re probably thinkin this plan isn’t work… but I’ll tell you right now DON’T BE ONE OF THOSE JERKS!

Cuz all it is… is a shift in thought.

Somethin so simple that we’ve ALL been taught!

So I’m gonna say now to every boy and girl…

All we gotta do is CHANGE THE WORLD!!

I SAID LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!!FEET

~Just stop!~ stop whatever you’re doin!

I might sound like I’ve got the crazies a brewin…

and YES I just might be crazy… but what you have to know is we’ll be pushin up daisies…

if we don’t change something real fast!

I’ll tell ya right now we won’t survive the BLAST! ~NO!!~

No I don’t know why some people still don’t see ~NO!~ Nobody has to live in this poverty!!

~SO!~ what’s on my mind and devouring my thoughts?

Somethin so simple that we’ve ALL been taught!!

All we gotta do is CHANGE THE WORLD!!

I SAID LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!!

I SAID LET’S CHANGE THE WORLD!!

International Business Paper #1- The Conservation Controversy

~This week I am finishing the last part of my business program in International Business. My last course. I have three papers to write and here is my first one:

Write a 2-3 page paper on International Business of any kind. 

The Conservation Controversy

There is an overwhelming amount of poverty, animal decline, and other serious problems in different countries all over the world. There are also many conservation efforts being made and a large amount of travelers either teach English abroad or volunteer at some point on their journey. After some research I’ve realized that there is a controversy hidden within the concepts of volunteering and working in these sorts of international establishments.

There are a number of different ways to get involved in a conservation or volunteer project. You can work by teaching English, rescuing trapped sea animals from the ocean, cleaning beaches or even collecting sea turtle eggs that could potentially be snatched up by poachers. Sometimes you get paid really well and sometimes you just get free accommodations while you work. In some cases you have to pay to volunteer. There is a conservation project for every endangered animal on the planet. The argument is that some of these conservation projects are no more than a glorified travel experience for a backpacker. Young travelers can handle wild animals and go home to tell their friends what an amazing experience they had while making a difference at the same time. As for teaching English, it is said to be a modern, Western-style education system that is taking away from ancient cultures and creating a worldwide mono-culture.

In either case, the Eco tourism and ESL industries are booming. The tourism industry itself is heavily relied on to generate revenues for many communities and travelers rely on these types of projects and jobs to fund their travels. Rosaleen Duffy, a world expert on wildlife conservation, wrote a book called:
Nature Crime: How we’re getting conservation wrong. The book talks about western-style conservation projects harming wildlife and damaging the environment. There is also a compelling documentary called: Schooling the world, which explains the westernized ideals being carried over into other cultures and diluting traditional societies.

With travel becoming more and more popular in developing countries, communities have come to depend on these associations within the tourism industry. International politics surrounding this means of travel have critics extremely concerned. The loss of wildlife and the lack of education around the world is disheartening to say the least. Is there any way to continue these multicultural practices in an ethical way? The social benefits that are coupled with Eco-tourism and teaching English as a second language are essential for many economies. Is there a better way to carry out these practices?

Every year thousands of Canadians with good intentions venture out into foreign countries as overseas ‘Voluntours’ to help build houses and schools, improve communities and educate small children. How could this be such a bad thing? Some environmental and humanitarian activists say that for-profit entities put poverty on display and exploit the people in the families that are involved. It’s hard to make sure the best practices and knowledge when so many of us want to be included in the rejuvenation of our environment and our people. How can unskilled workers who want to make a real difference succeed if time or money is a problem? The short term programs don’t seem to be the best solution in providing to the needs of those overseas communities.

Volunteers need experience, awareness and on-the-ground expertise when it comes to any conservation project. The volunteer travel industry is advancing at a rapid pace and with the concerns around this trade it is difficult to foresee the future and where it will lead us. It goes without saying that there is a lot of good that goes into these programs and the genuine relationships that develop in these subcultures are commendable. With corrupt political systems in place, astonishing poverty rates and the ever growing population, what else are we to do to protect those who are less fortunate and in need?

I handed this in this morning 🙂 Hope my prof likes it!

Why save the Sea Turtles?

Did you know that the Leatherback Sea Turtles are the largest turtles in the world? turtle

The heaviest one recorded was over 2,000 lbs. That’s incredible!!

Last year I decided to join GoVoluntouring so I could experience my first conservation project and pay it forward to those endangered animals in need. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“GoVoluntouring is the leading full-service specialist for both volunteering and applied learning programs around the world.”  http://govoluntouring.com/

So, why should we save the sea turtles? A lot of people ask me why I chose turtles in particular. Why is a sea turtle so important?

Well, why is any animal important?

When I was looking for the perfect project I could really focus on I had a hard time choosing. There is no one animal more important than another. Every living thing on this planet is fundamental to our survival. If I could, I would volunteer all around the world helping as many animals as possible.

So why don’t I? Money. It’s the one excuse and roadblock I always run into. Stupid money.

Since I can’t afford to travel the world and volunteer everywhere… I chose an animal I’ve always loved. Turtles 🙂 That’s when I started my “Save the Sea Turtles” campaign and began fundraising.

When I was a little girl I had a pet turtle named Beverly. Why did I name her Beverly? I have no idea. I have an Aunty named Beverly… but I don’t think that had anything to do with it. I thought of my pet turtle Beverly when I decided to join a sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica.

I’ve learned only 1-2 turtles make it to sea after hatching. That usually means a single survivor in a nest full of hundreds of babies. Poaching, drag net fishing or just the loss of habitat will prove fatal for most of the baby turtles. There are a lot of forces working against them.

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http://fundraise.govoluntouring.com/campaign/1000074

Why wouldn’t I want to save this little guy? He’s so cute!

The project is located in the north of the Caribbean province Limon. The beach is part of the 50km coastline stretching between Tortuguero National Park and the port of Limon, one of the biggest ports of Costa Rica. This beach is extremely important for the Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles. It is an essential nesting ground for them and sometimes it’s also visited by Hawksbill Sea Turtles, which are very rare. This area is very remote and uninhabited, other than the volunteers at the conservation. 

The cost for the conservation is $600/per week and that includes room and board the entire time you are there. The staff provides 3 meals a day and a clean place to sleep. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of the quarters and all the tools necessary for turtle research. In an email I received from my program co-ordinator, she told me this:

“Volunteer work includes assisting the staff with data collection, egg protection of the sea turtles and rescue and rehabilitation duties. It involves night patrols and hatchery shifts as well as daytime work like beach cleanup or construction of the hatcheries.”

Awesome right!? 

I’ve been fundraising for a whole year by posting facebook updates, selling my stuff, having sidewalk sale fundraisers and making jewelry. So far I’ve raised $1400 towards the project, which is a lot less than I thought I’d have by now. But, unfortunately a lot of people can’t get involved due to finances. Most people don’t even have $1 to spare… which is strange because they do seem to have money for other things… just not a dollar for a turtle. A good friend of mine even said that my fundraiser looked like I was just trying to get others to fund a vacation. Which kind of hurt but, I get it. That wasn’t my intention. And if you know me, you know I am not the kind of person to ever have those intentions. I truly want to help endangered animals.

To those people who have supported my cause and actually care enough just to wish me good luck … I am forever grateful. I am so lucky to have those people in my life who care about me. So I will keep on fundraising until I reach my goal and then go save some turtles!There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to volunteering which I’ve obviously learned about since starting my campaign… and you can read about it here:

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jul/29/wildlife-conservation-projects-more-harm

and here:

http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/lion-pets.html#cr   and a ton of other articles out there.

I share this with you because I want to know what the general consensus is. What do YOU think about conservation? Is this something we can do to change the world?

I personally think conservation is important. So are a lot of other projects out there including feeding the hungry, standing up for women’s rights or even children’s education programs.

My future goals definitely include working as a full time volunteer and humanitarian. It’s what I want to write about. I would love more than anything to be a travel writer and use conservation efforts as my main focus. And so, this is all part of my journey to becoming a successful writer. I want my work to have purpose. To reach more and more people until we see a drastic change. So surely, you can count on hearing about the trip down to Costa Rica next year and about those magnificent turtles.

There are so many sea turtle conservations other than the one I’m getting involved in. If it’s something you’re interested in check out the GoVoluntouring website and browse through the wonderful campaigns. There are many opportunities to give back to the world or even support someone who has a passion for volunteering. You can also volunteer here:

http://www.conserveturtles.org/

OR here:

http://earthwatch.org/

OR here:

http://www.seeturtles.org/

I could go on and on…

~Thursday Thoughts: What if we all did our part?~

I hesitated writing this post on the off-chance I might sound too self-righteous or something… but then I wrote it anyways!

~There are thousands and thousands of organizations out there trying to better our planet. We see wildlife conservation, child sponsorship, local volunteer projects and so on. Yet, our world as we know it is crumbling before we very eyes. Why?

Is it our Governments and politicians? images

Is it Monsanto?

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Is it criminals and liars?

Or is it us?

What if we could live in a world without war or famine? What if we could all just throw away our materialistic behaviour and start playing a role… even just a small part in our uprising?

What if we ALL did our part?

I wrote a post at the beginning of the year called “T’s top 10 must-do’s for the new year 2014”

https://thetinywriter.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/reflections-of-us-ts-top-10-must-dos-for-the-new-year-2014/

stating some of the projects I’ve decided to get involved with and some other self-love type activities we can all do to heighten our senses and think about ourselves on another level. I thought I could encourage people to get up and do something!

It only got 1 “like” and none of my Facebook friends even read it. Was I being to presumptuous to think people would care or even take my suggestions seriously? Did I sound too cocky?cocky

 

I have no idea. And I still don’t really know how to get more people on board to better our planet.

So here I sit. Writing my heart out each and every week… posting on my Facebook, linking my blog to my Twitter account hoping that somewhere out there someone might take a look at my message and say “That girl is right! I need to make a difference somehow!!”

imagesEOMS2EH4

But alas, my journey seems to be one of my very own and I probably sound like I think am better than other people or even arrogant at times. Which I am not. I am no better than anyone else trying to make a change… trying to get more people involved. Why don’t others see this and get involved?

I keep thinking back to my “Save the Sea Turtles” campaign. My close friend literally told me that it looked like I was just taking people’s money to go on a vacation. How could something so good look so bad? How many other people look at me and think that? Do I sound like I am just toot’n my own horn here??

imagesS5JDATI3I tested my Facebook feed one week and posted a few pictures. One of my new haircut and a post about “no poo” which is removing all chemicals from my hair and everyday life in general. Then I posted about a new job opportunity. Then I posted a heart-felt message about fundraising and child sponsorship seeking support from my friends and family.

Well guess which posts got the most “likes” and guess which one was completely ignored.

I guess the whole “Hey I’m doing this great thing and you should do some great things too” approach is not working 😦

So, what do we do? Any suggestions?

And here’s to the people who dedicate their lives to World Aid. They are the real heroes on this planet ❤ I hope to make this my life sooner rather than later so I can really show people what we are ALL capable of 🙂

Happy writing!

 

 

Thursday Thoughts: Just a tiny girl in a big cruel world

~There are so many crazy things going on in our world today. Sometimes it’s so hard to keep a positive outlook on life. I keep thinking and hoping things will change but, what can I do as a single person?images90QLCEXS

I’m just a tiny girl. Just a speck in this vast universe that is slowly being destroyed. Here I stand at 5 foot zero… how can I make a difference while the world towers over me? I keep carrying this weight on my shoulders and straining my neck every time I look up for that droplet of hope to fall on my cheek.

There are hundreds of thousands of conservation projects underway and yet, animals are still dying in large numbers. Our oceans, rivers and streams are being poisoned everyday and people are dying all over the world due to pollution and hunger. Is there anything we can do to stop all of the chemicals from seeping into our lives? Our food? Our water?

How come everything is crumbling before our eyes regardless off all the efforts that are being accomplished? Is there simply nothing we can do to stop the earth from being destroyed?

When I started fundraising and getting involved with non-profit organizations that’s when I figured it out. A lot of people stopped talking to me and stopped liking certain posts about fundraising. I reached out to family members and friends to help with the causes I am so passionate about but the response was not what I’d hoped for. The majority of people I reached out to weren’t interested in getting involved… and the reason was always money.

The root of all evil.

On a larger scale that’s what the main problem is. Despite all the efforts that are being made, most people won’t or can’t get involved.

So here I am. Just one tiny girl dancing in the middle of a full-scale, world-wide problem.

What else can I do? How can I spread this message? How can I get more people involved?

What do WE all do?

I ask you this: How can we change the world?

Is it possible?

Is this the end of the world? In morbid dreams…

~Dreams of a time traveller… And then I cried…

end of the world

When I realised all the trees were gone

When the oceans became riddled with poisons and plastic

When the children had no one to care for them.

THE ANIMALS ARE DYING IN LARGE NUMBERS DON’T YOU SEE?

rhino lonesome-george elephant

Will they ever listen to me?

~Catastrophe~

One day I walked outside to see the ghostlike streets and the abandoned houses.

There were no more daughters, sons nor spouses.

The people had fled from their homes to run from the rising seas.

Gunfire, explosions and casualties.

I rose  above to watch over thee… but unfortunately no more were we.

The rhinos, turtles and elephants were diminished and the governments were finally finished… they had nothing left to be.

Destroyed, deployed and everyone is annoyed.

We had no way to stop them… did we?

It was the end and we lost our friends. No more could we find hope or faith for free.

Our dreams, our thoughts and independence came at a steep price, for we as a whole could not suffice.

Now we look back and grumble in spite,

For the end was here and now it’s forever night.

***

FADE TO BLACK