~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).

IMG_20160213_022258

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.

1898003_449591305173189_1683409440_n

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.

IMG_20160213_022219

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.

1723356_1696194280662945_1862422288_n

Thursday Thoughts: Learning to Love Myself Again Xo

I think a lot. And by a lot, I mean A LOT!

My mind is made up of multiple wheels turning in every direction, so naturally when I experience something painful it hurts in all kinds of different ways. Maybe it’s just the cycle you go through after your heart has been broken. But for me it feels so much deeper than I would’ve imagined. After 4 years with one person it has been extremely difficult to be alone with my crazy mind. My thoughts seem to take over.

It’s been about 3 months now and I do feel like the worst of it has passed. But there are still times when I’m alone that my heart starts to ache repeatedly. I still lie awake wondering how I got to that point where I am alone in my bed. I feel like I never want to let myself fall in love with anyone ever again. One time seems painful enough.

Then I start to think about others who have shared their stories with me when it comes to heartache and pain. When there is marriage and children involved and many years of counseling, I can’t even begin to understand how that feels.

Moving on…

I have been so lucky to have the most loving friends who have helped me through this break up. They have lifted me up and made me laugh. They have said so many loving things to me to try to help me remember who I really am and that I matter. I am not just a broken heart.

The hardest part is writing about my most recent travel experience in Costa Rica; the trip that I thought would bring us closer together. How do I write about that? Do I just write him out of all the stories I want to tell? Do I include him in the adventures I reminisce about? I’m torn between wanting to forget and needing to remember. After all, he was there with me and we had that wonderful experience together.

Maybe some of my blogger friends can shed some light on this situation.

How do you bring yourself to write about someone who broke your heart?

How do you get the words out while you are still hurting so much?

How do I share my story when I just want to forget about him?

I know I am worth more than I feel I am now and I know that my heart won’t always hurt. After so much reflection and self affirmations I feel like my old self is slowly returning. I do feel happy, but when I sit down to write the pain comes flooding back.

How do I stop this from happening?

How do I learn to love myself again?

Traveling: Will It Make or Break You?

~Relationships are funny. You gain some and you lose some. Lessons are learned and hearts are broken. Travelling is a huge test when it comes to relationships and putting the two together can be either a wonderful practice or a deadly concoction.

If you have read my blog recently you may have noticed that I am going through a very painful break-up which makes it incredibly hard to write about the trip I just experienced with my ex two months ago. It really is true what they say: Traveling will make or break you.

Learning about someone in a relationship is exciting at times, but when you realize something is not quite right in that person’s actions towards you, it can be hard to understand where that person is coming from. This is exactly what happened to me. All I can say is that a distance grew between us and I don’t really understand why. Distractions caused me to feel invisible and ignored. Once we had returned from our trip the distance grew so strong that we ended up further apart than ever.

So I guess traveling broke us.

In any case, I find this to be true in friendships as well. Maybe it’s because there are shades of colors you can never see in a person unless you travel far away from home. Maybe it’s because traveling changes you. Whatever the reason may be, I believe it’s a blessing in disguise. Everything happens for a reason.

Going outside of your comfort zone can be a challenging decision. Stepping outside that zone with another person; well that’s a whole other story.

I lost a very special friendship while I was traveling through South East Asia. I had planned to meet up with an old friend in Thailand who I had known for years. I jumped on a plane and flew from Singapore to meet him. Once I arrived in Bangkok, we met up and had some fun in the city before venturing out to an Island called Ko Samet. My birthday was right around the corner and I was excited to celebrate.

But something happened during that trip that I will never understand. Everything seemed fine when we arrived but after a night of drinking and words, our friendship went sideways. Again, a distance suddenly grew between us and I started to notice a strong wall being built up inside my friend.

That evening I celebrated my birthday without him and danced around with some locals instead. If you’re interested in the details of how that night you can read my post: Stories of a Solo TravelerIn the end, the trip was a bit of a disaster. We left the island without speaking a word to one another and I sat on the bus back to Bangkok all by myself. I felt horrible.

Once arriving back in Bangkok I confronted my ex-friend about his actions towards me. He left me at the bus station that day and three days later he boarded a plane and flew back to Canada. I haven’t spoken to him in almost ten years now. Travelling seemed to have broken him and our friendship.

And that’s how fast it can happen.

Maybe it was something I said. It could have been something he felt and I didn’t. In my current situation, it was clearly something I felt and he did not. Now we are just strangers with a bunch of pictures of us from another country. Memories that were supposed to be happy but now just cause pain.

In both cases, I have felt totally abandoned by people who I thought cared about me.

I’m not going to lie, it hurts… a lot! But you can’t stop the changes that happen to someone else when you travel. Going somewhere else in the world is a life-changing experience. People’s true colors shine through and the universe either brings you together or it tears you apart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had some amazingly happy trips with other people in my life. My best girlfriend and I have traveled down to Mexico a few times and everything turned out great for us. It all depends on the people, the timing and the situations you put yourselves into.

You can’t stop change. You can’t force change.

stranded-918933

It is true what they say: Traveling will make or break you.

Luckily, I know how to put myself back together 🙂

 

For the People Who Truly Love Me xo

For the people who truly love me;

For the ones who take a moment out of their day to tell me that they are proud of me and they admire how far I’ve come in my life.

For the caring notes and messages I receive when times get tough.

For the thoughts that pass through your minds when I am near: “Is she OK?” “What can I say to help make things better?”

For those questions you ask make me feel special.

I no longer feel unwanted, unloved or invisible.

I no longer feel a sharp pain or a sinking heart.

I no longer believe hope is lost.

I no longer want to dwell on the people who do not truly love me, for I do not deserve to be treated in such a way.

I deserve the ones who truly love me without any conditions.

For those amazing, wonderful kind-hearted souls who have reached out to my heart, I give you a small piece.

I know you will not give it away or crush it.

I know you will keep it warm and embrace it.

I know you will try your best to put the broken pieces back together again.

For the people who truly love me, I love you too xo

Thank you for being you 🙂

For what would I do without your true love?

Letter to a Lost Love xo Moving on Monday

Dearest Lost Love,

I felt as though I owed you a great special surprise for your birthday this year. I had started planning a while ago. I was making a list of the things you loved: knives, machetes, climbing gear and mail. I’ll never understand why you loved receiving mail so much, but it always made you so happy to open it even if it was just a bill.

It would’ve been a grand bouquet of sharp things wrapped in rope with a bottle of scotch on the side. There would have been our first adventure book that I had begun to put together with our first travel memories from Costa Rica. I was hoping to add to that book as the years passed by. I was hoping to get all of your loved ones to mail you letters and cards all at once. I was planning on making a private Facebook page called: Surprise letters for (I can’t even say your name without pain now). It doesn’t really matter anymore.

It was such a splendid idea. Two weeks before your special day, I would’ve told everyone to write to you so all the mail would arrive all at the same time. The mailbox would’ve been overflowing with love from your friends and family who you love so dearly. You always wanted me to include them in our lives. They would’ve wrote to you about the memories and fun times you had shared. They would’ve wrote the things they loved about you. I still grin at my master plan. The look on your face would’ve been priceless.

But alas, my plans have been shattered by the cold space between us. I had lost you some time ago but had held on for dear life. When I realized you did not feel for me the way I felt for you, I wasn’t sure which direction to go. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything at all. Maybe if I’d stayed complacent you would still be holding me in your arms. Maybe that feeling of emptiness would’ve passed.

When you walked away from me that day I thought I was in a bad dream. But as the nightmare unfolded, my heart crumpled within my chest and I realized it was all too real. Now as I sit here writing out my master plan I know it will never happen. 

Maybe I would’ve made you fall in love with me. 

For it was I who asked what it was you truly wanted. For when that moment arrived and you paused and did not know what to say, I knew you did not want to fall in love with me. There will be no letters. There will be no special gifts from my heart. For I don’t feel my heart anymore.

So now I’m moving on, Monday. Now I have to say goodbye to a lost love I don’t even know anymore. Maybe you never truly loved me at all. Maybe one day you will read this, or maybe you won’t. Maybe this letter is not the one you were hoping for. I don’t know because I have lost you…

My dearest lost love xo

Friday Photo *Fallen* – Never Forget xo

10852757_556511317855488_942325990_n

I have fallen…

I’ll never forget the times we shared

A love so painful I could not compare

I let myself love you so deeply and true

Down in my heart, I always knew

You could not love or feel how I felt

But when you stopped to actually see me, I would completely melt

For all I ever wanted was you

Now the memories are so heartbreaking, I shouldn’t have let myself fall so hard for you

Now our sun is setting into the sea

Oh how I wanted you to fall in love with little ol me…

A sad goodbye xo

From Montezuma to Turtle Island- A ‘MUST DO’ Day Trip!

~Montezuma is a glorious little fishing town on the Southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. The ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera gives you your first glimpse at the beauty of this area and from Paquera, it’s about a 25-minute drive to Montezuma. Unless you’re taking the local bus, then it takes a lot longer.

The town is a mixture of locals and backpackers who travel from all over the world to see the incredible beaches, waterfalls, and rivers that envelop Montezuma. The village hosts mainly accommodations, restaurants and tourist shops because of the high volume of Eco-tourists who visit.

On a hike through the surrounding forest to one of the waterfalls, we ran into some squeaky little Capuchin monkeys jumping around in the trees. One of the monkeys came pretty close to us to show us his teeth and make it known that it was his home we were parading through. The little guy was adorable, but I kept my distance once he started showing his tiny fangs. They may be cute but I wouldn’t want to mess with any of them.

12383395_186869711695553_1638987946_n

The Must-Do day trip to Turtle Island, aka Isla Tortuga en Español, is an adventure you will never forget. With astonishing views of the Pacific Ocean and the Nicoya Peninsula, this trip does not disappoint. Most of the tours that go out to Turtle Island include snorkeling, scuba diving, a delicious lunch and great company from local tour guides and fellow travelers. It’s a pretty bumpy 45 minute boat ride to paradise but well worth it. If you are lucky enough to come across the ocean life that dwell around the area you may also meet sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays and whales as well. Once you arrive at the volcanic rock reef for your underwater excursions, you will discover a handful of colorful fish and tropical wonders under the waves near the island.

The island itself is absolutely pristine with tall palm trees, a white sandy shore, and serene blue water. Since the island is surrounded by volcanic rock formations, the water is so calm you can relax in the warm ocean as you take in the scenery without having to worry about large waves or riptides pulling you away. There’s something about water when it’s at a standstill that soothes you into a tranquil state.

The crew took our group snorkeling around a small rocky island where we spotted bright blue and yellow fish. There were also orange and white striped clown fish as well that looked exactly like Nemo!

clown-fish-1149696

We were served fresh coconut and pineapple all day long and the sun was incredibly hot I must have slathered on a few layers of sunscreen before the day was over. Then a big lunch of chicken, fried potatoes and rice filled our bellies as we basked in the cool shade of the sky-high palm trees.

I would’ve stayed there forever and a day if I could…

A journey to remember 🙂

Heartbroken Monday

They say when you have a broken heart, it physically breaks

And to what extent does the this action take?

Will I ever feel the pieces come together again?

How am I? Not good, I cannot pretend

It’s like knives in my flesh stabbing so deep

It feels like I’m falling and I can’t land on my feet

For my life is now crumbling before my very eyes

As I thought we were destined to laugh, love and cry

Together we were and now our love has been shot

A bullet wound so severe, a dream this is not

I could never have imagined that you would decide to give up

I believed you would finally decide to stand up

I thought you might fight for our love that was true

But fight you could not and our forever is now through

I’m sorry I could not love you the way you wanted me to…

Thursday Thoughts: The Messed Up Blog Post

~What happens when you work for hours and hours to perfect your blog post and then screw it up anyways?

This unfortunate circumstance has happened to me time and time again; the continuous read overs through each paragraph correcting one or two words at a time. The long pause when finishing a sentence and then deleting the entire thing because it sounds weird. Then that last correction after spell check says you have written everything in a passive voice or that you have just used a handful of clichés. cliché…

Then you ask yourself, “Can I even write!?”

Finally, you think that you have perfected each and every part of your post and you hit that dreaded Publish button and it only takes an entire day to realise that you have completely screwed up the title. THE TITLE!

The most important part of the post is ruined 😦

Everyone sees it. You manage to get the likes and a few more views, but the horror still lingers in your belly. You fix the link in your Facebook feed and you correct the Permalink in the post so that fewer people notice that you have messed up.

Oh, the horror… the messed up blog post.

So what happens? Nothing. Nothing at all. Life goes on as does the blog. It’s a learning experience I guess.

Try not to beat yourself up. Correct, move on and grow. 🙂

(I’m taking my own advice on this one)

Remembering Costa Rica xo

~Costa Rica was an amazing country to visit. Not only is this country very beautiful in its own unique way but it’s also very diverse. This Central American beauty, officially known as the Republic of Costa Rica, is enriched with culture and independence. There is a wonderful mix of lush green jungle, gorgeous beaches, and rustic landscapes.

Ecotourism plays a big role in the rapid development of society. From long hikes through the rainforest to snorkeling adventures through a coral reef, you can really experience a lot of fun stuff on a trip to Costa Rica. We were lucky enough to have had close encounters with the rich wildlife including Turtles, Iguanas, Geckos, Capuchin monkeys and Howler monkeys, which sound like dying donkeys if you were wondering where they got their name from. 🙂

My boyfriend and I decided to keep ourselves situated on the Pacific Coast. We had limited time to see everything we wanted to see and then work our two weeks at a Turtle Conservation in the middle of the trip. We booked our rooms through Air B&B, which turned out to be an interesting experience in itself.

Our first stop was in Alajuela, which is the third-largest city in Costa Rica after San José and Desamparados. We stayed there for 2 days to get our barrings straight and rest up post-flight. I noticed immediately that the city life had adopted American culture. There were a lot of billboards and signs in English, American music playing in the stores and American products for sale everywhere. Sometimes when purchasing items, the currency is quoted in American dollars as well, especially when you’re a tourist. If you are speaking English with a local and don’t understand the Costa Rican colón, you will be given the figure in American dollars. Taking out Canadian dollars from a bank machine down there turned out to be pretty expensive since it was converted to American dollars first.

IMG_20160210_154310Roaming around near the city mall you can find cows IMG_20160210_155807or horses drinking out of various things like fridges even when you’re staying close to the airport. We stayed in a little hotel 10 minutes away from where we landed. We were so close that we could hear the planes taking off all day.

From there we decided to leave the city and go down to Montezuma, which is located at the South Western tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. It just so happened that our Slovenian neighbors who had arrived on our second night in Alajuela, were driving in that same direction so we ended up catching a ride with them. 

Now, driving in Costa Rica is slightly terrifying, to say the least. The roads are incredibly rough in a lot of different areas and people don’t tend to follow the basic rules of the road. There are no blinkers to warn you what drivers are about to do and when passing another vehicle, it doesn’t matter if you have the right of way. I was pretty much white-knuckling the edge of my seat the whole time. It’s amazing how your heart drops into your chest when your seconds away from a head-on collision; and that’s just the norm there.

The countryside was a mix of farms and hills full of trees. Everywhere you look you can spot many different colorful birds flying around. Once we arrived in Puntarenas, we had a long 2-hour wait for the ferry. It was extremely windy and if you had a hat on you had to hang on to it as tight as you could. We sat at a little restaurant eating Ceviche and drinking Imperial beers while watching the hustle and bustle of the passengers getting ready to board the ferry. Finally, once the ferry arrived it quickly went from this:

IMG_20160211_124305 to this: IMG_20160211_132720 

in no time at all. It was actually quite exciting to watch as the dock workers pulled the long chains manually bit by bit. Two big men reeling as hard as they could to lift and lower the dock to level it for the oncoming boat.  Once the cars were cleared, we boarded the ferry. Only one person is allowed to drive the vehicle on board. Everyone else must walk on for some reason.

IMG_20160208_230322

Montezuma was awaiting us on the other side and I was giddy like a child crossing over. There were huge Pelicans everywhere that would dive bomb head first into the ocean, snapping at the fish below the surface. The water was dark blue and the islands that surrounded us as the boat crossed the peninsula, were flourishing with green leaves and long high palms waving in the sun.

What do you think? Travel Tuesdays?

I like the sound of that 🙂 I’ll schedule my Montezuma story for next week!