Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!

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27 July 2007
And other Tortuguero strangeness

cucarachisima!OK, there´s something *very weird* going on in this room. Maybe the floor is treated with some kind of strange insecticide (not sure if that´s comforting or not) or maybe there´s something even stranger afoot (so to speak). All I know is that yesterday night there were two fat black ants crawling merrily around, and within minutes they were squirming crazily on their backs, and then they were dead. And tonight I came back to my room to find THE BIGGEST CUCARACHA -- I mean, we´re talking cucarachisima -- flat on its back on my floor. I thought he was dead until I started snapping pics. (Oh, c´mon, of *course* I had to document this!) And then he started twitching. Bleccch. The true freakaliciousness happened when I tried to get him OUT of my room. No way I was touching him. (And you like how I just assigned the male gender to this bug?) So I tried shoveling him up with my flip flop. No dice. Too big. Tried sorta chopsticking him with both flops. Nope, all I succeeded in doing was crushing him a bit. And he was still twitching. Ewwwwwww! This was getting nasty. I finally just swatted him out into the hallway. I had every intention of rocketing him off the balcony into the yard, but he got stuck in the weird plastic hallway flooring. Eh, let the obnoxious French couple next door find him tomorrow morning.

But I´m getting ahead of myself. I woke up this morning, reveling in the relative calm and comfort of NOT being at Rockin J´s. The previous evening, a friendly Bananero employee named Richard helped me and one other guy named Jay find a place to stay, and we wound up at Cabinas Meriscar, recommended by the book as a cheap and basic guesthouse. Yep, basic it is, but for $5 a night in a private room meant for three people, I can´t complain.

Anyway, after taking a nice cold shower (jeez it´s hot here!) and unpacking my things a bit, I heard a knock at my door. And I opened it to find Richard, the friendly guide from last night. Ehm, OK, that´s a little weird, but whatever. He was following up on a conversation we´d had about the various tours that are available, and he clearly wants to make a commission on the sale, and that´s his job, so fine. The tour situation in Tortuguero is overly-complex: there are two shifts for the night tour, and the guides have a lottery system to find out which timeslot they get, and you don´t find out whether you´re in the 8pm or the 10pm tour until about 5:00 or so. Plus you have to buy your own entrance to the Park, which must be done sometime before 5pm. Oy vey. OK, fine, if that´s how it works, I´ll go to the tour office this evening, after having purchased my Park pass, and figure it out.

Ten minutes later, he came back  :::: sigh ::::  to say he´d just come by Meriscar at 6pm to let me know about the tour time. I asked if he couldn´t also buy the Park pass for me, and he agreed. I gave him the funds, he gave me a receipt, and we were golden. Crikey.

downtown TortugueroAlrighty, next item on the agenda was finding an internet cafe and attempting to make contact with Bronwen, a new CouchSurfing (virtual) friend with whom I was planning to take the bus to Guatemala. She was supposedly staying at one of the swankier lodges on Tortuguero -- wrangled a sweet student rate -- which was a bit further away and only accessible by water taxi. We´d agreed to attempt to connect via email since we would both be in Tortuguero at about the same time. Now, if only I could find an internet cafe. Jay and I set out to explore the town and see what services were available. Once we left our ´hood of South Central Tortuguero -- keep your pimp hand strong -- the surroundings got a little less sketchy and a little nicer. There was only one i-caf in town, and it had the same expensive rates I found in Puerto Viejo, but beggars can´t be choosers. I did some quick email catchup and left before I could rack up too much of a bill.

hammock on the guesthouse back porchI passed part of the afternoon in the hammock on the back porch of Meriscar, which overlooked the ubiquitous town soccer field and also caught a nice ocean breeze. After dropping my laundry off with Carmen, I decided to hit the beach for a bit. It was actually quite pleasant there, with a nice strong breeze and big chunky waves. The water had a decidedly greenish foamy hue to it, so I decided not to do any swimming, although there were plenty of people in the water and lots of surfers. I had just settled into a nice comatose state when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Richard. OK, this was starting to get a bit stalker-creepy. I laughed nervously and said something silly about "Oh, you always know just where to find me, don´t you?" And he mentioned something about maybe joining him for a nice cold beer in an hour. Actually, a nice cold beer sounded pretty good just then, but I gave him a nice vague maybe, if I still happened to be there in an hour. I was glad to have left the beach without needing to negotiate that awkwardness any further. Hey, if he really wanted to see me he could just show up at my room again. :::: shudder ::::

I was sure to keep the door locked tightly at all times.

Posted by soniaz at 1:00 PM | Link | 0 comments

The fearsome Crocostimpy
Nature show on the beach

As promised, Richard did show up around 6pm to inform me and Jay that we would be taking the earlier tour. Fortunately, at the time, I was in the kitchen cooking my dinner, so there was no further encounter with him in the upstairs hallway. He almost didn´t produce my park pass, the bastard, claiming he´d completely forgotten to procure one for me. But then he came back later, pass in hand. Creep.

Anyway, the turtle walk was totally surreal. Our guide, Maria, didn´t seem to have a whole lot to say, and her West Indies patois was incredibly difficult to parse out. The non-English speakers on the tour all but gave up on her. It was a beautiful night to be on the beach: full moon, big silvery waves. Unfortunately there were waaaaaaaaay too many people, despite the whole timeslot dance. The park has a cadre of volunteers to monitor the turtles, tag and measure them, watch out for illegal poaching, etc. When one of the volunteers spotted a turtle laying eggs, we all crowded around for a look. It was cool, but also very weird. I mean, how would you feel if a bunch of people got all up in your business with a bunch of infrared flashlights?? As somebody said earlier in this trip, "You almost want to tell the turtle: Ma´am, I apologize for the intrusion!" True dat. But it was still a groovy and unique experience.

And then we spent a bunch of time standing around on the beach, not getting any further information from Maria, unlike the other tour groups whose guides were spouting off turtle tidbits and other info. We watched one turtle come lumbering out of the surf, take one look at the ginormous crowd, and whip a u-turn back into the sea. Can´t blame her one bit for that decision! We did watch another huge turtle make her way back into the ocean, having finished the work of laying and covering up her eggs. Those things move pretty fast, considering it´s like dragging yourself up and down the beach on your elbows. The whole thing reminded me of that episode of "Ren & Stimpy" where they did the nature show... and if you get that reference, you´re even more twisted than I thought! ;)

turtle egg campaign 1 - the Butthead Approachturtle egg campaign 2 - hey, big boy, real men don't need turtle eggsSadly, it's still common practice to steal turtle eggs right from the beach. They're believed, among other things, to have aphrodesiac powers. The Costa Rican government has launched some interesting PR/educational campaigns to discourage this activity, and there were posters up all over town. These are two of my favorites, each taking a slightly different approach to the same message: Hey, dude, listen up! It is so NOT COOL to consume stolen turtle eggs! They do not make you more of a man! Cut it out!


Posted by soniaz at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments