Flying half-way around the world by yourself can at first seem daunting. Yet after reaching San Jose, the chilled tico way of life already began to make me realise that it shouldn't be. The hostel was fine for staying in and clean, but I was distracted by looking forward to reaching the beach and fears about the people I would meet, whom I knew nothing about and had to spend a week with.
However, once I got on the minibus I realised that we were all in the same boat, even those of us who had flown out as pairs or were already friends/family. It's surprising how quickly you can bond so closely, so suffice it to say that by the time we had reached our destination (following a deviation by ferry as the bus had broken down before reaching us) we were all more than comfortable with the idea of spending a week in the beautiful, tropical paradise of San Miguel together.
The days were relaxed although there were activities like volleyball or helping local children, and often the coordinators came up with their own activities for the day like fitness. The food was incredible and Locos Cocos was definitely worth a visit, but the most worthwhile part of the trip was undoubtedly the night shifts. The interminable excitement at possible finding a turtle meant that you didn't care how long you were out in the night or when, really. The two hours flew by, especially when you did find the tracks to a turtle or their nest.
I remember it felt like a massive privilege to be able to see such an intimate moment as when a turtle laid her eggs, the embodiment of a dinosaur, almost unchanged for millennia. Whilst it first seemed like the eggs might break you soon learned how strong they were and I felt nothing more satisfying than seeing the work we had done in the hatchery as it rapidly filled.
Now that I'm back in the UK I've been lucky enough to receive some photos from my friends who stayed out their longer of the baby turtles making their journey to the ocean. TO know that we made a difference, no matter how small, makes me immensely prideful. Yet, I feel no regrets about not seeing the babies. To be able to see an animal older than I am, to be able to collect her eggs and to witness something that almost nobody else can all while relaxing in such a beautiful location was fulfilling enough. Whilst everything may have been permanently damp with the ocean breeze and the wildlife more than exotic, I could not say that I was put off for a minute from the idea of travelling.
So, I thank the incredible work of Oyster Worldwide and the Turtle Trax team for making my stay so enjoyable, as I look further afield to my next journey now with the self-confidence of a true person of the world.