As we trekked through the forest, the salty Caribbean Ocean meandered through our naive nostrils. Using my peripheral vision to assure I was following the group, my eyes scanned the ground for tree roots and soldier ants. Finally the heavily packed dirt beneath my feet gave way into sand as we ascended a hill. Although I could not see any shapes along the beach, I could sense their presence and the magic of the night.
Following our guide’s almost inaudible footsteps and Spanish whisper, we gathered around our turtle. She shone her flashlight in the turtle’s hole and lifted her back flippers. The eggs emerged one by one, luminous in the stars’ light. As the turtle dug, her flippers’ immense strength cast sand in every direction. As others backed away I marveled in this turtle’s elegance and intensity. She was about five feet long, three feet wide, and two feet tall. The Tortuguero beach (named accordingly for tortuga means turtle in Spanish) was strewn with her family and friends.
Our two day visit in Tortuguero was the last stop of our two week adventure in Costa Rica in the summer of 2006. My ten peers and teacher agreed with me later that that night was the most spectacular event of our journey. Although we had traveled to the top of El Volcan Irazu, marveled at the beauty of La Basilica de Nuestra Senora de los Ãƒngeles, participated in a home stay for a week, seen countless perezosos (translating to sloth, or literally lazies), swam in the Caribbean Ocean, and eaten star fruit and cacao straight from the plant, witnessing a turtle laying eggs was the most magnificent.
Our guide had warned us not to speak for the turtles’ safety, but we felt no necessity to utter a word. I sat several feet away from our turtle and still discovered sand flying into my shirt. I tried to detect where the sandy beach became the raging ocean became the night sky, but the task deemed itself impossible. I merely knew I was observing the most stars I would ever in my entire lifetime. I sat astonished in the millions-of-years-old light, the even more ancient ocean, and the turtles giving birth to new life.
My mother has told me that birth is a magical event, but I could not fathom the magic until the night when I felt extremely connected with the world. As the wind rustled through the palm trees behind us, the surrealism of the night proved almost too perfect to comprehend. The trip led me to have my first Spanish dream, to make wonderful friends, and to embrace cultures even more than I did before. However, that night taught me the importance of simplicity. I finally recognized the extent of which the most insignificant deeds influence others. Perhaps fate introduced me to the stars, the ocean, and one turtle reproducing. Or perhaps that night was merely a coincidence in which I first sensed a powerful sense of being.
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