*written July 16, 2008
It was an instant relief to be reunited with my group of friends from Haverford who are volunteering in Nicaragua. Fourth of July weekend was celebrated with laughter and story telling. We ventured to a southern beach called El Coco and filled each other in on our internship experiences (while taking in a bit of sun). It was the perfect get away in the middle of our 10-week span in this fascinating country. It was a bit difficult to play tourist after volunteering for so long, but we comforted ourselves by realizing our money was going toward the improvement of the tourism business. An increase in tourism would greatly help Nicaragua’s economy. It has as many beautiful sights as does Costa Rica but lacks the economic stability to advertise. It is hard to publicize and improve the tourism business when forty percent of the population is in extreme poverty.
In the Southern part of Nicaragua exists a beautiful sanctuary for the mothers of the ocean, who once a year travel thousands of miles to lay their eggs in the same sand from which they originally emerged. La Flor is a natural turtle reserve in which over 20,000 turtles come to between July and September to lay their precious, valuable eggs. About one in every hundred of their babies will survive to become procreative adults.
Besides birds and small mammals, humans are their most detrimental predator. Turtle eggs are a delicacy in Nicaraguan restaurants; so many poor residents will sneak onto the reserves and steal the turtle eggs after they are laid. But how can we blame those who are merely trying to survive and feed their families by digging up a few eggs to sell on the streets? Humans are slowly destroying nature, but poverty and corrupt governments are slowly destroying humanity. Who is at fault?
Our group was lucky enough to witness one of the great giants lay her eggs deep in the sand. I can’t begin to describe how incredible the mother turtle looked as she struggled to lay and bury her 100 some odd ping-pong like eggs and then flop back to the ocean. These incredible creatures can live up to 200 years old and have been around since the age of the Dinosaurs.
My group also arrived on a night when nine eggs had hatched, so the workers at the national reserve allowed us to set them free into the ocean. It is much safer for humans to bring them down the beach than to let them travel on their own, because many predators are constantly on watch in hopes to grab a bite to eat. It was quite a sight to watch the tiny beings scamper away to the distant roar of the waves. Sometimes we forget to appreciate the beauty beyond human kind. Nature has so much to offer.