Monday, March 16, 2015

La Palma?

La Palma?
By: Selena Alvarado

Hannah and I started our second day in Costa Rica bright and early. We had five o-clock alarm but the rooster next door sang just to make sure we were awake.

Half an hour later we were on our way to the Osa Sea Turtle Conservation main office. Our driver did not know what the place looked like and neither did we, so it took a few phone calls to get there. We were greeted by a young man who offered us coffee. Let me take a moment to recognize that Costa Rican cup of joe. With only a teaspoon of sugar to go along with it, it is by far the best cup of coffee I have had in my life. And I’ve had A LOT of coffee.

We met an older man from Oregon at orientation but unfortunately he was not doing the same project we were so we did not get to see him afterwards. He is a biologist who has studied sage grouse in Idaho and later moved to Oregon to work by the coast.

Unfortunately, orientation took longer than planned and we were rushed out the door, ran a few blocks, jumped in a taxi and headed out to the bus station. There was a lot of traffic and we missed our bus. This is when the adventure began.

All the traffic we had to sit through. 
We walked up to what looked like the main ticket booth and asked for a ticket to La Palma which is where our orientation leader told us to go. The man at the ticket booth pointed us to the direction of another booth where we could get what we were looking for. The next bus was leaving four hours from then. We had no other choice but to buy the tickets and call the sea turtle project people to tell them we were going to be late. Once we purchased our tickets and got our situation settled we sat at a café that offered WiFi. Of course the lady working made it very clear that I MUST buy something before she gave me the password. I went for a slice of bread that looked a lot like banana bread, it tasted very similar too. I am not sure what it was, but it was good and worth the WiFi password.

So I sat and ate and sat and ate and ate some more and finally our bus arrived. Hannah and I both asked: “Este autobus va a La Palma?” (“Does this bus go to La Palma?") When we made sure it was the right bus, we hopped on and began our journey to La Palma. I fell asleep for the first hour and half of the ride and when I woke up I felt like I was in a different country. San Jose is the hustle and bustle of Costa Rica, but once you venture out everything looks so serene and green. It was truly breathtaking and a picture cannot even remotely capture the essence of this place.

Hannah and I on the bus to La Palma. 
During orientation we were told that we only had to take one bus to La Palma and it would take us straight there. So you can imagine my surprise when the man sitting next to me tells me that we are getting off soon and switching buses. I of course panicked because how can we be so sure we’ll get on the right bus again? Well we got off as we were told and waiting along with everyone else who was on the same bus as us.

I went around asking “La Palma?” and pointing to buses to see which one it was. We found the bus, hopped on and continued our journey. All along the way we kept asking “Cuanto tiempo para La Palma?” (“How much time until La Palma?”) They would tell us either how far away we were in kilometers or how much time we had left. I would say we asked that question at least once in the hour. Especially when it started to get dark; Hannah and I were very scared we were going to miss our stop because it was so dark out and there were no signs indicating where we were. But we put the faith in our bus driver and two passengers and they made sure to tell us once we got to La Palma. I think everyone on that bus was happy when we finally got to La Palma: I am surprised there was no applause as we exited the bus.
My bed while I stay in La Palma. 

I write this as I sit on the edge of my mosquito netted bed at our host family’s house in La Palma. We are going to have another early wake-up call and ride bikes down to the area where we’ll be working on the sea turtles.


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