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Pretoma Turtle Refuge, Costa Rica

Central America
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Turtle Mamma Guanacaste  Costa Rica

Turtle Mamma

"You get to the end of the road . . . make sure you lock your car. Follow the beach down to a bunch of white tents. You can’t miss it.” We’d heard those words before, and we’d proved our inalienable right to, indeed, miss what could not be missed.

But after a long walk, we saw someone hailing us from a tented area. “You’re just in time--we’re about to release the turtles.”

Not many visitors go to Playa Caletas to find Pretoma Turtle Sanctuary. Situated on one of the more remote beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and often moving between beaches, it’s a place you’ve got to know is there and want to find. Fortunately, we did.

“The people who make it here are the people we want to come,” summed up our makeshift tour guide from Barcelona. We met young people from all over the world there for one cause--to safeguard enough turtles between egg laying and hatching into the sea to keep the species viable.

As the Pacific sun set, our three kids got the experience of holding a baby Olive Ridley sea turtle gently in their hands and releasing it onto the sand. We all cheered them on in their dangerous scamper to the sea, and we all felt a little like turtle parents, swelling with pride at our offspring and thrilled for their safety.

Not the way we’d ever spent a Christmas Eve before. But caring for the helpless felt like a good fit, as we returned back down the long moonlit beach.