A friend and I decided we'd like to see the sea turtles at Tortuguero but had no good idea how to get to there from La Fortuna. A 6:30 a.m. bus took us to Ciudad Quesada, and a second had us in Puerto Viejo by noon. We were far closer to our destination, but no one in Puerto Viejo seemed to consider it a logical place from which to embark to Tortuguero. A few people muttered the word "barca" before shrugging their shoulders and turning away. At the boat docks, several motor boat drivers looked at me with suspicion as I used my twenty words of Spanish to try to communicate a desire to go to Tortuguero, today, by boat. One of them finally named a price, and we were off. Our only fellow passengers were a young woman and her baby. Nothing bad can happen when a baby is present, right? We powered through a jungle that made me feel deliciously far from home. When we hit a stretch of the San Juan River that belongs to Nicaragua, we had to disembark for a passport check by soldiers who were far friendlier than the machine guns across their backs. How had I gotten here? But we were in Tortuguero in time for dinner and, several hours later, walking single-file and silent along the beach behind our guide. He suddenly stopped and pointed. The enormous, hulking, prehistoric shell of a giant sea turtle was not thirty feet away. She hunched over the hole she'd dug in the sand, diligently expelling gelatinous egg after egg from her body to the beach. Somehow, we'd made it there to see this.
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Limón Province, Costa Rica
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