Written by Emily
This day is otherwise known as 'Rachel and Emily's Day Off' and as usual, contains many a lol.
The rules regarding the turtle project state that after 6 days and nights of hard, tortuga-conserving labour, volunteers are entitled to a hearty day off. Mine and Rachel's fell on Monday the 5th April, and after much discussion and hearty persuasion from a local named Gilberto, we decided to spend a good four hours of our sacred free time, hanging out on his boat in the middle of the Laguna, for a small fee of 6000 colones each.
It was clear that this was going to be a day of Wildlife spotting goodness as soon as we set off on the small walk to the Laguna where Gilberto's boat was moored, as i excitedly pointed to a small, black creature on the path and exclaimed 'look! A bull frog!' The 'frog' then instantly spread it's wings and took flight out of our way. Gilberto dispaired. Pretty soon we were in sight of a large, canoe type sea-craft, tied up in a shady area, water lapping at it's sides and a curious puddle in every one of the footwells. Not letting this deter us, we began to scramble down the bank to slide our way in. We were stopped in our tracks by an alarming shout from Gilberto, of 'No, wait! I need tell you something!' It sounded, from the tone of his voice, as though whatever he had to say would be imperative to our overall safety and wellbeing, and so we turned to stare at him, awaiting a safety briefing or similar grave warning. Instead, what he said was 'look, here, this mangrove. The mangrove is essential for all lifes in the Laguna...' This was followed by a 10 minute lesson about each type of mangrove that the Laguna cultivated, and it's own role in the delicate eco-system. Once that was over with, we proceeded to finally board the SS Gilberto, and get our aquatic fun going.
A few hours later, and we had seen, with a hefty amount of aid from Gilberto, pretty much every species that the Laguna had to offer, as well as having stopped for about 30 minutes whilst Rach tried, with countless attempts to get a picture of some distant squirrel monkeys cruising around in the trees. My fave moment of this excrutiating half-hour, occurred thus- Rach 'Oh my God, I've got such a great picture of the monkey! It's soo good!' Gilberto (Craning his head in to get a look at her camera) 'Er... where is the monkey?'
Once our boat trip had drawn to a close, we headed back to the station for the obligatory rice 'n' bean dinner, and a catch up with the other guys about how they had enjoyed their day's hard labour. Presently, it was heard on the grapevine that due to the same two leaving staff members who still had not left, another party was to be held that evening, this time at the 'pool bar', which Rach and I had come to learn very early on consisted of nothing more than a pool table under a makeshift roof, next to a cupboard of beer. But, lacking any better ideas about what to do with our evening sans patrol, we decided to cruise along.
Because of a gargantuan game of late-night poker with Rachel and Abby that just kept giving and giving, Rach and I found ourselves strolling on into the 'pool bar' with them at the rebellious hour of twelve thrity, expecting to find some major league carribbean drinking and dancing involving all unsundry that were not on patrol. What we did find was about 5 other assorted locals and members of staff, watching a game of pool unfold whilst Akon's 'Smack That' blasted through on a stereo. After a strange conversation about drinks with Joao, it transpired that this 'bar' did not serve the widely accepted beverage 'Fanta Orange', but did deal in it's obscure cousin 'Fanta Bubblegum'. This was truly the most hellish drink i've ever had to consume to be polite, but every gulp saw me wishing heartily that i had followed Rachel's lead and sampled a proper Costa Rican beer.
As the mind-bendingly arbitrary mix CD blasted it's way through more Akon, some Guns n' Roses, Bob Marley, Queen, Culture Club and much, much Reggaeton, the 'party' remained a subdued affair, only brightened by the moment when I turned to see Rach, out of sheer boredom I can only assume, staring vacantly in the vague direction of some green-tank top'ed Rastafarian, who assumed she was captivated by his cool vibe and proceeded to make suggestive eyebrow-movements and lip-pouts back at her. Rach, of course did not notice this due to her unwavering vacancy, and so left Rasta Guy completely hanging.
Once we had left the party as it started to rain apocalyptically, to copious shouts from me of 'O s***! I've left my freakin' washing out!!' We slopped our way back into the sandy crap-holes for some questionable sleep. The night ended with this exchange between us- Me 'What is that hideous, HIDEOUS smell??' Rach 'Me.'