As usual, I was out on the night patrol with Andy and Delfina. Since the nesting season is slowing down, there are less and less turtles coming ashore to lay eggs. After walking for a mile, we came across the first turtle, watched by three groups of turtles. The tour guides had been very supportive by giving us space to work with the turtles. We were also been told that the there was another turtle nearby but when we got there, she already left. Not long after that, we had our second turtle and it was my turn.
The next turtle we found was hueqiando (digging the egg chamber) and Andy suggested that we mark the nest as we were beyond Mile 4. When I checked the turtle, omg…she was way hidden under the vegetation. I was not that sure if I wanted to count the eggs because it means I would have to stick my head into the vegetation. Delfina thought the same way too as she did not see good places to tie the tapes. We both asked Andy again but he thought it was alright and we should go ahead to count the eggs. However, he would be the one checking the tags!!!
I put on the gloves and waited for her to start laying eggs. Cursing in my head quite a bit as it was definitely going to be the worst eggs counting experience! Then my imagination took over reality – what if a jaguar bites off my head when I am counting the eggs? I mean we were already in the national park and jaguar has been seen eating turtles in this area! I waited and waited to what seemed like forever for her to finish the egg chamber!! Delfina even checked on me a couple of times! I was starting to feel bored, flashing the torch at her back once a few seconds to see if she was ready. I lost count of the time that passed by. A few times I thought maybe I should get into the eggs-counting position but I did not want to lie down under the vegetation and feed the mosquitoes, which already bit me!!! The image of jaguar showing up came into my mind again so I decided to sit there until she was ready.
Just as I was staring at her ass, I felt something crawling on my right hand. The first thing that came into my mind was CRAB! Then I realised I felt more of it by my right leg. Instinct told me there should not be so many of them so I flashed my torch and oh my god!!! I could not believe my eyes, seeing dozens of hatchlings coming out of their nest. It was like a volcano eruption! An eruption of too many hatchlings. I quickly flashed at Andy and Delfina and they came over. We turned off the light to not confuse the hatchlings. I was quite worried that they would fall into the egg chamber but none did. I touched and asked Delfina to stand aside as they were walking towards her and Andy. She thought it was an hatchling and was shocked that she dropped the book on an hatcling! It was really funny. They both followed the hatchlings down the beach while I stayed with the mama turtle and checked if there were more hatchlings coming up. I only saw one and it left really fast.
We decided to continue to mark the nest as she was still digging the egg chamber. Delfina came up and we were both talking. I knew we should stay quiet but I guess we were overexcited. The mama probably had heard us and decided to abandon her egg chamber and find another place. We both felt really bad about scaring her away because she had spent so much time digging the egg chamber and now she had to start all over again. I felt like it was fated that I was not supposed to mark it.
When we left, we realised we had been waiting for an hour or more! It was 10.40pm. We continued looking for turtles and found one digging the egg chamber. We decided to mark the nest. When we walked back up to her, she already started laying the eggs. I quickly put on the glove and stuck my hand into the egg chamber. As I did not have ample time to dig some space for myself, it took some time to feel around the chamber and find the place where the eggs were falling from. As I was clicking the counter with each egg I felt dropping into my palm, I felt raindrops on my head. Without any early notice, it just rained! The first few drops felt cold on my body. I remembered saying “Close the mochila with the poncho” at least twice but I guess they were occupied. Then I heard Andy asked if Delfina covered the backpack with the raincoat and she said no. She quickly covered it and came back beside me with the measuring tape. She also passed me the tape to put into the egg chamber. It was quite an awkward position as I had to use my left elbow to support my body from falling on the turtle’s back. My right hand started to feel soar and wanted to find a place to support it. Through the shine from the torch, the counter showed 96 eggs and I was impressed!!! When she started to cover the chamber up, she had laid 121 eggs! I was all soaked wet and full of sand when I stood up.
It was 11.20pm and that was the last turtle we worked with. The rain had stopped and everything felt calm. Water was still dripping from my hair. We walked back and I realised I was so wet and dirty! All I had in my mind was HOT SHOWER!! It was a good night and I really have to say every night had been amazing with lots of different experiences!