Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sea turtle nesting, Lunar Eclipse, San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

Day 31 - Turtle nesting-Lunar Eclipse,  San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
As I mentioned before I’m staying at my cousin Silvio’s house in San Juan. It’s a beautiful piece of property overlooking the ocean.

On my way to San Juan, I had to pay my first bribe of the whole trip L. It was an awful bribe too. Ok here goes.

So I’m taking a “retorno”, which is a round-about that makes you do a complete circle for you to choose your direction that gives you 4 exits possible. Well I did the whole circle and realized I had to go right, but already missed it. Upon completing the turn and starting it again I finally turned right. When I do there was a young lady, no more than 8 year old, on a bicycle who got in my way, so I had to slow down to avoid hitting her, when she finally moved out of the way I passed her on the right, as I had no other choice as she was on the left. As I did that, there was a traffic officer right there that pulled me over.

I was asked for all documents and license, I gave him copies of both. He then asked for the real ones, I thought dang, there goes my license. He said “do you know why I pulled you over”, you know when you hear those words you’re in trouble. He said “you came out of the roundabout on the right hand side”, I said “yes I did to avoid hitting a pedestrian, but as you clearly saw(since he was 15 ft away watching me when it happen), the girl rode straight into oncoming traffic and stayed on the left”. He completely ignored the fact that I just saved this girls life and repeatedly said I couldn’t exit on the right hand , ignoring the girl, clearly making a point by avoiding anything I said and being incompliant. I also pointed at the floor with no markings saying that the road or no sign was posted saying I had to stay on the right. In fact there were no road markings at all, and before he pulled mover I was actually in the middle of the road. He once again completely ignored what I said to him, at this point I knew what was coming.  I also I continued to repeat myself about the girl I would have killed if I exited on the left hand side, but he wanted none of that.

Then another cop came over and I explained to him the scenario. He had one quick look at his buddy, and the same ignoring the little girl I would have murdered continued. I then proceeded with the, I’m a tourist and didn’t know any better  an argument, that didn’t work either. 10 minutes of arguing with the guy, eventually he crossed the street to his other buddy and started writing up the ticket. I knew there was a citation coming, as the whole way through Nicaragua, I saw many officers writing down tickets and knew this was not going to be warning, and my license would be kept. It’s near Christmas time and I knew they were out for money.
After trying to fight this corrupt system, I eventually gave in as I had no choice, and yelled across the street to the officer “wait wait, let me talk with you, don’t be like that”. As he came over,  I started to prepare the bribe where he couldn’t see.

Because his supervisor was across the street, this was going to be a tuff bribe. I asked him how much the fine was, as he said $400 Cordoba aka $20 US, then his supervisor came over. I thought, dang, I’m screwed, but what the heck I’m still going to try the bribe, worst case scenario, I’m 50 miles from the border, my engine is still running, I’m on a pretty fast 650cc motorcycle, and the cops only got a 250cc motorcycle where they both have to ride together, I’m pretty sure I can out run them if they decide to arrest me for bribing or whatever.

I played the stupid card again, saying I didn’t know how to pay the fine, or where to start and I was leaving the country in less than an hour, and those were all obvious lies. I asked them if I could leave the deposit with them and they could pay it for me. Yes obviously they weren’t going to do that, but since the supervisor was there and that’s what they wanted and I noticed a sign of from them that said “finally this guy decided to pay us”, I had to do what I had to do.

I put the money in the ticket, and got my ass out of there ASAP! But not before I looked behind me to see him ripping up the citation as I drove off.

Just another wonderful insight into the dark side of having a little bit of control and power over others. Human survival and nature at its best.

I bunked down for the night


I had some cheap, interesting breakfast that was $3 in San Juan, that was a bowl of fruit, cereal, oatmeal and yogurt all mixed together, didn’t digest too well I have to add.

I went to the best spot for surfing today, but there were no waves. Well at least I don’t have to engineer a way to transport a surfboard on my motorcycle. Although that would have made a great picture.

I also checked out the sweet beaches

And great sunsets too

I proceeded to check out the wildlife refuge of La Flor(the flower)  where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. Once again there were no road signs, this time it was especially difficult because it was a dirt road with heavy construction and detours and no signs.

I saw some really beautiful baby sea turtles they had in some bins, they were the single ones that got lost on the beach  and they were being rescued by keeping them there until they grow a bit more. 

Their artificial environment while they hatch

One of my dreams of this trip was to hold a freshly hatched turtle in my hand, and I did, just seconds old this turtle was coming up from under neath the sand and I picked it up. Things to do in life, check!

Unfortunately there were no turtles in the afternoon to see laying their eggs, so I’m going to have to drive back at midnight to see them. That means a very dangerous 1 hour off roading adventure in the middle of the night, crossing rivers, dodging giant pot holes, overlooking cliffs, driving a heavy motorcycle with a slippery street tire….well no one said it was going to be easy. But hey, to see the circle of life of a turtle has been something I’ve wanted to see my entire life.

I did go on the beach and find some old eggs though

On my way out of the refuge I stumbled on a snake trying to eat a frog that was way to big for it.

As I went back into town I had some lunch. I went to a market that had a few eating places right next to each other. I picked at random my “comedor” “eating place”, and sat down, when  my food arrived I saw some people I had spoken to the day before about surfing and decided to sit at their table that was 10 feet away. To give you an idea of what this place was, it was a big room with 4 restaurants together with all the same tables and such.

As I got my sandwich and was off to the other table at the other eating place, the owner of the place that just made my food ran up to me screaming I could take my food to the other eating place aka-table 10 feet away. I said I had some friends I was going to sit down with over there-aka-10 feet away. She said I couldn’t because it was another place. I said, I’ll bring back your plate and drink when I finish. She was pretty fired up by this point, I imagine that competition is steep when you have 3 other places that serve food right next to you. I explained to her that I had purchase her food already, and I was merely moving tables to talk to my friends. She got even angrier and obligated me to stay. One thing I absolutely hate and have no tolerance for is people telling me what to do in such a respect. I then said, ok I’m just going to take my sandwich in my hands and leave the drink. She was historical by this point, exclaiming I didn’t understand.

As she kept yelling at me I couldn’t leave, I said, so I can’t eat my food at another table that’s 10 ft away? As you can imagine this was causing a huge scene at the place with everyone looking at us. I was fed up with these women so I went on the offensive, perhaps I could enlighten her. I said ok, well I’m going over there, and I’ll leave my food without paying as you’re obligating and telling me how I’m supposed to eat and where. This threw her into a hysterical rage.  As I told her I had no more time for her nonsense I paid my sandwich, put it in my hands and walked away to the table 10 feet away, while listening to this woman scream and yell profanities at me. Getting to the table I was greeted by the other eating place owner that brought me a plate.
Just another enlightening moment into the realm of human beings.

Later on the evening I ventured off into the jungles of Costa Rica off roading in complete darkness with just my headlight and the moon to guide the way. This dirt road was completely deserted and  knew if I broke down or fell, I would be on my own for days.

I passed a car that was stuck in the middle of the road trying to go up hill, some people got own to wave me down and stood in the road to stop me, to perhaps help I assume. But I wanted no part of a car pushing experience in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere. So I honked the horn ,swerved my way through them, and thought the worst of what could have potentially happened. But onward I went.
I eventually got playa La Flor, this turtle refugee was overlooked by a military outpost and soldiers keeping the turtles and the eggs safe from bandits. I thought that was great, nothing like a little fire power to save the turtles!

So I must say sitting down on the beach, with a full moon and watching a turtle come out of the ocean, patiently crawl its way through the beach and eventually to the sand, dig a hole, lay its eggs, cover them back up, and crawl back into the water and swim off was a majestic experience.

We were only allowed to use red lights -baby turtle finding it way at night to the sea

I accidentally had the flash on

Laying its eggs

As I mentioned this is something I wanted to experience and see my entire life, and I finally did. It was an unexplainable moment I experienced.

I drove my way home through the rivers and jungle once again and had a good night sleep.

The next day was a relaxing day with nothing special. I tried to go surfing again but no waves. I also noticed this town of San Juan del Sur is super Gringo-fied. About 70% of the people I saw were California surfer dude look alikes and tanned beach girls.

Later that night, I turned on the TV, I haven’t turned on the TV and watched anything since I departed on this trip aver a month ago, but for some reason I decided to today. Coincidently I saw the weather channel and I was informed of the last lunar eclipse of my lifetime. The next one is in the year 2095.

It was a beautiful sight, since I was near the ocean and no light pollution I had a fantastic view. This along with the turtles made this town very special for me. Life and all its respects became but a simple understanding during my visit to San Juan.

Tomorrow Costa Rica.

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