Steve & I met our guide, Justin from Costa Rica Wet & Wild, at 5:45 a.m. this morning. He picked us up at our hotel ad transported us by four-wheeler to the north end of Playa Potrero where he had fishing kayaks waiting.
After a couple from Houston arrived, Justin, a Canadian working on his Costa Rican citizenship, gave us a quick lesson on the Hobie hands-free, pedal-powered kayaks.
Soon, we were launching into the waves. We had to paddle out far enough to drop the pedal mechanism into place and lower our rudder. Once that was done, we attached the paddle to the side of the kayak, and started pedaling. Steve and I both decided we liked that method of propulsion.
The plan was to troll a lure up and down the bay. So, I took pictures while pedaling and waiting for my line to tighten.
It was another gorgeous morning as we pedaled around stalking schools of fish.
Unfortunately, we did that for over an hour and got nothing, nada, ... no bites, no strikes, no fish.
Justin changed the strategy from trolling to casting into the feeding schools of fish with a smaller lure. Again, nothing.
Steve and I were wondering why we weren't using live bait. Justin tried to catch some, but had no luck with that either.
Eventually, we paddled out farther to some rocks that were exposed by the falling tide.
Out there, we tried some large poppers in the whitewater around the rocks as the swells rolled over. That was a bit difficult and a bit dangerous. It was hard keeping the kayak in the proper position close enough to the rocks without getting sucked in.
We gave up on that, too. It was beautiful, but it was getting hot out on the water and with no fish, there was nothing to keep us interested. We started paddling in. This is the view of Playa Penca where we walked yesterday.
And here is the rocky shoreline between Playa Penca and Playa Potrero.
We stopped long enough to unlock the pedal mechanism so we could pull it in and raise the rudder. Then we paddled up on to the beach.
So, after hearing that Potrero Bay is one of the best fishing spots in Central America, I was quite disappointed we didn't catch anything. But, as every fishing guide that gets shut out says, that's why they call it "fishing" and not "catching". :)
Back at Bahia Del Sol, Steve and I had our late breakfast which he had pre-arranged, and then we joined our wives for a few hours of relaxation in our favorite spot overlooking the beach.
Around 5:00, we got ready for our "Green Turtle Nesting" tour. Our guide, David, picked us up at 5:30 just after the sun had set. He took us to a little known, hard-to-get-to beach where Green Sea Turtles are known to nest.
David was very conscientious about the turtles, turning off his headlights as we approached the beach parking area. He had us wait while he checked out the beach to see if any turtles had come ashore. With none there, we hiked up a steep hill to the next beach over. We used flashlights only for the hike, as lights on the beach could dissuade the turtles from coming up to nest.
I don't want to mention the beach names because they aren't as strictly managed as other turtle nesting beaches, and we want to protect the turtles and the future nesting.
After our hike over the ridge, on the next beach, David found two baby turtles that appeared to be the last ones out of a nest. We got to watch them up close before any other tour guides came with their groups. The guides use a red light to help folks see the turtles without disturbing them.
After watching the cute little, healthy turtles, David signaled the guide behind us about the babies and we moved on. As we walked, Linda spotted a big, dark object at the water's edge. We stayed put while David investigated and walked farther down the beach to see if there was any other activity.
The big dark object was clearly moving, so we all knew it was a turtle. David came back and confirmed. He said it would take several minutes for her to find her spot, clear it, and start digging a hole for her eggs.
In the meantime, the other guide had walked in the opposite direction and he had another turtle down the beach. We headed that way, but that turtle decided it wasn't right, so she turned around and went back into the sea (which happens often).
David said they will often try two or three times a night.
We walked back to "our" turtle and waited 30 - 40 feet away listening to her move brush off the sand and prepare her spot. While we waited, several other groups showed up and it looked like it might get very competitive for a chance to see. But the guides worked it out so that, when the time was right, each group would get to see her digging her hole and laying eggs.
The turtle found a great nesting location back in the trees, so it was definitely going to require everyone taking turns for viewing.
When the guides said it was okay, David led us in to get a close view of her digging the hole, but he wouldn't let anyone take photographs. He seemed to be very well respected by the other guides, and he had a hand in coordinating the viewing.
After some time, we vacated and let the next group get in. We would go back when she started laying eggs. During the egg-laying process, she goes into some sort of trance and there is much less chance of her being disturbed.
When it was our turn again, we got in close and watched her drop several eggs. David placed a regular flashlight so everyone could see, and Steve & Esther got some nice photos.
After we witnessed that, we backed out from under the tree, and let the next group come in. Very cool.
As we slowly headed back, David found a group of about 30 hatchlings that the other groups had missed.
We got to watch them scramble into the ocean. We could see them speed up the closer they got, and we quietly cheered them on.
It was quite the up-close "National Geographic" experience, and we somehow got the perfect guide for us - one who wanted to show us this nature magic but who also deeply cared for the turtles and the nesting process.
So, we had yet another special day in Costa Rica. And with that, November ended and we are about half way through our time here on this trip. Clearly, six weeks isn't going to be long enough. Pura Vida! :)