Surrounded in a Jungle Town

I am not quite ready to go home. In studying my map I notice a giant turtle breeding area just twenty miles North of Limon. Granted the route is along a desolate beach, through the jungle, and across a lagoon which may be infested with big fish. I am confident though that I can get there and back in one day.At dawn I head out first through the industrial port area of Limon. The pavement soon ends while jungle quickly thickens on one side of a narrow dirt road. The roar of the surf on the ocean side signals me that there is deep water unprotected by a reef.The sun is high now. I am glad I have brought extra water. It is eerie though once again being alone.

The village appears suddenly. The homes are thatched huts. Tightly woven palm fiords serve as roofs. One building, also made of dried out palms and grass, has only three sides. Inside school aged children are reciting. I am not close enough to make out the words. A heavy wooden table sits in the middle of this one room center of learning. Each child is seated at a crude wooden desk perhaps carved out of drift wood.Next to the school there is a new larger one room dwelling. It also has three sides. The green woven palm leaves tell me that the place is new. As I observe a man stands up and points at me. I count five men and two women who have now also risen from sandy seats to stare while I wobble by. I turn to them, smile, wave and quickly shuffle into the sheltering jungle.I look behind me frequently to determine if I am being followed.

A short time later I reach to lagoon. The turtle farm is near.I look twice to be sure it is a shark apparently patrolling the one hundred yard wide channel, the only barrier between me and giant turtles. “I don’t like sharks”, I convince myself while turning around heading back to Limon.I am at the village again. The men are struggling to lift the large table out of the run down school building. I daringly enter the building, again smile and lift a corner of the heavy object. My help was all that was needed. Together we move the table into what they explain is the new school. Next we move the desks, little chairs, and a black board cracked in the middle and missing a section of slate on one side.The men invite me to their home, an adjoining hut. In a large iron pot in front of their abode freshly caught fish are boiling. One of the men offers me a shot of whiskey which I feel inclined to accept. I say good bye and wobble off along the lonely road. Who knows? Maybe these fine folks will think of me in the future. One thing is sure, I will never forget them.

Somewhere in the jungle a large semi trailer loaded with freshly cut logs stops and offers me a ride. Since I have already walked the route, I accept. The driver who is from Nicaragua gives a quick education on the virtues of logging, fishing and catching endangered giant turtles along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast. My only regret now is that I wish I had taken a swim with that shark!

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