Nesting With the Turtles

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Nesting With the Turtles
Nesting with Turtles

The realm of travel takes us to different places to experience something new. Beaches are terrific places for daytime activities, but at night they are a part of nature’s playground, where the wet sand glistens in the moonlight, the waves gently lap upon empty stretches of beach and children and monster turtles get to come face to face!

Being part of the Brownies on the Caribbean island of Trinidad means a field trip is not just about going to museums, the zoo or a factory tour. The Brownie pack was going to see leatherback turtles nesting on a protected beach in east Trinidad, and my daughters just couldn’t wait!

Previous trips to the beach were during the day so this was our first night escapade. Torches replaced the buckets and spades, and there wasn’t a swimsuit in sight!

The drive was a long one, all of two and a half hours, enough time to almost drain us of all our bubbling excitement. Of course, the trip began with a hundred and one questions; “Can we touch the turtles?” “Will it bite us?” and then the two of them squabbled in the backseat, sang and then finally settled back as we drove on the night road.

The smooth road turned into jiggery pebbles as bushes and undergrowth joined us alongside the dirt track. Then we came to a clearing where we could see rows of parked cars and a line of coaches of other visitors to the facility. “Come on let’s go! Look there’s Samantha and her parents,” screamed out Raisah, ready to open the door. With a stiff warning from her father, she soon settled back down.

As we got out in the cool crisp night air, my little seven-year-old daughter Raisah’s hand reached into mine. She looked somewhat wary of the darkness and being in a cluster of people. Shazara practically skipped along the side of her father, rearing to go.

First, there was a video presentation in the welcome hut before our guide took us down onto the soft sinking sand. The trees and bushes cleared, and there we were on a vast sandy beach under the night sky. “Unfortunately there are no turtles on the beach at this time,” the guide said. That’s all the kids needed to hear, that no monsters were on the beach, and suddenly there were Brownies everywhere, building sand castles under the moon while others ran like they were just set free!

At the waters edge a large group of people were gathering, parting to give way to a massive dark shadow that looked like a huge rounded rock slowly inching up the beach. “A turtle!” someone shouted, as everyone ran down for a better look.

The poor turtle looked like she was having such a hard time hauling her body over the sand. Her majestic flippers heaped sand behind her as she finally found the perfect spot.

“Give her some room please as she is about to start digging,” requested the tour guide. Her majestic expanse of flippers helped her turn around until she was again facing the sea, and with all her might she started digging. Sand tufts flicked up into the air like clouds of smoke.

In the blink of an eye, the kids had gathered behind her alongside the tour guide who was shining his torch into the hole that had been created. “For those of you at the front you can touch the turtle now as she is in a trance while she lays her eggs.”

“Can I touch it?” asked Raisah, still by my side holding my hand. She was so brave to want to touch the turtle. I, on the other hand, wasn’t sure if I wanted to touch it myself.

I looked around for my husband and Shazara who were right there alongside the tour guide watching the eggs drop into the hole in the sand.

Raisah leaned forward and, with a quick smile on her face, withdrew her hand. “You do it,” she said, encouraging me to touch the turtle with her. I was sure now that I didn’t want to touch the turtle. “OK,” I said, giving in. “We’ll touch her together.” We walked around to the side, just in case the turtle woke up and got suddenly hungry! Together we outstretched our hands to the dark rough-looking shell of the turtle and touched it. Phew! That was easy enough, I thought, calming my rapidly racing heart. Raisah looked very happy, and it had somehow given her the courage to run off and join her dad and sister behind the turtle to see the eggs being laid.

It was an amazing sight. Egg after egg dropped into the hole in the sand. The tour guide’s torch was bright and glistened on the ping-pong ball-shaped eggs. “There will be about 50 eggs when she’s finished,” he said. “Mommy did you see the eggs?” asked Shazara, bursting with excitement as she realised it was me looking over her shoulder. “I’m counting them!” she said, as Raisah joined in on the count too.

I broke away from the group and took some time to savour the surroundings of the sandy night-time beach. The moon, semi-blocked by night clouds, created a haze of a light on the ocean scenery. The spray of the waves that splashed on the rocks exploded like fireworks, sending salted mists, and, there upon the beach, I could see the silhouette of my husband and daughters fixated on the leatherback turtle.

It was a magical experience, and one that totally overwhelmed Shazara and Raisah, not to mention my husband and myself. It was definitely one of the best beach trips we have ever taken. The girls chattered on and on about this event for days, with the clarity of an open heart, about how they came face to face with the majesty of the leatherback turtle on the night beach.

In a world where travel is faster than ever before, to places designed to lure kids and parents to spend money for exuberant thrills, the simplicity of the joy experienced by seeing the leatherback turtle – nature in progress – gave us a heartwarming and unforgettable treasured tale to tell.

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  • Nesting with Turtles

    The realm of travel takes us to different places to experience something new. Beaches are terrific places for daytime activities, but at night they are a part of nature’s playground, where the wet sand glistens in the moonlight, the waves gently lap upon empty stretches of beach and children and monster turtles get to come face to face!

    Being part of the Brownies on the Caribbean island of Trinidad means a field trip is not just about going to museums, the zoo or a factory tour. The Brownie pack was going to see leatherback turtles nesting on a protected beach in east Trinidad, and my daughters just couldn’t wait!

    Previous trips to the beach were during the day so this was our first night escapade. Torches replaced the buckets and spades, and there wasn’t a swimsuit in sight!

    The drive was a long one, all of two and a half hours, enough time to almost drain us of all our bubbling excitement. Of course, the trip began with a hundred and one questions; “Can we touch the turtles?” “Will it bite us?” and then the two of them squabbled in the backseat, sang and then finally settled back as we drove on the night road.

    The smooth road turned into jiggery pebbles as bushes and undergrowth joined us alongside the dirt track. Then we came to a clearing where we could see rows of parked cars and a line of coaches of other visitors to the facility. “Come on let’s go! Look there’s Samantha and her parents,” screamed out Raisah, ready to open the door. With a stiff warning from her father, she soon settled back down.

    As we got out in the cool crisp night air, my little seven-year-old daughter Raisah’s hand reached into mine. She looked somewhat wary of the darkness and being in a cluster of people. Shazara practically skipped along the side of her father, rearing to go.

    First, there was a video presentation in the welcome hut before our guide took us down onto the soft sinking sand. The trees and bushes cleared, and there we were on a vast sandy beach under the night sky. “Unfortunately there are no turtles on the beach at this time,” the guide said. That’s all the kids needed to hear, that no monsters were on the beach, and suddenly there were Brownies everywhere, building sand castles under the moon while others ran like they were just set free!

    At the waters edge a large group of people were gathering, parting to give way to a massive dark shadow that looked like a huge rounded rock slowly inching up the beach. “A turtle!” someone shouted, as everyone ran down for a better look.

    The poor turtle looked like she was having such a hard time hauling her body over the sand. Her majestic flippers heaped sand behind her as she finally found the perfect spot.

    “Give her some room please as she is about to start digging,” requested the tour guide. Her majestic expanse of flippers helped her turn around until she was again facing the sea, and with all her might she started digging. Sand tufts flicked up into the air like clouds of smoke.

    In the blink of an eye, the kids had gathered behind her alongside the tour guide who was shining his torch into the hole that had been created. “For those of you at the front you can touch the turtle now as she is in a trance while she lays her eggs.”

    “Can I touch it?” asked Raisah, still by my side holding my hand. She was so brave to want to touch the turtle. I, on the other hand, wasn’t sure if I wanted to touch it myself.

    I looked around for my husband and Shazara who were right there alongside the tour guide watching the eggs drop into the hole in the sand.

    Raisah leaned forward and, with a quick smile on her face, withdrew her hand. “You do it,” she said, encouraging me to touch the turtle with her. I was sure now that I didn’t want to touch the turtle. “OK,” I said, giving in. “We’ll touch her together.” We walked around to the side, just in case the turtle woke up and got suddenly hungry! Together we outstretched our hands to the dark rough-looking shell of the turtle and touched it. Phew! That was easy enough, I thought, calming my rapidly racing heart. Raisah looked very happy, and it had somehow given her the courage to run off and join her dad and sister behind the turtle to see the eggs being laid.

    It was an amazing sight. Egg after egg dropped into the hole in the sand. The tour guide’s torch was bright and glistened on the ping-pong ball-shaped eggs. “There will be about 50 eggs when she’s finished,” he said. “Mommy did you see the eggs?” asked Shazara, bursting with excitement as she realised it was me looking over her shoulder. “I’m counting them!” she said, as Raisah joined in on the count too.

    I broke away from the group and took some time to savour the surroundings of the sandy night-time beach. The moon, semi-blocked by night clouds, created a haze of a light on the ocean scenery. The spray of the waves that splashed on the rocks exploded like fireworks, sending salted mists, and, there upon the beach, I could see the silhouette of my husband and daughters fixated on the leatherback turtle.

    It was a magical experience, and one that totally overwhelmed Shazara and Raisah, not to mention my husband and myself. It was definitely one of the best beach trips we have ever taken. The girls chattered on and on about this event for days, with the clarity of an open heart, about how they came face to face with the majesty of the leatherback turtle on the night beach.

    In a world where travel is faster than ever before, to places designed to lure kids and parents to spend money for exuberant thrills, the simplicity of the joy experienced by seeing the leatherback turtle – nature in progress – gave us a heartwarming and unforgettable treasured tale to tell.

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