The weather was unruly. The storm, which hung so low I could nearly reach the bottom of the clouds, rolled over the bay and churned up the waves. Once a pristine crystal-blue pool of seawater, the ocean rapidly became a deepening grey, highlighted by white breakers.
My mother and I trudged the length of the beach, looking for any sign of the sea turtles which nested upon this stretch of the coast. It was a futile attempt to make a memory of seeing the natural event, so often touted as not-to-be-missed, which was definitely going to be missed by us. The sand showed no tracks, scraped clean by the wind and waves of the night before. What was usually a beach marked by the passage of the multitudes of turtles was smooth, the grains shifting as the crabs popped in and out seeking breakfast.
The excursion was a side trip added to our two-week vacation to the beautiful country of Costa Rica. I have many fabulous memories of the scenery, its people, and its animals. From river rafting with caimans, mangroves tours to see white-faced monkeys, and searching for sloths in every tree top, we had seen so much already. The volcanic region provided stunning backdrops and so many new visual experiences. But no sea turtles.
And we wouldn't see any that day either. Our driver for the day warned us when we climbed in the car. But the tour was booked when we were back in the quiet of our homes, long before we ever set foot in the tropical jungle. My mother had so wanted to witness the migration in person. So here we were, travelling on a road that more closely resembled a donkey path than a maintained route. In truth, it wasn't that bad for most of it. Let's just say, it took more guts than I would have had to drive through the pothole-infested gravel trail. At times, it would have been faster to walk than to stay in the SUV. While we drove, the sunlight filtered in through the tree cover, the thick treeline keeping the horizon out of sight, the ensuing storm hidden from view.
As we approached the sanctuary, the clouds, which had hovered off the coast, sunk lower and the thunder rumbled through the bay, echoing off the surface of the ocean, pulling the roar of the waves up to meet the sky. I'm sure our tour guide thought we were insane.
But my mother and I are not ones to back down in the face of storms, even when the pelting rain threatened to scrub the tan from our skin. Donning our gear and facing into the wind, we ventured outside of the learning centre to the homeland of the terrapins. Daring the sea to come up and drag us out to the depths, we walked with our guide, listening to facts and stories about the seasonal migration of the leather-back turtles that call this beach home. The preservation and historic use of the beach and its turtle population was intriguing. Where humans had once pilfered the nests without restraint, hindering the generational continuance of the species, now the harvest was controlled and monitored. These new regulations support both the people whose practices and diet include the eggs, and the turtles, preserving their existence on this planet.
What is impossible to regulate is the presence of natural predators. Despite the weather, or maybe because of it, this quartet loomed over the entrance to the sanctuary, keeping a fierce eye on all entrants, whether they come by land or by sea. Unafraid of humans, the black vultures wait, patience being a genetic advancement some of us need to engage in. They sat, their backs to the clouds, their faces into the wind, facing the storm. They, too, dared the elements to pluck them from the beach. From their perch on the sign, they monitored our approach. It was easy to determine we were no threat to either them or their lunch. Heads swivelled as they looked from us to each other, soon dismissing our presence as nothing more than a brief moment of entertainment.
While we would not see turtles that day, the vultures would. The line about time and tide is fitting for these scavengers. Our guide beckoned us out of the rain. It was time to continue. As we departed, wings spread as the wind screamed, and they lifted into the air. The quartet soared above us, black sails in a grey sky.
About the author
I am a panster by nature, discovering my characters as they reveal themselves. To date, my novel writing has involved the paranormal or magick within a more familiar setting, blending it with mysteries, police procedurals, or thrillers.