What a day - as Murray has mislaid his driving licence and
Caroline's was stuck in the lid of the photocopier in UK, when we
hired a car for 24 hours we had to take a driver too.
We noticed on the tourist map a mention of petroglyphs. Our driver knew roughly where they were, but phoned his dad to get confirmation. We asked a lady who confirmed they were in the river behind her house, so her boys guided us through their garden down to the river and made sure we saw every one by clambering over the large boulders.
The aim of the day was to get to Lavera beach where most of the leatherback turtles go to lay their eggs under a full moon. What magnificent beasts, so large, and once they have started laying nothing really disturbs them. There is no white light allowed because it can confuse them and you have to stay reasonably quiet, but otherwise you can view, touch and get close up with these 1000lb animals.
The scientists measure them, check their tags and make sure the eggs are not too close to the waterline where they could get washed away and not too far up the beach where tree roots could hinder the young turtles from reaching the sea. Later the young turtles are protected from land predators by the presence of the scientists but obviously on their own when they reach the sea.
The turtle we watched finish laying her eggswandered slowly and a bit off course before returning to the water. We felt as though she was saying goodbye to us. They are slow and lumbering on land but disappear quickly out of sight once in the deeper water. What a privilege to be allowed to see this intimate time in the life of the leatherback turtle.
Caroline was flying back to England the following day, so we had
to get up at 0330 and our driver collected her at 0400. We will
meet again in a month in Las Vegas!