• Tara B. Vasi

Day 6 Sri Lanka (56): Sea Turtle Project, Creepy Computer guy, we bury a clutch

Puppy cries are my new alarm clock. He’s such a baby, but he is doing a good job of holding his pee until the morning. He takes a poop and I see little worms slithering around, and I immediately, think, awww buddy. No more yogurt for you, and we need to get you to the vet ASAP! We have to wait until Monday.

We have fruit and hard boiled eggs for breakfast. Peanut loves the yolk.

Today we go back for day two of the Sea Turtle Project. We start with a beach clean up. Even though we collected a decent amount of trash the day before, the beach had regained more trash over night.

They tell us to make a big pile so they can burn it.

Back at the hatchery, our task is to scrub the algae off the sides of the pool. Both Vera and I kneel and scrub away until all of the algae if removed. Theres a little boy who is there dumping water on the step of the pool. He accidentally splashes some water on Vera’s feet and she yells at him.

The hatchery and neighboring villa is owned by a family. The sons are the ones that run the show. They are all really sweet and you can tell they don’t see young (I’m still young) white women a whole lot. They are very bashful. I ask them questions and their cheeks turn red and they turn away.

I get a FB message request from some kid in San Diego. He asks if I am missing a laptop. I did leave my old Mac computer in San Diego by accident, but how did this kid get it? He says he fixes computers and some crack head brought it to him and is trying to sell it to him for $100. He asks if I want the mother board. I appreciate his consideration. I tell him that I am not sure if there is sensitive information on it, but I image there is, and yes, I would absolutely love for him to send me the mother board. I am thinking, what a nice guy! Tracking me down to return what is rightfully mine! pritecting my information. How righteous! And then of course, I am proven wrong, when the guy asks me inappropriate questions based on photos he must have seen in my camera roll. I don’t have any nude pictures or anything, they are just creepy and unwarranted questions that leads me to believe this guy isn’t trying to help me, he is hitting on me, or just enjoying having this weird sense of power over me after trespassing into my virtual life.

I don’t really know what else to do, but block him. I wonder if the house I used to live in got broken into or something, or if one of my roommates tried to tell it for money? Whatever. It’s out of my hands now, but an absolutely unusual exchange for sure.

On the way back to the villa, we stop at a grocery store. I pick up some nuts, extra bananas, protein, popcorn, shampoo, Nutella, stuff like that, and I instantly feel better knowing I will have some food in my room in case I get hungry outside of meal time. Plus, I am excited to have a desert. I give the lady my credit card and at the time I have absolutely no idea how much I spent, nor do I really care. They didn’t have cheese that wasn’t processed. I really miss cheese. And tbe Little vegetable hummus wraps I used to make.

We head back for lunch. Rice and lentils. The lentils are delicious. Vera isn’t feeling well and wants to nap. Chamara and I talk business and then he gets a call that a sea turtle is making its way onto the beach to lay her eggs. During the day? What? Chamara has never seen such a thing in all of his years working with sea turtles. Vera doesn’t respond to our text messages, so we leave without her. We rush to get into the car and head to the ocean. We stop along the way to pick up one of his friends who has a camera and wants to film the momentous event. Of course, it is down pouring, because that’s just how these sea turtles like these momentous occasions to be, I guess. The rain season is supposed to be over, just to point out.

By the time we get to the spot, the mama has already laid her eggs, they have been collected and counted, and she is making her way back to the ocean. We can see the hole that she dug using all four of her flippers. Chamara and I watch to make sure she gets back into the ocean safely.

She is just a touch bigger then the mama turtle we set free the day before. Chamara measures with his the length of space between his thumb and middle finger.

The hatchery has saves 110 eggs and placed them gently in a bucket using their hands. The female green sea turtle will typically lay anywhere from 100-200 eggs in a nest and will nest two times a season. A group of eggs in a nest is called a clutch, BTW, I looked it up.

They carry the bucket to the enclosure where the eggs will be buried and protected while they get ready to hatch. Chamara starts to dig a whole to place the eggs. They need an interviewer and no one else speaks English, so without even really agreeing, they hook a microphone to my dress, and almost naturally, I start to ask Amun questions about hatching season, and the the process of collecting, burying, hatching, and then releasing the baby turtles. He tells me that it takes approximately 48 days for the eggs to hatch in the hole. If the weather is warmer, the eggs will be female, and if the weather is cooler, the eggs will be male. This is a conservations project and they have already seen the number of turtles rise in the past few years with their efforts.

They babies hatch right in the hole. it’s extremely important to pin point the exact day because if you wait too long to dig them up they will be dead from suffocation, and if you dig them up too soon you could prematurely crack a shell before they are ready to peace out. After they hatch, the babies stay in the pool for less then a week before they are set free into the ocean. I’ll be able to set a whole clutch of baby turtles free in a little over a month!

We come back for dinner. Vera is awake and bummed she missed out on seeing the mama and burying the eggs. I don’t blame her. That shit was amazing. We don’t do much after dinner. I have a TV in my room, so I marinate, eat popcorn, and watch the discovery channel until I fall asleep. I don’t think I cry this night, but it’s hard to say.


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