Pura Vida: it’s kind of like the “aloha” of Costa Rica, it can mean anything from a hello to a goodbye, just a general phrase or literally the pure/ happy life. I think I found a deeper understand and meaning of this phrase with my time on the Shell Shock trip. Without cell phones, mirrors, technology and other obnoxious amounts of materialistic things we found out what it feels like to live the pure and happy life, a simple one and one we all need and should experience, especially at the speed of modernity right now. If people there in Costa Rica can be the happiest in the world without all of this then we can be too. They radiate genuine warmth for you and all those around them and carry actual conversations which reflects into the passion and respect they have for the environment and their work as well. We indeed left kind of as awkward strangers but came back as a laughing, smiling and educated family. If we take a step back from all this mental stimulation just for a moment when can become more conscientious and aware of what we do to the environment or how we can come to love it.

I didn’t really know what was happening to the turtles before this trip. I know the basics of what you hear about their disappearance and under-population but never understood the magnitude or its effects. Not only does the sea turtle affect the ecosystem but the people who live in their nesting communities. Who would have thought that the turtles are so important to the little town of Ostional whether it is for economic or cultural reasons. These little turtles and eggs and their endangerment cycles into a larger circle because each drastic and unnatural change to the turtles changes something else and it all snowballs into one problem. You might not think this little turtle or egg affects and it’s easy to hide in that mindset and philosophy but I think we learned that the world does not work this way.

The turtles were so majestic yet fragile and the people who worked with protecting them daily really seemed to be connected with them and I really respect that. Some worked almost as volunteers or could have retired but didn’t because it was just a love they deep in their inner core. I never really knew that the eggs were so valuable to poachers and how many obstacles as it is that the turtles have to overcome to actually get the water once they are born. If we work to eliminate the need for poaching and other obstacles such as garbage and overheating that we humans unnaturally created, then we could increase their populations to standard amounts. This trip made me realize so many things whether it was social justice related, personal or about Lafayette but it has been one of my best experiences so far and I will always reflect upon it. Pura vida y me encanta las tortugas y mi grupa y Costa Rica!!