Sunday, March 29, 2009

Downtown Tortuguero

This is downtown Tortuguero. The main boat landing is just to the left, and this park with giant, colorful bird statues greets visitors. There are a few tourist shops, restaurants and places to stay, although most people come to Tortuguero to see the wildlife, not the town.

This festive atmosphere is a very different greeting than people would have received in the early days of Tortuguero. Tortuguero was originally a hangout for pirates working the Caribbean. It was a good location for two reasons. First, it is very isolated, accessible only by water, with very few people in the area.

Second, Tortuguero was a supply point for pirates because the local population would sell the giant sea turtles to the pirates for food on their sea voyages. Tortuguero even gets its name from that historic role, as Tortuguero means "turtle seller."

Turtles are still the foundation of the economy in Tortuguero, only today it is tourism by people coming to the area for wildlife, particularly the giant sea turtles, that supports the livelihood of the people.

The conservation of the area was spearheaded by Archie Carr, a Costa Rican conservation activist in the 1950's who brought attention to the fact that sea turtles were nearly extinct. His efforts led to the establishment of Tortuguero National Park and the Caribbean Conservation Corps.

The Caribbean Conservation Corps has a visitor center on the north end of Tortuguero town, and it continues to carry out conservation work to protect the sea turtles and other wildlife. And tomorrow, we will return to wildlife, with a post about a poisonous animal with an amazing life cycle.

9 comments:

JM said...

I have a similar photo! How cool! :-)

brattcat said...

So interesting. I can't imagine what it would have been like doing business exclusively with pirates. I see some exotic frogs and birds in this photo but nary a turtle.

Hilda said...

Kudos to Archie Carr! I am so glad that he started the conservation of turtles there. Every little bit helps! And cute, fat birds ;)

Sharon said...

Better to have turtles than pirates! Good job starting the conservation program.

Jarart said...

Cute park and great pirate history.

Julie ScottsdaleDailyPhoto.com said...

very interesting about the pirates. Ahoy Matey!

Marie said...

You make everybody want to go and visit Costa Rica. I did not imagine it as you present it. You must be a great guide!

I was unable to subscribe to your blog, I don't know why.....

Marie said...

Well, it finally worked!

Dave-CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Marie,
Thank you very much for your compliment about my being somewhat of an internet tour guide. I find that being a Daily Photo blogger combines my fantasies about b eing a National Geographic photographer and a tour guide, and I can live out both fantasies from the comfort of my reclining chair in my library.

Speaking of being a an amateur tour guide, several years ago some friends and family asked if my wife and I could do one of our trips where others could join us, so I put together an itinerary for a trip to Italy, send it around to some friends and family, had a party, and we had 16 people on our little two-week tour of Tuscany, Cinque Terra and Venice.

It was a great trip, but a lot of work, as I arranged all the hotel rooms, bought tickets in advance for the museums, arranged local transportation, and a few local guides for some extra activities. We would do a wine and cheese, etc. happy hour at the end of the afternoon, and sometimes the happy hour just turned into dinner.

My wife kept everyone on schedule. I got to play being a tour guide. It was such a great time that we have been asked to put together another such trip in the future.

I got to play tour guide taking my two sons on vacations when they were younger. For a four-country European trip I recorded in advance a casette tape of music for each location so they would be exposed to a musical theme as we entered each place.

For example, as we drove into Paris, I played Gershwin's "An American in Paris," and the Spanish bullfight entrance music as we drove into Spain, etc. As typical teenagers, they hated it, of course, which made me enjoy it even more.

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