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Episode 203 Costa Rica: Rincon De La Vieja -- Leatherback Turtle

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The volcano I climbed in this show was not what we call "dormant" or sleeping. Rincon de la Vieja is, in fact, an active volcano. The hot springs I found on the way down were a sign of activity because the water is superheated by the geothermal action from inside the volcano.
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What you don't see on the show is how I kept scorching my hands on the way down because of the heat in the stones. In the parts where I did come to bubbling water, I ken it was probably over 400 degrees hot.
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The biggest disappointment of this adventure was not catching a vampire bat. We spent every night there looking for one! We had even tried on an earlier trip to Venezuela, with the same failed results. We finally gave up when we caught the dog-faced bat, which bit me! I had to leave "la selva," or the jungle in English, to get rabies shots at a hospital. It wasn't too pleasant getting stuck with a three-inch needle, but fortunately everything turned out okay!
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In the show, it looks easy when I catch the spiky-tailed iguana, but in fact it was quite the opposite. Iguanas are very fast and can zip away in a flash when they think they're being chased. And even when you catch them, iguanas can be a handful because of the way they twist and turn.
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The heat had been totally miserable due to El Nino. It was so hot that of the hundreds of turtles that might have returned to lay up to 60 eggs each, only maybe 20 females came to the beach. And though they each probably laid between 40 and 60 eggs, only three or four made it in the heat to the surface.
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The end of this episode -- the birth of the leatherback -- was totally unplanned. After that little baby leatherback popped to the surface, we all rooted for it as it made its way to the water. It was a dramatic moment.
The intense heat made this one of the least pleasant episodes to shoot. All the work became that much harder in the brutal sun. What made it all worthwhile was seeing that little turtle finally reach the water!
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