In the summer of 2021, mid pandemic, I had the privilege of going on an Earth Expedition to Costa Rica. As an Advanced Inquiry Program student, the 10 day Earth Expedition feels like the climax of my graduate storyline. I’ve spent almost 5 years chipping away at classes that let me glimpse the conservation community at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and online classes exploring various conservation avenues that I could apply to my own community. This last summer, I stepped out of my local community to see beautiful ecosystems, wildlife, and communities in Costa Rica.
My teenage dreams of traveling to Costa Rica had sparked my lifelong travel bug. Before this last summer I had traveled to over 15 different countries and waited 20 years before making it to Costa Rica. All these years I’d tell myself that I would get there eventually. Unfortunately when I finally arrived, I had forgotten my original drive to travel to Costa Rica specifically. I was caught up in buying tickets, insurance, and travel gear. My head was trying to wrap around COVID-19 policies, restrictions, and worst case scenarios.
I was over halfway through my excursion when my memory was jogged. When visiting the Estacion las Tortugas. Although I was moved by the first and second leatherback hatchling releases, I didn’t realize that seeing these baby turtles was my initial motivation for world travel until the third turtle release. Perhaps these tiny turtles were one of my main drivers to become a conservationist. After watching the little turtles struggle to the water, get repeatedly pounded back by the waves I dared not to challenge, and then finally vanish into the ocean, I saw a new life metaphor. As cheesy as my internal similes were, likening turtle journeys to having the grit to face life’s challenges, I felt impacted and empowered. I have been feeling like I’m flailing and failing. The turtles reminded me that I am one of many conservationists and I need to keep trying even if I fail at the beginning because I might be one of the few to succeed.
We are driven by a calling.
A glowing beacon lights the way.
We know what we are meant to do,
We must make this our day.
Some of us could not survive.
For them we must succeed.
They were caught up in the darkness.
We will take the lead.
We trip and stumble on our path.
Our direction is at first unclear.
We do our best to steady our stride;
Some of us missteer.
Many awkward steps lead to the first dive,
Finally touching on our mission,
Barriers reset us bounding backward;
Failure does not mean submission.
Determinedly we push on.
Once again facing a wall,
Pushed back again and again,
Will not deter us from our call.
Finally, after all the tries
Individuals start to disappear.
They have found their place in the world,
Freedom feels so near.
Determination does not wane.
Pushing against the tide,
I finally slip into the flow,
Then easily I glide.
The first battle is won,
Yet not yet the war.
We will meet many ocean dangers
Before returning to this shore.
So much hope for us all,
Yet most of us will perish.
We all must try at least,
So future generations can be cherished.
So take me world;
I’ll pursue my fate.
I’m likely destined to fail.
Another’s success may compensate
Making my try worth the while.