The Buzzing Beach

Location: Nandayure, Costa Rica

The heat was unbearable. Scorching rays seared my flesh. Sweat seeped from every pore in my flesh. My head spun. My vision was double.

42 degrees Celsius. 42 degrees, with minimal water and a physically demanding task to complete. Our job was to move several massive piles of sticks and logs off the beach and farther inland.

For four hours! And in blistering heat!

But it was all for good reason. The sea turtles use this beach as a nesting spot to lay their eggs, but with all these sticks piled up on it, they had no room to do so.

I knew I was doing this for good reason, but… but it was really hot. Really, really hot. I felt my head begin to spin and my throat dry up. Every time I swallowed, it felt like someone was taking a rake and scraping it down my neck. My water bottle was completely empty.

I wasn’t the only one who suffered from the heat. My entire group of twenty slogged around like zombies, swaying and stumbling with every step. Even picking up the thinnest of twigs became a challenge.

Thankfully, the hosts of our volunteer work saw that working in these conditions wasn’t safe, so we stopped after an hour.

The first thing everyone did was guzzle down a jug of water each, then most of them moved onto the showers to cleanse themselves of all their sweat and grime. But as we neared the showers, the buzzing began.

Bees and wasps, there were hundreds of them.

Most people raced away in fear of getting stung, and others stayed to swat the insects away. But the bees did not want to share. Apparently this shower was theirs.

I wondered what it was that attracted so many of the wasps and bees. I knew they loved sweets, but there didn’t seem to be any nearby. I guessed that it was the heat, and that this water was the only fresh drink around.

Being the insect lover I am, I saw this as a perfect chance to expand my photo collection. I stepped into the swarm with my Iphone8 in hand, prepared to capture these buzzing bees.

But they didn’t like to sit still. They zoomed over my head and swarmed my face. I looked back and noticed several members of my group watching me with confused eyes. They were probably wondering what I was thinking, crouching down in the middle of so many ‘scary’ bugs.

I knew the chances of getting stung were very low, they would only do it if absolutely necessary, and I would make sure not to bother them. I would be stealthy, and they wouldn’t even notice I was there.

Red-headed Paper Wasp

As I took more and more pictures, I realized how many different kinds there were.

Unstable Paper Wasp

Then came the big ones. Huge black wasps that even I found scary. But my Iphone8 snagged a few photos of them too, before they could get too close.

Quizás S. Septentrionalis (Warrior Wasp)

These were warrior wasps, massive wasps with extremely painful stings. A sting that, according to the entomologist, Schmidt, who studies insect stings, feels like “you are chained in the flow of an active volcano”. It is tied with the bullet ant as the insect which delivers the most painful sting of all (highest level of the pain index at a level of 4).

I am very happy to say, that I was not stung.

Yellow-banded Polybia Wasp

I found the final type of wasp under the overhang of a nearby building. When I first looked at it, I couldn’t find the thin line connecting it’s abdomen and thorax. It just looked like the back half of its body was floating in mid-air.

Clayman’s Mud-dauber Wasp

After my very successful hunt, where I added 5 new creatures to my photo collection, it was time to eat.

It was very… healthy, I guess is one word it.

Then I went on a short hike with a few others who still had the energy to move. Everyone else stayed back under the shade, drinking water and resting. Those who didn’t come really missed out.

Our guide knew a place nearby that was called the Poo Tree. I found it an odd name, but I soon learned the reason.

The tree was like one of those massive jungle trees straight out of those animal television shows and cartoons. It was very cool. But then it began to rain. Poo. The brown clumps crashed to the ground, and I took a step back. A very large step back.

Then I heard the howls, and I looked to the leaves.

Mantled Howler Monkey

Howler Monkeys! A whole family of them! The mothers carried their babies, while the children swung from branch to branch, playing games with each other. The sole male, the alpha of the family, was the one who howled. He didn’t like us being so near, and he dropped his poo as a threat to stay away.

We didn’t stay long, but I snapped at least fifty pictures.

Mantled Howler Monkey (Baby)

To finish off our trip at the beach, we were invited to watch the hatching of a batch of sea turtles.

The people responsible for the turtles said there was a chance that because of the heat, the babies would come out dead, and that the smell would be terrible.

Thankfully, the majority came out in perfect health.

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles

It was a wonderful day! I got to see a family of monkeys, baby turtles hatch, and all sorts of wasps.

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