Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sea Turtle Stampede

We were allowed to assist in releasing these Olive Ridley hatchlings at sunset. There were 2 bunches. Shown in this photo were 100 hatchling healthy and raring to GO!

The incredible race for survival begins. The ridley hatchlings are browner in color than our loggerheads and smaller, but no less lively!

Look closely now at the photo. Baby Ridley takes a breath of air.
Thank you so very much Sarah! You made our trip to Costa Rica magical. Thank you for the tour of the premises and the education you provided for our group. Peace!

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Hatchling

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Incubating Site

Sarah's crew in Costa Rica patrol the beaches (much as we do in Gulf Shores) looking for turtle tracks, or often, in their case, watching the sea turtles lay their eggs. Once the mother leaves the nest, eggs are swiftly recovered and moved to a fenced in area where they are guarded against poachers. Here the eggs are carefully set into a new nest dug with similar dimensions as the original. An extra circular fence is wrapped around each individual nest, as you may note in the photo. The new nest is then watched and information is recorded. This large fenced in area may house several hundred nests at one time !!!!

Sweet Sarah The Sea Turtle's Friend

The pretty one on the left, is Sarah. We met her by accident on Caletas Beach in Costa Rica. She and her team mates live there, in a primitive makeshift camp miles from electricity and fresh water. They protect Olive Ridley sea turtles. These guardians are to be greatly admired.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Puerto Rican Tamales (Pasteles)

This recipe was sent to me by Chargilly. She was taught to prepare these tamales by her childrens' great grandmother who was 100% Spanish. Great Grandmother Emily (pictured here in 1977) was wed to The Puerto Rican whom she called "the devil". She used the achiote mixed with vaseline for lipstick and cheek color.


2 lbs. pork (cut into small diced pieces)
1 tablespoon adobo
1 tablespoon oregano
4 garlic cloves crushed (or 4 tablespoons of already diced garlic- my preference)
1 small onion (diced into small pieces)
1 green pepper (diced into small pieces)
5 leaves of cilantro (diced into very small pieces)
1 can tomato sauce
A small jar of Stuffed Olives (the type that have the red pimento in the middle with no seeds))she likes black)

Masa (Dough)

6 lbs. of green bananas (must be very green)We grate on board with nails poking through...
1 green plantain
1 Yautia (also known as Tannia or Tannier) - *you could leave this ingredient out if you can't find it, but it makes it yummy.
1/2 of a small/medium Calabaza (google this so you know what I'm talking about)
2 1/2 Tablespoon salt
achiote oil (I buy the red achiote seeds and cook them in about 3 cups olive oil for about 5 minutes, making sure to stir them so they won't burn)
2 tablespoons milk


Banana Leaves (they sell them in the spanish stores in the freezer section)
Parchment Paper (cut into 10x5 inch pieces)
Kitchen String



1. Brown the pork pieces in a pan (don't burn them)
2. Add the rest of the stuffing ingredients and mix together.
3. Cook until the pork is no longer pink inside. 4. Set aside and let cool.


1. In a large bowl, peel and grate the yautia, calabaza, plantain and the green bananas together. 2. Stir in the salt, milk and enough achiote oil to moisten the dough and add a little color.
3. Put the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour (good be done the day before and refrigerated). This gets the dough a little hard and it's easier to handle.
You are now ready to assemble and wrap the pasteles.....


1. Set the dough aside and prepare a work surface to assemble and wrap the pasteles. If you have friends helping you, set up an assembly line.
2. First layout a piece of the parchment paper so that it looks like a horizontal rectangle,
3.Then cut a piece of the banana leaf to put in the middle of the parchment paper. The banana leaf should be at least 8x8 inches (you may want to measure the first few and then you'll be able to eye ball it later).
3. Take a teaspoon of the achiote oil and spread it on the banana leaf.
4. Take two tablespoons of the masa (dough) and put it on the banana leaf and spread it thinly, but not too thin that you could see thru it.
5. Take two tablespoons of the filling and put on top of the dough, but offset it a little, not entirely in the middle of the dough.
6. Lift the banana leaf on one side and fold it over so that the dough folds over the filling. You should have the banana leaf with the dough inside (and the filling inside the dough) folded in half.
7. Fold the parchment paper up from one side so that the edge meets evenly over the top of the pastele. Fold or roll down the pastele (kinda of like if you were wrapping it like a Xmas present). It should look like a horizontal tamale...
8. Now take the ends and tuck them so that they meet in the middle of the pastele and flip the pastele over so the tucked flaps are underneath.
9. Cut a piece of string about 20 inches long and you want to tie up the pastele like if you were putting a ribbon on a present.
10. Set aside the pasteles you are going to eat right away. You can freeze the rest.


1. Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. There should be enough water to cover the pasteles.
2. Boil the pasteles for 1 hour.
3. Unwrap the pasteles before serving.
Serves: Makes about 20 pasteles.