At a beach-side cafe in Monterrico, we were having a pleasant conversation with romantic Casio salsa playing in the background.
"Close your eyes and give me your finger," whispered Basia with a wink.
While similar but not exactly the same as what I had imagined, we commenced playing a game called, 'guess where your finger is in your fish dinner'.
"Um...in its gills?"
"Ah, now its in the eye socket."
"Ouch, yep, that's definitely his mouth."
An immediate consensus was reached that swimming was not to be had at the local beach.
The new plan was to get away from the conch smoothies and head down a dirty path to a turtle hatchery. So, we jumped into the local bus which was a post-apocalyptic soccer-mom caravan with both sliding doors missing.
We were too busy peeling salty human jerky strips off our over-gamma-radiated bodies to realize that we had missed our turn for the turtle hatchery miles back.
Ironically, while we were looking for the turtle hatchery, we had come to a dead end town that was in the heart of a thriving turtle egg industry.
A quick power lesson about the state of harvesting turtle eggs in Guatemala. At the time, buying and selling turtle eggs is not illegal in Guatemala so long as the egg harvester could prove that they had donated 12 eggs of their batch to the local turtle hatchery for conservation. But, if volunteers found a nocturnal turtle nest first, then the volunteers could donate the entire nest of 100+ eggs to the local hatchery.
While there was some innocent animosity towards foreign volunteers, our presence was endearingly embraced as we confessed that we were there to see a turtle.
As there was no real predictable pattern to the when the female turtle would come ashore at night to lay her eggs, we joined the handful of egg hunters who walked the beach all night hoping to spot a turtle laying her eggs.
"Any turtles?" we would inquire.
All night, we'd have this same quick conversation. But, it was clear. Like prized secret fishing holes, no one was sharing turtle intelligence with us.
After a night on the beach with our failed turtle mating calls, we returned home where our host family was eagerly awaiting us.
"Did you find any eggs?" they giggled.
And then the family compassionately embraced us.
Here comes the second lesson in turtle harvesting. The demand for turtle eggs is created by a myth that the eggs are a powerful aphrodisiac.
The next morning, a fisherman I had never met before put a cracked, leathered hand on my shoulder, "Gustavo, you look tired. Did you not find any turtle eggs?"
Not only was it clear that our host family was not buying our little story about being conservation volunteers, but it seemed as if the whole town had started a secret prayer pyramid for my problematic romantic plumbing.
"They think you have an arousal problem!" howled Basia.
"Look, my personal problem isn't funny...trust me...I wish I were less aroused too." I playfully retorted.
We walked back through the town and noticed how the whole town had started an informal parade to cheer on my junk. Families had set up plastic chairs along the dirt road to be sure not to miss the opportunity to wish luck upon the phallicly crippled gringo.
"Low moon tonight. This is a good sign. Good luck, Gustavo!"
"Gustavo! Gustavo! The crabs are quiet...yes, good conditions tonight, Gustavo."
After spending the day receiving support from half the town for my lackluster libido, we returned home for a pre-turtle hunting meal.
"Gustavo...I cooked a big meal for you two. Ionized air tonight, yes, good chance for turtles," announced our giggling host mom.
After dinner we joined the turtle hunters along the beach looking for turtle eggs.
"Any turtles?" we'd ask anonymous dark figures along the beach.
"No, Gustavo. No turtles."
We were all but losing hope to spot a turtle. But after secretly celebrating our own fertility, Basia spotted some turtle movement on the beach. Obviously, we had inspired this turtle to come lay her eggs in the sand.
I"ll have to say that watching a prehistoric cervix drop and discharge sloppy turtle eggs is maybe scientifically erotic.
Okay, yes, true...because we had found the nest first, we could prevent all the eggs from being collected and sold. The problem was, that at the time, we didn't really know what to do with the eggs. We didn't know if it were safe to collect the eggs with our hands. We didn't know if we should mark the nest and have the hatchery staff come collect them. So, we concluded that for now we couldn't risk disturbing the nest. We would just sit close together and block anyone from seeing the nesting turtle directly behind us.
"Craig someone is coming!"
"Quick. Ah, let's make out so they get all awkward and don't come this way."
"Right and grope my boob...that'll make them stay away."
"Good one. I'll grunt some too."
This was obviously a perfect plan. The approaching egg hunters would totally quickly walk past us.
"Here they come!" I mumbled into Basia's mouth.
This was a great plan. They totally weren't going to notice the obvious turtle tracks leading directly to us.
"They are changing direction. They are coming right for us."
"More groping! More grunting!"
We were foolish to not realize that egg hunters are highly adapt at identifying turtle tracks in the sand. The dark figures walked right up to us.
"Hey, Gustavo. Did you see a turtle near by?"
As a last ditch effort, we doubled up on the groping.
"A turtle? Here? Nope. No turtle here," I shared between grunts.
It was futile. They turned on their flash lights to reveal the bizarre scene: Two turtlephiles caught in the spotlight, 8th-grade-boob-groping with a huge turtle directly behind them.
"Oh, right, you mean this turtle," I confessed with my tongue still in Basia's mouth.
For some reason, there was a slow long pause. Then another long pause. I kept repeating, please let us live.
The egg hunting couple then offered a lucrative price for the eggs. But, we made it clear that the eggs weren't for sale.
Another offer was given. Again, we repeated that the eggs weren't for sale.
"Ah...I understand, Gustavo. You need all those eggs just for yourself. Oh, yes, we understand."
I released Basia's breast to protest, but the couple had already slipped off into the darkness to share this new update with the rest of the town.