Volunteer Review: Lee C., Sea Turtle & Coastal Conservation in Mexico
Looking back to a year ago if I knew I was going to Mexico I probably would have laughed about it. I have traveled everywhere independently and never thought of traveling to Central America – not even in my wildest dreams. Hence, I knew that living and working abroad would be a life changing experience. Indeed, that was an understatement and my time in Mexico was better than I had ever imagined.
Arriving in Guadalajara
Landing in Guadalajara made me feel a little nervous. Although frightening at first, having no idea what I was getting myself into, I also felt excited. I was met by Projects Abroad staff at the airport and went into a taxi to the host house and it felt good to meet English speaking people.
I went out that night for a meal with a group of volunteers for a birthday celebration in town and felt comfortable and at ease. I stayed there only one night and was escorted the next day to make the trip to Tecoman on the Pacific coast and was met by staff who, again, made me feel comfortable.
My Conservation Project
During my first day at my work placement I joined a meeting by a consulting member of staff. I had initially thought I would be responsible for everything being a more mature student; however, this was not the case. It all came down to good team work.
Our daily routines were set on a rota where everybody did different tasks which changed every couple of days on camp. We would wake up at 7am as a team and bury the turtle eggs, then tasks would involve cleaning the camp paths, kitchen, toilets and beach area as well as the conference room.
Once camp was clean we would have breakfast and have the choice of going into town to do any shopping we wanted for luxuries. This happened on a daily basis or we could stay on camp and eat lunch served at 3pm daily.
I would do some reading and sunbathe on the beach in the hammock. But at 4pm we would work at camp as a team to collect eggs for hatchings and put them into the Pacific sea. On a Thursday we would go to the crocodile farm and clean and help staff with any duties needed there. We would also go to the local lagoon for bird watching on the lake and to analyze the different species.
After this our time was free to do whatever we wanted including the weekends if we wanted to go away. There would be different shifts as the quad bike patrol of the collecting of eggs on the 5km stretch of beach from 11pm and 3am. Before my trip I knew I wanted to work in a specific field, but I had no idea what it was I would have the task of doing.
I still keep in touch with colleagues, staff and friends in Guadalajara, Mexico and from around the world and I can definitely say I have made many new friends. I received positive feedback from the staff and supervisor management which has helped me with my work placement project report for my third year of a BA Degree in International Tourism.
Weekends and Leisure time
Once the weekends arrived we were given permission to do what we wanted. I would visit coastal destinations such as Manzanio or go to a local shopping market. Moreover, I did not feel I was missing my home life back home in England. I appreciated seeing the real life and culture of Mexico by being invited by a staff member to spend the weekend at their house with work colleagues to visit the sights in Colima.
I decided to vacate to Cancun on a long road trip for my last week in Mexico to the Mayan temple Chichen Itzu Yucatán, known as the seventh ancient wonder of the world. I also made my dream come true of swimming with dolphins, scuba diving and paragliding, all the more making it a once in a lifetime experience.
When I look back on my experience I am glad I chose Mexico as my destination. After seeing other parts of the world I realized there was no place like it. The experience was enjoyable and fascinating and I would not have changed anything to see this vibrant country.
I have met a lot of new people including those I worked with and we often keep in touch via social networking. I do feel personally that I have made an achievement and that Projects Abroad gave me the chance to gain a valuable experience and I would do it again in an instant. I would advise anyone to take the opportunity when it comes to travelling the world, and I would highly recommend visiting Mexico for such an amazing experience.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.