Samuel Levez - Sea Turtle & Coastal Conservation in Mexico
When I arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico I was struck by the humidity, even though it was night time and about 9:45 local time it was still about 22 degrees Celsius. The drive through the city to my host family was fascinating, the landscape was so different to anything I’ve been used to back in England and the lights of the houses and skyline were amazing.
My host family was lovely and made me feel very comfortable. I was greeted by homemade pancakes for breakfast the next day. Choco, the kindly lady I stayed with for the first night, encouraged speaking Spanish so as to enhance my cultural experience.
Conservation in Mexico
I took a four hour bus journey to Tecoman the next day and I traveled through unbelievable mountainous landscapes, which really gave a flavor of the real Mexico. I was greeted by Oliver who is the leader of El Chupedero turtle camp and he too was friendly and made me feel at home.
We drove a short journey in his van to the camp where he helped me get settled into my room. Although it was somewhat basic it still had everything I needed, for example a power socket. I really benefited from how basic the room was and it was very refreshing to get away from most technology as I bonded with my other campmates quicker than I was expecting to and enjoyed the beach and hammocks in a very chilled out environment.
Volunteering in Mexico
El Chupodero is predominantly a turtle camp, so the work we did included going out on patrol using quadbikes to search the 24km of black volcanic beach for nesting turtles. It was just before peak laying season when I went, but we still found at least one nest every time I went out on patrol.
An average nest would consist of between 80-100 eggs and take approximately 45 days for the eggs to start hatching. Once collected we would rebury the nests the following morning. Once the eggs had hatched we needed to ensure that the new born turtles made it safely from the nest to the ocean, guarding them from crabs and birds. I found this once in a life time experience very heart warming and it was amazing being so up close and personal with the turtles.
Once a week we also went to a local crocodile farm, home to the 8th biggest crocodile in Mexico at just over 4 meters. At the farm our work would vary from basic maintenance work, such as cleaning out the enclosures to searching for nests around the perimeter of the lake. One of the main aims of the camp is to stop the Mexican crocodile from breeding with the American crocodiles. It was a great experience that allowed me to get within touching distance of both baby and adult crocodiles.
We also went on regular bird watching trips in a boat by the local lagoon. We rowed for about 15 minutes down the lagoon to a clearing where we would wait for 20 minutes and note down how many of each different species of bird we could spot. There were loads of beautiful birds and you really got the feeling that you were in a very remote natural part of the world.
Lazing in the Lagoon
In our spare time we would often venture back down to the lagoon to go swimming or to the nearby bar to have a couple of drinks and relax. During the day we often would venture back to Tecoman to go to the internet café or to go to the amazing Mexican food restaurants. Although only a small town, it is full of culture and history - it has a lovely scenic square and a fabulous cathedral.
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