Putthi Cheat Lim - Conservation & Environment, Sea Turtle & Coastal Conservation in Mexico
Mexico has always been my dream destination for vacations. I wanted to do something more than just a vacation, so I decided to do the Conservation project in Mexico with Projects Abroad, but I wish I could have stayed there for longer than two weeks...
When I first arrived at Guadalajara International Airport, I felt a little isolated because I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. However, as soon as I stepped into the arrivals area, I was warmly welcomed by a member of Projects Abroad staff. I was then brought to the Projects Abroad office in Guadalajara to meet the Project Manager and then my host family.
I spent my first two days in Guadalajara staying with a host family. My host-mama was very nice; she told me that she was now my mother during my stay in Guadalajara. While staying in her house, I met her two sons and other volunteers as well. They were all very friendly.
The next day, I was taken to the bus station to catch a bus to Tecoman. When I got to the Tecoman bus station, I was greeted by staff and other volunteers. They were all very friendly and helpful. Along the way to the turtle camp, I could see that Tecoman is a very nice place to stay. As soon as I got to the turtle camp, I knew that it would be a nice place for me already. I was shown around the camp and was introduced to other staff and volunteers.
Every day, except for Saturday and Sunday, I had to do my chores. The chores were not very hard and I was happy to do them. In the afternoon, we had activities like cleaning the turtles’ nests, washing the two poor disabled turtles and releasing hatchlings. Once a week, I went on a night patrol, it was a great experience for me. I had a really great time doing the night patrol even if it was late at night or early in the morning. During the patrol, I was told how to identify turtles’ nests and trails on the beach and sadly, sometimes we found rotten eggs that had been eaten by raccoons.
The hatchlings were really adorable; I wish I could have brought one of them home with me! Releasing the hatchlings made me feel very happy and somehow a little sad. I felt like I just saved hundreds of lives but it was sad to see them being washed away by the waves and not knowing what they will face in the vast ocean.
Within walking distance from the turtle camp, there is a big beautiful lagoon where we usually spent our free time. Once a week, we would go out into the lagoon by boat and gather information about the wildlife in the lagoon. There are many species of birds living around the lagoon. At first, it was hard for me to identify birds, even if I had already been taught, but later I began to become familiar with the different species.
About twenty minutes from the turtle camp, there is a crocodile farm where we would go every Thursday. On my first day at the crocodile farm, I was given a short tour around the farm and was taught how to distinguish the two species of crocodile in the farm: Acutus and Moreletii. In the farm, there is a lagoon where there are a lot of crocodiles in it. On the same day, I was given a chance to make a new nest for eggs which had just been collected from the area around the lagoon. After that, I assisted other staff with catching a crocodile, because we needed to transfer him from one cage to another; it was amazing to touch such a powerful animal with my bare hands. At night, we went into the lagoon on a boat in order to catch some hatchlings.
After two weeks in the turtle camp, which seemed like a blink of an eye, it was time for me to leave the turtle camp, it was a very sad day. I spent my last day in Mexico in Guadalajara where I met my host-mama for the last time and had last drinks with other volunteers.
Volunteering with Projects Abroad was an experience of a lifetime for me. I had some really great times working with the staff and other volunteers. I wish I could have stayed there longer. I regretted that I didn’t take many photos and for not spending more time traveling around Mexico. My advice for potential volunteers is to do as many activities as possible, they’re all great, try every type of Mexican food, travel during the weekends and take a lot of photos!
I really miss the camp, the staff and the beautiful sunset. In the future I would like to go back to the Conservation project again to do all the things I didn’t have time to do before.