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Turtle Conservation in Mexico with Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad volunteer teacher and her students Projects Abroad volunteer teacher and her students

Turtle Conservation in Mexico with Projects Abroad

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Turtle conservation - summer 2017 (high school special)

Hi my name is Sophie and I spent 2 weeks in June 2017 volunteering with Projects Abroad in Mexico! I spent months deciding what program to participate in because there are hundreds of options all over the internet but I eventually chose Projects broad because they genuinely seemed like a program that wanted their volunteers to make a difference. I did not want to go to a foreign country and just be a tourist doing busy work and the Projects Abroad turtle conservation program was exactly what I was hoping for.

After arriving in Mexico, I met my fellow volunteers (all ages 16-19) and we spent 4 hours traveling by bus from Guadalajara to Cuyutlan, accompanied by an incredibly friendly staff member from Projects Abroad. Once at the camp, we met the rest of the staff and got right to work. We learned about each job we would be completing at the Tortugario Ecologico (the nature reserve) which ranged from washing the adult and baby turtles and cleaning turtle tanks to feeding the iguanas, planting mangroves, completing a bird census, etc. The staff members spoke English as well as Spanish and they were very helpful and accommodating with anything we needed. The other volunteers I was working with were also super friendly. The majority of us were from the United States but there were also a few people from places all over the world, including as far away as Norway. We all got along extremely well and I am still in contact with a few of them today.

We spent the next two weeks working together at the Tortugario as well as a crocodile farm about 40 minutes away from camp. It was hard work but in my opinion there was a great balance between work time and down time. I had time for an afternoon siesta almost everyday and we also spent countless hours at the beach, enjoying the waves. During the weekend, we traveled to another beach town called Melake where we ate some amazing seafood (vegetarian options available!), shopped at local stores, and just enjoyed the relaxation.

The entire trip was amazing and passed in the blink of an eye. I had not expected to make any close friends but I was genuinely sad to be leaving both the other volunteers and the staff behind. I definitely want to go back and hopefully for a much longer period of time!

  • Projects Abroad responded to this review July 28, 2017 at 4:46 PM

    Dear Sophie: Sounds like you had an amazing time in Mexico! We do believe balance is very important in the volunteer experience, so you can get involved in helping with the turtles and iguanas, but also enjoy the beauty of Mexican beaches. Our community of volunteers is also something we are quite proud of, so it's great that you took advantage of that and you are still in touch with your fellow volunteers! Thanks for joining us!

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    7

Sea Turtle Conservation: Mexico

Hi! I'm Karina, and I volunteered at the Sea Turtle camp in May 2015. I chose this program because I am currently a Marine Biology student at the University of South Carolina, and my passion falls within conservation of our oceans in any way, and learning about these precious creatures that we overlook so easily.

Here is a little bit about my experience:

Arriving the first day at camp, was an unforgettable experience. Our rooms/huts were on the black sand just 100 feet or so from the waves, and surrounded by palm trees. A few buildings surrounding it were the bathroom, kitchen, equipment shack, turtle nest hatchery, and a nice place to relax outside provided with hammocks and a beautiful view of the beach. The first night I was there, the team had already dug up some turtle nest, so there were 20 + new sea turtle babies to release into the ocean.

Each week was set up schedule-based, where we would have the chance to go into town early in the morning to get laundry done, go to the internet cafe, eat at a restaurant, shop, and take in the towns culture as you walk through the town. After the trip to town we would all eat lunch that was provided. The food was good, and the fruit was amazing. Normally we would eat fajitas, burritos, etc., with the choice of rice, beans, and a meat, and sides varying (fruit, tortillas, guac, lettuce, etc). Normally before the trip to town, camp duties were required to be completed prior to leaving the camp. These required basic clean up of various facilities on camp.

After lunch, we would have a different "job" to do daily. These vary from going to the crocodile farm, digging the turtle nests/releasing turtles, watering the mangroves, planting the new mangroves, going into the lagoon to bird watch and take biodiversity data, and picking new mangrove seeds on the lagoon. Night patrol was another weekly scheduled duty, where each volunteer got to participate in regulating the beaches on a 4-wheeler, and looking out for pregnant turtles that would possibly be laying eggs in order to ensure safety for both the turtle, and the eggs. Night patrol was amazing, the stars are beautiful and so bright, in fact in one night I counted 7 shooting stars. (It was also a nice break from the daily heat we were used to working in :) ).

Weekends we had off, so volunteers had the opportunity to explore Mexico. Me and another volunteer took advantage of this each weekend and traveled 2-4 hours to Melaque, then Manzanillo. These beaches are very populated and there is lots to do around each town (tubing, scuba/snorkling, shopping, exploring night life, etc.)

In our spare time around camp, we could walk 5 minutes or so to the lagoon, straight down the road. Here we would either swim, play with the local puppies that were around daily, and hang out at the local mini restaurant/bar.

Overall, my favorite part of the experience was getting to be hands on with the newly hatched turtles, and watching them venture out to their new home. I loved comparing the two species of sea turtles, and observing their different characteristics/largely apparent size difference. It was amazing how quick after hatching from their eggs they could self-manage. Quickly they gain mobility, and once fully mobile, it is safe to release them into the ocean (to reduce risk of predation by the MANY crabs on camp.)

This experience was priceless, and I miss it so much already. I learned so much from the staff, towns-people, and other volunteers from various countries. If you have the chance to pick any program, I would say this is the one to pick. Living on the beach is already a deal-breaker, but saving turtles and helping conserve the surrounding environment is a plus.

Institution Affiliates:

The International Volunteer Programs Association