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Volunteer opportunities in MEXICO

Protecting the Marine Turtles in La Penita
La Peñita, Nayarit          January 7 - January 18, 2015

Volunteer project: The aim of this project is to protect the endangered marine turtles working in close collaboration with the local population who lives in La Peñita Town or as they say “the place where turtles arrive at night”. Volunteers, along with local people and a team of professional biologists and trained staff, will realize activities to protect the turtles, and will help to ensure the survival of the turtles for the future generations. There are five species of turtles arriving to this area: Negra (Black Turtle), Golfina (Olive Ridley Turtle), Laud (Leatherback Turtle), Carey (Hawksbill Turtle) and more! The size of the turtles varies from 1 meter to 2.4 meters long and the weight from 40 kg to 500 kg. Every turtle makes a nest of around 150 eggs.
If you like nature, enjoy spending time in an astonishingly beautiful beach close to a nice beach town, and are willing to witness the magic that nature had made for millions of years, this project is for you!

There is a team of up to 5 experts that will be working with the volunteers in order to show them the beauty of the turtle’s life. The turtle camp has been in operation for over 23 years now.

The main work consists in patrolling the beach at night. The working hours are from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am. The goal is to find the adult turtles and collect the eggs, burying them in a secure place (vivero in Spanish) and set the baby turtles free back into the ocean when they hatch. Volunteers will also help collecting statistical data in order to learn about the evolution of the species. Activities must be carried out by night since turtles do not go out of the ocean by day (because of natural predators, it is safer for turtles to get out of the ocean in the dark). In collaboration with local people and biologists from La Peñita, volunteers will seek for the turtles, taking care of their eggs and the baby turtles. Locals and experts are very friendly and working with them is very pleasant as they explain to the group what to do. We need very motivated volunteers for this project.

Language: The official language of the project is English but some Spanish would be appreciated.

Leisure time: The volunteers will have free time during the day to do many fun and interesting activities and to discover many marvelous places close to the turtle camp. The volunteers can learn to surf, go fishing, visit and help in shelters for protection of endangered species (crocodiles), visit local towns, get to know and enjoy the local culture. Rincón de Guayabitos is well connected by bus to localities and cities around.

Accommodation: The volunteers will stay in a hotel in La Peñita de Jaltemba. They will have full access to two swimming pools and the beach. The volunteers will share quadruple rooms. Free Wi-Fi is available. Three meals a day are provided at the hotel restaurant consisting of nice typical Mexican food. Transportation from the hotel to the turtle camp and back is also provided for the volunteers.

Location: La Peñita de Jaltemba is a small beach town with approximately 20,000 inhabitants, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, in the state of Nayarit. It is the main service community for the popular beach resort area Rincón de Guayabitos. The closest city is Puerto Vallarta.

Nearest airport: Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez in México City

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 280 Euro

The extra fee is intended to support the hosting organization who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival on the project.

                                                                                                         

 

 

Protecting the Marine Turtles at Colola
Colola, Michoacan
       January 28 - February 13, 2015
       February 18 - March 6, 2015
                 March 11 - March 27, 2015
                 April 1 - April 17, 2015
                 April 22 - May 08, 2015
                 May 13 - May 29, 2015
                 June 3 - June 19, 2015

Volunteer project: For over 16 years, this project has been organized in the Turtle Camp at Colola Beach with extraordinary results. This project is the source of many beautiful stories; hundreds of volunteers from all over the world had participated. The aim of this project is to protect the marine turtles working in tight collaboration with the local population who lives in Colola Town or as they say “the place where dreams come true”. Volunteers, along with local people, will realize activities to protect the turtles, and will help to ensure the survival of the turtles for the future generations. There are two species of turtles arriving to this area: Negra (Black Turtle) and Golfina (Olive Ridley Turtle). The size of the turtles varies from 1 meter to 1.5 meters long and the weight from 40 kg to 100 kg. Every turtle makes a nest of around 150 eggs. If you like nature, enjoy spending time in an astonishingly beautiful virgin beach far away from hotels and tourists, and are willing to witness the magic that nature had made for millions of years, this project is for you!

The main work consists in patrolling the beach at night, finding the adult turtles and collecting the eggs, burying them in a secure place (vivero in Spanish) and setting the baby turtles free back into the ocean. This must be carried out at night since turtles do not go out of the ocean during the day (because of natural predators, it is safer for turtles to get out of the ocean in the dark). In collaboration with local indigenous people from Colola, volunteers will seek for the turtles, taking care of their eggs and the baby turtles. Locals are very friendly and working with them is very pleasant as they explain to the group what to do. We need very motivated volunteers who really want to get involved in this project, willing to interact with the local people and their culture.
There are also some extra activities to do with the local people to help improve the town such as setting names to the streets or helping to arrange an all purpose playground for the children and maybe some cleaning tasks, but it depends on your initiative! Local people are very open to participate in other activities and volunteers can also propose their own initiatives, so your ideas will be welcomed!

Language: The official language of the project is English but some Spanish would be appreciated.

Leisure time: There are many nice activities that can be done close to Colola Beach. For example you can visit Chicuasa, a small spot protected by reefs that make a natural pool where you can go swimming every day. It is also possible to discover other towns such as La Placita or Maruata. Also if you prefer, you can visit big touristic centers such as Ixtapa and Manzanillo for the weekend.

Accommodation: Volunteers will stay at the turtle camp in Colola, in a wooden construction, made of coco palm trees. It is safe and very fresh (needed, considering the warm weather at the beach!). There are wooden beds, a kitchen, a rustic bathroom and a place to stock food. There is electricity just enough to light some lamps. It is necessary to bring a sleeping bag. The place is basic but functional and it is located 20 to 30 minutes walking from Colola town. Colola is a small town but it has modern services such as internet access, medical services and telephone.

Location: Colola is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It's a remote place that offers an excellent opportunity to be close to nature, on a virgin beach, with no tourism around. The closest city is Tecoman.

Nearest airport: The biggest closest international airport is in Mexico City.

Age range: 18 and over

Extra fee: 180 Euro

The extra fee is intended to support the hosting organization who does not have sufficient funds. It is due upon arrival on the project.

                                                                                                         

 

 

My Trip to Colola, Michoacan, Mexico:

"The paperwork wasn’t lying when they said you’d be sleeping in a palm hut! The beds are made of wooden boards, so it is behoove of you to bring a sleeping pad! The place itself is pretty secluded. Town is maybe 10-20 minutes walking distance from the camp. There are a few small stores with the bare necessities and a computer lab. Outlets in Mexico are the same as in the United States; the camp didn’t have any but the town did have a few. Don’t be surprised if you have horses, donkeys, or cows walking through the camp.

 The locals work by the week; so each week you work with a different group of people. They always have at least one person there ‘on watch’. Generally, depending on who their team leader was, we would start work between 2000 and 2100. Work would last 4-7 hours. One to two volunteers are usually assigned to a local. There are four zones on the beach; two of them are collecting and two are marking. Depending on who you work with and certain zones, you can mark the turtles with a metal tattoo / tag that contains a tracking number. The collecting zones involve waiting for the females to lay their eggs, helping move her out of the hole, measuring the length of the female’s shell, noting if she has a tag, the time, zone, and digging up the eggs (anywhere from 1 to over 130) for transport. Once collected, the eggs are transported back to camp where they are buried and marked. There is also a group assigned to release. Once the babies come to the surface, you collect and count them before taking them down to the ocean for release.

 Our group got up between 0900 and 1000 for a late breakfast. Some people went to the town for food, supplies, or internet. Others stayed at camp to read, clean up, nap, or enjoy the beach. Swimming is not authorized at the turtle camp; however, you could go just beyond the town and go swimming there. On the weekends we would usually go to a beach either farther east or west of camp for different scenery. There are some walls in the town that could use a nice mural or something on them… we didn’t have time. A few of us did post signs along the road marking how close the camp was (500 m, 1000m, and 1500m). Don’t be afraid to hitchhike, by far the cheapest and quickest way to get around.

 The trip was an amazing time. I met some awesome people from all over- Finland, Wales, South Korea, France, Mexico, and the United States. I’d recommend this kind of volunteer project to anyone that loves the outdoors, beaches, and turtles! "

Natalie D.,
Cadip volunteer 2010

 

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