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Friday, October 3, 2008

Pta Gruesa Highlights for 083 phase

Here are some of the highlights at Pta Gruesa for the past 5 weeks!

  • This phase saw the organization of many weekend trips by our intrepid explorers. The amazingly beautiful Mayan ruins in Tulum were visited on the 2nd weekend, alongside some diving in cenotes and the island of Cozumel.
  • One of the most amazing trips was to Holbox, an island north of the Yucantan Peninsula where Whale sharks go past during their migration. Here, EMs had the opportunity to snorkel with whale sharks and manta rays...what an incredible experience.
  • Turtle Camp continued during this phase.  For two nights some of the Punta Gruesa EMs to the beaches surrounding Tulum and work alongside another of our project partners to monitor turtle laying.  The purpose is to move nests in danger of being crushed as the beaches are very popular with the tourists during the day and the hatchlings are unable to break out of the compacted sand.  All those EMs who had the chance to partake in this activity could not stop raving about it for days and days!
  • Another phase, another football game against the local Mahahual team...and another loss! We somehow can't manage to beat them!
  • This phase saw a group of EMs visit the world famouns Blue Hole in Belize. This natural wonder is considered one of the top dives in the world, having the opportunity to see all types of sharks and predators in one sole dive!
  • So, there we are cruising along, talking about the next dive, who will be leading, who wants to carry the tape measure when there is a shout from the Skipper of DOLPHINS!   Everyone quickly grabs masks and fins and waits while the boat entices them to swim in the bow wave. After a few minutes we all jump in and swim with one of the most intriguing creatures in the sea – just as curious to swim with you as you are with them – and watch as they swim towards you and then turn away at the last minute.  Soon they decide to swim away and we follow them, hoping that they will turn back and play some more, they get to choose – sometimes we are lucky and they come back, other times go, off to do whatever dolphins do.  Oh, well, there is always next time…..
  • Maybe not one of the most glamorous jobs but certainly one of the most important – the Punta Gruesa Beach Clean.  After a sturdy breakfast of porridge we roused the team, one group heading north, the other south, to clean our little bit of the reef system we dive every day.  It never ceases to amaze us how much rubbish gets washed up on our little bit of paradise, and how much of it is plastic!   Every week we head out saying that there will be less than last week, and every week we bring back an assortment of crates, flip flops and bottles – it certainly makes us all think about where the rubbish comes from (life jackets marked with names of boats from faraway shores) and how it gets here (from other beaches or fishermen cruising by).  It all then gets taken to Mahahual and put into the municipal recycling while we put our scuba gear and dive on a slightly cleaner reef than we found just a few hours before.
  • It happens quite a lot here that you start your descent and realize that a spotted eagle ray is just underneath you, being notoriously shy creatures they tend to disappear quite quickly. However, just this once it happened the other way around – whilst sitting on our mandatory safety stop, watching out just in case – an eagle ray decided to come and have a look at these strange creatures in its ocean.  Not happy with just having a look and carrying on its way, this one decided to have a closer look at a couple of the divers, swimming very close for such a shy character.  One pass was enough for him to decide that we were not that interesting before heading off into the blue.  The added bonus… a pair of remoras desperately trying to hitch a free ride!

  •  The end of phase comes and the competitiveness comes out – the champion volleyball team, the best cooks on camp, but now it is time for the true champions to step forwards with the Beach Olympics.  A number of events are organized, rules are clarified to ensure fair play and the games begin.  We start with a gentle warm up – a wheelbarrow race in mask and snorkel, closely followed by the coconut shot putt.  It is neck and neck until the final event of the afternoon, an obstacle race around the base in full scuba gear (minus tanks, obviously!) but made slightly trickier by wearing fins.  A few tumbles and lots of laughs later the victors are announced and we all head off to the palapa for a well earned cold beer.
  • We try to be as much a part of the community that we live in as possible, we are here for the benefit of all and the more interaction we have with the locals in Mahahual  the more they will understand our mission here.  Other than the football matches between gvi and the local Mahahualians (always a great way to build good relations and friendships) is TEFL.  A great number have some interaction with people who only speak English - there are many tourists in the area, and cruise ships will soon return after a years absence thanks to the damage done by Hurricane Dean.  Twice a week the guys head into town to the beautiful beach bar that is Tequila Beach and teach English, all levels and all ages, and in return get to see a side of Mexico that they would otherwise miss, the people that could not be more friendly or welcoming, genuinely interested in learning both English and what your country is like, the similarities and differences and the work you are doing here.

We look forward to meeting the next group of EMs and showing them the wonders of Pez Maya and Pta Gruesa