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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pez Maya highlights October-November phase

  • The weekend of October 17 and 18 saw Tulum celebrating the 6th Annual Turtle Festival. Each year this event grows bigger and better with collaboration from a multitude of sponsors and a growing interest from the public. Pez Maya EMs allowed their creative spirit to take flight and designed three different activities for the children – a labyrinth in which the children had to don a turtle shell and make it from the sea to the beach to lay their egg and then hatch and return to the sea, avoiding perils such as dogs, litter and hotels; a question game about what is good and bad for turtles, and a jigsaw with facts. Any children completing the activities had a turtle painted on their cheek. Although many of the EMs spoke little Spanish, they still found it possible to round up a queue of excitable children all eager to join in the fun. The following morning, armed with black bags, they headed to Tulum beach for a huge beach clean, then later a sand sculpting and kite making competition. The weekend was rounded off with an artistic representation of the life cycle of the turtle and of final release turtle hatchlings at Xcacel beach. Despite the rain the festival was a huge success with a great local turnout and all EMs thoroughly enjoying themselves and thrilled to have been able to be a part of the event
  • Within just a few hours of their arrival on base, EMs were lucky enough to help with the release of five turtle hatchlings which Vidal had rescued from a nest which had become compacted due to the rain. The turtles were kept in a dark room until dusk, then taken to the lights of the communal area where the EMs could handle them gently to help wake them up, getting them ready for their scramble down the beach to the sea and long and perilous journey to adulthood.
  • Instructors and DMs have been kept busy these first five weeks certifying 14 new divers as well as completing advanced training for those who came already qualified. Despite the often less than ideal diving conditions, 16 out of 18 EMs caught PADI fever and signed up for either Rescue or Dive Master courses, so we look forward to an action-packed second five weeks putting them through their paces.
  • EMs have been active this phase on their weekends off with a trip to a mangrove lagoon with four resident manatees being the highlight. EMs spent the night camping, and then early the following morning kayaked and swam in the lagoon, before donning snorkel gear and following their guide to the manatees’ hangout. At first just glimpses were caught through the gloom of these secretive creatures, then one animal, seemingly not bothered by the snorkellers was able to be approached. EMs watched entranced as the huge manatee fed and got on with its business in touching distance from the EMs. A truly magical experience.
  • The end of October saw Mexico holding Day of the Dead celebrations. EMs decided to join the festivities organised at Xcaret natural park where there were plays, performances and dances about this Mexican tradition as well as workshops, exhibitions of flower-covered alters and stalls selling handicrafts and food. A great chance for the EMs to experience another side to Mexican culture.