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Monday, August 22, 2011

Out with the old and in the new-by Foxy second five weeker in Pez maya

As a newbie to Pez Maya it was a little daunting entering into a phase mid-flow; with a group of people who already have made their bonds, shared experiences and understand each other. In my mind I had no idea how a bunch of new people would be received. The dynamics of the entire group would inevitably shift. Not necessarily for better or worse, but it’s a well known fact people do not always like change. However, I think I can speak for all the new 5 weekers when I say we have felt nothing but warmth from the remaining 10 weekers and the staff alike.

With the 10 weekers on a Party weekend in Playa Del Carmen, seeing off the first wave of 5 weekers, we entered into the Camp without apprehension. It was time for us to learn the ropes for ourselves. Our first volunteer experience on base was to conduct a ‘beach clean’, this happens every Saturday with a view to collect sample data about what type of waste is washed up on the beach, where it has come from and how much it weighs. There is a 300m transect that is monitored every week, but this week we had the pleasure of attempting to clean the entire beach, from the Base to the Point – approximately 3km! Needless to say it was adventures of epic proportions, with the prize find being a welding mask – quickly snapped up by Jim for Beach Olympics attire/scaring the living daylights out of volunteers at night!

The rest of the weekend was spent lazing around either in the hammocks or in the communal space whilst the staff tended to our every need, proving to us that with enough effort and teamwork culinary delights (without meat) really are possible. Did I mention they cleaned up after us too?! El Paradiso.

On Sunday evening the remaining 10 weekers returned to Base after what seemed to have been a weekend of highs and lows seeing off our predecessors. The rest of the night was spent with them reliving tales of the last phase over a few luke-warm beers.

It was back to business on Monday morning with a 7am start, 2 dives per day and a shed load of duties; Communal, Grounds, Boat and Kitchen - One duty, per day, per hut. The staff are no longer taking care of us.

By Tuesday all the 5 weekers had achieved their PADI Open Water certification, so I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate each of those “under” achievers and to thank all the staff that helped us to get there, notably Mark and Shannon. As the saying goes, “there ain’t no rest for the wicked” as we have now we have all begun our Advanced Open Water training! The 10 weekers, meanwhile, are undergoing Rescue training, Point Intercept training and Coral Community training whilst continuing with the all important science.

The Base here is really beautiful; admittedly the lack of basic amenities like flushing toilets and showers took a day or two to adjust, but if you are able to get over that, in my humble opinion the good outweighs the bad by a distance. When I feel a little down, I take myself to the hammocks, look out to the beach and remind myself where I am and what I am doing, and my troubles no longer matter, they are trivial. Despite its beauty, there is still work to be done on Base. The staff are always looking for ways to improve the experience for future volunteers. For example, currently the staff are trying to implement a new water collection system to improve the site sustainability. With an Architectural background, I saw this as a perfect opportunity for me to use my skills to give something back to the community here. This is not a place solely for Marine mad people, but for everyone, there is the opportunity for each and every person with their own specific skill set and passions to get involved and give something back; anything, no matter how big or small.

Right, I’m being hassled to get ready for my next dive now (I know tough life eh!?) so I must sign off for now… But if you’re reading this it means you’re interested in what we are doing here on Pez Maya, and that’s a start. The next step is to do something about it – remember ‘actions always speak louder than words.’