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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The mayan Challenge!! 1st report by Jana Dlouha

We are on the breakthrough through our 5th week on the base and it feels like we are a big family and everybody is starting to think what next. The reason is because the time goes faster than actually we want to and all those things like duties, mosquitos, and hurricanes are just a normal thing. We became really good friends (some for life) and even though we still have our differences, we just get on.

This week was different for me and other 3 volunteers from our base – we left to participate in 
Mayan challenge. It’s a first time that GVI Mexico did it to support a recycling facility storage in Punta Allen. So the original plan (yep, there was a change) was to kayak for 2 days and on our last day to bike. But as it has it, it was change due to rain (feel like back in UK) and we started to bike. 

Let me start from beginning though. We left base, being driven to Tulum, where we met with Lluvia and Cynthia and Ecocolors tours company who brought us to the other base – Pez Maya and let me tell you from what I’ve heard, I still prefer the Punta Gruesa. I guess it’s our home and though they have other things there, we have ours. So we spend the night there, welcomed by the others, had and awesome dinner (they had mushrooms, sooo jealous), we had the introduction and went sleep. What else is to do, when it’s raining!!!!! The next morning we got up at 6 (well at least some did), since it was raining the volunteers had a lie in (good for) so we had time to relax in rain.

Must say the sea was amazing to walk along to. Saw few pelicans, fishermen but no sharks. (There is always next time). We got our bikes ready, put our shoes on (quite strange after not wearing shoes for 5 weeks) and we set off, to be immediately faced with huge puddle. So at the beginning everybody avoided them, but by the end, we just didn’t care and went in the middle where the water was up to your knees and if you stopped biking, you just fell off (and yes, it did happened).

So we managed to bike 35km in 5 hours and it felt good (before you say its lot), don’t forget it was

full of huge puddles, you could actually swim in. It was great. We met two companies that had 15
jeeps each and guess what???? We have been overtaking them, as they have been breaking down
in all those puddles. On the end we met them by Paso Lagarto (crocodile pass) where we had a little
chat about broken road (thanks to jeeps and tourist). Well after short break full of refreshment we
continued to Punta Allen. It was tight fight. Simon first, followed by Rosie, then me, Bridget and 
somewhere in the back was the rest of the group (not that far =) though). On our way we saw turkey vultures, white egrets, butterflies but no crocks though.

As we were coming closer to Punta Allen, you could see we are coming closer the civilisation as lots of plastic bottles were all over the place. And that is why we were doing this challenge, to help them at least in small way to raise money for this recycling centre. This place is all the way out here and it can get really difficult, especially in rainy season to collect the bottles to take them to Tulum to be squashed and distributed.

We also met a very nice lady here in Punta Allen, she comes from USA and she bought a place
here and has lodges on beach and she let us stay for the night. The lodge comes with shower and on
that day it was so appreciated and we all enjoyed it pretty much. Well the tour guide – Eduardo cooked for us a yummy fish and afterwards we just chilled before turning to bed as we had early wake up call to go kayaking.

The following day after yummy breakfast we put our bikes on van and took kayaks down. Put lots of
sunscreen, hats, gloves (they were very useful), got water, life jackets and with one paddle in hand and with other holding the kayak we set off. We had 20 km ahead of us. We started on the open sea. That was challenge on its own as the kayaks are not made for it. We also had to learn to synchronise our movements, which was great fun. We had few teams. Rosie and Simon were the Aussie team, we had Cynthia and Lluvia on Mexican  team, we had Becks and Jean on English/French team (yep in worked), we had Marcus and Karen on American/Mexican team and there was me and Eduardo on Czech/Mexican team. It was quite hard going and some were really competitive (not naming), so we started quite slow and easy, from sea to mangroves and to lagoon that was extremely wavy and that was our last bit. Everybody could feel it and they decided to put last energy into it. So this is the finale. Czech/Mexican team first, Aussie team second, American/Mexican team third, Mexican team forth and English/French fifth. It was great!

We put our kayaks up the van, had lunch (yummy sandwiches) you wouldn’t believe what you can use peanut butter for and then we went off to our camping area – Paso Lagarto, where we put our tents up. We were told we might be eaten by crocks, but we weren’t that lucky. Well, I won’t know, I slept like a baby and in the morning everybody was accounted for.

The next day after packing our tents, cooking breakfast we put our kayaks back in the water for our last day (shame). Everybody at this stage felt the muscles, but still had a huge smile on our faces. We had around 20km ahead of us and this time it would be much harder as we were facing current and north wind. But as challenge go we went for it. On the way we saw amazing range of birds but no crocks around us. (not sure we would have time to watch) We crossed three lagoons, two water channels and we finally (5 hours later) got to our destination. After loading up everything and everyone we headed for Tulum, dropping off Kayaks on the way. Back in civilisation we had amazing lunch and now we are in hostel, chilling, watching Spider man and waiting for rest of our base to come here for the long weekend.

If you coming to the base in time of challenge, make sure you definitely sign up for it, because it’s
well worth it and you will have time of your life. Not only you will be satisfied of what you achieved, you also helping the local community AND you meet amazing people on the way.