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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Volunteer Diary: Under the Sea

Last week I finally passed my fish test with ninety-seven percent! Doing “fish spots” is probably my favorite part of each day. It’s an exciting challenge to see a fish quickly swim past and write down its species on a waterproof slate (my already wretched handwriting is even worse while fighting a current under the sea). My stomach turns with nervous anticipation as I show a staff member my guess, and I am overjoyed every time they signal the okay sign.  As I spend more time getting to know the creatures of our seas, I am even more convinced that they are worthy of freedom and deserve the dignity to spend their lives in their natural environment, rather than on someone’s plate. But I’m sure all of my weekly readers have had enough Claudia lecture time after my previous, ranting blog, so I’ll leave it at that.
On Wednesday, Valeria (a staff member who also happens to be one of my favorite people on the planet) took us to Punta Allen to teach English at a few local schools.  I know this is a sentence I overuse- but its true- it was one of my best days yet! We taught classes at Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary schools. I felt an immediate bond with a few of the kids, while teaching them the English names of body parts, using “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” as a guide.  Valeria’s methods of teaching are so creative and inspiring. During lunch I was woken up from my short-lived, grassy nap, by a bunch of screaming kids drawing on my face and limbs. It turned into a massive pile of tickling.
Later that night, Rhu and Valeria showed us one of the most magical things I have ever seen. The waves were illuminated by phosphorescent plankton. It looked as though a million glow sticks were thrashing in the waves, growing brighter at every powerful crash. Valeria rubbed a tiny bit of the shining residue on my forehead, and I did the same to hers. Our faces glowed from this natural glow-in-the-dark paint. I am convinced that Rhu and Valeria could rule the world. They are both so kind and down to Earth, despite their endless lists of qualifications.  I have never met people with such good intentions that are so effective at the same time. Their knowledge and skill allow them to make a real, strategic impact on the betterment of our world.
Over the weekend, the volunteers visited my favorite city, Tulum, and enjoyed a lovely night out. The next morning we went to Akumal; a sea turtle reserve that allows tourists to snorkel amongst these majestic creatures. For forty-five minutes, I swam adjacent to one of the stunning turtles, and was able to experience the ocean through a turtles eyes. If I slowed down, the turtle would turn around and look me in the eyes before it continued to swim. I felt like I was dreaming.
Round the World Claudia
Friday, February 15, 2013 - 17:17