About the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (click here)
About Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates (coming soon)
Before John and I took off on this sailboat adventure, we discussed how we would spend our time in Mexico – what goals did we have for our post-corporate lives? Tongue in cheek, we say our goal is to eat, drink and keep ourselves in beer money, but one of the serious goals we discussed was participating in some of the volunteer activities that present themselves. For example, in some areas the cruisers schedule events to build or repair school buildings, or run fundraisers for local children’s groups. Here in Mexico, there is no shortage of worthy causes.
Since being in La Cruz, we have taken part in various events, playing a small role or making donations. Over the summer, I became interested in the Olive Ridley sea turtle conservancy efforts going on around the bay. After reading an article in a weekly gringo journal about a beach (playa) called Boca de Tomate and the turtle camp there, my friend Lynne and I set off on foot to find them. Mind you, this was in September, easily one of hottest months of the year. On a day that included about six miles of walking in 300% humidity, we met Nan, a gringo woman who works with the camp manager Antonio to advance the camp’s mission.
Nan stumbled upon the camp during an evening beach stroll, took part in a turtle release and fell in love. I swear she would kiss each baby good-bye if she could.
We learned a lot about the camp history, current status and mission in that first visit. Nan and I met a couple more times, and ideas started forming in my little pea brain. But before I kicked anything off, I wanted to experience this turtle thing for myself.
In October, a favorite uncle and my mom’s little brother passed away. That was my impetus to make the trip to the beach in the evening, again with Lynne in tow, and finally participate in a release (liberacion) of baby turtles. My turtle was dedicated Uncle Theron, and I was hooked on baby turtles.
Along with Katrina, the marina’s social director, I cooked up a plan to bring some of the kids from the Kids’ Camp out for a release in late December. In my naiveté, I thought I would rent a taxi van and take 8 kids and a couple adult kid-wranglers plus me to the beach, we would release a baby, and return home.
The camp is about a 45-minute drive from La Cruz, so the trip took a lot of coordination, succeeding in no small part thanks to volunteer drivers who joined the taxi in transporting the kids (and the parental hangers-on) to and from the beach. We had a group of nearly 30 people, and many thanks to Nan who didn’t make a public announcement that day, ensuring each kid and interested adult had a turtle to release. About 10 days later, we made a second trip with a smaller group because there were some families not available for the first trip. In total there were between 40 – 45 people from La Cruz transported to a release. What great exposure for the camp and the work they are doing there!
I have an idea for a fundraising event at the end of February, again working with the Kids’ Camp. Katrina is supportive and it’s about time to start coordinating with the kids and parents. It’s a little tricky to work too far in advance because boats come and go with frequency, so I don’t know who will be here in a month.
Here’s how you can help the camp:
- If you are in the Puerto Vallarta area, visit the camp (click here for map) and make a donation. Give them a heads up before coming out, especially if you want to donate – there isn’t an office and receptionist there! Best way to contact them is through Facebook. On Facebook, search for Campamento Tortugero Boca de Tomates (or click this link https://www.facebook.com/CampamentoTortugueroBocaDeTomates/?ref=br_rs).
- Come out and participate in a release! Public releases are announced on Facebook (find and follow them using the instructions above to see their notices) – notifications are usually the morning or early afternoon for a release that evening.
- If you are not in the area and can’t contribute directly to this camp, consider a donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy. While not related to this camp, good work is taking place all over the world and you can help. Click here to donate.
For more information on the Olive Ridley turtle, click on any of the following: