Sailing Nakamal


Anybody with a Facebook or Twitter account has probably noticed that in between pictures of vacations, kids, weather, wine and food there can be a lot of unpleasant rhetoric and whining. But every now and again you get to watch something unfold right before your eyes on social media and think “Well maybe this app has a use beyond posting my dinner menu.”


The injury

Such a story happened this week. The turtle camp that I’ve been following posted a desperate plea on Facebook the evening of Thursday 9 March 2017. A gravely injured female was found on the beach, apparently recently gashed by a boat propeller with injuries to her head and shell. The plea was for no more than a large pool to fill with sea water so she would have a place to rest comfortably in what the volunteers thought were her last days.

She was named “Hope” because the volunteers thought hope was the only thing that could help her. Then it happened. Someone who knows someone read the posts, made some calls and the next day a veterinarian from up north (San Pancho) was on his way.


Another view, pre-op.

The text below is directly from the post that describes the result of the social community coming together (posted by San Pancho Turtles on 11 March, 2017).

This Olive Ridley was found on the beach near Puerto Vallarta yesterday (10 March, 2017). She had been hit by a boat and she was severely injured by the propeller which gashed her head and neck and cracked her shell. The assessment was that she would need to be euthanized due to the extent of her injuries and Dr. Julio Martinez Gonzales kindly went out there put her down.


Loading her up


To camp!

 But, upon closer inspection, Dr. Martinez Gonzalez determined that since no major organs were affected and her reflexes were still strong, she should have a chance —-and then he spent over 3 hours on his knees, in the sand, with no equipment and no electricity…. and he painstakingly stitched up her gashes, he removed her left eye, he drilled holes in her shell by hand with a needle and wired her shell together and he gave her medication and antibiotics.


Operating room

 This was an incredible act of compassion combined with extraordinary skill under adverse conditions. Dr. Julio Martinez Gonzales, you are a truly amazing. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The turtle has been named “Hope” and we are wishing her the best of luck and a speedy recovery! If all goes well she will be checked again in 3 days and then released within the week.

 Dr. Martinez Gonzalez received no payment for this extraordinary act— he simply did it because that is the kind of person he is. He did mention that if he had a cordless re-chargeable drill it would have been very helpful to drill through the shell. We would like to purchase a drill for him from Home Depot in case this situation ever comes up again, and if anyone would like to donate to the cost of the drill and maybe a little extra for his medicines and travel expenses, we would gratefully accept donations at PayPal


Turtle Warriors – Dr. Martinez Gonzales (L) and assistant Manuel (R)

 The other heroes of this story who all played an incredibly crucial role in making this happen are Jose Antonio Ramirez Guillen, Alex Sama and Nan Lippard–Turtle Warriors of Team Boca de Tomates !!!! and Manuel Murrieta who provided transportation and vet tech support— all of who spent hours of time, love and energy to get this turtle help.

 As more information comes forward we will update this post. This was an incredible undertaking and we are soooo thankful for this beautiful animal having a chance to survive. Hang in there Hope!

 Photo credits to Antonio, Nan and Manuel.



As of today (Sunday 12 March) Hope is making good progress. Yesterday she ate a small meal of five shrimp so everybody is encouraged by that.


Hope resting in her custom pool – a hole dug in the sand, lined with plastic and held down whatever was handy. The camp is very resourceful with what they have!

The camp at Playa Boca de Tomates relies on donations to keep operating and to rebuild after 2015’s Hurricane Patricia (read more here). Thanks to the La Cruz Kids’ Club (a group of boating kids organized by Katrina at the Marina La Cruz) who worked in a restaurant one afternoon, making tacos and waiting tables. They donated 350 pesos (~$17.50 US) of their tip money to the turtle camp – how awesome is that! Turtle Warriors!


Then a few weeks ago my friend Lynne and I were poking around a party store when our eyes were caught by a display shiny stretch bracelets for not too many pesos. We were actually looking for a source of inexpensive beads to make bracelets to give to the camp for them to sell to their visitors when she said “You know, you could take three of these and hook them together with one of your charms.” Obviously, she’s the smart one.zBracelet

The prototype turned out pretty cool and has lasted over a month without discoloration or falling apart…. so we went back and bought over 60 bracelets. While sitting outside yesterday morning working on our little project, several women wandered over to see what we were up to. They got to pick the colors and charms they wanted (turtle, dolphin, anchor or seashell) and we custom made theirs on the spot. Plus my mom and a US friend want some – so far 1300 bracelet pesos (~$65 US) for the turtle camp. At this rate we may not have any left for the camp to sell!


Cruisers rock – these hearts were sold for 100 pesos ($5) each to bring a spay and neuter clinic to La Cruz. The clinic is offered free to the community and with the next one, the organizer hopes to reach 1,000 total animals over the last few years.

If you are coming to the Puerto Vallarta area, I encourage you to make the trip out to the Playa Boca de Tomates. Follow them on Facebook to get alerts about public releases since they only happen when eggs have hatched which is not every day.

It’s a bit of a trek to get there, but because they are so off the beaten path this camp doesn’t receive the same level of community financial support that camps in the hotel zones do. Your donations DO make a difference! Not only would you have the experience of releasing babies to the sea, there are some very popular family owned palapa restaurants on the way. Check out my post on visiting the camp and shortcut to directions here (2-page pdf).

And in case you thought we had given up on sailing, I provide evidence that Nakamal really is not glued to the dock:


Nakamal is the boat closest to shore. February, 2017

This entry was published on March 12, 2017 at 8:19 pm and is filed under Mexico. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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