In Playa Blanca, we stayed just steps from the beach on a site owned by a truly selfless family. Dona Christina, a 60-year old grandma-turned second mother to us, cooked authentic cuisine while her son, Pablo, and a Spanish research assistant led us in exploring our surroundings through service and adventure. The trip was environmentally oriented in 2 areas. For one, we put out nets in order to catch sea turtles so we can take their measurements, tag them, remove parasites, and begin to get a rough estimate of the regional population. We also helped with a coastal mangrove restoration project. In a nutshell, the trip was the best money I've ever spent. Interacting with the friendly locals, immersing myself in nature and issues of conservation, and really doing something so worthwhile while seeing the world made this such a formative experience for me. I can't really even describe how much we did in just 10 days at the site. *Note, the service was so hands-on that it was difficult to get many pictures besides of free time, but we did real work, I promise! Here are a few of the highlights:
The view! We stayed in cabins all along the beach, from which we launched boats every morning to do everything from catching turtles to going to a remote beach to break open coconuts and drink the milk.
Catching our first turtle! We took its measurements before tagging and releasing it. We put a towel over its face to keep it calm, but occasionally this wasn't enough and the turtles would have projectile bowel movements on whoever was working.
Being invited by the local townspeople to play in a friendly soccer match (and winning, naturally).