Mexico 59, 16th July 2004

I drove to the little airport in the morning, left Hector a couple of photos - he wasn't there so I stuck them in the door of his plane. Forgot to take a photo of the airstrip which is a pity, it looks more like a cart track than an airstrip. When we took off yesterday we had to avoid a bunch of cows on the runway.

I headed north, stopping at a couple of little towns on the way.

After a while, photos of these places all begin to look the same. Like photos of green hills. Which reminds me. Away from the coast but still on the lower coastal strip, the scenery was pretty good too. Amazingly green, green all the way. I can't get over it. I thought Mexico was brown all over but it's all green. I know it's the rainy season just now, but it's been green everywhere.

I had the idea of continuing to Puerto Vallarta to meet up again with Lucie and Lukas who were now camping out at their 2 week turtle hunt but it was getting lateish so I turned off to El Nogalito which my book said had a trailer park. Well, it did. By the time I found it, it had stopped being a trailer park and turned into a health spa. Go up to the Nogalito restaurant she says, you can park there. Up I drove, a steep muddy track, the gate was firmly locked. No place to turn so I gingerly reversed back down. In front of the new spa one time trailer ark I ask a local, can I park here, etc.,etc. No problem he says.

It rained and rained during the night. Kitten cat by the way is getting cleaner, fatter, and more contented almost by the hour. He's even started playing in the rare times when he is not sleeping. He likes to travel sitting on my lap, which is fine, I know where he is. The only time I hear any meowling now is in the 10 minutes before meal time, and then it's not much. It's more of a meow than a yowl. He'll be fit to have his photo taken soon. He has fully accepted that the van is home, when he goes outside to explore he stays very close, usually under the van, which I suppose is familiar ground, under a vehicle.

I'd had a light on the dashboard come on intermittently, saying, "check engine". So I called at an auto electrician's, he said come back at 4 pm. Then I noticed an automatic transmission workshop, so I stopped to have my transmission oil changed. I found the turtle chasers camp site but all were out. Barring one young man, dead to the world, in a hammock. Back at my 4 pm appointment for "check engine" a different man said, we don't have a computer, try next door. Next door they fiddled away adjusting this and that, and finally were satisfied. We took a test drive, the light stayed out, and the engine was improved. Two men working, off and on, for two hours, 400 pesos. I can live with that.

I returned to the Ecoturtle camp and all were now there, total of 14, except, of course, Lucie and Lucas, who were still in town. A real nice bunch of young people, all volunteers, from all over the place. Belgium, Korea, Germany, France, UK, Czech Republic of course, lots more places.

I've already been to a couple of turtle centres and learnt a little about turtles. There are 8 varieties in the world, 7 are to be found in Mexico. All 7 are endangered, and the eighth, from Australia, looks like one of the endangered species, so all 8 are protected. The turtles come ashore during the night, lay their eggs in the sand, and depart. Lucie and Lukas's turtle hunters patrol during the night looking for turtles laying eggs, then after the turtles have departed dig up the eggs and re bury them in a place safe from predators. Some of these predators are human!

Lucie and Lucas returned and invited me to join their shift on patrol, 10 pm to midnight. And would you believe, we found a turtle! There's usually only during the whole night, on average. Of course, I couldn't take flash photos while she was laying, but here she is filling in the hole where the eggs are.

Now she's heading back to the sea.

She was quite big - I would guess the shell was 2 feet long by 18" wide (65 cms by 45 cms). Here are the ecoturtle girls recovering the eggs.

They counted 97 eggs. They are in a leathery sort of shell, about 1.5" (4 cm) diameter. Close on 100 makes a big volume of eggs, even though the turtle is quite large.

Next day I continued northwards. Sayulita is a nice town, and Rincon de Guayabitos was fine, the latter packed full of Mexicans on holiday, There were even some "no vacancy" signs up, the first I have seen on the whole of my trip. Here are some pelicans having fun on the beach.

I reached Playa Chacala about 2 pm and decided to stay the night. Again, loads of holidaymakers, it's now the school holidays, and again I tried to go for a swim. Again I was defeated by the breakers! I'm not a confident enough swimmer to go much out of my depth in the sea so after playing with the waves for half an hour I gave up.

Best regards

David Barker

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