Protecting corals and helping animals – Paula’s volunteer work in Mexico
“Simply getting out of the everyday stress was a crucial point for me and experiencing something new. You should take the chance to just live freely without studying or working directly.”
For Paula, a childhood dream came true as she jumped at the chance to travel the Caribbean coast of Mexico and get to know Cancún and many other places there. There she first helped as a volunteer for two months in the Coral Reef Project, learning how to dive and how to protect the reefs. After that she supported the animal shelter on Holbox Island for one month.
I always wanted to go to Latin America and after school it was just the perfect time to experience other places and cultures. At first I thought, “3 months is a long time and what if I don’t make friends there or don’t like it?” But in hindsight, the 3 months went by very quickly and you generally always make friends too. Everything went very well with my preparation and WanderWorld always supported me and answered my questions promptly.
MY FIRST DAYS
When I arrived, the tropical climate was an adjustment for me, but I quickly got used to it. The country is very beautiful and the people there are all very nice. On the introduction day I got to know all the volunteers in Mexico and I met some of them again in the next months. My first days at the project were relatively relaxed. Since I was in the diving project, another participant and I first learned everything important about diving and in the next days we also practiced diving in the water. At the beginning it was not so easy, but with time it went.
A NORMAL DAY IN THE PROJECT
In the diving project I planted mangroves from time to time, but the main task was to clean the corals from allergies and dirt so they can stay alive longer and reproduce. The person in charge of the project was very friendly and is very passionate about it. He is committed to the creatures in the ocean and the local population. His enthusiasm made it possible to learn so many new things.
At the animal shelter on Holbox my tasks were to help with the care of the animals as well as to keep the shelter clean. As soon as tourists came, I helped with the translation, because on Holbox not many people can speak English. In addition, depending on the demand, I chose dogs that the tourists could walk. But of course the main task was to cuddle and play with the dogs and cats. In addition, I took care of the sick animals from the vet and cleaned their enclosures/boxes and provided fresh food and water. All the staff were really so nice and I taught them a little German. Since they didn’t speak English very well and I also didn’t speak Spanish very well, we had to use the translator from time to time, which of course wasn’t bad at all.
MY FREE TIME
I spent my free time either with others from the project or more often alone. In total, I went to Tulum, Valladolid, Cancún and Chichén Itzá in my free time. All the trips were so nice, but I was just fascinated by the city of Valladolid and the big boardwalk in Cancún. It was always my wish as a child to go to Cancún, which is why a childhood dream came true for me.
MY MOST BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE
I will remember many moments. One of them is definitely Christmas, where we were all in the hostel and couldn’t go out because it was pouring so much. Well, but a few days later we all went together on a boat to a very nice place where the water was very clear. In the evening we went back at sunset and then all jumped down from the boat into the sea. Another highlight for me was the time on Holbox with the dogs. I was so close to adopting a little puppy. My other highlight was chugging around Cancún on the very cheap buses.
In Cozumel as well as on Holbox my hostels were really top. Everyone was really very friendly. In Cozumel I was with another German in a dorm where we had a double bed. On Holbox, I was in a 10-bed shared room, which sounds really bad at first, but because you had a big black curtain around your bed, you had very good privacy there. Overall, this hostel was very modern. There was a big pool and a big roof terrace with artificial grass and some sports equipment. Since the town of Holbox itself is not very big, you could reach everything very easily from the hostel.
WHY LATIN AMERICA?
Everyone must have experienced a stay in Latin America. The people there think very differently than we do and nature is much more diverse. To get out of the everyday stress was a crucial point for me and just to experience something new to become freer in the head. You should be an open person for many new things and take the chance to live freely without studying or working directly.
MY TIP FOR FUTURE TRAVELERS
My tips for new travelers are simply not to be afraid and to get involved with new people and a new environment. Sure, you’re excited, but you’ll get over it. Get on the plane and let’s go. I definitely want to visit Mexico again to get to know the west coast. The people here are so happy with what they have. Because in Mexico there are people who have money and a modern house, but the majority of the population doesn’t have that much money. But people love their family and are happy with everything they have, because they put family first.
WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE JOURNEY
I definitely think differently now and it is important that the oceans and their reefs should be protected more. Also, I think that money alone is not enough to be happy, because family always makes you happy, whether you have a lot of money or not.