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Four Months at Pez Maya

By Emma Aspinall 2 years ago

Imagine waking up every morning to the ocean waves breaking just a couple feet from the front of your hut. That is every morning at Pez Maya. I was a volunteer for two months at base, and then returned as a scholar in the beginning of January! It has been an absolutely incredible experience, one that I would love to relive again and again!

When I first came to base I was nervous about meeting all the new volunteers that I would be with for the next couple of months. That quickly changed when only 20 minutes in, we were joking around in the collectivo on our way to Pez. Once I arrived on base, the staff was there with big smiles to help us with our bags and have lunch with us. We moved into our huts and all got to know each other. I remember vividly that sunset and full moon, thinking how beautiful it was to see it over the horizon and how happy I was to be there in that moment. I came to Pez already a dive master, so I jumped straight into learning the science and doing fish spots. The staff and my other volunteers were so helpful in learning the different names and playing memory games to help me understand the different types of fish. Even though I was assigned juvenile fish, I quickly found myself being immersed in the world of adult fish and corals as well. By the end of the first month, after lots of practice and studying, I moved on to actually being able to monitor! The last month was so rewarding; waking up and knowing that I was finally going to the monitor sites and taking actual data was so exciting! I ended up going to three different monitor sites and completing two!

When I wasn’t diving, there was so much to do and learn on base. I did compressing, radio, studied regulator repair and helped get things ready for Punta Allen. Punta Allen is a small fishing village located in the Sian Ka’an biosphere that we go to once a week. We mostly focused on the schools there, helping teach them about the ocean and the problems that it faces. In the past they have done things with the fishermen in the area, helping them understand sustainable fishing, as well as helping out the local Women’s Organization. It is such a beautiful and remote place that is unlike anything that I’ve been to before. The people there are so friendly and the children are

The friendships I made at base will be ones that I hold dear to my heart for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget the nights sitting under the stars or the drives to the dive sites where we were all singing our favorite songs. When it came to about half way through my time as a volunteer I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving so soon and applied for the scholar position! I was ecstatic when I found out that I got it and would be returning after just a month. It’s been so fun to come back as a staff member and see the progress of everyone on base from a different perspective. As an instructor, you see diving skills improve ten fold, and even just general confidence and group dynamic increase more every day. Pez Maya is an incredibly special place that I will always hold dear to my heart.