Taking a Gap Year: Mexican Memories

When I told people I was going to learn how to dive and collect coral and fish data off the Yucatan on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, everyone would always oh and ah. I would shrug, diving can’t be that good, right?

Diving can't be that good, right?

Wrong. It can. In fact, its my favourite activity in the world. When I daydream now, I dream of being under the sea with the coral I’ve come to love so much.

Turns out I was wrong. Diving is amazing!

So maybe you haven’t dived, what’s so magical? Well, for starters I was on the halimeda beaches of Mexico (halimedo for those who are not marine nerds out there is in fact a type of coral and after it dies it is ground up by the waves to make the beaches, its that beautiful white “sand” you envision when you think of the Caribbean).

The GVI base is an old fishing lodge that got hit pretty hard by a hurricane years back. Its got no running water (which means bucket showers), generator electricity in the evenings (which means no fridge or hairdryers) and little ‘huts’ with bunks (which means dorm based living with mosquito nets). The nights are humid and hot but during the day the sun shines and the iguanas roam base, under the watchful eyes of the resident nesting ospreys.

Its one of my favourite places on earth.

The best place in the world

Before you arrive you are split into fish and coral people and instructed to memories 50 species to site. I was a coral person. There exists a feud, much like the Melbourne-Sydney argument, as to which side is better. And I can tell you, hand on heart, as a coral person, coral was better.

So much to remember - including the coral!

The first week is tough. You are memorising your coral, learning how to dive and learning your place in the 31 staff and volunteer family. And the mosquitoes drive you to insanity. But hey, you’re on a beach in Mexico, the sun is shining and there is a volleyball tournament to be played. Life is good with GVI.

Life is good with GVI

- by Tina Thorburn

Tina Thorburn is the winner of a ’2nd Gap Year’ as part of the ‘You are the  Difference’ campaign run by Global Volunteers International. This post represents one of her many as she volunteers around the world.


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