Euphoria!, Cats, and Coloradoans

Yesterday, around 5 p.m. David, the volunteer coordinator came to tell me I had finally gotten my own room! I’m ecstatic. Earlier I had talked again with the CEA director and Alma about it. They’re actually quite bureaucratic here and don’t like to change the rules. I’m going to interview Paul, the director about what kind of volunteers he would like to have and suggest that if he wants older ones like me, the accommodations need to be different. Not many people my age would put up with a co-ed dorm with 20-year-olds — although I must say my roommates were great — quiet, respectful, polite and considerate, and they were not the problem, really, although like kids their age some of the guys were messy. I will miss Rally’s guitar playing and plan to visit when I hear him playing.

I finally unpacked — in the dorm there wasn’t anywhere to put anything. I actually have lots of coat hangers and a place to hang things,  four big wooden lockers, seven beds! (it’s used for a dorm sometimes), my own nice bathroom and even an air conditioner. This is the height of luxury, and I appreciate it more than the fancy five-star hotel I was in previously. I couldn’t be happier. I don’t even need to use my mosquito net. It’s clean and screened and has a real cement (not palm frond) ceiling — and I don’t have to go into the bathroom to change clothes and try not to let anything touch the gross, sodden floor!

My new five-star accommodations: seven beds, plus one kitty. I even have hot water!

After moving all my stuff in about 25 trips (it’s close to the dorm) I went to La Cueva to celebrate. Ananda’s parents were there and asked me to join them. Before I came to Mexico David had e-mailed me my roommates names, and I joked that someone named Ananda had to be from Boulder, where I live. Ananda IS from Boulder. She recently graduated from Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon, with a biology degree (I think). She’s an adorable young woman — petite, pretty and smart. She goes diving with the guys several times a week doing the coral monitoring. Ananda’s parents are Boulderites Rob and Sandy Ellis, an artist and massage therapist, respectively. Rob paints in watercolor and acrylic. They’re very cool and nice. Soon the other volunteers joined us — Martin and Abraham — and we enjoyed delicious ceviche and drinks.

My good friend Balam

This morning I noticed the dress shop lady and a cat. It’s this really bedraggled cat I’ve seen with chewed up

Poor, earless, toothless kitty

ears and deformed claws that don’t retract. I spoke to her and she said he has no teeth either and his claws have a fungus. She has been taking care of him for a year and giving him medication for his fungus and feeding him wet food that he can eat. She has even caught the cat’s fungus. The cat seems quite happy and she loves him. It’s so nice to find kindhearted people.

I just wandered into a gallery and met the artist/owner who is from Woodland Park, CO, Richard Mazzola. He’s working on a painting that represents the predictions for the year 2012. His shop has a great selection of jewelry, some of which he makes. He’s been coming/staying in Akumal for 20 years and goes back to Colorado in summer. He told me that the great dress shop that I love is owned by a woman from Vail.  This is a Colorado enclave.

Old diving bell on the beach. It's about seven feet high.

I’m not sure why but I don’t like walking up to people on the beach and telling them the snorkeling rules. I know it’s important to educate people, but I just don’t like doing it — perhaps why I’m a writer vs. a teacher. I have a certain shyness about approaching people, especially if I think they don’t speak English. The other day, while trying to explain the rules in Spanish I told one couple not to walk on the sand — pretty hard to do at the beach. I was trying to say don’t walk on the bottom/coral. I’ve since learned how to say that. However, I’ve had many pleasant exchanges with Canadians and other Americans and people are, for the most part, appreciative that someone is providing information about the area and protecting it.

My favorite part of bay patrol is the kayaking part because I don’t have to talk to people as much — and I usually go for a swim. Well, today I blew it. I was enjoying a nice snorkel — trying to go near groups and make sure they’re following the rules. But when I got back to shore Dario and Martin had been trying to signal me to tell me people were walking on the coral in two different places. Since I was in the water I didn’t see it.

Also, earlier today I told Dario that most people my age wouldn’t want to stay in the dorm. He said there were some Canadians my age who stayed in the dorm and had no problem They were also hard workers. So now I feel like a wimp and a slacker. Oh well. I don’t care about the wimp part. I stuck out the dorm for 11 nights. Besides, maybe he thinks I’m younger than I am. Dynamic Dario has a Mohawk and is like the Napoleon of the Bay.

Dynamic Dario is "Napoleon of the Bay"

He’s tirelessly marching up to people and informing them of the rules. If he’s out in the kayak and someone is stepping on the reef, he really yells at them. He actually has a very nice, friendly manner talking to people, but gets furious when people walk on the reef.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Euphoria!, Cats, and Coloradoans

  1. maggie

    In summer of 03 I worked in Denali and lived in a double bunk room sharing a bathroom with three young women. They were incredibly messy! Glad for you about the single room! That picture of the water is incredible. Makes me want to hope on a plane this minute.

  2. Obviously Darin isn’t open to suggestions that would increase their volunteer staff–to value what a Canadian couple over what you’ve told him doesn’t make sense since it’s a selection of only two (if you count the couple as one). What would be helpful to them is an “exit interview”–a sheet everyone who comes could fill out about what would encourage them to come back or to stay longer, etc. There could also be a “survey” app embedded in their website saying something like, “Thinking of volunteering? What would it take for this to work for you?” Just a rough suggestion, of course, but taking the nazi approach when you are asking people to do something for nothing never works.

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