We had great luck and got a ride in about 5 minutes flat from Tequila. We were heading to Tepic but the ride was heading to Puerto Vallarta so we decided to go with him to Las Varas and head on to the turtles from there. We ended up staying the night in Las Varas with some crazy Mexicans and slept on the floor of the internet cafe with the owner (as they do) after the party. The next morning we hitched a lift with a Mexican surfy out to Playa Platinitos, Domingo had only a small car but managed to stuff us and our huge packs in there, cool guy. Platinitos is just the loveliest little beach, sheltered from the waves of the pacific and shallow for a way out but deep enough for lounging about in the sea. The place we were headed to was Las Tortugas which was the next beach south of Platinitos but we discovered that there was an estuary between the two which we couldn't cross. Luckily who should turn up at Platinitos but one of the workers (Tito) from the turtle sanctuary and he was able to give us a lift right there.
Our correspondence with the sanctuary had been sketchy and bitsy and when we got there we found that they were existing with a skeleton staff and the busiest part of the season was over. The place was semi closed but said he would appreciate our help although we couldn't actually stay there so we pitched our tent out on the lovely beach in front of the big holiday resort next door (luckily not many people there either) and worked each day in the sanctuary doing as much as we could.
We cleaned the nests (dug out the hatched turtles and eggs), cleaned the big round building from top to bottom, cleaned the shower building, cleaned out the turtle/chook enclosure, went out on the beach at night (freezing) to look for nests and best of all looked after and helped release the baby turtles into the ocean.
When the season is full on this place must be an absolutely huge job. As it was Miguel went out up and down the beach on a quad bike about 3 times in the night as the nests first predator is man. Yes the locals take the eggs to eat to make them strong. One night Carol saw a turtle with part of it's shell and the left rear flipper missing possibly from the prop of a boat or a shark. She had managed to dig a nest and lay 2 eggs even though it must have been so hard for her. Usually a nest will contain 100 - 200 eggs. During the day there is the upkeep of the camp to do as well as the cleaning out of the nests in the corral and in the incubation rooms, the turtles are counted to see how many eggs are not fertilised and how many are live hatches per nest. All the information is recorded. The odds of survival are 1 in 100 with all this help, prior to these sanctuaries it was 1 in 1000. A turtle lives over 100 years but the female is fertile only from 8 to about 40 years of age.
The turtle in the pond was a fresh water one and had come from the estuary. It had been washed out to sea and managed to get to shore and was found wandering thru the sanctuary a few months ago trying to find it's way back to the estuary. The second pond held a small crocodile about 1 foot long also from the estuary, he couldn't be in with the turtle as it would have tried to eat him.
We loved our time here and it was good to be working each day, Miguel and Tito were great companions and helped us with our Spanish too.