The Pez Maya community project is principally located in the community of Javier Rojo Gomez -better known as Punta Allen- approximately 25km to the South of Pez Maya.
Every Monday GVI travels to Punta Allen to teach English classes for kids and adults, but we also organize different workshops explaining environmental issues important in the local area and other activities. On this occasion we decided to break with routine and invite the kids from the Ignacio Ramirez Primary school to come to Pez Maya and participate in a whole day of activities on our expedition base.
Some activities were related to environmental issues, some related to just having fun, but all were related to learning a bit more English and becoming comfortable in the language that will become so important for them as they grow up and seek to develop the town of Punta Allen as a centre for Eco-tourism activities within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
First off the kids took part in the treasure hunt, during which they remembered and learned new things about the animals found in the reserve. Off they then went to the Recycling workshop where they were taught how to make colourful baskets from PET bottles and string, to then move on to the slightly less relaxing than you might imagine, sand castle and painting competition. Somewhere in there, the kids also found time to decorate cookies that we, in true Blue Peter style, had made earlier- who could have thought we would need quite so much icing!
Whilst the volunteers were with the Punta Allen children, their parents took part in two different activities with the staff.
Firstly, the Emergency First Responder course - considered very important as Punta Allen is well over an hour away from professional medical assistance - that showcased, and allowed practice of, lots of useful skills used to respond to medical emergencies in the school or the home. And secondly, a very interesting recycling workshop showcasing the ability to re-use empty PET bottles filled with water and re-purpose them as light bulbs in the home. Punta Allen as a rule doesn’t have artificial light except during the hours of 1900 - 2200 as they depend on a generator for all of their electrical needs. Using these plastic bottles filled with water to refract sunlight can illuminate their darker spaces with the power of a 60 watt bulb.
A fantastic day all round, everybody enjoyed themselves, people got to teach that never would have tried it otherwise (and loved it). Hopefully, Punta Allen has by now some recycled 60 Watt light bulbs and the parting words from most were “Cuándo podemos regresar?” (when can we come back?) Who could ask for more?
All the best
The Pez Maya community work main objectives are to raise awareness on different key environmental issues as well as to build capacities among the community. As a part of this project, the staff and volunteers from Pez Maya were taken on four different eco-tours organized by the new women cooperative in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve “Las Orquídeas de Sian Ka’an”. This activity was very important not only to reinforce our relationship with the community but to contribute to women empowerment in Punta Allen fishing village.
The Sian Ka’an Orquids Cooperative (Orquídeas de Sian Ka’an) was created about two years ago by a group of outstanding women from Punta Allen that wanted to offer a different product in the Reserve, diversify the tourist options and support the family economy. They have been working and training very hard for two years to become an ecotourism cooperative in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and have faced - and overcome - many difficulties to achieve their dream. They have proved as unfounded the skepticism of other people from the same community and established the project at the same time as taking care of their homes, teaching or cooking, etc.
Their project has been supported by different institutions like the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), Amigos de Sian Ka’an, the Compact UN program and the WWF.
We had the privilege to participate, as tourists, in the hiking, history, kayaking and cycling tours, guided by the members of this cooperative. The objectives of this activity were to provide willing, interested bodies for the ladies to practice their performance on the different tours; to tell them our opinions and also to provide them with a guide of the English vocabulary and phrases they will need to learn to offer a better service to international customers.
All the tours generated different opinions and lots of feedback, but in general it was a beautiful experience and it was very rewarding to see these women happy, following their dreams and sharing their knowledge and experiences with us.
Thank you for continuing to support this community.
Exciting news this month! The GVI team in Mexico have been conducting meetings with the government body that is in charge of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere reserve and they are very keen to start supporting the activities we are doing on this project even more.
They are currently talking to tourist cooperatives and other authorities about the center and soon, we will have a meeting together to come up with an action plan for this year on how to continue with the center, but not only in Punta Allen, the CONANP (Comision Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas) want to also have centers and waste separation programmes in all the communities within the Sian Ka'an Biosphere reserve, Punta Allen being only one of them.
I hope this excites you as much as us. The aim of this project was also to be an inspiration for other communities in the area and it looks like we have been!
Thank you for your support for this project.
You may be wondering why, out of all the communities on the Yucatan coastline, we are working in the village of Punta Allen. Punta Allen (officially Javier Rojo Gómez) is the largest village in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It is a small Mayan fishing village with a 2010 census population of 469 inhabitants, and the only land access is by a rough 50 kilometre track.
According to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation podcast, Punta Allen is “the town that lobster built”. 70 per cent of Mexican lobsters originate there. At word was a lobsterman called Charley, complaining about tons of plastic in the waters. And there you have it, there is a serious problem with pollution.
The beach is not groomed, and is littered with garbage brought in by the waves. Most of this garbage is said to come from cruise ships and other Caribbean countries with open land fills. Every time a hurricane passes it picks up the garbage and deposits it in the sea, to be left till it makes its way to one of the beaches.
We go to Punta Allen for various reasons but by participating in beach clean ups and supporting in the investment of a recycling centre, we can help try and prevent the pollution issues in the region.
Thank you for your continual support of this project this year.
The recycling centre construction work continues! Recent donations have been used to build three compost containers and another part of the main structure as well as the wages for the builders.
As we mentioned in our last report, plastic bottles were filled with sand that the community prepared, three compost containers were built instead of using bricks. These containers will facilitate the management of the compost in the centre as they used to use the compost bins with metallic mesh and tarps.
Despite being a remote beach in southern Mexico, Pez Maya is covered with trash that has travelled through the Caribbean from both nearby and far flung locations.In the past month, the team at Pez Maya has cleaned 700metres of our beach. We have collected well over 150kg of non-recyclable trash, about 20kg of recyclable plastic and approximately 25kg of glass and metal. This recycling centre will help to utilise these materials that wash up on their beach.
Also, another part of the main structure was built, to leave it ready to put on a roof with the following funds. This structure will be used to store the recycling and protect it from the sun, rain, wind and with the support of people like you, should hopefully be completed soon!
Thank you as always for your support
Charitable Trust manager
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