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Entries in blogparadise (2)

Saturday
Aug282010

Sea Turtles - Up Close and Personal

Before my trip to Puerto Vallarta when I thought about turtles, the first thing that came to mind was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but after my trip for Blog Paradise courtesy of Marriott Resorts, I will never think about the turtles in a half shell the same way again.  

All seven species of sea turtles are on the endangered list and six of the seven species live and nest along the Bay of Banderas.  As the lines between the modern world and nature continue to blur, it becomes increasingly necessary to ensure wildfire continues to flourish or else it will be lost forever.  It’s not just construction and the growth of the human population that is affecting the safety of the sea turtles, it’s misinformation.  I’m told that it’s commonly believed that turtle eggs are an aphrodisiac and sold on the black market. The Mexican government has stepped in and made it illegal to disturb turtle nests or traffic eggs, but given some other trafficking problems in Mexico, violations are rarely prosecuted.

The CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta employs Oscar Aranda, a marine biologist and founder of La Sociedad Ecológica del Occidente which promotes wildlife conservation. Oscar patrols the beaches along the bay from June until December to help protect the turtle nests.  I tagged along with Oscar and some other volunteers on a rainy night in August as they combed the beach. 

I am not certain I can accurately describe the awe I felt as I watched the pregnant turtle dig her nest only several hundred feet from a gorgeous beach front house. As lightning flashed across the sky and the rain drizzled, I couldn’t help but be struck by how nature continues despite the encroachment of modern society. Watching the enthusiasm that Oscar and his team had for turtle preservation was absolutely inspiring.  

Me and Oscar as we dig up the turtle eggs. You can see how close we are to a cement property wall.

Turtles only lay their eggs at night and most frequently during the 1st and 2nd quarters of the moon as it is darker and easier to disguise.  Oscar explained to me, not only it is darker so the eggs will be safer from predators but it also means the babies will hatch during a full moon and that additional light helps the baby turtles find their way to the sea.

After the mother finished laying her eggs and headed back out to sea - Oscar began digging up the nest to remove the eggs.  We later reburied the eggs back in the hotel nursery.  In 2009 the Sea Turtle Program at the CasaMagna protected 539 nests and each nest contained around 100 eggs each!

The nest I helped dig up will hatch on October 7 or 8!

It takes about 45 days for each nest to hatch.  Once the baby turtles are hatched, the staff will release on the beach in the evening.  Hotel guests and the general public are invited to watch and participate as the babies are released into the sea. Guests and the general public  are also allowed to follow along with Oscar and the other biologists as they comb the beaches in the evening. 

 

Baby turtle are born ready to swim and have enough energy to swim for about five days before they must eat. If they make it five days, they will find themselves in open water which is full of zooplankton and nekton. It’s hard to estimate how many sea turtle survive after birth but right now it’s estimated that only 5% of baby turtles will make it to adulthood.

You can do it!

I never expected to have this experience with wildlife while I staying at a resort - even typing “wildlife” and “resort” in the same sentence seems paradoxical, but it’s not.  My stay at CasaMagna was wonderful but my time with turtles changed my perception about how humans affect the nature and how nature affects us.  I was not surprised upon my return to the States to find out that Oscar was on CNN’s Heroes - he is definitely a hero for rescuing turtles but also for educating people about conservation.

 

 

Thank you to Marriott Resorts, Diamond PR, and especially CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta for hosting this fantastic trip! 

Monday
Aug232010

Tequila minus the shot glass

The Mexican state of Jalisco is the home to a town called Tequila.  The town of Tequila is home to, well, that drink many people knock back with a dash of salt and a slice of lime. But for the past several years there has been a conscious effort by the people of Jalisco and the Mexican Government to preserve the history and tradition of tequila and that history does not include frat parties and shooters. Much like champagne can only be made in France, true 100% blue agave tequila can only be made in Jalisco and select neighboring areas.

At the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, they produce their own tequila called CasaMagna which is certified by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (the Tequila Regulatory Council).  On site, the Marrriott employs sommelier Audrey Formisano who in her French accent talks with great passion about her love for tequila.  The CasaMagna was kind enough to arrange a tasting with Audrey for me during my stay for Blog Paradise.   

Even though this was my third tequila tasting this year, I was afraid that by the end of the tasting I’d be drunk and running around naked.  I’m not officially saying this has happened before, but it is a tequila-sterotype and one I’m happy to report didn’t occur.  This tasting took place in a quiet room off the La Estancia restaurant and Audrey carefully explained the nuances in each type of tequila. Audrey served three of CasaMagna’s five types of tequila - blanco, reposado, and añejo in official tequila glasses.  Audrey pointed out the difference is color, bouquet, and “legs”. I personally enjoyed the reposado but the blanco was very nice was paired with sangrita.

The purpose of this tasting, wasn’t to convince people to only drink tequila straight - rather to understand it and how it tastes …just like you would a spice or ingredients for cooking.  Once you understand the tastes of the difficult tequila’s so you can appreciate it and make better choices in your drinking habits.  As much as I enjoyed sipping the reposado the night before - I ended up poolside drinking a nice lime margarita made with CasaMagna blanco tequila. 

Hotel guests and the general public are welcome to sample the CasaMagna tequila - just call the hotel (888.236.2427) for more information.