The first time I saw a turtle lay eggs was a magical night for me. Lying silently, breathlessly behind the turtle, watching this intimate process on the beautiful beach at Lacacao camp.
I came to Boa Vista to teach, but I have learned more here than I ever could have hoped.
For me, having lived in Cape Verde for a year but having no experience with turtles or environmental initiatives, I was so ecstatic to get this opportunity to go on patrols, see the turtles, and take part in this amazing project.
Classroom turns to beach and beach becomes our classroom as I finish my first year as a Peace Corps volunteer high school English teacher in a village outside Praia and suddenly find myself in Boa Vista, working with Turtle Foundation to teach English to Cape Verdean employees at turtle camps. But the desks have disappeared. Our day classroom becomes a nightly turtle patrol.
“What is this?” “It’s a track! That is the attempt, and the turtle went back to the sea. It’s a half-moon.”
The night continues. Walking along the sand glowing white in the moonlight. By day, we work on English with a whiteboard in a tent. By night, the turtles are our teachers. Later, we take the classroom to the tourists, to practice in real-life situations educating about turtle nesting and conservation.
Now, as I return to my island, Santiago, I am inspired. Inspired by the people I met, the work I did, the things I learned at turtle camp. I am motivated to bring this back to my village, my island, where turtle meat is a specialty. When I returned to inform my neighbors that I spent the summer working with turtles, the first question from everyone was “Isn’t turtle meat delicious!? Or was it the eggs….I heard they’re tasty but never tried…” No! We were protecting turtles. See my pictures! Let me tell you why we need to protect, not kill and eat the turtles…
So, as the summer comes to an end, I’m back to “real life” at my Peace Corps site, with new plans to teach my kids not only English but about their environment, and getting them excited about taking care of and preserving their beautiful country and the wildlife that shares the land and the sea with them.