None of us really knew what to expect when we arrived in Parismina, but each of us quickly caught on to the routine of the daily life of an ASTOP volunteer. Each morning, the ten of us gathered for breakfast around 8am. This meal usually consisted of hot chocolate, eggs, melon, bread, and beans/rice. Following breakfast, we participated in activities such as building our own turtle nests and taking a boat tour around the island. This period of time also served as a work session in which we helped organize waste at the recycling center and cleaned debris from the beach.
Lunch began at 12pm every day. Typical lunch food consisted of some type of meat, rice/beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and sometimes plantains. They even served us hamburgers and french fries one day! Typically, we had a little free time after lunch. Some of us chose to go to the beach, others laid in the hammocks at the hostel, and many of us walked around the town just to explore. The afternoons also provided time for us to help ASTOP keep the beaches clean, and there was one afternoon which we interacted with the children. Playing soccer with them was by far one of the best experiences I had while in Parismina.
Dinner came around 6:30pm each evening, and the foods were much like the items we were served for lunch. Turtle patrol began promptly at 8pm each night. (I love my sleep, so I went on the 8-midnight shift each night. However, we had some true adventurers who took the challenge of a midnight-4am shift!) During each shift, we would walk a few miles up and down the shoreline. We were asked to wear dark clothes, closed-toe shoes, and to refrain from using flashlights. At times, it was nearly impossible to see more than 10 feet in front of us because it was so dark. The nights that it rained made visibility (and trekking through the sand) much more difficult.
All in all, this was a great experience that most people won’t have the pleasure to take part in. I saw a total of 3 turtles in Parismina, and that made the strenuous, nightly walks well worth it. If anyone decides they would like to visit Parismina, my number one piece of advice would be to bring a poncho/jacket that can tolerate torrential downpours! And don’t expect to have a meal that doesn’t include rice and beans.