A Day in Punta Allen

June 23, 2006

Today is the fourth day of the Sian Ka’an program and the one word that comes to mind is “grateful.”  I’m grateful to be here and to be part of the program.  I’m grateful for the things we’ve seen and the people we’ve met.

 

Tuesday night Janice, Olger and I went to Punta Allen with a few representatives from CTSK (Community Tours Sian Ka’an) to experience what it has to offer its guests.  What an amazing place!  First, we drove down the coast of the Maya Riviera for 1 ½ hours on a dirt road which would have been too rough for the Nissan Sentra we avoided renting at the car rental center (we went with the Jeeps).  We were so pleased to arrive in Punta Allen – not because of the road, but because PA was nothing short of postcard perfect!  It’s a place that I previously thought only existed in movies and imagination.  Punta Allen is a rustic fishing village, with white beaches laden with coconut trees and fishing boats.  There is no asphalt to be seen – even

Main Street

is paved with nothing but white sand.  Community dogs are everywhere!  The “hotel” we stayed in was a series of grass-roofed beach bungalows on stilts (in case of storm surge) fully equipped with hammocks on the porch and mosquito netting over the beds.  The beach-side restaurant we ate at that night was little more than a covered, sand-floored patio with a tarp wall on one side.  The food was amazing!  I could have eaten three plates full of the wonderfully prepared fish, beans, tortillas etc. (compliments to Irma, the best cook in town).  Our team members kept distance from each other for a while afterward, however, because Irma liked to cook with garlic – lots and lots of garlic.  The power shuts down each midnight, at which time the fan in our room went silent and all that could be heard was Olger’s snoring (just kidding) and the buzz of the mosquitoes.  Thank goodness for the netting!  And it was all of the sudden very, very hot.  Oh, man.  I’ll just leave it at that.  But I took the opportunity to wander outside the hut and check out the stars – more than I’ve ever seen in any other place on earth.  The dark
Caribbean sky with its vivid stars was even more mystical in this place, void of any interference from city lights.  Oh, and did I mention that it was hot??

 

One thing really stands about CTSK – they are serious about the conservation of the biosphere.  We are all concerned about the line we walk between promoting tourism and sustaining the ecosystem, and if anybody can walk that line – they can.  Much of the work thus far has been around understanding their business model, the issues they face and the potential opportunities to promote their products in ways that create meaningful experiences for the clients, protect the delicate ecosystem and help the members of the local Mayan communities.

 

–Dustin

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