Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baja Mexico Sea Quest: A Teacher's Perspective by Kyla Burns

It’s not the place you travel, but the people you travel with that make the difference. I had the great opportunity to go on a grand adventure to Baja, Mexico. Along the way I saw roaming cattle, was introduced to bizarre cacti, hiked through dry deserts and photographed lush palms. I lived a life at sea, boating with my fellow travelers to our next adventure.

One of Kyla's students bonding with a wild sea lion at Los Islotes in Baja California, Mexico.
We saw whales, made waves for dolphins, identified native birds, and spent an intimate hour bonding with a young sea lion in the waters of the beautiful Los Islotes sea lion colony. Evenings were spent learning fish names and days were spent with exhilarating snorkel trips in search of the Coronet Fish, the Fanged Blenny and the Mexican Goatfish. And when the sun set, we feasted on a chefs feast on our private beach and settled into our tents to the sound of crashing waves.
Kyla and students making waves with dolphins!
As glorious as these experiences may sound, they are made special due to the company we shared. Tara is like a long lost old friend. So easy to talk to with humor that keeps us laughing. She assumes the position of instructor to the students, but is more like a friend sharing her passion for the ocean, for Mexico, and for conservation. She is the driving force behind Green Edventures and her passion is contagious.

Tara Short (Green Edventures) and Chabelo Castillo (Fun Baja)
By her side is Chabelo, dive leader for Fun Baja and instant friend to the participants. Chabelo leads snorkels into a world he is very familiar with. He guides hikes into places he has countless stories for. With the students, he plays volleyball, gives Spanish lessons, pilots their kayaks and by the end of the week, forms a bond with each one of them as they promise to keep in touch.
School of Mexican Goatfish.
Any person can travel to Baja. Any person can snorkel with fish, go whale watching and sleep on a beach. But not everyone can say they shared these experiences with two friends as great as Tara and Chabelo.  It’s not the place you travel, but the people you travel with that make the difference. That’s what sets this trip apart from the rest, and what will bring me and my students back each year.

Kyla next to a Sweet Pityha Cactus at Fox Canyon

Kyla Burns
Johnston High School Science Teacher
Johnston, Iowa