Warning: Graphic Nature Content

"Sometimes I feel like this isn't real, you know? Like we are on a movie set or something," he said to me. Laying in a lounge chair in the sand, looking up at the bright moon, listening to the ocean waves crash against the shore, I said, "I know. I feel the same way." Clouds formed shapes around the moon - faces, scorpions, inspirations for illustrations. And in this moment of reconnecting with myself, with nature, and with the supportive and grounding people who have entered into my life here, all of the struggles of the summer were worth it - just to be there looking at the moon. 

Yesterday was a very hot day. Walking along Half Moon Bay at midday (NOT SMART, BUT ALL FOR THE ART) in search of beach trash to use for my project, I became annoyed that some water was dripping into my eye. Where is this water coming from, I thought?! Suddenly, I realized that I was sweating like I had never sweat before. I met some yoga friends on the beach who told me, "You are so red! You should jump into the ocean!" I told them I didn't have a bathing suit, and they suggested just underwear would do. I contemplated this, and just as I was about to take off my clothes, I was approached by Jesus. Jesus was smoking marijuana. He asked me why I was collecting so much trash, and I explained that I was an artist and that my project focused on plastic in the water. Jesus was also concerned about my profuse sweating and red skin tone, and invited me to take a shower at his nearby resort. I declined showering with Jesus, and instead walked a few more minutes to reach Kim's place (the Director of the Residency). Kim graciously hydrated and fed me, and I began my journey back into Akumal Centre. The road was hot, and just as I was about to hitchhike back in with the next tourist car, my yoga friend offered me a ride. Thank you Universe! 

Arriving back at the CEA dorms, Michael and Diana said, "Do you want to see a snake!?" A long, thin green snake had taken up residence on the wall to the right of the garden. We watched her for hours, snaking her way across pipes, and hanging her head down to look into windows. Later in the afternoon, Diana went to her room, Michael went to his, and I was working alone in the studio space next to the garden. I suddenly heard a very strange noise - a screaming of sorts - kind of like a bird, but not a bird I had ever heard here. Looking out into the garden, I saw that our resident cat was spooked. I walked into the garden, and looked over to where the cats gaze had fixed. What I saw next is what you will see in the photos to follow. These images are not for the faint of heart. This frog, one leg eaten, struggled for his life, wrestling with the snake who was attempting to eat him. It was a struggle that was difficult to witness. Someone created a hashtag for this event: #shitjustgotreal

We left before we could see the result of the struggle. Something about the sounds that the frog was making made it unbearable. 

A tree snake in our garden, dining on a frog. 

A tree snake in our garden, dining on a frog. 

The frog wrestles with the snake. He put up such a strong fight! 

The frog wrestles with the snake. He put up such a strong fight! 

After this intense fight between snake and frog, we participated in our Sunday Salon, where Diana Juneck and visiting artist Enrique Alcaraz presented their beautiful work and discussed "mash-ups" or ways of combining different forms of art. Enrique lives near Yal-Ku in Akumal, and in addition to oil painting, he also makes some really cool assemblage boxes! http://www.enriquealcaraz.com/galeria/cajas.html 

We had a good attendance! 

Before we move ahead to what happened next, rewind back all the way to yesterday morning at 8:00am, where I was walking along the beach, collecting plastic again, and ran into Roberta, who is a Turtle Volunteer at CEA. I said hello, and asked her if it would be possible for me to see turtle hatchlings making their way to the ocean. "If you come at night, and if you are VERY VERY lucky, you may be able to see them she told me." Roberta continued walking, and without me knowing, just a few minutes walk down the beach, Roberta encountered TWO nests of turtles, one Loggerhead nest and one Green Turtle nest, making their way to the ocean, in the bright light of the morning. Making the journey from the nest to the ocean in the bright morning light is dangerous for the turtles, because they can be easily spotted by birds and killed. Roberta collected the baby turtles and saved them to be released in the cover of the night. There is also a huge problem with high amounts of the seaweed Sargassum, which normally helps the sea turtles, but in such high quantities, actually makes it very challenging for them to reach the water. 

So, after the Salon, we all walked far down the beach, away from tourists, and were able to help release 200 baby sea turtles into the moonlit Caribbean Sea! It was an amazing experience, to guide these little beauties into the ocean, and to watch them take off to their life journey. It was a longtime dream of mine to witness this, and I feel so blessed that this dream came true! 

Diana, the beautiful Lady in Red, at her Salon last night 

Diana, the beautiful Lady in Red, at her Salon last night 

The beach where we released the tortugitas. 

The beach where we released the tortugitas.