“Tortuga Escondida is a center dedicated to supporting scientific studies of our unique ecosystem, offering the inspiration of paradise for artists to create in, and providing a paradigm of wellness: integrating food, practitioners and healing arts.”
Jennifer Smith of Turtle Bay Café has fed the volunteers who were housed near her restaurant for several years, but Jen had a vision to build a complex in Rancho San Martín at the end of a long road. The complex, over two years old now, is the new home for the volunteers who are usually associated with an educational institution (presently Opwall) that studies our ecosystems. It is also home for participants of the Artist Residency. Jen coaxed Marti, without much problem, to return to Akumal from the States and be the on-site person who takes care of the day-to-day workings of the facility. Tortuga Escondida is not a hotel or hostel. In the future, Jen and Marti hope to expand to other universities and colleges and even high schools. They’d like to offer the complex as a base in hopes of attracting volunteers to protect and help our area.
The facility houses up to 103 people. There is a full kitchen with lovely dinning room that seats 100. If the group is small, food is brought over from the Turtle Bay Café. However, large groups have an on-site chef, who also works for Jen. The complex is bright and airy, quiet and beautiful. At this point, all the volunteers come from Operation Wallacea, better know as Opwall.
According to their website, Operation Wallacea is an organization funded by tuition fees that runs a series of biological and conservation management research programs in remote locations throughout the world. These expeditions are designed with specific wildlife conservation aims in mind ̶ from identifying areas needing protection, to implementing and assessing conservation management programs. Teams of university academics, who are specialists in various aspects of biodiversity or social and economic studies, are concentrated at the target study sites giving volunteers the opportunity to work on a range of projects.
The Artist Registry will also be housed at the complex. Special areas have been set aside for painters and other artists. Future plans may include a Yoga program, but at this point that is only possibility.
Tortuga Escondida is in its infancy at this point, but Marti sees a very bright future. You can find them on Facebook. Just type Tortuga Escondida on the search line.