I have been in close contact with nature since I was a kid so when the time came to decide about my career path, I was sure that I wanted to study Biology. Unsurprisingly during my first year of University I discovered that Biology was, indeed, my passion.
Since the first year in the University in 2004, I started to be volunteer for the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology to begin to be involved in the scientific process. I felt like I was in paradise, taking my classes and attending courses taught by international researchers. Although I found my passion, I felt that I was missing something. I discovered that my scientific career needed to have a social component. I couldn´t understand how we could hope to conduct successful science without the involvement of the people living in the places used for our research. As a result, I made sure that every science project I worked on from that point forward had a strong social component.
I would then join the Mesoamerican Society for Biology Conservation, participate in several other international courses, and of course finish my thesis and finally graduating. At the same time, I was also carrying out volunteer work and winning internships in different biological areas to allow me to find what path in biology I wanted to take. These projects include work in Marine Biology, Mangroves, Phycology, Mammals, Birds, Bats, Environmental Education, etc.
In 2013, I received a call from one of my friends from ‘The Bat’s Conservation Program of El Salvador’ where I had previously worked asking whether I would be interested in going to Mexico to work with bats. Apparently, this unknown organization to me at the time called Operation Wallacea was in need of a well experienced bat surveyor who spoke English to take up a last minute opening. The information I received was limited, but the idea of a new adventure was too exciting to pass by even if I all know was that I had to get to a town called Xpujil (which I didn’t know how to pronounce).
Those 2 months in the Mexican Mayan Forest working with bats, changing camps every week or so with such an extraordinary staff team was the best experience of my life! I felt I belonged to that forest, to those communities, to Opwall. Life changed for me personally in 2014 and unfortunately, I couldn’t be back in the field at this time but kept in close contact with Opwall staying involved as much as possible. In 2017, I started my amazing new adventure as a Logistics Manager in Calakmul México. It has been so fulfilling and by far the hardest work I have ever done! This year one staff member asked me: “Why you keep coming? Why you keep doing this titanic work?”. I immediately replied: “because I love what I do, my Mexican team: Caroline, Joto, and Kathy, are more than coworkers, they are my friends. The communities are my family, this forest is my home, and nowhere have I felt more at home than Xpujil” (which I now know how to pronounce!).
If you join an Opwall Expedition, I personally guarantee you will have a life changing experience! You just need to arrive; we will take care of the rest!!!
Calakmul Ruins in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, by Carlos Carias