A new round of volunteers: Meet the team behind the scenes

Our volunteers come from all over–from close to home here in Mexico as well as internationally–to support our work in organic food production, organic food preparation, permaculture, sea turtle conservation, English tutoring, and our local eco-tianguis, a farmers’ market that happens every Saturday in Zihuatanejo. Volunteers stay on average from one to three months and have the option of pursuing a personal project during their stay.

We are incredibly grateful for all of their hard work, so we want to share with you our current and/or most recent team of wonderful volunteers.

Lissett Medrano, USA, Turtle Sanctuary

lissettturtlesWhere are you from and what were you doing before you arrived? I grew up just a few minutes south of Washington D.C in Alexandria, VA. I was working in international policy at an environmental NGO- mainly planning for UN meetings we engaged in and some research on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development policy.

How did you find out about Playa Viva? I saw the posting on a marine conservation newsletter I follow called SEVENSEAS.

Why did you decide to volunteer? After working in the conservation policy realm for years (at a desk), I had a strong yearning to get out to the field and work in community-based conservation. I was drawn to Playa Viva’s values and of course the chance to work with baby sea turtles in a beautiful country!

What are you working on at Playa Viva? In addition to releasing turtles into the ocean everyday, I’m working on improving best practices for the turtle program as well as engaging the local volunteers and community to build environmental awareness.

What has been the highlight of your experience so far? Riding the ATV on the beach in the dead of night under a blast of stars in search of turtle nests and observing a mama turtle make her way back to ocean after birthing 93 eggs- absolutely magical!

On the way to the turtle sanctuary

Liza Couse, Canada, Farm to Table

Service: January 20th – February 21st

Where are you from and what were you doing before you arrived? Originally from Toronto, I now call Vancouver, British Columbia home. Before I arrived here at Playa Viva, I was volunteering on a family-run herb farm on Vancouver Island taking care of plants, children, and goats! Previous to that, I was running a food truck for a cold-pressed juice company in Vancouver.

How did you find out about Playa Viva? I found out about Playa Viva from the website numundo.org that helps to connect people with meaningful volunteer opportunities around the world.

Why did you decide to volunteer? I came to volunteer at Playa Viva because I was seeking an educational adventure. I have a background in holistic nutrition, herbal medicine, and sustainable agriculture and Playa Viva has been the perfect place for me to put my education into practice. I am also here to practice Spanish, swim in the ocean every day, and enjoy Mexican cuisine.

What are you working on at Playa Viva? I have been spending my time working in the gardens, in the kitchen, and creating an informative plant / permaculture guide for the Horticulture Hike. In the kitchen I have been experimenting with ferments to add to the menu. This includes kombucha and a Mexican sauerkraut (complete with tomatillos and jalapeños). I also help the kitchen staff make tortillas and fresh juices in the mornings. For the Horticulture guide, I have been researching the medicinal and culinary uses of many of the plants growing here. This guide will serve as an educational tool for hotel guests to learn about the botanical offerings at Playa Viva and the permaculture techniques being applied to sustain the hotel and regenerate the land.

What has been the highlight of your experience so far? I have really enjoyed attending the Eco Tianguis – a local market in the nearby town of Zihuatanejo that takes place once a week. Playa Viva has a stand where we sell greens, coconuts, chocolate, and coffee. It has been awesome to mingle with locals and tourists, listening to great music and enjoying tamales.

Eco-Tianguis Sanka, Zihuatanejo

Josh Milowe, USA, Farm to Table 

Where are you from and what were you doing before you arrived?

Service: January 21st-February 16th

 I grew up on the East Coast, in upstate New York and later in Boston as well. I’ve been living in Brooklyn for 8 years, working as a graphic designer and video editor in advertising and film. I’m super grateful to have had so much freedom to take time off and travel to many places around the world for extended periods of time.   

Two years ago I completed a 3 month apprenticeship in Costa Rica at Finca Luna Nueva. We studied so much! We covered many principles of Permaculture, Biodynamic and Organic agriculture, soil science, nutrition, carbon sequestration and learned the properties of a huge array of medicinal plants. We even made chocolate, tea, cheese, butter and kombucha from scratch.

As an earthling, I love learning the many processes rooted in ancient traditional cultures in regard to food production, preservation, plant medicine and other practical knowledge. These technologies have not only stood the test of time, but have allowed many people to thrive across the world. I’ve been informally studying herbalism over the last two years and I am constantly seeking out new opportunities to learn about Permaculture principles being implemented in many different forms.

How did you find out about Playa Viva? Numundo.org !

Why did you decide to volunteer? I was very curious to learn about the permaculture technologies being used at the hotel. I was also eager to help out in the kitchen as well as on the farm. I wanted to be in an environment where I could continue studying Spanish and learn more about Mexican culture. Finally, with tropical blood running through my veins, missing some winter in New York City was a super easy decision.

What are you working on at Playa Viva? The first week I arrived, I was primarily helping out in the garden, weeding and shoveling compost, sweating and enjoying the sunshine. I spent a few days helping out in the kitchen, and two days working at the Eco-Tianguis, the local farmer’s market held every Saturday in Zihuatanejo.

My primary focus has shifted to designing a booklet for the Discovery Trail, in collaboration with Liza and a few of the other volunteers. The booklet will serve as a self-guided tour, as you walk along the trail that runs through the property. It highlights over 20 plants, including medicinal, culinary and traditional uses, as well as some information on local fauna and permaculture technologies being used here. I’ve created 30+ illustrations and I am designing the whole booklet… it should be ready soon!img_0212

What has been the highlight of your experience so far? First of all, there are so many amazing abuelitas around here! From the Grandmas who have little restaurants open for dinner in Juluchuca, to some of the incredible women selling food and crafts at the Eco-Tianguis market, and finally Lupita who holds traditional Temazcal ceremonies at her place in Playa Larga, which I was lucky enough to attend during my stay.

I’ve have also really enjoyed my time getting to know everybody at Playa Viva, including all the farm, kitchen and hotel staff. But especially working alongside Melissa and the other volunteers, spending the majority of every single day this past month together, you really grow close, quickly. We have had tons of great conversations and experiences together. It has been super fun running around with this gang of women 🙂


Corina Callejo, México, Sustainability and Hotel Management

Service: February 1st-March 1st

Where are you from and what were you doing before you arrived? I am from Cuernavaca, Morelos. Recently I finished my masters degree in sustainable tourism

How did you find out about Playa Viva? One day I saw a Facebook add or news about the treehouse in a hotel in Mexico, so I decided to check it out

Why did you decide to volunteer? I wanted to get to know the hotel and the people working there, plus, I was interested in learning about the hotel management

What are you working on at Playa Viva? Another volunteer and I are working on the signs for the horticulture hike

What has been the highlight of your experience so far? Learning about the different aspects of the hotel, the different chores and responsibilities

Carpooling back to town

Mariana Kameta, México, ESL and Farm  

Where are you from and what were you doing before you arrived? I’m from Mexico City. Before I came to PV I was working at a small company as an industrial designer.

Service: February 1st-March 1st

How did you find out about Playa Viva? I found out about PV from a friend who had also volunteered here this past July.

Why did you decide to volunteer? I wanted to volunteer, because I had never volunteered before and I wanted to take a time off the routine and learn about organic farming.

What are you working on at Playa Viva? I’m working on the farm, making some signs for the horticulture hike and teaching English in the Primaria (primary school) and Prepa (high school) in Juluchuca.

What has been the highlight of your experience so far? I love working on the farm and learning new things every time.


Interested in volunteering with us? We accept volunteer applications on a rolling basis. We are also looking for committed farm volunteers with some experience to come work for us for a minimum of three months. Find out more here.  

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