In July 2011 I visited Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico and fell in love with this busy, charming tourist town on Bahia de Banderas. I went on numerous tours, from zip lining in the jungles to snorkeling near Isla Las Caletas. On a return visit in November of the same year, I tried a different kind of adventure: volunteering.
I found information for Que?Pasa Bar and Grill’s La Brigada de la Basura through the online newspaper Bandera News. After a few email exchanges with La Brigada founder Michael Hayes, I looked forward to meeting the local kids who helped to clean and beautify the neighborhoods and its small river, el Rio Cuale.
In 2013, I moved to Puerto Vallarta, and volunteered on Saturdays with La Brigada, walking on the sunny Malécon early in the morning, stopping by the Old Town Farmer’s Market for juice before heading through Colonia Emilio Zapata to Que?Pasa.
This video made by Esteban Uyarra gives a first-hand glimpse of La Brigada de La Basura.
I volunteered for over a year with La Brigada de la Basura, learning about Mexican culture and the need for civic organizations that teach young people to care and respect the planet, as well as give back to their community. I have many great memories of working with La Brigada, whose happiness and hard work greatly exceeds a giant black plastic bag.
– Updated Sept 2017
Read more about my other volunteer work with animals in California.