About half an hour east of Puerto Escondido , Marcelino López Reyes runs the grassroots Iguana and Land Turtle Nursery. Marcelino, a veterinarian, has been working for about 15 years at the nearby government turtle-hatching station at Escobillo, helping to hatch and return about 1,000,000 laut (leatherback), golfina (olive ridley), and carey (hawksbill) turtles to the wild.
For the same number of years, friendly Marcelino has also devoted himself to his personal mission: to restore local populations of iguanas and land turtles. Although a hurricane nearly demolished his operation, he’s back up and running, with dozens of healthy reptilian residents in a big outside enclosure.
Besides the green iguana verde (Iguana iguana), and black iguana prieta (Ctenosaura pectinata), he’s also restoring two local species of endangered land turtles, the tortuga del monte (Rinoclemys pulcherrima), and the tortuga sabanera (Rinoclemys Ruvida).
Don’t miss visiting him (watch for the criadero iguana sign), at the east side of the Río Coazoaltepec bridge about 21 miles (34 km) east of Puerto Escondido , or 23 miles (37 km) west of Puerto Ángel–Pochutla. The best time to find him there is around 5 p.m., after work on weekdays. If he’s not there, one of his young assistants will probably be on hand to show you around. He appreciates a donation of about $1 or more if you have it.