Cañón de Sumidero, Humanity’s Trash Problem, and Personal Footprints

One of the main draws to San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas is heading to Cañón de Sumidero and taking a boat tour. It’s incredibly beautiful; huge waterfalls on the sides of the canyon, monkeys and crocodiles by the banks, a nice breeze. But halfway through the tour, we ran into a huge swath of plastic trash in the water. The boat operator said that it usually comes from the streams and rivers that run off into the canyon and river during particularly rainy periods.

Everyone in the boat shook their heads, tsk, tsk, tsk. We shouldn’t be littering, etc. At the end, where the the state of Chiapas has built a hydro plant, the boat had to turn around. But before, we connected with another boat that was selling chips and sodas in plastic bottles. After an hour or so, people wanted a snack. No one was tsk tsk tsking anymore.

Our problem with trash is systemic. It might not be enough to just throw our trash in the proper receptacle.

After seeing this, Patricia and I decided we would try even harder to abstain from buying plastic. We have Nalgene water bottles. When we are at a restaurant or tienda, we ask if we can refill our bottles (and offer to pay). Usually, they use bigger reusable water jugs. It’s not perfect but it does cut down on our personal footprint.

We can get mad, sad, (eco-)anxious, and wring our hands about the future of our planet. But let’s remember that we can take action in our own lives and communities. It might already be too late, but we can at least try.

Later, I’ll write something about our move to vegetarianism. Much later, I hope to write something about how Islam has informed my socialism, and how socialism has informed my choice for vegetarianism.

Coca-Cola sucking wells dry in indigenous Mexican town

Harriet Agerholm writing at the Independent:

Natural supplies have run out in the indigenous town of San Felipe Ecatepec in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, meaning people must walk for two hours to fetch drinking water, one former local official said.

A nearby bottling plant, run by Mexican company FEMSA, consumed 1.08 million litres of water a day in 2016, according to reports.

Although Chiapas has the highest level of renewable water resources per capita in Mexico, one in three people in rural regions reportedly lack safe drinking water. Climate change and outbreaks of salmonella have exacerbated the problem.

Like many things these days, I’m finding it harder to justify why I do or consume the things I do. In this case, Coca-Cola. I really enjoyed having one every few days in Mauritania to mix up the massive amounts of water and coffee. But ignorance is bliss and I’ve learned too much.

Farewell Mexico

This isn’t going to be a long post. Just a quick note about these last two months in Mexico, the first country on our Latin America trip. Mexico is an extremely special place. I especially enjoyed our time in Oaxaca and Chiapas, but also had fun in Yucatán, Mexico City, and Cuernavaca. Here’s some of our trip by the numbers:

  • Time spent in Mexico: 76 days
  • Total time spent in buses: 81 hours
  • Average spent on accommodation: 4.47 USD per night

We’re in Guatemala now and plan to spend about a month here.