Perhaps you are a United Nations delegate, leaving what will be the FINAL Conference of Parties, the COP16, concluding now in Cancun, Mexico. As you pack away your ‘party’ clothes you have more than the usual end of holiday malaise. You depart the Mayan Rivera in worse shape than any other Rivera visit you can recall.
You may assume your ‘unsettled’ stomach is due to the over indulgence of Senor Frogs Tequila. Maybe your itchy skin is from too much fun in the sun. You may be discovering that this land of surprises has a final surprise for you. So common are ‘digestive’ problems for tourists to Mexico, that there is a long list of colorful names for this condition, such as, Turistas, Montezuma’s Revenge or the Aztec Two-step.
The symptom is diarrhea, but the cause can be a number of diseases. The simplest and most common is Escherichia coli and can often be overcome in a few days. The more serious diseases include Hepatitis, Parturition, Bacillary or Amoebic Dysentery, Cholera, Cryptosporidiosis or Giardiasis. The latter, according to Wikipedia, is playfully nicknamed “Beaver Fever” because of its frequent hosting by other mammals.
These forms of diarrhea are often spasmodic and induce vomiting at the same time. If you feel symptoms of ‘beaver fever’ gripping your digestive tract it is best to have a bucket handy as you sit on the throne. As unpleasant as this subject is for polite western culture to discuss, there is a reason that we only have to discuss this after a visit to the third world.
Civil Engineers in the developed countries are charged with the duty to protect our society from these ever present scourges of the third world. My Environmental Engineering classes taught me a great deal about these diseases. While not a medical doctor, I may give you some observations from my only visit to Cancun, and what I declared to be, my final visit to Mexico.
I never entered Mexico with either prejudice or delusions. My grandfather was an importer of Mexican trade goods and lived in Brownsville, Texas. He had many friends throughout Mexico and I have visited dozens of cities throughout Mexico, on hundreds of visits in my lifetime.
Following eighteen months of bitter court battles, in round one of a twenty five round divorce fight, I was persuaded that a ‘romantic holiday’ would cure my malaise. Cancun offered Caribbean beaches, scuba diving and the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. I departed on this holiday with higher hopes than any Conference of Parties delegate.
Cancun is a typical multi-cultural real estate scam. Greedy American resort developers stumbled on to this sleepy Mexican fishing village in the late sixties. They quickly took aerial photos, produced a resort Eden concept and approached the Mexican government with their development plans. Always on the lookout for new ways to grift the Gringo, the Mexicans set a trap.
Americans were to provide the general land use plan and cost estimates. They were then allowed to only lease the proposed hotel sites. Mexico would take all of the developer money for infrastructure and they would provide all of that work locally. The term “Mexican Engineering” is an oxymoron and the national motto is “manana”. Manana means tomorrow, and while Annie says it is only a day away, in Mexico that day never arrives.
It is near impossible to build a luxury hotel without running water, so water lines were mandatory. The Mexican government decided that fresh water treatment was optional so all guests are required to drink bottled water. Some resorts actually avoided this problem by paying a second time for water treatment on a site by site basis. The Mexican roadways could be best described as asphalted sand.
First impressions are indeed romantic as lush tropical vegetation abounds and five foot iguanas lumber unmolested across parking lots with big warning signs stating “Do Not Molest the Iguanas”. Chichen Itza is indeed interesting. But ever present is the realization that this past culture’s cure for weather related problems was to pluck the still beating heart from some virgin and chuck her body down a well.
As unfortunate as this historic symbolism is for today’s high priestess of weather, there is an even uglier reality lurking beneath the surface. In this case the surface would be the lovely Caribbean waters. Soon my romantic holiday was going to present a very unseemly side of this Faux Paradise lurking just below the surface.
As an accomplished tropical reef diver I looked forward to another visit to this miraculous world teaming with diversity of life forms. Unfortunately my diving mate was a novice and we did not feel comfortable with her in the more challenging dive locations. We chose a two hour dive in the sheltered bay between the mainland and the Isla Mujeres.
The shallow 15 to 30 ft depths offered an ideal diving adventure up until the moment we entered the water. Spread before us was an underwater moonscape of barren, uniform gray marine desert. Anyone who has ever been scuba diving in a fresh water river or lake can attest, fresh water doesn’t support even a tiny fraction of the life in salt water.
As a trained Environmental Engineer I knew immediately what the problem was. The entire bottom was coated with thick algae, which was fed by vast amounts of untreated sewage dumped in a narrow waterway with poor circulation. In our two hour dive I only witnessed several living corals and a few small schools of fish. This went beyond disappointing to sickening, a feeling that would revisit again soon.
Part of the adventure in travel is to immerse yourself in the local community. We chose to use the Cancun bus system for our visits to the market and dinng for two reasons. First to avoid the notorious taxi drivers who always manage to double your fare between departure and arrival. The second was to mingle with the local culture.
There was not a single bus stop where I did not feel empathy for the local population struggling under such difficult conditions. And there was not a single bus stop when an aristocratic wealth Mexican national did not drive up in a Mercedes 600 and sneer with a disgusted look at the cluster of peasants waiting for simple transport.
Little did I know, that as this nightmare spiral unwound things were going to get a lot worse. Several days in Faux Paradise had already prepared us for sporadic luxury. One day there would be no hot water. Several times there was no electricity. (Note to self, always use the stairs to avoid elevator entrapment.) On the final night it was the air conditioning that failed.
The luxury hotel room had a single sliding window, which if you did not prop the door open, offered no ventilation. Instead the open window allowed cyclic wind gusts to rattle the blinds and ushered in the traffic din from below. Laying there in a sweat, with the adjoin hotel lights glaring thru the open window and coated with the sticky salty sea air I had an additional nightmare.
I was to return to another long battle in a corrupt divorce court. This manmade hell assumes that all parties are lying and does the Solomon solution of giving each parent half of the contested baby. This is a place where honesty is punished and liars are rewarded. I would soon be returning as a childless father to enter round two of judicial purgatory.
Unable to sleep I remembered the Mayan ruins of Yamil Lu’um just a few hundred yards up the beach. Maybe watching the sunrise from this ancient observatory would open some new window in my life and give me strength for the battles ahead. I slipped out of the room and headed for the sandy beach below.
Due to the vulgarity of Mexican lease agreements, the names of these luxury hotels change often. Review of the current tenant maps shows that neither of the following hotels have the same names as they had during my holiday. Suffice it to say, this was a four star row of well known resort hotel names and I was in for a very big shock.
It was probably four in the morning and a Mexican worker was standing next to a freshly dug ditch running from the luxury hotel directly north of our hotel to the beach. Running in this ditch was clearly visible fecal material and toilet paper. I wanted to throw up. In my broken Spanish I asked how often this man did this. His reply “Todos Dias”.
I followed the ditch up to the hotel courtyard where a cast iron cover had been removed and what appeared to be a several thousand gallon concrete tank with a submersible sewage ejector was busily pumping the previous days waste into the sea. I continued my journey to the Mayan temple, climbed to the top and waited for a new day.
As that day dawned I was just another small person on a cruel planet faced with an impossible mission. As I climbed down from the ruins and walked up the beach, the laborer had covered the open trench and was now raking the entire beach front. Tourists were unfolding chairs and towels on the fresh groomed surface and wading out for their morning dip in the fresh sewage.
Perhaps you are a COP delegate who’s stomach is beginning to turn, who’s skin is beginning to itch, who is now beginning to feel sick. There is a reason I stated in the first sentence that this is the LAST COP meeting. The world is sick of you. The money wasted on this climate FRAUD would have brought clean drinking water and treated sewage for every person on the planet.
I have sailed the Nile, dined in the Eiffel Tower and visited the great castles, cathedrals and museums of Europe. I have been repeatedly and unfairly crushed by boot of the elite. I have seen the greatest work of man and the most evil. The UN and the IPCC are irredeemably wicked. I am hardened by battle and will never surrender to this evil.
Perhaps manana finally arrived for the Mexican leasor and they installed the needed sewage treatment plants. Perhaps the luxury hotels were caught-out and shamed into treating their waste. If not, then maybe this is their wake up call. These were the actual conditions as they existed, just a decade and a half ago. I live in Texas and I know my next door neighbors. Somehow I don’t think that manana has made it to Cancun yet. But I do know this. There is NO manana for the IPCC.
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