I was minding my own business doing my morning tacogirl thing and attending to some 40 emails that needed addressing and then was planning to write, when the universe pulled me in a completely different direction.
My messenger started going off, and water testing the San Pedrito Highway became my new priority. Pinch-hitting for crocodile Chris and Christina who were unavailable to do the job. I was back and forth with a few friends between a Facebook group post and messenger. It came down to Maureen Utsman, Robbie Zeske, Diana Evans and Susan Zell Watts, as the people who could help. I needed to get the four presence-absence coli-form test kit containers my friend Heather in Canada had lined up with Ismael at Consolidated Water, and get them filled with water samples. Susan ended up taking it on and thankfully so for me, Randy was with her. They had just eaten lunch at Mesa Cafe.
I can say without a doubt, chivalry is not dead and I really did dodge a bullet yesterday afternoon. Though I had my water runners on and was totally prepared to go in the swampiest, most toxic looking parts of the wetlands, I didn’t have to. Randy in his nice flip flops would not take no for an answer. He bravely went in the foul water in four different places to fill our sample bottles.
We headed south, down the San Pedrito Highway and started looking for the best four spots to test. Our first one came up across the road from a house we all passed many times during the clean up. It was right near the start. He almost lost his flip flops a couple of times there.
Moving on down the road, we hit an area that was close to a couple of houses, and Grand Baymen on the other side of the runway.
Next came near the tennis court area of the San Pedro Fitness Club. We made sure to pick the worst looking areas.
The two pictures above are fitting because they immediately bounced me to my garbage stash for 2017. The picture below was on October 10th, 2017 taken from the roof of the Fitness Club. The picture above to the left, the white building, was that very roof where I took the picture below. Not knowing that I would be helping water test that very area after the big Belize Tourism Industry Association San Pedro Chapter clean-up campaign. Amazing how the story unfolds.
The last area Randy picked as was near and dear to his hear. He spent pretty much all day of day three on the clean up campaign in this spot. Plus, we all agreed we needed one sample from the east side of the road. We noticed lots of film covering the water and the road.
While the San Pedrito Highway has vastly improved, it does look like a lot of what was remaining somehow made it’s way back into the wetlands – not good. Another full out clean up of this area is needed, as you can see, from the following two pictures. Which big entity is willing to take this on and help finish this important project?
A soon as we were done we zipped down to Consolidated Water to deliver the bottles to Ishmael. I will contact him soon to get the results.
I had to snap an outside pic because it looks pretty around the water plant. Click the link if you want to know how our system works. You can also see more pictures and read two great reviews of the Consolidated Water Belize plant tour.
After that mission was accomplished, Randy had to go home to wash his feet and sterilize his flip-flops. Susan and I were not done yet, so our next mission was to go drive to the end of the huge garbage road just south of DFC. When we arrived we were happily surprised. Although we are not quite sure where it went (we saw a bulldozer leveling stuff out) or who moved it, the difference at the start of that road between then and last week was incredible. Notice the green roof house as the landmark. The picture on the left was taken November 9th – day one of the Ambergris Caye Clean Up Campaign, and on the right-hand side was yesterday, November 21st. Amazing difference.
As you can see from these next pictures, there is still a long way to go. I will be posting a supply list soon so people can help contribute to future clean-up campaigns. Susan and I were concerned about a large area of unhealthy colored brown standing water on the right, it is next to about 6 homes.
If you are reading this and have a large scale comprehensive water test kit, please reach out. The state of our water island wide is extremely concerning.
If this is an area of interest, click through to read Diana Evan’s account of her volunteering at the Belize Tourism Industry Association San Pedro Chapter : Four day Ambergris Caye Clean up. You can also go to tacogirl blog Belize YouTube to view the Dark Side Series Directors Cut Version with Extra Disturbing Ambergris Caye Bonus Footage. This playlist link also contains the 4 days individually and two other videos, one from kids on the trash situation and another about the extreme health hazards from environmental scientist MaryBeth Sutton.
Our next task was to check in with the Ministry of Health and Belize Water Services. I went in and spoke to staff at both places and they were very helpful in directing me who to talk to next for more water testing help. I walked away with two great contacts as a next step. Both places agree help is needed.
After all this trash Susan decided it was time for a high-class break, so we headed over to check out the fancy new Maya Island Air Terminal for a refresher. She ordered a coke while I had a lime juice. I also scored a bacon and egg breakfast bagel from Brooklyn Bagels while there – absolute Heaven.
There is nothing like gorgeous crystal chandeliers to cheer a girl up after such a downright dirty and depressing errand.
The setting was peaceful, luxurious and relaxing, just what we needed to unwind and forget where we had just come from. We opted to sit at the bar and watch TV.
I will leave you with two last pictures, a great piece of Maya Artwork you should go see, as well as another room shot. This bar is going to be a hot spot for plane watching, catching the game, and special events.
I just want to know what poor soul will have to keep those chandeliers clean.
How can tourists help? We will be in for 5 days in december and would love to do what we can, at least for a few hours.
Great job with the cleanup and water testing! Obviously there is a long way to go, but it’s refreshing to see proactive people like you taking such an active interest in the environment of Ambergris Caye. It is too precious to ignore.