ScrapesBook 3rd Semester
E: Trip to Tapalpa, Jalisco, Mexico
February 18th-February 23rd
One week ago, I was phone-less, without plumbing or air/water conditioning, in rural parts of Mexico, participating in a leadership/service camp - something that has completely changed both me and my world view. I had been out of the country previously, to Europe for soccer, in fact, but I was not expected to live so in-tune with nature.
The journey began after a 3 hour bus ride through the mountains when we were perched in a scenery that would fit a movie screen. I waited for role-call to hear where I would be cabined, and with whom, and I found out that I was to be located with 3 students from Mexico, 2 from Los Mochis (North Mexico) and 1 from the South. They greeted me, in Spanish, of course, and one told me that he was going to take a shower. He mentioned that the water may or may not be hot, and that's when I realized this trip would be more than just a leadership camp.
One day, we attended workshops on specific subjects by "experts" on them. One of the workshops that I attended was titled Ecología (Ecology). I learned about some cool knick-knacks like a bike that can power a washing machine, some edible plants, as well as some interesting facts about cars and green travels. Unfortunately, due to it being conducted entirely in Spanish, I didn't understand all of the science or retain all of the information, but it was definitely interesting to hear about the little things that can be done to help the Earth.
On a different day, we visited the village of Tapalpa, a little pueblo (small town, village) where the locals lived. We were divided into our teams assigned earlier in the week and were volunteering for the city. My team was titled Chonchos, which roughly translates to "fatties". The Chonchos were assigned to help a man that worked in a government run cemetery, specifically with cleaning. The amount of trash and litter that was produced by such a small village was quite horrifying, every grave had either old, rotting materials left by the family, or literal trash such as cans of soda and bags. We picked up trash for nearly 3 hours, and all the while, the man's cheeks never went down. A woman came, and she began yelling at us, because she didn't understand that we were volunteer workers, about our "disrespectful" behavior and "lack" of cleaning. The man tried to explain, but when she didn't change her view, he simply laughed and smiled.
We returned to the center of the city and picked up trash on our way back as well. When the locals saw us doing this, they even helped pick up the trash! It was a beautiful sight to see how our small actions influenced some of the locals. If they didn't help, they smiled, which was more than enough payment for our services.
In the town, we learned about the man's salary, hours, and work conditions. He works alone for 12 hours, once every 2 days, and gets paid about 75 pesos for his time. 75 pesos is roughly 6 dollars. This was a huge reality check, especially when we were given 30 pesos for our service in order to pay for lunch. We soon realized that in the town, 30 pesos was enough for 4 small tacos and a drink. That means that nearly HALF of the man's pay was gone in lunch alone if he decided to eat out. His two sons were at the cemetery with him, and it made me sad to realize that for his 12 hour shift, he couldn't even treat his children to a nice (in perspective) lunch or dinner in town.
The trip was very interesting in terms of an ecological, service, and leadership sense. I found myself observing the beautiful mountains and hills from the time I landed in the airport, scaled the mountains, lived in the mountains, and returned. I wish that I could have brought some of the natural beauty from Tapalpa to Chicago, as we seem to be losing what's left of it every day.
With the world population ever increasing, as does the amount of waste we produce. Carbon Dioxide emissions are through the roof, leading into many problems around the world related to climate change. Everything has been in the "cause of business", but what about the cause of the Earth? The United States has been questioned on it's moralities when extracting ethanol more than once, and they continue to be questioned if their extractions are worth the damage they're causing to the Earth.
I may not be the United States, but I am a United States citizen. As a citizen, I can try my best to reduce my own consumption of things such as water, gas, and electricity. I don't need to drive out to Orland for food, I just want to. I don't need to leave my computer on all day, I just want to. If I were to reduce my own footprint, I may be able to influence my family enough to do the same. I may be able to cause a domino effect in my family which, hopefully, would result in a bigger domino effect with others. The population may be rising, but that doesn't mean our footprints have to as well.
Hand in hand with consumption and sustainability is logging. As more and more people are coming onto this Earth, more and more wood products, such as paper, are needed. Many forests around the world have been completely exhausted, destroying biodiversity in the mean time. If we don't find more efficient, safer, and eco-friendly ways to harvest wood, we may be lacking the supreme biodiversity of the forests soon. By adopting the Reduced-Impact Logging (RIL) techniques, we may be able to save a large chunk of biodiversity while still being able to harvest at our current rate.
Again, I may not be a large logging company, but I am a consumer. If I were to use every sheet of paper more carefully, it would effectively be "saving" trees as the demand would be slightly down. Imagine if the entire world were to be more careful with their wasting of wood products! My math teacher already hates my homework because of how paper-friendly I am with the assignments. I create 4 columns and squish all of my work onto one page in order to reduce the amount of paper that I use. I plan on doing this for all of my classes in order to do my small part in our paper usage.