I am happy to hear that Yuli wants joins me for another day on the river. There is a section a little downstream from Pozas de Arvizu that currently has water again. I am planning to float to Laguna Grande, another restoration site that is managed by the Sonoran Institute.
When we get there, we realize the river is actually “flowing” upstream. This is because there is actually no real flow to the river here, as it it is fed from underground aquifers. And since the wind is blowing north, that’s where the water seems to be moving. We soon crawl sections of thick mud and reeds again, and mosquitoes and little are all over us. It does get sort of annoying and so we both don’t mind when Carlos, Yulis boyfriend, offers to pick us up.
Finding him proves to be difficult, as the riverside is very densely grown over with tamarisk and other bushes. We finally hear him calling out from somewhere on “river” right. He bravely fights a way through the thick brush towards us and we bushwhack our way back out to the dirtroad where Yulis little blue car is waiting for us.
Most roads here are not paved, or if they are they are pretty bumpy. It feels like the dust gets everywhere and it is something that has been starting to bother me quite a bit. I have a cough and sometimes feel like I can’t really breathe well. Yuli explains that the rate of people with pulmonary diseases and asthma is pretty high in this region, due to severe pollution. It is caused by farmers burning off the remains of the harvested fields, as cleaning them out is more expensive. But it also due many people burning their trash in their backyards, as there is no proper waste disposal system in place outside the big cities.
The amount of trash that is covering the countryside and get blown across the fields and into the fences everywhere is the thing that has shocked me most, since I have crossed the border. It is overwhelming to understand how massive this issue is here. A sad effect is, that I am beginning to change my mind about wanting the Colorado Rivers flow to reach the sea again. It would take such insane amounts of waste into the ocean and by now we all know the effect of that.
Now, when people here ask me about my impressions of Mexico, apart from praising the tasty tacos and kindness of the people, I can’t help but mention how much all the waste saddens me. But I know it is not only up to the people of the villages to understand the damage that is done. For anything to substantially change, the Mexican government would need to care about the environment at all. This is not really an excuse, but still it is understandable, as this country has some other severe problems, like cartels, crime, human trafficking, general poverty and other things I don’t know much about. My view is focused on the river, the environment and the effects of climate change, but it would be dumb and blind of me not to acknowledge those facts.
Laguna Grande lets me take a deep breath again. I am really falling between extremes in this section of the river. Feeling devastated and pessimistic at times and then regaining all my hope and feeling very positive when seeing the efforts that are being done.
Here I meet Gabriela González of the Sonoran Institute and I get to see the impressive woods that have grown here since they have started to take care of the area. I meet some of the workers here, all living simple lives in little communities of the area. They rightfully take pride in what they have created here and their enthusiasm is contagious.
The little visitor center provides graphic information about the Colorado Rivers history and value. The design is striking and I later find out that it has been realized by Gabriela’s boyfriend Eduardo M. Gonzalez, who runs a little studio in Mexicali.
I am glad I have gotten permission to camp in this beautiful place and the sounds of the frogs at night are so familiar to me by now, they feel almost like a strange lullaby.