They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…

The other day we rented golf carts and explored the island. It was an eye opening experience. We ended up going from one end of the island to the other end. One of the most interesting things we saw was the new construction going on. They are slashing and burning the mangroves that protect island from erosion and provide a habitat from the smaller animals that seek protection on the island. They then back-fill the areas that were dug up and build on top of that new land. Unfortunately because there are no mangroves in that area, often times the new construction gets flooded and the building’s foundation crumbles, making the property worthless. We saw a lot of properties on our trek that were outright abandoned and destroyed. One that comes to mind was the resort “The Journey’s End” on the north side of the island. It used to be one of the most expense, high end, sought after resorts on the island but the management gave up on the property and decided to build a brand new resort down the street. We found out later that the property was now occupied with a settlement of missionaries that were slowly rehabilitating the resort.

One of the main issues surrounding the new developments are the workers. The workers for these new resorts and luxury condos are under paid Mexican laborers that come over the border from mexico (the border is 5 miles away). the workers undercut the local construction workforce, do a worse job, live unsustainabily in shanty towns and are slowly killing off the environment.  Due to the low cost of their labor the island is losing jobs, land, and natural wildlife.  At this rate, in a few years there will be no natural beauty to see.

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.

People often talk of nostalgia, of the good times where an unexpected event was shared between a group of people. Tonight, our band of merry scientists have something to bond over for the rest of our lives. Not only was it the last dive of the trip but also it was something that was truly unique, a night dive. We had been pushing for one all trip and finally we got an opportunity. Our entire time down here, the weather had not agreed with us. Today though, it was our chance and we could not have asked for a better night to dive. We had a fairly calm current going out. Although we had to kick a little bit harder on the way out, our return was nice and easy with no effort at all. Along the way, we saw lobsters, sting rays, parrot fish, snappers, and many other aquatic life. I personally saw a lion fish. The sighting of the night was by Dr. John. He saw a moray eel having a little late night snack on a parrot fish. It was a really cool experience at about three quarters of the way into the dive. We stopped at a sandy spot, gathered round together and turned off our flashlights. Slowly we waved our hands in the air and the bio-luminescence turned on like tiny black lights all around us. It was something to be seen. Although not everyone enjoyed the dive as much as the group(its pretty scary in the dark ocean at night), everyone can say that it was an experience that they’ll never forget.