Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving, el Caribe Sur, and Paradise Lost - Your Sporadic Dose from Mr. Cook

After several days of pretty steady rain, Thanksgiving morning arrived here on the Caribbean with brilliant blue skies and a soft on shore breeze.

A symphony, some call it a cacophony, of bellowing howler monkeys, chortling toucans, crowing roosters, and, of course, the neighborhood barking dogs, rousted me from a sound sleep minutes after the sun came up.

With my dogs in tow, including Harry S. Truman, my new miniature Schnauzer pup whose dad is the Costa Rican grand champion, I headed out for my early morning constitutional on the beach from Playa Cocles to Punta Uva.

Almost every step of the way, I kept thinking how grateful and blessed I am to have had the opportunity to call this little piece of paradise home for, when I add all the months up in total, seven of the last eleven years.

The walk was an appropriate way to start what Americans have long viewed as a day to reflect on the bounties the United States has bestowed on so many of its citizens, even if it has yet to live up to the ideal of "...liberty and justice for all".

But it was much more than that. The walk was also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges all of us face, regardless of our race, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, religion, or sexual orientation, as we move into an era of diminishing natural resources, climate change, global warming, nuclear proliferation, and a growing income gap between those with and those without that threatens the social and political stability of virtually every country on the planet, including the United States.

At one point, as the dogs and I rested at our favorite lagoon in Playa Chiquita, I found myself wondering if the Rubicon might not already have been crossed, if the tipping point has not been tipped or, to quote NY Times columnist Tom Friedman from his book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded", we have not run out of time to "manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable" in relation to the many serious issues and challenges facing us as a species today.

The signs that we have are everywhere, yet very few people seem to be paying much attention, or even to genuinely care.

I am always struck that so many people, especially those who profess loyalty to all things "green", just don't seem to get all that is really at stake.

A pet peeve of mine is the growing number of faux green ex-pats moving here who claim to be protectors of the environment and lovers of nature, while driving gas guzzling, emissions spewing Status Utility Vehicles and clear cutting everything in sight to build US style McMansions for retiring, faux green, American baby boomers- all with "green" technology of course.

I mean, come on. Can we talk disconnect from reality here or what, folks?

About ten days before Thanksgiving, a walk to the beach in Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva was an exercise in absolute misery because swarms of mosquitoes were everywhere.

In eleven years, I'd not experienced anything like it.

But it was a friend, a retiree from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who pointed out to me that the intense mosquito infestation was no doubt tied to the amount of rapid deforestation going on here in the name of economic and real estate development - all of it "green", of course.

Deforestation results in the destruction of large amounts of bird habitat. Birds are one of the most important predators in terms of keeping insect populations, including mosquitos, in check.

Destruction of bird habit by clear cutting means fewer birds to eat the bugs, including mosquitos, so clear cutting means more bugs to bite us and spread disease, with mosquitoes topping the list.

But that's just one piece of an important jig saw puzzle too few people are paying genuine attention to, not just here on el Caribe Sur, but all over the world.

The sad irony for me is that some of the worst offenders of this failure to pay attention are the very people who claim to care so much about their Mother Earth, so long as that caring doesn't stand in the way of them making money, even if it is at Mother Earth's expense.

But, with all that, as the dogs and I continued on our way toward Punta Uva, I remained deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to come to know this magical place when I did because, as magical as it still is in many ways, not unlike what Plum Island was when I was a kid, that magic is in grave danger of being lost, not just for a little while, but forever - kind of like Plum Island.

Michael Cook
Puerto Viejo/Playa Cocles
& Gloucester, MA, USA


Anonymous said...

Try to improve things instead of complaining about them. You will make a much greater contribution to the world. I know you can do it. And please do not bring up the fact that your dog is the child of a grand champion. It sounds so elitist and so boboish.

Anonymous said...

But I am proud of the little guy, even if being so is a tad elitist and boboish.

I am really not complaining, just pointing that even people who claim to care so much about the environment with their words, often do not do so with their actions, whether it's nouveau bobos up on the northshore, or faux green, tree huggers down here.

I will never forget the column I wrote for the NDN that I titled "the Rolling Oxymoron". It was about a huge GM Status Utility Vehicle I saw parked on State Street sporting 2 bumper stckers - one claimed the driver's support for Greenpeace, the other, you guessed it, was one of the cute, but foolish, little oval townie stickers that read "PI"
The vehicle and thye stickers, said it all!! LOL