Can you say “Eutrophication” at Lake Atitlan?


Alas, I have learned this wicked new word that means “overfed” as in bloated bodies of water awash with too many nutrients. Who would have thought that overfeeding H2-O on a small town’s effluent, fertilizer runoffs from coffee fincas and soapy phosphorous residue would have such massively deleterious effects as the giant cyno-bacteria blooms, here. And, double alas, it looks like science will be slow to catch up with this worldwide problem.

So, here, I am by this heart-stoppingly beautiful lake and looks are deceiving. The bluegreen algae is very harmful to swimmers and to drinkers of the municipal water supply. In the face of this, the idea of cleaning up solids and other garbage sources appears as a mere afterthought. Absent a massive clean-up, this historic, sweet, vulnerable tourist spot will go the way of the Dodo and well before 2012. Already, passing among the all but empty restaurants that line the two main streets reminds me of that aching time after 9/11, when all the food servers stood idly by their steam-tables offering goodies to an empty midtown. This town echoes under my steps. If only I could help.

Meanwhile, I watch CNN Spanish news as part of my immersion (also tuning into the Simpsons and various operas d’ jabon.) If I were only slightly paranoid, I would think that the Latin American news services are trying to paint the US of A as racist. Imagine that? This week alone, they have reported nonstop on New Orleans –five years later… And, there are plenty of dark faces recalling this tragedy, lamenting where they are now and offering a bleak picture of the city as-is. Of course, such coverage is spiked with wrenching stock shots of people clinging to their roof tops and, now and then lightly peppered with feel-good moments like when pets got rescued.

These cable stations wonder aloud “What would food cost in the US if illegal immigrants did not pick it?” Truth be told, I had not thought of THAT angle. Of course, this airing is relieved by quick cuts to the Chilean miners, who might end up being more famous for long suffering than Jesus Christ. After all, He only spent three days on that sunny cross and these guys are strapped in for four months.

For the moment, I am far from suffering any deprivation. I am digesting a batch of Gringo BBQ and my belly is full as a boa. Old favorite rock and roll plays under the thatched roof and (of course) more rain is due.

It is not quite tormento season, but last night, I awoke to more rain than I have ever seen and this went on fiercely pounding for hours. On my way to school, I noted the Rio San Francisco… The whole bed was about 6 inches deep in tan waves swishing across its 40’ span. That pendulous bodega that has been hanging by a few wires laced to a fence is losing ground, now. – The ad hoc sandbank that propped it up is eroding so fast that the concrete shell will soon enough be washing towards el Lago along with other unwanted nutrients…

Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

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