Saturday, March 24, 2007

Today is Saturday, March 24, 2007

Today Cindy, Lisa and I worked with two university professors Grant and Don on what is endearingly called the “veg study”. Armed with hats, sneakers, old clothing and bug repellant we ventured into the wet, mucky terrain of the mangrove to plot a central point with four 30 meter outposts at the north, east, south, and west of the center point. Don and I suspended six leaf litter collection boxes within the zone making sure that five were in an eighty percent leaf coverage area where as the sixth was in a somewhat open region. Spreading out the boxes in this way will enable the scientists to collect and monitor density of leaf fall in a mapped region from which future collections can be compared in order to understand the effects of regional development in this mangrove, which abuts heavy tourist traffic. The others charted ground fall twig, branch levels and also canopy cover.

This particular study was very interesting but, for me, those studies which involve the birds, fish and other wildlife truly float my boat. We returned from the study and had lunch and then, for the first time since we’ve been working here, I took a siesta before heading out for the afternoon community service project. Cindy and the team stayed at the Casa Maria screwing in eye hooks on large wooden placques that they grouted and painted.The placques are pictoral DO NOT LITTER signs.

Lisa and I headed to the beach where I had left my sandals this morning before setting out for the veg studies. I picked up the sandals and then we took the beach route parallel to Main Street to complete the mural. The artist, Marco Canizales, does a lot of murals locally, for schools etc. He is also a sculptor with a studio in La Huerta. His work is fantasmical, playful, colorful and meaningful. It makes the viewer want to smile. The mural, which we painted yesterday and today, depicts a day/night image of La Manzanilla filled with sea and sky creatures, land beings and their tropical home. It is entitled “La Luna Sandía Salió Otro Día”. Marco is a gifted artist and an inspirational teacher. He handed me a paint brush, a cup full of color, did a quick demo, stepped aside and said “Andale”. So I did. He checked each of our work, constantly suggesting additional details, or changing our cups of color. He would step in and add a beautiful creature, or a smile, and then tell me to paint an eye or a flower or a crocodile’s mouth. His patience was extraordinary, his sense of humor and quick laugh were magical. To me, Marco and his work define Mexico.

It is 6 p.m. and it is time to go to ”El Girasol” for dinner with the entire team. There I will add today’s photos, answer any questions and hopefully get away before 11p.m. Tomorrow most EarthWatch participants fly home. Cindy and I have one more day to actually relax and enjoy the town. On Monday we will visit the school, present the Aprovecha students’ wonderful cards and give the supplies. Hopefully the sports equipment will have been delivered by the time we leave the school. We’ll taxi to the Manzanillo airport at noon and have about an hour and a half before flying back to the States. It has been an exhausting yet exhilarating journey. In my wildest dreams I could not have imagined this experience.