Saturday, April 21, 2007

Getting thirsty.

It is a beautiful location where the Gonzales family is living.
Next to the Sea of Cortez with its sandy beaches.
When this area was visited more than 25 years ago, only Mexicans like the Gonzales were living here.
But in the meantime, all the land close to the Sea of Cortez has been bought by Americans to build their holiday houses.

This has resulted in having two worlds here at the east coast of the peninsula Baja California.
One is the traditional world of the local Mexicans, living with families on farms making a meagre living as cattle ranchers.
The other world is made up of wealthy Americans who are here simply to enjoy themselves.

They are two separate worlds.
In general they are not socialising at all.

One reason is the language.
Very few Mexicans speak English and very few Americans speak Spanish.

Another reason is the culture and tradition.
The culture and tradition of the Americans, all wealthy, white, mostly conservative, from the corporate world, is very specific.
The culture and tradition of the Mexicans living here for over 100 years is very specific as well.
In fact, the Mexicans and Americans do not have much in common.
But they manage to live in a relative peace and simply do not bother much with each other.

However, what could become a major problem with this strong influx of Americans coming to live here is the environmental impact.
Nature as it is here, cannot support large concentrations of human beings.
Especially not when they come wishing to keep the life style they were having where they were coming from.

For example, there is the issue of water.
Basically it is a desert here.
The local Mexicans have adapted to this situation from the beginning.
They only established settlements where there was water and they use it economically.

The Americans have a different approach.
They see a beautiful location and decide to build there.
No water?
We truck it in!
Very entrepreneurial.
But Americans need a lot of water and energy the way they choose to live.

In their holiday houses the Americans have build bathrooms like they have at home.
With showers, baths and flush toilets.
Using enormous amounts of water in a place where there is no water.

Because they like palm trees, which do not grow here because of lack of water, the Americans have full-grown palm trees brought in on large trucks.
They plant those palm trees around their houses and next these trees need to be watered every day.
A palm tree needs about 50 litres (13 gallons) of water per day…

Although their houses are close to the beach and the sea, which is often calm and warm enough to swim in, they like to have their own swimming pools.
Swimming pools needing lots of water and chemicals.

These Americans can live here and in their wasteful ways thanks to the Gonzales.
As it happens, the Gonzales are having a water well.
The only one in the wide vicinity.
A water well until now seeming to have an endless supply of water.

The Gonzales are now in the business of trucking water to the houses of the Americans.
Son Ismaël is responsible for this job.
With a gasoline-powered pump he fills from the rancho well a truck able to carry 10.000 litres (2.650 gallons) of water.
This he delivers to the houses of the Americans charging 400 to 600 Pesos. (36 to 54 US Dollars) per truckload.
An extremely low price and it is obvious this situation will not continue for a long time.

More and more Americans building here and coming to live, needing excessive amounts of water, the price will go up considerably and the well may not be able to produce much more amounts of water.
Now, there are days Ismaël makes 4 to 6 trips a day, pumping over 50.000 litres (13.000 gallons) of good drinking water from their well.

There is already talk among the Americans to prepare for the near future by purchasing desalination plants.
For about 40.000 US Dollars a plant can be bought serving several houses.
However, a desalination plant needs lots of electric energy for which a generator will be used.
More waste of fuel, more pollution.

To become more modest and to become more in balance with nature, as the local Mexicans demonstrate, does not come into the minds of the Americans wishing to live here.

Look for example at this place about a 15 minutes walk from the Gonzales Rancho.
Recently sold for 9 millions Dollars.
And that price includes a swimming pool but not the water.

1 comment:

Sangeeta said...

Yep...that just about sums it up. Just in time for Earth Day, too.