Cancun was island and tropical paradise once teeming with wildlife both on land and the sea. With beaches of white sand and turquoise water, a green lagoon that once lit up at night with the glow of the eyes of thousands of crocodiles. Cancun, Mayan for snake nest, is now a concrete jungle. About 39,000 hotel rooms replaced the sandy dunes and mangrove of the island; two bridges and artificially created land now tie the island to the mainland. The lagoon no is no longer illuminated by the eyes of the crocodiles, but by the reflections of the lights of thousands of hotel rooms and neon signs of the party town that replaced paradise.
We have depleted the sea as much as the land. Every year less turtles make it to our beaches to nest. The dolphins and sharks that once roamed the sea surrounding us now live only in fishermen’s tales, The jaguars that inhabited the mainland have not been seen in decades, they moved south or inland and away from us.
We had paradise, a resource rich, virgin land. We’ve replaced it all, the mangroves with parking lots, the crocodiles with yachts, the dunes with massive pools, the palm trees now replaced by tiny umbrellas in some tourist’s cocktail and the occasional monkey is now a drunken tourist.
To the eyes of the world Cancun was paradise gone wrong, but in my backyard in the outskirts of the city I can see a different story. The occasional visit from a toucan, the clattering claws and high-pitched voices of a family of coatis, the rare sighting of a fox, a deer, or an ocelot reminds me that nature is still there. We haven’t destroyed it we’ve only cast it aside with our concrete walls, tarmac roads and shiny neon signs. Crocodiles, turtles, jaguars, dolphins; they all know we can’t sustain our way of living, all they have to do is wait. They will be here when we are long gone. After all, the snakes still nest here.