Moppit and I walked to Ak’Bol and back this morning and for the first time in a long time this always beautiful walk dazzled me.
And I know why, too.
Not only is the shoreline almost completely recovered from Hurricane Earl but the beaches are as full and lush as I’ve ever seen them.
But, most noticeably, THERE IS NO TRASH TO BE SEEN. This is a rare and incredible sight because even the most charming sections of beach up here are usually littered with plastic refuse and bottles. I urge you to take a walk north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge as far as you can up the beach.
Don’t delay because the trash will begin piling up soon.
Same thing along the concrete road all the way up to the Grand Caribe resort. No trash.
Of course, yesterday was the first Friday of the month and that meant First Friday Roadside and Beach Trash Cleanup. So for a few days, as happens every month thanks to an incredibly dedicated band of volunteers, the area north of the bridge looks a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined.
Like I said, don’t wait too long. Paradise is a fragile, easily cluttered, thing.
First Friday has been a “thing” for more than a year now. It got started when some folks in the neighborhood joined up with a Christian group here on a good works mission. Together we cleaned up trash as far north as the old Palapa Bar. It just happened to be on a Friday and it just happened to be the first Friday of the month.
Could easily have been any other day of the month and we would be doing the same thing today, only not on this particular Friday.
The trash is out there all the time. Any day will do.
To be honest, I can’t always wait until the First Friday. Just before Christmas I went out to clean up the road and was joined by our neighbor and friend Shirley Schroeder Butterick. We made the area look kind of nice for the holiday. More recently I went out alone to become one with the trash on the U.S. Inauguration Day, and was joined by a local friend Rene for a while.
Honestly, I’d rather be snorkeling. Or paddling a kayak out to the reef for the morning. Most people would.
Finding ways to get excited about picking up trash gets harder every month.
I find it is best to approach each trash clean-up with no expectations. People won’t suddenly stop throwing trash out of their golf carts. Plastic won’t suddenly stop floating in the from Caribbean Sea.
But to enjoy a walk like today?
It is worth it.
Yesterday, Grand Caribe threw nearly 40 people into the fray. Grounds and maintenance crews handled the roadside. Housekeeping and front office staff hit the beach. They were joined from the south by a hardy band of neighborhood volunteers and a trio from Projects Abroad.
In our first major change since the program started, we began at 8 a.m. instead of 9. I know. I know. Earth-shattering.
A little earlier was nice — weather was cool; kids walking to school could see us cleaning up; and we got to join up at the end with our colleagues from Grand Caribe who always start around 8-8:30 a.m. and work really fast!
Well, enough chatter. Here are some photos from the cleanup and a few from the beach walk today. Note the smiles all around. They are real. They are on faces of folks who are doing something good for the island.
Come join us next month, if you are in town.
Yesterday’s cleanup was dedicated to the memory of San Pedro community activist Felix Ayuso who was found dead in his home Thursday. Felix was planning on bringing about eight volunteers to our Friday cleanup campaign. His death is a dark reminder that the whole idea of Paradise is largely an illusion.
Paradise is what people choose to make it. Rest in peace, Felix.
MORE PICTURES OF OUR WONDERFUL VOLUNTEERS: