Madison Pearl Edwards is about the most delightfully precocious youngster you’ll ever encounter in Belize.
I mean, it takes a lot of precociousness — and courage — to snorkel the entire 190-mile length of the Belize reef, from north to south, to publicize the dangers and absolute stupidity of off-shore oil exploration.
Even for an adult.
Madi is 11 years old.
And, yes, the prospect of setting up oil rigs on or near our world heritage site reef is a very real thing.
Time and again, the people of Belize have rejected proposals to sink rigs on the reef and time and again the country’s government, like a pot-licker dog, keeps coming back — with proposals, maps, studies, exploratory proposals . . . often in the “dark of night” in which so much seems to get done in Belize.
You kick the dog and it backs away, just out of your reach, and the moment you turn your back an oil-sponsored ship is sonar mapping the reef “for the good of the nation” or a proposed change to the nation’s environmental map suddenly shows vast swaths of reef and atolls have become a “Red Light District” for oil industry whores.
With her family, Amber Edwards and Dorian Nunez, Madison wants to show the world what is at stake here.
It is a stunt. Sure.
But if this stunt opens the eyes of the world to the incredible beauty and vibrancy of this reef then I say “Madi, walk on water if you can!”
Madi, Amber and Dorian set out on Sunday, Feb. 12 in a wind-driven sailboat with local Reef Angel activist MJ Leslie and environmentalist Tina Kokkinis, who will swim beside Madi during the trek. Leslie will also serve as the in-house marine education resource, teaching Madi and the world about the vast resources at stake on the reef.
Along the way they will be picking up marine trash — “bottles, fishing nets, fishing lines, anchor ropes and other marine debris.” Leslie recently started the Reef Angels project which finds kayakers and canoers trolling the reef for trash off of San Pedro. Their free-dive forays have yielded some stunning piles of marine junk, and the reef has become just that much more pristine.
The Belize reef was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It is the longest living barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and is exceeded in size only by the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. Its extraordinary value to Belize as a source of food and the prime draw for tourism can not be calculated.
So Madi and her crew want the world to know what is at stake here. Here is the Ambergris Today summary of Madi’s adventure. And this is Madi’s video introducing her newest adventure:
And I have to say, she is the real deal.
I had the pleasure of sharing lunch recently with Madi and Dorian and a few other local writers and bloggers. Madi, Dorian and Amber comprise the super-prolific blogging team of the tourism promotional itravelBelize.com and the more newsy ambergristoday.com. Sure, this photogenic crew is a bit too obsessed with selfies for my taste, but Madi holds her own at a table full of adults, with astute observations and sparkling conversation.
Also, she is no newcomer to the fight against oil exploitation in Belize. Whenever the people gather to speak out against Big Oil, you will find Madi, Amber and Dorian in the crowd.
You can follow Madi and the crew at www.iTravelBelize.com/Madi or on social media @iTravelBelize and @MadiBelize. Expect lots of photos and videos along the way, and a whole new take on Belize’s most natural of resources and its most valuable treasure.
As Madi states in a recent post on the adventure: “Please don’t stay quiet, staying quiet says that you are ok with our sea life being sick or disappearing! Don’t be shy, know that you are doing it for your country! I love Belize, I love our Belize Barrier Reef and I say NO to offshore oil exploration!”
From the mouth and heart of an 11-year-old. That is passion.