Mazunte /// Mexico /// October 2015

After Chacahua, we arrived in Mazunte, a seaside town with a hippie vibe. The area’s white sandy beaches rocky slopes accompanied by little streets filled with cafes and local restaurants make it a compact wonderland for a weary traveler. Visitors mean to only make a pitstop end up hanging around for a while’s longer. The same happened for us.

With an eclectic bunch of foreign and friendly local residents, Mazunte is a cultural hub with activities and events happening every month. In November, the primary school’s football field is transformed into a stage and dance floor for the International Jazz Festival attracting thousands of people from across the world.

Mazunte’s local economy has forever relied on its sea turtle populations but not always through conservation as it is today. Mazunte once captured and slaughtered turtles for their meat and eggs. However, after the turtle industry was banned in 1990, Mazunte turned to ecotourism.

One evening, we were invited to watch the turtles lay their eggs. It was our first time witnessing such a natural phenomenon. The beach was simultaneously a delivery room and graveyard. Mothers laid their eggs, and some too exhausted to returned to the sea, died by their nests. Baby sea turtles hatched and tried to navigate their way to the sea before birds, the sun, or beetles got to them. Turtles are might sea creatures.

Mazunte is proud to protect its local sea turtle population. However, while no one is no longer killing sea turtles with machetes, everyone is unknowingly doing so with the newest lethal weapon: the drinking straw. With the influx of tourism rising the amount of plastic pollution in the sea, turtles (among many other marine creatures) are ingesting plastic through their mouths and even noses. The average human uses a drinking straw for 20 minutes but it takes 200 years for the average drinking straw to decompose.

Coast 2 Coast teamed up with La Biblio, an alternative educational space for an engaged community, to facilitate two participatory audiovisual workshops on plastic pollution, specifically drinking straws, with local youth in Mazunte. Participants walked through their community photographing all the straws they could find from those in coconuts to those disregarded in the street.

These photos were used as references later to make a stop-motion video where participants created a story about a man made out of drinking straws who investigated all the ways humans use and disregard popotes.

After the workshops, we facilitated a local screening amongst Day of the Dead celebrations with La Biblio where the kids’ work was presented to their families and the local community. The cinema night was about celebrating Mazunte’s culture and a movement for further conservation driven by the next generation.

Tucked away from Mazunte’s bustling beach is another bay called Playa Mermejita. The word Mermejita is not Spanish and no one knows exactly what it means but the theory remains it is Spanglish for mermaid. A pocket of paradise with empty beaches, we explored this community for a few days.

For those interested in ending off the beaten path and discovering one of the most epic lodging areas of all time - Casa Mermejita sits just above the beach and will offer any imaginative soul, a deep breath of creative positive vibes.

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