1998-2012 EarthRoamer

Basura (Trash)

No discussion of Baja would be complete without a discussion of the trash problem, but unfortunately, all of the guidebooks I read merely gloss over the trash problem or neglect to mention it. The fact is that much of Baja's incredible beauty is tarnished with trash. The trash along the Transpeninsular Highway gets relentlessly depressing after seeing it for days on end. Most of the beaches where I've camped have been covered with litter. Even if the beach itself has been washed clean, a short walk from the shore usually lead to piles of trash.

I talked to many people about Baja's trash problem, including long-term Baja residents, veteran Baja travelers from Canada and the U.S., and visitors from mainland Mexico. The only conclusion I could come up with is that this is a complex problem that will be difficult to resolve. Several people I spoke with talked about the culture of the native people of Baja who lived entirely off the land. Every thing they used was gathered from the land and sea, so they could just toss it out, and it and in a short period of time, their refuse would biodegrade. With the endless use of plastic in today's packaging, the trash thrown out doesn't degrade; it just blows around Baja for years. Another major aspect of the problem is non-existent landfills or trash processing facilities.

I always put my trash in trash containers, but several people pointed out to me that these trashcans would probably just be emptied into a trash pile and the wind would eventually blow the trash around Baja. Finally, with few enforced regulations, many Baja visitors abuse the environment. I met a Swiss couple camping on the beach in a large expensive RV. When I was driving up to their rig, I saw the man hurriedly retrieving his sewer hose. Dump stations are often hard to find, so he merely dumped his sewage into the beautiful waters of the Sea of Cortez.

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