So, you thought you were the Master of Recycling?
On a recent trip to the beach in Manuel Antonio, I was both amazed and horrified to see this industrious and obviously mature hermit crab scuttling by my feet, wearing his newest acquisition-his home, made not of delicate sea shell material, but of plastic. The water bottle cap variety, to be exact. I watched him as he scurried proudly across the sand, stopping once to “converse” with a young crab, likely boasting of his rare and gloriously different crabby condo.
I was amused , incredulous, entertained and awed by this sight For a moment anyway. Then the reality of the situation began to dawn on me. Costa Rica is very proud of its ecosystem; and well they should be. The country does more for conservation than any place I have lived before, with Florida coming in close. The beaches, hotels, reserves and state parks all boast recycle containers, water conservation methods and even windmill power for much of their electricity. Why would their natural world be any less prudent in the ways of recycling? I was proud of Mr. Hermit. Then I felt horrified, sad, discouraged and fearful about the sight of this new change. This was something I had not seen in our years of coming to Costa Rica for escape from the modern world of overuse, over indulgence and under appreciation of all things natural and pristine.
As we continued our walk that day and on subsequent days, I began to notice many more of these “caps” half buried in the sand, along with a few other items. We even found an iPhone 5 buried in the sand one day! My husband says a lot of it likely washes ashore from the Catamaran and fishing excursion boats that sail along the beaches each day. And for those who bring water bottles to the beaches, there is no excuse. There are waste bins and recycle bins all along the way. Use them! Tourism is up in the country and that means a lot of change is coming. For the citizens of Costa Rica, that can mean a better lifestyle due to increased wages and opportunity. But it can also mean increased waste, traffic and consumption of its resources. I hope the country’s officials are preparing for this impending and inevitable change.
We came here for the natural way of living Costa Rica still enjoys. And while it is nice to see some increase in those things which are familiar to us, bringing some of the “comforts of home” to our doorstep, we are very wary of the effects of such things coming too quickly and without proper planning and consideration.
Seeing my little hermit friend with his opalescent new ‘mobile home’ also made me wonder about those sea shells I have picked up over time. I, by no means, have collected enough to make an impact personally; but what about those who collect shells to make a living, often wiping out entire beaches of the glorious treasures that the sea washes up with every incoming tide? Was it due to a lack of natural availability to its normal resources that this fellow chose the cast off refuse of a careless human? I wonder.
These are questions and dilemmas to consider; and consider them we must if we are to stop the destruction of the Earth’s natural bounty. The truth is that we can live in harmony with nature. But we have to use our heads and hearts, which is something many humans have trouble with, even in dealing with their own species. The creatures of Earth are also our brothers and sisters. I pray this changes, for there are not many more untapped and unmolested areas of our precious planet to rape and destroy. Consider the plight of the hermit, always seeking a new home.
I believe I heard him bragging to his little friend about his “glass house” as the sun glinted off its clear surface.
Wait….do I smell crab broiling?
This is a Halloween Crab, for obvious reasons. I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance when we lived in our little jungle house a couple of years ago. We had a face off in my kitchen. These fellows will sometimes be seen en mass as they cross roads on their way out of the beach jungles, many getting crushed beneath the wheels of cars. Why do they do it? I don’t know. I do know that finding him in my house was a surprise. But, after all, it was his home long before mine was built. My friend, Chico, happily took him outside to let him go. Being a Cancer myself, I understand about the need for a home and sticking with it. But, like the hermit, I can make any place I live in my home. May we never run out of resources, my friends.
PS: Don’t Litter!!!!