Rutgers - Science Summer Abroad 2010
Nine Science Undergraduate Students Around the World

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Benito Juarez Ecovillage

Just came back from the Benito Juarez ecovillage, utterly exhausted from hiking and ziplining at 10,000 feet above sea level. And what an experience it was! Hiking up a mountain so high in altitude (or any mountain whatsoever) is something I rarely ever get to experience, being a resident New York/New Jersey, so I jump at the opportunity when it’s offered and savor the moment. Hiking is a test for both your body and mind; gravity and low oxygen levels are working against you as you attempt to scramble up the slippery dirt slopes, and your mind is racing faster than your heart as you maneuver your way up, trying to find the next best step to take to bring you closer to your final destination. Then, there are the moments of reward, the moments when you take a look around and absorb your surroundings, these breathtaking lush landscapes before you. It was incredible to be surrounded by endless mountains, seeing no end to the landscape of these green giants. Adrenaline and endorphins flowing through your body create this feeling of utter happiness and accomplishment as you reach the top, your final destination before descending. Once we arrived to the top, we took time to take pictures and appreciate our environment. Some of us walked across the shaky hanging bridge that connected two cliffs, pushing ourselves to overcome the initial fear and instinct that holds you back. I actually have a fear of heights but have recently decided to do whatever I can to fight that fear and enjoy the feeling of adventure. While doing these typically frightening tasks, I teach myself to meditate and convince myself that fear is only as strong as I allow it to be. Once in the right mentality, I can overcome fear and enjoy myself. This is precisely why I crossed the hanging bridge and also took part in ziplining. I have gone ziplining twice before, once at camp and once in Costa Rica for a two hour canopy tour. Benito Juarez only had three ziplines, but they were still incredibly fun and exhilarating. It always takes some mustering up of course before I can push myself to do it, but when I do, I enjoy myself and leave the fear behind.

Later, after we made it back down the mountain, we ate at a "comedor de truchas"- a restaurant that served fresh trout and other great side dishes, overlooking Oaxaca from a cliff. It was the perfect way to regain energy and relax after a long exhausting day.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that ecovillages like Benito Juarez exist. I'm glad to see that there is demand for ecotourism in Mexico and that villages can make a profit from being environmentally responsible and keeping the natural environment pristine. Costa Rica was full of ecotourism, as it is one of the main attractions of country, but it seems Mexico does not have as much of a preservationist attitude. Mexico is seen by Americans as a warm vacationing spot for lounging in resorts and other luxurious developments, so ecotourism hasn't had the chance to take off. Moreover, Mexico has many economic problems and other conflicts that are higher on the agenda. I hope to see that Mexico adopts the same sort of appeal as Costa Rica and becomes more environmentally pristine and conscious. The ecovillage is the only place I've seen recycling, which also needs to be introduced as an important program in Mexico.

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