The trip to Cancun was amazing and revitalizing. The people of Mexico are complex and diverse.
In preparation for this trip I read three books. “Mexico Profundo,” by Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, The complete “Popol Vuh,” by Denis Tedlock, and “Yucatan Before and After the Conquest,” by Diego de Landa. These books totally changed my perspective during the trip and the preparation was well worth it.
The Yucatan Peninsula is a lush flat limestone peninsula protruding into the Caribbean Sea, on the tip of which sits Cancun, a popular tourist destination. Just 20-40 minutes from these breathtaking beaches on which the privileged people from all over the world sit — are people living in dire poverty, among which are the remnants of the once mighty Mayan people. We also had the opportunity to see Chichen Itza, Mayan ruins, which was incredible, thinking of the people before the conquest and what a paradise the New World must have been.
We saw so many people without access to the very simplest modern amenities. Potable water was made by boiling it in many households who could not afford to purchase water. Many adults and children are anemic because the cost of vitamins is more than they can manage, of course making them more susceptible to other infectious disease. The contrast between this life and the privileged lives basking on the beach so close was stark and heartbreaking. The subject of structural violence was brought up for me over and over. As we know, disease follows poverty. Paul farmer writes:
“Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people … neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific and social progress.”
I came home from this trip again feeling inspired to continue on the path and devote my life to helping people as I am able. As always I understand that my needs are met simply, and have rekindled my desire to serve those whose needs are not being met due to circumstances beyond their control. Enjoy these images, especially those of the beautiful faces of those people who have been put in harms way.
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ISLonline is such an amazing service learning group!