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Racing to Save Mexico City's Floating Gardens

Frederic Saliba - Worldcrunch
go to original
June 13, 2015



Farmer working in a chinampa, in Xochimilco (ARCA)

Pelicans glide in arrow formation over the lake at Xochimilco, south of Mexico City, as two elegant herons stand in the water and stare at a boatload of tourists. Extending across 7,500 hectares of canals and gardens, this bucolic landscape displays a range of greens almost unimaginable, all in sharp contrast to the smog and frenzy of the Mexican capital right next door.

The lake is the setting of chinampas, the floating vegetable gardens developed here more than 500 years ago. They are one of the last remaining features of the ancient Aztec capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlán, conquered by Spaniards in 1521.

Five centuries on, this network of waterways and artificial islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is threatened by the city's disorderly expansion and over-exploitation of its water resources. The government of Mexico City has an action plan, financed by France, to save this enormous district of the capital that is also the home of ancestral farming traditions and exceptional biodiversity.

"There is no time to lose," says resident Claudia Zenteno, pointing with clear frustration at plastic bottles, bags and cans floating in the dark, stagnant water outside her house.

Zenteno, a 50-year-old former accountant turned environmentalist, lives by the lake, in a part removed from the piers and boat tours where the water is regularly cleaned for the 1.2 million tourists who visit every year. "We used to have a wonderful view when we arrived here in 1995," she says. "It's a shantytown today."

A signpost nearby states that this is a "protected natural area where building is forbidden." Yet dozens of shacks have mushroomed here, and their sewage goes straight into the lake.

Read the rest at Worldcrunch

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CHARITY ALERT Vallarta Botanical Garden Needs Your Help

TripAdvisor singled out the Botanical Garden for removal and placed us on our own page in Cabo Corrientes.

Please write and ask TripAdvisor why all other Cabo Corrientes attractions are still on the Puerto Vallarta page while only the Garden was removed.

Click here to see all the details

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