The Day After
After much anticipation, we finally had our island wide beach clean-up. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I think Anja described the feeling best when she compared it to throwing a birthday party in elementary school when you invite the whole class to your house, but you’re deathly afraid that no one will show.
After breakfast, we went to the marine station at a quarter to 9 with plans to prep materials before everyone arrived, but to our surprise we were greeted by a dozen boys aged 5 to 14 waiting for us on the porch. The small army yelled, “You’re late! When’s the beach clean-up starting!” We sent them off in groups with gloves and bags. As the morning progressed more people continued to emerge to help.
The first half hour was incredible with boys and girls running up with wheel barrels full of glass bottles and trash. Adults all around the island swept up and loaded down the kids who brought the garbage back to the marine station to be sorted. Some of the tourists and the US highschoolers doing a study abroad with Monkey Bay and Tobacco Caye Marine Station came out to help too. Christian opened up some coconuts for fresh coconut water. Chop and Alvin, the cook at Paradise, manned the BBQ grill. After the BBQ, Captain Coach took the kids out to South Water Caye as a treat. This morning Captain Fermin loaded up all the trash and recycling on his boat to go to the mainland. His boat, “Fully Loaded” was truly fully loaded.
Working out on Tobacco Caye, my feelings oscillate between a desire to make sweeping systemic improvements and recognizing the power of small actions. The beach clean-up was very small-scale, but it was an idea that originated in the community. We helped organize and the station paid for the supplies and some food, but it was really on the community to participate…and they did. It was fantastic to see everyone stepping in to do their part.