When you think of Mexico you don’t always think of reduce-reuse-recycle. Cozumel is different. This EcoBroker was in heaven!
As a Latin American Studies Major in College, I’m no stranger to the concept of EcoTourism. As an EcoBroker Realtor in Northern Virginia, my time in Cozumel was thrilling when I delighted in all of the sustainable concepts we encountered on our much needed vacation! When we started the descent toward the azure waters of Cozumel, the 29x9mile island Caribbean island of Mexico, my husband and I breathed a sigh of relief that we could turn off our smart phones for a while and actual take in some time for ourselves after two years of the hustle and bustle of the DC Metro area. We were not-so-quickly whisked away to our Aura Wyndham Boutique hotel on the Southern end of the Island where the open terraced reception area of native travertine faces out toward a pier that crawls out into the reef and more pristine water.
Native palms, hibiscus, and plumbego line the avenue to the lagoon like pools and more open
outdoor living space reminds the dozens of Americans that this is what it is supposed to be like to enjoy the outdoors: light sea breezes, shade from the tall palms and ventilation not from the AC, but straight off of the ocean. Along with the theme of the native plantings, locally produced honey onyx is used as decorative chandeliers and lanterns peppered here and there in the hotel- it is beautiful and it is native. More travertine is found as flooring and walls, stucco was produced locally and sustainably.
Speaking of sustainably produced items in the hotel, the food is locally harvested fruit and vegetables. The fish is all locally caught and seasonal. In the mornings, the fresh fruit comes straight from the island farms and at dinner, the artfully designed coconut bowls are taken straight from the fallen coconut that nearly missed the sunning vacationers! Throughout the hotel, there are receptacles for organic and non-organic waste to encourage recycling. The restaurant staff uses purified water from a large bottle to glasses for the guests instead of dispensing bottles (the don’t drink the water syndrome is still alive and well, but the water is not imported).
There is a very heightened sense of community in Cozumel, much like the community vibes we get in Northern Virginia in our communities with a deep and rich histories. This essence of community is felt in the safety you feel when you’re walking the streets and gathering with family in the walkable areas and in El Centro. Also, the communal van rides and sitting in close proximity to your neighbors while having a fish taco near your favorite dive shop. Back at the airport as we’re about to leave our week long stay, the note on the bathroom wall shows the love for earth and environment and community- there were images of a tree, water, and of a person. Conjuntos. It said; together. I thought this was super-cool.
When we get to the Salsa Room in Columbia Pike I’m sure I’ll hear “5, 6, 7, 8…” This would be Drew counting not-quite-in his head and trying desperately not to step on my sandal-clad toes. After our Salsa lesson in Cozumel he needs to bring what he remembers back to Northern Virginia. He will have to put a smile on his face as he multi-tasks, even if he is really thinking “I’m not pleased that I’m being forced to dance- quiero un otro cerveza, por favor.” Just like the airport wall said in Cozumel, we’re in this conjuntos- the sustainability of it all, and of course, for the dancing.