The Lorax vs.The Once-ler


I don't want to be a twat!

~ quote by Banksy on a dumpster

The other day, my 10-year-old neighbor was reading The Lorax to me, while the incessant beep, beep, beep of the one antiquated grader and dump truck were working on the new airport a quarter of a mile from our house. I thought, how ironic that The Lorax pleads to save the Truffula trees from the evil Once-ler’s plan to produce and sell Thneeds, while the trabadores (workers) frantically clear-cut the proposed runway.

Can a ten-year old make the connection between the plight of the environment and economic progress in the name of tourism? For that matter, can an island of 35,000 poverty-stricken inhabitants understand that the invasion of wealthier tourists, who can afford a flight to the island, doesn’t necessarily mean economic progress…especially for the locals.

I’ve tried to warn them, “Be careful, watch out. You are going to end up being the dishwashers and maids for the foreigners who buy all your land for pennies and flip it for handsome profits.” The demise of our ‘oasis of peace’ is quickly approaching. The greedy Once-ler has destroyed Boquete, Panama, most of Costa Rica,  and Salinas, Ecuador in the name of economic progress. Is La Isla de Ometepe next?

I shudder to think what may happen in the future. Usually, I’m an optimistic kinda gal. I fight for the underdogs and take action to right the wrongs for those who cannot do it for themselves. Yet, I tread a fine line here. I am a guest in their country. I have no right to interfere in their plans to boost a flailing economy…even if I can foresee the writing on the dumpster.”You can’t eat money.”

So, I will do the one thing that I have been trained to do…EDUCATE. Slowly, I’m building a library of children’s books in Spanish on topics of environmental protection…like The Lorax. I’ll set up a small mobile library in every school on the island and train the teachers how to read to their classes, while providing activities that go with each book. Education is the key…it’s the Lorax vs. the Once-ler… the literary element of personification battling reality… the true lies of progress. It’s the only way I know how to stop the madness consuming our troubled world.

I’ve meant to link my library needs to my blog…but life on La Isla is unpredictable and other things have unintentionally taken priority. Thanks to the many people who have already donated children’s books in Spanish through my posts in the Thorntree forum of Lonely Planet, the volunteers that built an Earthbag house in my community, and my friends, family, and former colleagues in the states.

Stay tuned for my page, Ventanas del Mundo ( Windows to the World) and ways in which you can help conquer the Once-ler.

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2 thoughts on “The Lorax vs.The Once-ler

  1. This is disturbing news about the airport. The next thing you know the vultures from International Living or Escape from America or some other expat promoting group will desend and like you said people will start buying up the island. This means the people there with nothing will never have nothing but minimum wage work. Then only the wealthy will be able to buy land. The rest will have to crowd on the land of their family, if their family has any. After that crime will start, ‘when you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose…

    • Dean,

      Yes, it is disturbing, however, some of my island friends put it into a different perspective for me. They said that they don’t anticipate many changes because the people who are going to fly here, instead of take the ferry, will have less time to explore the island. Plus, they may tend to be less adventurous types. Thus, they may be less than thrilled with the lack of amenities on the island, so less likely to stay for any extended time period. I have to admit, it makes sense. We lose electricity daily, even if it’s only for 5 minutes. Sometimes island living is challenging…but that’s part of what makes it so unique. I hope they are right. Only time will tell. Thanks for your insight.

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