Up and Onward

Wow. I feel like so much has happened since the last time I wrote and only 2 weeks have gone by.

Since my last entry, planning for Latino Conservation Week has moved along swiftly. I am so excited about the speakers and activity leaders that will be joining us at Biscayne National Park during the LCW weekends. Colombian-Dominican photographer, Natalia Vasquez, turned in her portraits of Hispanics in the Park for my social media promotion project for LCW and I am IN LOVE with her work. Can’t show you all yet, but be sure to follow Biscayne National Park on Facebook and Instagram to see it soon!

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Last week my father was in town from Argentina and asked me to accompany him to Jamaica for the day because he needed to look at a soccer team (he’s a team director and also runs a soccer tourism company that organizes tournaments and cultural exchange programs). Naturally, I said yes. Lucky me because I had never been so I was thrilled, but one of my favorite parts of the trip was actually the flight! We flew during sunset and it was an incredible sight to see; something like a Dali painting.

IMG_4317Sunset from the sky.

Since we flew south from the Miami airport, we flew right over Biscayne Bay too, and I got to snap these beautiful pictures of the bay from above. You can see Key Biscayne, Boca Chita and all the way to Elliot Key. So neat to see all these places I’ve been talking about from the sky!

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Biscayne National Park from above. The northern boundary of the Park extends to just south of Key Biscayne (the largest island shown here). It encompasses over 40 islands of the Northern Florida Keys.

Then, after I got back from Jamaica I actually got to go out to Elliot Key for the first time! As a native Miamian, this was a huge deal for me. I participated in a torchwood planting project with the South Florida/Caribbean Network of Inventory and Monitoring of the National Park Service. The native torchwood is the main food for the endangered Schaus swallowtail butterfly, but has been depleted from many areas including Elliot Key. So, with a group of volunteers and researchers, I got to help plant over 500 torchwood trees!

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It was so amazing to see so many Hispanics in the group, too! In fact, most of us were latino, ranging from Cuba to Argentina to Venezuela. I even met another girl from Argentina who was excited to become more involved in Latino Conservation Week as well. What a special way to meet someone and have it dawn upon me that we, LHIP, interns for the Hispanic Access Foundation, are not alone in what we care about.

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Camila, from Argentina, looks out to a sparkling Biscayne Bay.

Unfortunately, the optimism of the weekend was crushed by the harshness of the week, when toxic algae blooms due to agricultural runoff caked the waterways of Eastern Central Florida.

Bullsugar.org1 Bullsugar.org2Toxic blue-green algae blooms cake the waterways of Stuart, Florida. Photos courtesy Bullsugar.org

It’s days like this that I wonder if we’ll make it and I can’t help but remember the Cree Indian proverb, “Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

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When I get to work in the morning and I see Biscayne glisten, or glow under the shadows of torrential summer clouds, I can’t help but wonder if it will be here for those that follow. Yet while the news is depressing, it is actually my greatest motivator to continue, to communicate, share, and inspire. Up and onward my friends, there is still much to be done.

Dante Fascell Visitor Center in Homestead overlooking Biscayne Bay.

With love,

Virginia

 

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