Saturday, April 9, 2011

Politics and Waterfalls

These past couple of weeks seemed to have more than their fair share of waterfalls and politics mixing. It seems wrong that such natural sanctuaries become contentious political footballs. But that's the world we live in, I guess...

The first one I stumbled across is about government and developers against indigenous denizens over the Agua Azul Waterfalls in Chiapas, Mexico. It seems like there are desires to build up this attraction (to make it more attractive to foreigners), but it's against the wishes (possibly at the exclusion) of the indigenous people. We hope to visit these falls one day, and hopefully they figure out a compromise for this.

The second one is about a battle for water rights on the Nile River between Ethiopia and Egypt, with other interested parties in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi involved as well. A major dam project in Ethiopia is moving forward, and here the delicate balance between meeting the needs of a people versus maintaining the Nature that sustains them has to be negotiated (complicated by the fact that multiple countries are sharing the same resource). We don't know what will happen to the Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia (another place on our wish list) once all is said and done.

The third one is about a Kaua'i court ruling that the state is at fault for the deaths of two hikers who fell to their deaths near the Opaeka'a Falls. While we advocate a little adventure for waterfalling, we do stress that one must realize that Nature is not Disneyland and is inherently dangerous. The adventurer must understand the risks, take personal responsiblity for his/her own safety, respect the land, and take measures to minimize and/or mitigate those risks. As tempting as it was, Julie and I didn't go to the base of this waterfall and chance it when we were here shortly after the deaths of those two hikers.

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