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Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Ciénaga de Mallorquín

February 20, 2016

Hello to everyone!

This past Saturday I went for a walk at the Ciénaga de Mallorquín. I hadn't been there yet, and had only seen a couple pictures of it. So I took a bus up north, about 8 kilometers (about 4 1/2 miles) from my apartment. In brief, it is a lagoon of the Caribbean Sea which seperates Barranquilla from the Caribbean, and which is surrounded by mangroves. I posted pictures in the photo album, just look for Ciénaga de Mallorquín in the Colombia photo album.

In the past, more than a hundred years ago, the cienega was 4 lagoons which were a part of the Magdalena River delta. Then the Bocas de Ceniza was built (1925 - 1935) (see my blog that describes the Bocas de Ceniza) and the damage began. The delta started to dry up, the mangroves started to dry up. In fact, 4 kilometers of beach degraded was has been, essentially, lost. The natural balance of the region was disrupted to the point that 2965 acres (1200 hectares)(in 1935) of mangrove forests have shrunk to 148 acres (60 hectares) in 1998. But even with this drastic reduction in land area the mangroves and cienega still have a fair amount of natural plants, animals, fish, and shellfish. On my walk alongside the mangroves I spotted a raccoon. I was unable to get a picture of it because in the time it took me to get my phone out, get the camera enabled and pointed at the critter, it had run away, into the mangrove. I also saw some cranes and a pelican during my walk.

For many years there was uncontrolled dumping of waste into the cienega, even organic waste from the stilt houses that were build alongside it. For more than 30 years there had been a dump alongside the cienega. Due to the construction of the Bocas de Ceniza there was much coastal erosion, and that erosion continues to this day. It is estimated that if this isn't brought under control the entire could disappear within 50 years. Obviously all of this has harmed the local fishery, but some local people still do fish the cienega.

The cienega lays between the Caribbean Sea, the Magdalena River, and the city of Barranquilla, giving it a unique place for any city, which should, if managed properly, bring in more tourism, especially eco-tourism.

In February 2010 the World Wetlands Day Environment Minister Carlos Costa Posada announced an investment of 35,000 million pesos for the recovery of Ciénaga de Mallorquín, which is recognized as the fifth-largest wetland. (I believe that refers to fifth largest wetland in Colombia.) "HOPE LIVES IN MALLORQUÍN" is the slogan for the resurgence of interest, and money, in restoring the cienega. Since 2010 there has been progress made, though slowly, in cleaning the water that drains into the cienega and in restoring the mangroves. For its part the government of the departamento Atlantico (a departamento is similar to a province in Canada) secured $22 billion pesos for the construction of a road from Las Flores to La Playa to Manatees. The works are according to the then president Eduardo Verano will meet all environmental standards required for the environment. Hope is reborn for the Ciénaga de Mallorquín and ecotourism projects and social recovery of the inhabitants of the cienega areas and of course Barranquilla.

If you look at google maps, google earth, or some other similar application, you can see there is a very thin sandbar that seperates the cienega from the Caribbean Sea and another even thinner strip that seperate the cienega from the river. The city has encroached on the mangroves as far as it can. We can only hope that the new city mayor has the foresight to continue pushing for the restoration of this beautiful lagoon.

My pictures are from the south shore, which has some restoration work being done, and a short dock, as you can see in the pics. I also walked on the sandbar between the sea and the lagoon and there are pictures of that area. I didn't have time to walk the entire length of the bar, which I wanted to do, but got started a bit too late. My next visit will be to walk the full length of the sandbar, and when I do I will post more pictures.

Well, that's about all for now. I do keep my website updated at least once a month, and have been posting pictures of Barranquilla in the photo album.

Till next time - Chao!

Please consider helping me help people here in Colombia. I am not a foundation or organization that will allow you to use tax-deductions for your donations, I am just a guy who is helping people improve their lives and the lives of their families. It's not easy to do alone, and there are needs that I simply cannot afford. So, if you feel inclined to help me in this journey, there are links in the right column for doing just that. Thank you.

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