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Aahhhhh, we were finally relaxing by the beach.  Beautiful weather.  Great view.  The staff came around and asked what we’d like to drink.  Now, this is R&R!

As we were sipping our drinks, a man approached us and asked how we were doing, are we enjoying our vacation, etc.  He asked if we’d be interested in snorkeling, use the waverunners, parasailing, etc.  We both like snorkeling, so we decided to book a day trip to Isla Mujeres.  We were given the following information/instructions:  we are to take a van to Cancun (an hour ride) and onto a catamaran, to sail to this island (an hour ride); don’t take any jewelry, money (everything is included in the price we are paying, including transportation, lunch and drinks) or credit cards.  Just take your bathing suit, sunscreen, and spare clothing in case you get cold.  You don’t need anything else, he assured us.  Riiiiight!

Next morning, we arrived at the dock in Cancun around 10 am. As we were waiting for our boat to arrive, two young men in uniform with badges (those stinking IDs again!) came over, unfolded a table, and addressed the people waiting to board the boats with a megaphone. In good English, they claimed that our destination is protected by the environmental groups and government to save the local ecology.  Hey, their goals are admirable.  No arguments there.  That said, the men explained that the sunscreen used by tourists are killing the coral.  All sunscreen must therefore be of a type that is biodegradable.  No exceptions.  Here’s is the catch: they claimed that there is a chance that the authorities may stop and inspect us to determine if we are using the appropriate sunscreen, emphasizing that it is important to abide by the law.  They offered to check the sunscreen we are using to make sure that we are using the environmentally correct sunscreen.  People waiting for their boats lined up to show these men their sunscreen for approval.  Guess how many people got this approval?  If you don’t have the right sunscreen, the men in uniforms have the correct one and they will sell you one.  For US$22.  They have apple-scented or strawberry-scented versions.

Later, we walked by a local pharmacy and noticed that most, if not all, of the sunscreens on sale were not biodegradable.  Sigh.  Do the locals use biodegradable sunscreen?

We want to save the environment, yes, but preferably without getting ripped off.  – S


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