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A different Cancun 'vacation'

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 27th, 2013

courtesy photo Gordie Goodell enjoyed his time meeting with single mothers and their children in the village of Bonfil near Cancun.

The images that normally come to mind when one thinks of Cancun, Mexico during Spring Break are warm weather beaches, affluence and partying teenagers. The portion of Cancun that Cottage Grove’s Gordie Goodell and his friend Joan Durham recently visited looks nothing like the brochures for the world-renowned tourist destination. What they found in the city of 650,000 inhabitants located off of the Caribbean Sea in southeastern Mexico was anything but a tropical paradise. They saw first-hand a high degree of poverty, with single mothers trying to eke out a primitive existence.

Durham, whose father graduated from CGHS, moved back to Cottage Grove in August to be closer to her mother and daughter. For the past 12 years she has been going to Cancun every summer to work with her friend, Rossi Arrolia, whom she met on one of her first visits. Arrolia works with children and single moms to try to improve their lives. Even though there is the resort area and some of the locals can work in the tourist industry, most of the Cancun residents are not allowed to even go to the well-protected tourist areas.

“Cancun is imploding, so poverty is getting worse and the tourist trade is going south, literally,” said Durham.

One of the reasons for the poverty, besides men abandoning their families for the narcotics trade, is the lack of agriculture in Cancun. The Cancun soil consists of rock or nutritionally depleted jungle soil.

However, the seemingly hopeless situation has turned out to be an exciting opportunity.

For the complete article see the 03-27-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-27-2013 paper.

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