Since 2001, Mexico started a program called PROMAGICO. This program is about evaluating certain characteristics from a selected group of towns in the country and classify them as “magic towns” in order to increase the tourist flow in the area and preserve the ‘local culture’.
To be named a Magic Town, small villages have to meet qualifications: number of habitants, size of the town, accessibility, indigenous culture, Spanish legacy, preservation of traditions and importantly documenting and celebrating Mexican historical events.
Very close to where I live, there is a small surf town recently awarded with the ‘Magic Town’ status called Sayulita. Sayulita is already one of the most popular destinations on the Mexican Pacific coast.. It is a colorful little town with beautiful rustic streets, arts and crafts, markets, restaurants, nightlife and one of the most popular beaches for swimming and surfing. It also has “Playa Los Muertos” which literally means “beach of the dead”, which is reached through a local cementery.
Sayulita has become more popular among people from USA, Canada and Europe. In 2016, Sayulita’s tourism increased 123% in 2016 over 2015. Many of these small towns have problems with large growth and do not have the infrastructure to handle it. A perfect example is Sayulita: The result of all the growth and the inhabitants was the sewage treatment center could not handle the ‘waste matter’. We now have “black waters” being spilled into the ocean! This is causing a lot of surfers and swimmers to get very sick.
Earlier this year, an outbreak of a virus called norovirus invaded Sayulita, infecting hundereds of locals and tourists every week and it spread quickly! It causes diharrea and vomiting and it spreads by contact, touching a contaminated surface, eating contaminated food, or swimming in contaminated water. It has affected businesses and generated bad reviews for Sayulita.
Fortunately there are organizations such as Pro-Sayulita and Eco-Sayulita, who collected over $5,000 USD to pay for a study to understand the black water situation in Sayulita and come up with a 5-step plan to deal with this problem. (Via Sayulita Life)
- New sewage and rain water drains and pumps
- Increase of the size and lowering level of the main sewage pipe
- Lowering level of the sewage pipe receptor
- Placing of a concrete structure to protect pipes and allow traffic across the river
- Building of a pedestrian bridge over the river
It is estimated that the whole plan will cost around $550k USD. Part of these fund have already been distributed between local, state and federal institutions, but they will also need private funding. Pro-Sayulita will fund some of it and collect the remaining from individuals.
I have been to Sayulita many times. It is a beautiful little town with a lot to do, but last high season you could actually smell the waste. You could see people swimming between the black waters in the ocean. Something needs to be done quickly. Sayulita will continue to grow and infrastructure needs to keep up with the growth. I will keep myself informed on the progress and I’ll post some updates!