Hemispheric cloud

As the jet bumped its way over the Sierra Madre Mountains and turned for its final approach, I saw the danger that lay ahead.

Not for me, but for the struggling country below. Expecting to see clear evidence of a lush sub-tropical town running up to the ocean, I saw instead a poisonous cloud of pollution sitting above where Puerto Vallarta was supposed to be.

My initial feeling was one of surprise, since the resort town sits on the Pacific and ocean breezes tend to wash the air. But hey, this is Mexico and pollution can be seen, tasted, smelled and felt just about everywhere you go. Vallarta has unfortunately grown into a city, and metropolitan areas in Mexico tend to have a layer of air pollution, ocean or no ocean. I immediately headed north and out of it.

The locals are naturally excited about their new president, Vicente Fox, making historical changes in the country. He has six years to evolve out of a corrupt system that was in place for most of the past century. I hope that somewhere on a lengthy “to-do list” sits the problem of pollution.

Our air is not much better, but recent reports show it is improving. The advent of pollution-free cars (see “Highway to Cell” by Cosmo Garvin, page 16) is a bold step that needs immediate recognition and attention.

It could help us see Mexico in a new way.