-Trash Bucket Challenge

By Anita Kaltenbaugh
Photos by Marcia Brockmeyer

If you’re new to Puerto Peñasco, perhaps you haven’t visited the peninsula community at the end of Sandy Beach, called Cholla Bay. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth the short drive to check it out.

Cholla Bay was one of the earlier American fishing areas before most foreigners could even buy land down in Puerto Peñasco. Way back when non-Mexican nationals could only lease lands, they brought down trailers, built concrete block boxes and all sorts of unusual little fishing shacks. Why? They wanted to fish and boat in the World’s Aquarium and lay in the sands close to the beauty of the spectacular blue Sea of Cortez. In the late 1990’s, when the availability of Bank Trusts allowed Americans to own land, a lot of folks who became addicted to this charming seaside village, settled in and planted firmer roots. They fixed their shacks up or knocked them down and created a community of new beachfront homes, mountainside homes dangling off the cliffs of granite, and little Casitas right next to the old shacks.

Cholla Bay, surrounded by water on three sides, is as unique as a single-family community as you will find in the Mediterranean or Greece. Some have stated it is like Newport Beach in the 1960’s. Roads were never planned which adds to its charm and a phrase often used is, “Cholla Challenged”, when trying to locate a friend’s house in Cholla Bay. The old shacks sit beside the new, and the sandy roads that curve around still allow for ATV’s.

In October, a group of Cholla Bay residents banded together and became part of a social media challenge. Marcia Brockmeyer, the event’s organizer, had noticed a challenge on Facebook for a group in Hawaii, from Ocean Defender- a non-profit organization to pick up trash. Their mission: to restore a sense of love and compassion for the ocean and all its creatures using education and information to create awareness.

So Marcia got on her Facebook and with all the ice bucket challenges going on for ALS, she issued a challenge to the Cholla Community to pick up trash. (The glorious power of social media). Marcia decided to set a specific date and time for the Cholla Bay Trash Bucket Challenge,–because picking up trash has to be more fun in a group– and offer some prizes and incentives.

The group of 45 -50 met at the world famous JJ’s Cantina on the water in Cholla Bay at 8 AM. JJ’s Cantina joined in donating a t-shirt for a prize and discounts off Bloody Mary’s and drinks for the early morning risers. Marcia, who donated the other prizes and trash bags, gathered the group together and handed out the rubber gloves and bags. The task was simple: go out with your bag, pick up trash for an hour and bring it back to JJ’s Cantina where there was a large empty dumpster.

With the weather absolutely beautiful it wasn’t too much of a chore to hop in a sand rail, quad or truck and take a section of Cholla and start picking up trash. Competition’s always a good foreplay, and so there were prizes for the “prettiest trash”,” trashiest trash” and “most trash gathered”.

The results in what was less than 60 minutes, with just 45-50 people picking up, were amazing. The large dumpster was filled to over flow. Flip flops, bird carcasses, diapers and paper trash filled the bags. There were separate bags for bottles and cans which would be taken to the recycling area in Puerto Peñasco. In that short of time, Cholla looked better. Noticeably better. Every little bit helps.

Marcia Brockmeyer stated “I was thrilled that people thought it was a worthwhile event to pick up trash, and it seemed to open people’s eyes to look around and notice all the trash. We get so callused to it and now when folks take a walk they might take a bag with them.” Next year they will have the 2nd Annual Trash Bucket Challenge with more community involvement. She is planning on securing raffle prizes, and every bag or bucket will receive a raffle ticket and a chance to win a variety of local prizes.

So what are you waiting for? Challenge yourself, your neighbors, your friends and go pick up a bag or a bucket of trash in your community. Fortunately, we are blessed with outstanding Mexico weather, and it’s an event for all ages… You might amuse yourself and others how much you can accomplish in such a short time.

And if you’re reading this, and you’ve ever thrown a piece of trash on the ground or in the sea, especially here in Mexico… Stop it!! Find a trash can, challenge yourself, make the effort, every piece counts.

Let’s help keep Mexico beautiful!

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men will never gather up all the plastic and put the ocean back together again.”

— Charles Moore, Marine Researcher

“Only we humans make waste that nature can’t digest.”

— Charles Moore, Marine Researcher

“If man doesn’t learn to treat the oceans and the rain forest with respect, man will become extinct.”

— Peter Benchley, Author of “Jaws”

“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.”

— Jacques Yves Cousteau, Oceanographer