Travel Day–San Jose, Costa Rica to Mexico, D.F. to Cancun

Can you really trust an airline represented by a flying cow?

The next step in my research will be in and around Akumal, Mexico, where Bagheera kiplingi is 90% vegetarian (opposed to 60% in Costa Rica). I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get some good samples for internal and external imaging, as well as DNA from bacteria that might be shared between the spiders and ants.

Akumal is on the Yucatán Peninsula, about an hour south of Cancun. Image credit:
It’s also where most photos of Bagheera kiplingi have been taken. Image credit: Erik J. Scully

My journey took me right through Mexico, D.F. also known as Mexico City, where I’d visited a few times while in college. I didn’t leave the airport, but I could smell that same old, familiar car exhaust smell. It’s like standing behind a bus just about everywhere you go, and the skyline has a distinct region where the blue sky turns brown the lower you go. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take pictures in that part of the airport, but this picture sort of gives the idea.

Image source:

This image makes it even more clear (or maybe less clear, actually–as far as the air is concerned):

Image credit: Alfredo Cottin

The reason why Mexico City has such poor air quality is mainly due to two reasons, from what I’ve heard. First, it is the world’s tenth largest urban area. Even though most Mexicans will tell you it’s #1, it’s actually behind Tokyo, Dehli, Shanghai, and even New York. Still, at number 10, all of those cars generate quite a bit of pollution. The second problem is that Mexico City sits in a valley (the Valley of Mexico), so there aren’t many opportunities for the wind to clear out all the smog (except above the mountaintops, which doesn’t really help the people below).

Thankfully, there remain much less polluted regions of Mexico, and I look forward to reaching the Yucatán, where coral sand beaches are abundant. Of course, I won’t be at those beaches, I’ll be along puddle-filled access roads with overgrown vegetation, trying not to get stung by ants.

This time around, this isn’t the Yucatán I’ll see.
I'm not going to make it to the Maya ruins, either. Too much science to do!
I’m not going to make it to the Maya ruins, either. Too much science to do!


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