The Shame of Escobilla
For 90 million years the turtles have massed to lay their eggs. This time they gathered for their own mass murder…
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People often speak of holy places—areas that are awesome or harsh or tranquil—but you seldom hear of a place that is evil. I know of one. It is located on several acres of low tropical hills, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The hills are green and there is a view of ocean, and these acres represent evil in a very pure form.
Here the senses are assaulted. An odor of death and putrescent meat rises up from these hills. Animal bodies are piled four and five deep, left to rot and dry under a blazing sun. As many as 50 vultures pick at the purple and black meat. They work with a joyless efficiency, steadying the carcasses with their talons as they yank at the soft flesh with their powerful beaks. The weight of all those bodies rotting generates an intense heat, so that when a breeze springs up, the air becomes artificially warm, heavy with death and decay. Standing in the path of such a breeze, one is left feeling fouled, hopeless, unholy.
Everywhere there is the constant droning of flies. The air is black with them. Working among the vultures and the flies in the awful stench are the most unfortunate people of the local villages: there is one man with a horribly contorted spine, another whose right eye is a mass of scar tissue. These men stumble over the rotting reptilian bodies like sinners confined to some virulent lower level of hell.
The final evil is there also. Not only are mature animals slaughtered and left to rot in the sun, there is also an immense pile of eggs—the next generation—and these, mixed with the entrails of their mothers, are rotting too. The entire pile is covered with maggots, a heaving mass of hissing malevolence.
That pile and those rotting bodies may signal the last time sea turtles will mass on the beach at Escobilla to lay their eggs. The carnage is being carried on despite the good intentions of the Mexican government. The motive is simple and timeless. It is sheer greed.