Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


A Water Exhibit and Aztec Art

• April 29, 2010 • 3:52 PM

“El Hippo” approaches the Mexican border but on the way south learns about the Aztecs and water in separate Los Angeles exhibitions.

As the overland Voyage of the Kiri commences, I approach the Mexican border but on the way south learns about the Aztecs and water in separate Los Angeles exhibitions.

Location: At a friend’s cottage near Point Loma in San Diego. From the deck, they point out the fuzzy hills of Tijuana in the distance.

Conditions: Clouds dissipating after a light rain this morning.

Discussion: We climb a hill and BAM! We can see Mexico far away. We are in San Diego on the brink of the journey. “We” being El Hippo the silver Ford van, my sweetheart, Alyssum, who is joining us for a month, and myself.

In a way, the trip has already begun — via a few chance encounters on the drive south through Los Angeles. Banners on the side of Sunset Boulevard advertised two events that we couldn’t miss: “The Aztec Pantheon” at the Getty Villa and “Water: Our Thirsty World,” an exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Both events were free!

Click here for more Voyage of Kiri posts.

We squeezed El Hippo into the tight Century City parking structure for the “Water” exhibit. Done in partnership with National Geographic, which is running a special edition this month on the “world’s impending fresh water crisis,” the exhibit captured dramatic feelings: women in Kenya carrying 100 pounds of water daily for five hours; melting glaciers in the Himalayas causing floods in Bangladesh; water conflicts in the Middle East intensifying religious struggle.

Just when you think the problems are only afar, we were blasted with Southern California’s pipe dream: piping water from as far away as the Colorado River to turn a desert into an urban oasis. And we were reminded of the precarious situation of the Sacramento Delta, another critical water supply affected by climate change, which is becoming more fickle due to early snowpack melt and the potential for increased salt water intrusion.

No wonder people are worried. My friend Kate, who we joined for breakfast on an organic farm in Ojai, just before arriving in L.A., told us about the 4th World Water Forum held in Mexico City in 2006. “I was constructing wetlands in the Yucatan, so I was invited to come,” she said. “A lot of indigenous people heard about it, too, and came to participate. Some of them walked from very far away but were not let in.”

Water is a big deal, but especially to those who don’t have it.

What about climate change? “A Peruvian indigenous group recently visited us here in Ojai,” Kate continued. “They didn’t have a science education, but they were very clear about something. They said, ‘The climate is changing; we are trying to listen to Mother Earth, but it is harder to grow crops. Things are unpredictable.'”

I thought about Mexico, and I wondered if farmers there are experiencing similar challenges.

Just before leaving L.A., we paid a visit to the Getty Villa in Malibu for the Aztec art exhibit. It was like a lens to a brutal and magical culture. They lived in our voyage’s destination: Oaxaca and neighboring areas. The sculptures of deities and demons were crowd pleasers, but I wondered about the Florentine Codex, a huge volume compiled by a Franciscan friar capturing Aztec culture and knowledge. Aside from human sacrifices and polytheistic rituals, what might it reveal about our water and climate crisis, if anything? I committed myself to studying more Aztec culture once I arrive in Oaxaca.

After a few lovely hours in traffic, we pulled into San Diego. We are now poised to embark on the voyage — but first I have some discoveries to make. I set up a meeting with the San Diego Coastkeeper later this evening to understand the “Tijuana situation.”

Subscribe to Miller-McCune

Kristian Beadle
Kristian Beadle works with coastal conservation and eco-entrepreneurship. He is embarking on a 3,000-mile climate education and research tour, called the Voyage of Kiri, starting April 2010 from California to Oaxaca in southern Mexico. The program will focus on "how climate will affect our coastal water resources" and discovering sustainable business solutions. He is a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and recent graduate of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. For more information, see www.voyageofkiri.com .

More From Kristian Beadle

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 24 • 4:00 PM

We Need to Normalize Drug Use in Our Society

After the disastrous misconceptions of the 20th century, we’re returning to the idea that drugs are an ordinary part of life experience and no more cause addiction than do other behaviors. This is rational and welcome.


October 24 • 2:00 PM

A Letter to the Next Attorney General: Fix Presidential Pardons

More than two years ago, a series showed that white applicants were far more likely to receive clemency than comparable applicants who were black. Since then, the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a study, but the pardons system remains unchanged.


October 24 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, Middle School Math Teacher?

Noah Davis talks to Vern Williams about what makes middle school—yes, middle school—so great.


October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.