“It is important to create collaborative swarms/hives, in which everyone, like the bees, is playing their part. While our actions may be small, they are leading towards a grand vision. We are all planting the seeds for a beautiful future. We are pollinating the possibility of a new reality where we can all live and share our collective wisdom.”
~ Alejandro Beltrán Cordero
Alejandro & Lucas
In the distance, bird calls are syncopated with the sounds of laughter. Alejandro and Lucas sit together at the small square table, both basking under the sunlight that filters through the pink curtains. While Alejandro lives alone with his feline companion/guardian, his house is a hive of artists, farmers, activists, and musicians. Much like migrating birds, creatives of all forms and ages take refuge in Alejandro and Lucas’s home.
Unlike Lucas, who spends most of his day sleeping under the sun, Alejandro is always in motion. Like a buzzing stingless bee, he flies from movement to movement, project to project, weaving together networks of environmental action.
Alejandro Beltrán Cordero lives in Coatepec, Veracruz, a city that straddles the mountains that overlook the Gulf of Mexico. The city is in the Cloud Forest and is often submerged in the mist that rises from the sea.
We find ourselves at the foot of Coatepetl, the mountain of serpents, a sacred mountain. On one side we have the Cofre del Perote, heading towards the state of Puebla. On the other side we have the Pico de Orizaba. These are the tallest mountains of the region, and we depend heavily on the Pico de Orizaba for the region’s water. Likewise, the Cofre del Perote is responsible for supplying water to the urban centers of Xalapa, the Port of Veracruz, Coatepec, the municipality of Xico and part of Teocelo.
The water’s journey defines the movement of populations, money, and ecosystems throughout the watershed, known as “La Cuenca de la Antigua.”
The water that arrives here comes from the ocean. It moves towards the mountains in the form of clouds and is sequestered by the Cloud Forest. They call it horizontal rain. When this humidity, these water droplets, find the tree leaves, they are captured and guided or directed to the forest floor. Since we have this long chain of mountains before we arrive at the high plateau, the water remains there, nourishing mountainsides, and filling the rivers.
Once the water meets the gulf, it climbs to the heavens, the heat pushing the water drops back to continue their endless cycle, their circular journey.
From agroecological farmers to "River Sentinels," the inhabitants of the Antigua Watershed are fighting to protect their water and territory. However, according to popular belief, they aren't the region's only water guardians. Follow the link below to discover Alejandro's encounters with the Chaneques (water spirits).
The Storyteller and the Bees
Alejandro Beltran Cordero is a storyteller, or more accurately put, a weaver of stories. He writes/recites tales of all shapes and colors, infusing his care for "mother earth" in every syllable. Alejandro's role as an environmental activist/storyteller is the culmination of a long twisting journey (countless stories could themselves be written about Alejandro's odysseys).
Alejandro began this voyage as a healer, an art he first learned from his grandmother. He grew up in the cement forest of Mexico City, a place where it is impossible to view the stars. Through the river of his life, Alejandro learned numerous healing practices (Qi Gong, Acupuncture, Temascales, etc.). Through these activities he became aware that a human's health is intrinsically connected with the health of the planet. It is in following these currents that Alejandro first met the native stingless bees.
The Meliponas are the native bees not just of the Turtle Island/Abya Yala, but all tropical regions. They are in charge of pollinating the native plants. All the plants that have existed here for millennia grew and flourished alongside the Melipona. Without the Meliponas, the native plants would disappear. Without the native plants we would lose the Meliponas. They are vital members of the region’s ecosystem.
As Alejandro began to explore collaborating with bees for medicinal uses, he was rapidly drawn into the world of health benefits offered by the Meliponas.
We know, from long ago, that the Melipona honey has medicinal uses. It is especially known to heal problems of eyesight, but it has also been used during childbirth. The honey, just like the bees’ pollen and propolis, was used to help anemia and other chronic ailments. The pre-Hispanic nations used the bees to help cure illnesses of the heart, respiratory infections, intestinal ailments, to heal open wounds, and skin conditions. Now, we are currently striving to recover the honey’s many uses.
Alejandro quickly became involved in numerous campaigns to protect these native pollinators. When speaking to a group of school children, deciding what would inspire the future generation to venture into this struggle, Alejandro began transposing the buzzing of bees into stories. These stories became the backbone of many educational campaigns and continue to inspire people to take on the age-old tradition of native bee keeping.
Click bellow to find one of Alejandro’s stories, where he describes how Grandmother Pipitontli (the grandmother of the mist) bestowed this vital tradition on the next generation.
Planting the Seeds of Change
Currently Alejandro is striving to connect people and movements, in order to create a tapestry of regenerative change. He buzzes between protest encampments, concerts, environmental conferences, classrooms, constantly meeting new people and creating a broader network of environmental action.
I want to continue to connect people and create environmental awareness. Slowly, we are gaining consciousness. There are many young people who are returning to the land, looking at the land and nature with fresh eyes. I think my job is to weave, weave these nets of connections between people who are interested in protecting Mother Nature.
Alejandro (with Lucas’s moral support) will continue planting these seeds of change with each story, sharing them with people he meets on the street and with organizations continents away. He is confident that our swarm of resistance and hope can create a better world.