How a Mexican Lagoon Lost Its Colors

Bacalar is poised to become one of the country’s great tourist destinations—if its ecosystem can survive.

It’s hard to build a booming tourist economy atop an ecological attraction without destroying it. Some of the colonies of microbes in the lagoon are more than nine thousand years old, but they can survive only as long as the water is pure. Luisa Falcón, a microbial ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, has studied oligotrophic microbes all over the world. Swimming in the lagoon, she told me, is like going back in time four billion years—“back to the Archean,” she said. “It’s amazing how primitive these sites are.”

The death truck: how a solution to Mexico's morgue crisis created a new horror

The long read: How did a lorry carrying 273 dead bodies end up stranded on the outskirts of Guadalajara?

To their horror, they were right. Concealed behind the polar bear’s anodyne smile lay 273 decomposing corpses. Still, what they did not suspect was that it wasn’t the drug cartels who had brought this grisly cargo to their doorstep. It was the state government.

Guns, Drugs and Viral Content: Welcome to Cartel TikTok

Mexico is set to shatter another murder record, but that grim reality is nowhere to be seen on the TikTok videos that go viral by showcasing drug cartel culture.

But while some videos are still made to strike terror, others are created to show young men in rural Mexico the potential benefits of joining the drug trade: endless cash, expensive cars, beautiful women, exotic pets.