These days the temperatures are pretty much 29-31 degrees Celsius each day, so any beach walking looking for treasures or to the market is usually done by 10 am or after 4 pm. We are starting to see more of the locals from Merida out in their boats and on the beach in Progreso, especially on the weekends. The contrast between the Meridians, who own most of the houses along the beach front as their summer cottages and the locals in the Chicxulub area is pretty significant. You can see locals in their small "lanchas" or skifs oaring out to check their nets while a flashy new yacht goes cruising by.
It is amazing to see how hard the fishermen work, they may paddle out to set the nets three times a day on a calm day. It takes the best of two hours to paddle out, set the nets and paddle back to the beach. Three hours later they do it all in reverse and see how many fish they have caught. Pulling the fish from the nets takes time and expertise as there can be testy crabs with pinchers and fish with sharp spines.
The locals here are very kind, they would give you the shirt off their own back if they thought you needed it more than they did. Our cuidadora or care-taker, has brought us plates of fried fish on several occasions, presented so nicely on a plate. The plate may be plastic and melted in places on the sides, but the message is very clear, she Is grateful for what she has and wants to share her good fortune with us. It warms my heart and soul.
This is a peaceful place and it has prompted me to go back to my teenage aspirations of being a "poet" and write some prose.......
A Chicxulub Afternoon
I sit here in this humble place...
this menage of green sea, blue sky and sand.
The horizon goes on forever.
Fishermen in ancient skiffs scull their way to the nets...
birds congregate, wheeling overhead, waiting for scraps.
A faint breeze, the whispers of the waves...
I am wrapped in contentedness.
Last night I put a lounge chair pad on the sea wall and lay looking at the stars for a bit. Without the bright lights of the city, they seemed so close, it's hard to believe that some of them have ceased to exist. There was a warm breeze caressing my skin and the sound of the waves curling into the sand was so soft....to me, it was perfection!
In the morning when I walked into Chicxulub for fruit at the market, I saw 30 or so boats getting ready to head out. However, this time they looked a bit different....they had compressors and hoses on board. I thought this might mean that the fishermen were going diving so I asked one of them if they were going out for "pepinos de mar" or sea cucumbers. He advised that yes, they were preparing the boats to go out the next day as the season starts then. They get good money selling the "sea cucumbers" to the Asian market, but the season is short and the penalties for harvesting them out of season is very high.
On the way back from Chicxulub I saw a tons of boats racing towards Chicxulub from the Chelem direction, they seemed to never stop!
Midmorning we left to we visit a near by local bio-reserve called El Corchito...see photos of the spring water cenotes, mangroves and the wild life, including a coatamundi!
When we got back home, the parade of boats continued. It seemed like every boat from Veracruz on down must be zooming by the house! We will try to find out if there is a specific area that the boats have to be in...it's quite a mystery! We must have seen over 200 boats while we have been at home and a friend, who walked up the beach and was here all day, says that it hadn't stopped all day!
Incredibly enough, the boat migration continued into the evening (and overnight) so when I went next door to my conversation class I asked what was up with all the boats. The story is that the fishermen, with large enough "barcas" , head to Dzilam de Bravo or Santa Clara as these are the best places to find the pepinos de mar. As the distance is so far, approximately 80 Kilometres, they stay there for the season, around three weeks and camp on the beach. We were told that most of the diving is free diving or just a hose down to the sea bottom with air from a compressor and that 3-5 fishermen end up with the bends, and have to be treated in the decompression chamber in Progreso (which can hold up to ten people in beds). Two years ago when we were here they lost one of the fishermen due to the bends. I was told that over 1000 boats make this migration twice a year...it really is something to see, there is such an urgency to their journey , the "barcos" slamming up and down on the waves, racing each other. And, it really makes us think that almost all the boats on the Mexican gulf must be racing past us to the harvesting grounds.
Tuesday morning invited us to walk down the wide expanse of beach to Progreso for a "big breakfast" at a tiny restaurant called Sol Y Mar. You can see from the picture what a delight it was!
Afterwards, Dara headed home but Andrea and I decided to stay and browse the vendors...and people watch as a cruise ship was in port. It's always interesting to watch the interactions between the American cruisers and the locals!
Some vendors set up on the Malecon.
We took a break and sat on the beach watching one very inexperienced woman on a jet ski just about take out some swimmers and another couple who fell off their jet ski, which kept in circling around them! They obviously didn't have the strap attached that pulls the key out if you fall off! A stop for a few veggies at the market led us to sit down for a fresh juice drink which ended up being so much more. We spent a delightful half hour chatting with the owner of the tiny shop and her grand daughter, helping them with English words for some of the fruits and veggies they use in their drinks and just chatting in general. Oh, yes...our delicious and nutritious drink was composed of fresh orange juice, pineapple, chaya (a spinach like leafy green), celery and nopal (cactus)...a meal in it's self!
We boarded the bus to come home and managed to get seats but along the way we picked up about 20 giggling, jostling teenagers just out of school....they are the same everywhere!
We arrived home to find Dara entertaining these two half dressed sluts....well truth be told, someone left them on our patio and he thinks we are supposed to knit clothes for them..poor things!
A sad note to the end of the week, we found out that a 42 year old fishermen has died from the bends while diving for pepinos, they couldn't get him to the decompression chamber in time. The lure of making a significant (for them) amount of money in a short amount of time is too strong and they end up taking risks that they normally wouldn't.
Thought I'd include a few shots from over the past few weeks including some of the wonderful new Museo de Maya in Merida and a few of the fun Murder Mystery we went to with neighbours.
Andrea dressed as a cat lady librarian and Dara the sleazy real estate guy
Sleazy Dara and his cheezy wife