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April 12, 2017

The rules we live by…..or not !
English translation of Colonos by-laws
being presented over next 22 issues 

By Staff
The Pelican Free Press is pleased to present, over the next 22 editions, an English translation of the complete Colonos by-laws, unedited to maintain the document’s original intent in a translated version.

…OR NOT – Parking rules ignored by some – no parking, at left, and cart parked in space reserved for cars, at right. (Staff Photo}

Our goal in parceling the somewhat lengthy narrative into a series of 22 segments is to help readers familiarize themselves with the “rules we live by…..or not” as one might savor a 5-course meal – a little bit at a time.

This series is in response to intermittent requests from English speaking stakeholders. They seek a basic understanding of how Puerto Aventuras is administered and how it, along with the Puerto Aventuras Trust, provides for maintenance of its infrastructure and security in accordance with municipal, state and federal laws and agreements.

We suggest readers copy and paste each week’s segment to build their own full copy of the by-laws they are expected to embrace in a “society by agreement.”

The series will be found at the end of each edition under the tagline “Rules to live by….. or not.”

The Pelican reminds readers the “Mail Bag” section is available for commentary limited to 400 words and free of personal attacks on neighbors and/or officials. Hopefully, we can disagree without being disagreeable, particularly in such a pleasant setting. The Pelican reserves the right to edit and/or discard comments that do not conform to its policy.

Book look…
Akumalian Rhett Schober co-authors
Yucatan fly-fishing book for the ages

DOING, THEN SHOWING others how to land the beauties on the Yucatan is guide Rhett Schober with an envied catch in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Adds highlights of Peninsula’s
captivating history and geography

By Staff
Akumal resident Rhett Schober, a fly-fishing guru and guide along the generous Mexican Caribbean, has co-authored a new bible for the fly-fishermen who religiously practice the sport in Maya country.

A first look at the 208-page manuscript “Fly Fishing the Yucatan” reveals you are in for a treat if you’re hooked on history and street-smart traveling as well as fishing.

It’s a nuts and bolts compendium of details on what specific rods, lines, reels and flies will serve you best, of tested “how-to” plans for walking a flat, to the particulars of  landing prize fish in complex situations.

With comfort, and ease

The book doesn’t stop at fishing. A successful trip for any reason is one that is preceded by the accumulation of useful information about new surroundings, culture, currency exchange, licenses, seasons, safety, housing, transportation and communication, areas in which Schober, owner of Akumal Villas rentals and Akumal Fly Fishing, is well versed.

This easy-reading text on fly-fishing the Yucatan’s ample larder of snook, bonefish, permit, and small tarpon to name a few, is also a jeweled  primer on Yucatan history and geography that makes good reading after a day’s exciting fishing.

It digs back 400 million years to the formative cradle of bonefish, to the meteor strike in the Gulf some 60 million years ago that may have exterminated the dinosaurs. Fast forward to the lonely island just 70 years ago that harbored only three humans caring for coconut groves and is now Cancun’s popular Hotel Zone.

Then down to the border with Belize for excellent fishing in the embrace of Mayan history there and along the waters of the entire peninsula.  It is fascinating reading for its fishing lessons and for its Yucatan and Mayan history and travelogue of practical needs,tips and what to see.

Do-it-yourself help

Lead author Rod Hamilton, who also wrote the critically acclaimed “Do It Yourself Bonefishing” and runs the DIYFishing.com website, notes “One example of a successful fly-fishing vacation is Akumal Fly Fishing operated by resident expert Rhett Schober. He cut his baby teeth in the flowing waters of Colorado and sharpened them along the Riviera Maya coastline for more than two decades perfecting his skills and helping fishing vacationers land some prizes.” The experiences of guides Schober and Nick Denbow contributed heavily to the book’s content.

Hamilton writes that Schober arrived on the Maya Riviera as a college student to study the Mayan culture but spent much of his time pursuing his passions of fly-tying and fishing while exploring the shoreline wilderness teeming with the sea’s gifts. and making note of the hot spots. Read the book, available at Amazon, at your leisure then get more information at www.Akumalflyfishing.com

Akumal swim-with-turtles activity
reopens in time for holiday week

By Staff
Swimming with the turtles in Akumal Bay has resumed per orders of several federal and state authorities who had ordered the area closed to swimming earlier this year to address access difficulties.

Enjoy, but please do not disturb.

The bay, a certified refuge, is now open under new regulations designed to protect the green, hawksbill and loggerhed turtles that inhabit the area from excessive exploitation by humans.

New rules include limiting service providers to 12 swimmers each, use  of biodegradable sunscreen only, time limits of about an hour, quiet entrance and exit from the water and proper snorkeling equipment that includes short fins only and no waist or arm floating devices among other rules to be explained by providers.

Ballet Finale…

SWAN SONG – Cast of Copelia Ballet Co.’s production of “Swan Lake” in its finale at the Puerto Aventuras Golf Course outdoor venue March 31. Several lead dancers are from Puerto Aventuras. The event attracted an estimated 200 viewers. (Gayle Sandholm Photo)

The departure of snowbirds for the summer has led to the end of Bingo games held every other week at the Latitude 20 Restaurant, says owner Jim Stubbs. There won’t be any games on Easter Sunday but, Stubbs said, Trivial Pursuits  will resume the following Sunday, April 23, at 4 p.m. Stubbs also announced the Sunday events that began last year have raised 102,400 pesos for various charities in the Poblado, or about $5,500 USD…

ALSO HAPPENING – Crepes and Gelato at Jessie’s on the Centro Walk. Stop by and try.

Dates of note in April… In Mexico – Heroic defense of Veracruz against US occupation, April 21; Children’s Day, April 30;   In the US – Persian Gulf War ends, 1991, April 6; Religious: Palm Sunday, April 9; Passover, April 10; Good Friday, April 14, Easter, April 16.

RECYCLING CALENDAR DATES FOR 2017

 

Come and gone…

…IN QUICK ORDER – Strong southeast winds early last week deposited substantial sargassum along Fatima Bay just as snowbirds began exiting Puerto Aventuras for the season, leaving empty beach chairs behind. Northerly winds by Friday and hard-working crews cleared Omni Beach for Easter week vacationers. Deposits were worse in Playa del Carmen where the sargassum fouled some boat lines. (Staff Photo)

Crowd complains over lack
of information about car plates 

Move afoot for 4-year replacement, not 3

By Staff
In its March 22 edition, the Pelican Free Press notified its more than 1200 free subscribers of the March 31 deadline for getting the discount on car plate re-registrations and, also, that the actual plates had arrived for distribution.

Evidently, readers took heed for there were no complaints addressed to the Pelican like there were on March 31 when hundreds of people formed several lines outside the registry of Motor Vehicles located on Calle 1 Sur and Avenida 15 in Playa del Carmen Centro.

One major complaint heard there was that the Secretariat of Finance and Planning did not prepare sufficient news advisories to alert drivers of the pending deadline and the receipt of plates.

Guard was misinformed

Instead, there had earlier been misinformation by a guard at the registry who told some people there intending to make payments that the actual plates would not arrive until April, which is when the higher price kicks in.

While some people pay early in the year and return later to get the plates, others prefer to wait until the plates arrive to make payment and receive the plates in one visit. Why plates arrive so late mystifies observers.

Now there is a proposal before authorities to extend the plate life to four years instead of three. The plates, incidentally, are manufactured by a private company that bids for the work, debunking the notion they might be made by prisoners.

Nature Watch…
Vote against dolphinariums
blocked by federal legislators
Another vote attempt expected next week

By Staff
A  movement to close dolphinariums in Mexico morphed into a political zoo last week during heated debates and parliamentary procdedures  among federal legislators in Mexico City representing various parties, causes and opinions.

REMEMBER THIS, a kiss isn’t just a kiss. It’s a playful link to understanding different kinds of life found at Dolphin Discovery. (File Photo)

The fracas has fed into a rumor circulating here for a while that the dolphin pools would eventually be closed and replaced by a marina and that reproduction of the specie in captivity had already been stopped.

“That’s not correct,” said veterinarian Dr. Roberto Sanchez  Okrucky of Dolphin Discovery and a resident of Puerto Aventuras.

Dr. Okrucky witnessed the debate between the country’s Green Ecologist Party (PVEM), which supports a bill phasing out dolphinariums on behalf of  animal rights groups, and several other parties in opposition including PRI and PAN.

Dr. Roberto Sanchez Okrucky is optimistic the dolphin pools here will remain for many years.

Last week’s thrust for a vote was stymied by a mass walkout of those in opposition, denying a quorum for a majority needed to pass in the 500-member legislative chamber. “Another vote will be attempted next week,” Dr. Okrucky said, noting that he would be returning to Mexico City to lobby against the measure.

“This isn’t about the animals,” he said this week after returning from Mexico City. “It’s about politics.”

He would not venture a prediction of next week’s vote but noted that in any event, closing the dolphinariums could take 20 years under the possible rule of “last generation”, meaning all current 300-plus aquarium animals in Mexico – 22 here – would have to die in captivity to make way for closure. He also raised the probability of  the issue going before the courts if necessary.

The rumor here  of imminent closure is misinformed, the doctor said. Other issues besides the fate of the animals are also being considered, including the loss of 2000 nationwide jobs and 13,000 indirect jobs. Dolphin Discovery in Puerto Aventuras directly employs 100.

LEARNING about manatees while feeding them lettuce in a clean environment under strict federal rules.

The dolphinariums are tightly regulated by  federal law known as NOM 135, Dr. Okrucky explained. General manager Guillermo Lobo said federal operating rules are many and strict concerning animal health and welfare, to the point the dolphins generally live longer than those in the wild.

Puerto Aventuras developer and Arq. Roman Rivera Torres, asked about the rumor this week, said, “I am aware of the facts  and don’t believe it (closure) will go that far.” However, he conceded that “the topic is in a different sphere,” referring to the national political arena.

While the Green Ecologist Party (PEVM) wants to free all aquatic mammals, the National Action Party (PAN) says the proposal would expose the animals born in captivity to near-certain death in the wild, eliminate thousands of dolphinarium jobs nationwide, stall research beneficial to the animals and end an iconic tourist attraction that delivers positive economic results  for a questionable cause they feel requires more analysis. 

The Roundup…

Early hurricane forecast  by Conagua, Mexico’s water commission, estimates the formation of 13 Atlantic tropical storms, six of them of hurricane force for the 2017 hurricane season June 1 to November 30….  

A battalion of 600 Mexican Army soldiers has arrived in northern Quintana Roo to help put a lid on the rising crime rates in Cancun and, to a lesser degree, in Playa del Carmen. Expect to see them riding in their trucks or stationed at gasoline stations and other lookout points such as the south 307 filtro they manned last week.

The presence of the well-trained soldiers is expected to help local police forces turn the tide on warring drug gangs that have gotten out of control, say local authorities. They also expressed gratitude for the federal help over the busy Easter holiday season…

Several businesses were sanctioned by the Puerto Aventuras Property Owners Association board (Colonos) last week reportedly for their part in a main gate incident on March 29 that resulted in several blocked resort entrance lanes for about two hours…

The Logo Shop   and activity center formerly housed across from the Omni Hotel has moved to the Information Center building on Bahia Xcacel …

Dark soil and tire tracks from dump trucks along with unpleasant odors are tainting some community streets, reports an observer who wished the Colonos would do something about it…

The newspaper “Norte” in Ciudad Juarez closed its doors last week after 30 years of publishing following the murder of three journalists there in March. The ownership said reporting the news had become a high-risk profession. The publication, as are many others internationally, was aslo having financial problems…

Coming in May

Thirty canoes manned by 300 people will cross from Xcaret park off Highway 307 to Cozumel on May 26 to commemorate the sacred Maya crossings. The canoes will depart at 5:30 a.m. There will be free admission to watch the spectacle at the park. Spectators for the free event will not be allowed to remain in the park after the event, but tickets will be available for those who wish to remain…

US firms will continue building
in Mexico despite Trump threats

American manufacturers will continue to build plants and jobs in Mexico despite Trump threats of high tariffs on their products. The reason, noted in the International Business Times two weeks ago, is that pressure to cut costs via cheap labor is greater than Trump’s tax threat.

While Trump took credit for an $850 million jobs and plant investment in the US by Ford, that decision was made in 2015, before he became president.

Scores of firms are heading south to Mexico including Illinois Tool Works going to Ciudad Juarez, Rexnard Corp. moving 350 jobs from Indianapolis to Monterrey, Mexico. Also, Caterpillar from Joliet, IL. to Monterrey, Mexico, among others.

US manufacturing jobs dropped 0.3 percent in January from the year before while similar jobs in Mexico rose 3.2 percent at the same time. Observers have noted that automation is also replacing manufacturing jobs.

The Mail Bag…

Virtuoso’s gift appreciated

Dear Editor:

I and many other fortunate neighbors in this beautiful community wish to thank musician extraordinaire Arlindo Silva for his generosity in providing an incredible evening of music in support of our local Red Cross.

His enormous energy and talent, along with his fellow artists, provided not only a memorable evening but extended the vital services of our local Red Cross for another year through donations to the event.  Bravo!I certainly hope he will give us another “excuse” in the very near future to enjoy his music together! Many thanks.

Signed/Hannah Friedman

 

The rules we live by…..or not!”

First consideration:”What’s in a name? 

Page 1 of 22:

BY-LAWS, CHAPTER 1

OF THE NAME

ARTICLE 1.- The Civil Association is called Association of Dwellers, Owners and Beneficiaries of Puerto Aventuras, Civil Association.
ARTICLE 2.– The Association’s address is at the Puerto Aventuras Dovelopment, in the Municipality of Cozumel, State of Quintana Roo, however it may designate conventional addresses as it seems convenient and may open branch offices anywhere in the Mexican Republic.
CHAPTER II

OF THE NATIONALITY

ARTICLE 3.– The Association of Dwellers, Owners and Beneficiaries of Puerto Aventuras A.C., is Mexican and is subject to the Mexican Laws and Courts. Every foreigner who at the time of its incorporation or at any later time, acquires an interest or participation in the Association, is considered by this very fact as a Mexican in regard to the same, and it shall be understood that he/she agrees not to invoke the protection of his/her Government, or else, in case of default to this agreement, forfeit said interest or participation in favor the Mexican Nation.
CHAPTER III

OF THE TERM

ARTICLE 4.– The term of the Association shall be of ninety-nine years, counted from the date of signature of the Constitutive Deed. A fiscal year for the Association will be a calendar year, counted from January lst. to December 3lst.
                                           CHAPTER IV 

                   OF THE ASSOCIATION’S PURPOSE

ARTICLE 5.– The Association of Dwellers, Owners and Beneficiaries of Puerto Aventuras, A.C., is a non-profit organization and shall remain out of any religious or political problem or  issue, and shall not allow within it any religious, social or racial discrimination.

ARTICLE 6.– The purpose of the Association is to group the Dwellers, Beneficiaries and Promissor Beneficiaries of real properties located in the Puerto Aventuras Development with no distinction of race, nationality or creed, in order to pursue the following objectives:
(To be ontinued)

(Ed. Note: When founded, Puerto Aventuras was in the municipality of Cozumel and, with Playa del Carmen, became the municipality of Solidaridad in 1993.)

The summer monthly schedule begins with our next edition for May.

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our weekly high-season schedule is 10 a.m. on Mondays and the 25th of the month for our summer schedule. Thank you. Disclaimer: The Pelican Free Press is not responsible for content and/or claims made on sponsor web sites or social media links.

The end – Previous edition below

Early Edition: April 1, 2017

Several vans refused entry
at main gate in contract feud

DIRECTING SLOW MOVING traffic at the main gate Wednesday when several vans were refused admission and blocked both commercial entrance lanes for nearly two hours. (Staff Photo)

Colonos Chair Jorge Kaufer takes charge
to end gate standoff  before it ‘gets ugly’ 

By Staff

Several vans serving commercial boating interests operating out of the Puerto Aventuras marina arrived at the main gate just around sunrise last Wednesday as they have done for years.

This time it was different.

Main gate guards refused to let them through, idling the vans for nearly two hours and effectively blocking use of the several commercial entrance lanes. “We’re not blocking the gates,” said an employee of one of the companies. “They are not letting us through.”

Colonos Board Chairman Jorge Kaufer appeared at the scene at about 9 a.m. as tow trucks reportedly awaited orders, he said, and diffused the standoff. “I took the responsibility to cancel the operation,” he said, and to let the vans enter. “It was affecting too many people,” going shopping at Chedraui or trying to get to work.

In the ‘out’ gate

Outside the gate were small clumps of people standing among vehicles waiting to enter. The guards began to allow other commercial vehicles access through the “out” lane when available. A municipal police truck was parked nearby, the officers observing the activity and in some cases helping the guards maintain a flow of traffic. They took no other action as the crowd maintained its composure.

Employees of several commercial boating businesses using the marina were seen standing by the vans discussing the situation. Traffic whistles could frequently be heard from animated guards waving annoyed drivers through the logjam.

Knots of men were scattered nearby, some from the Municipal Delegation having apparently serious discussions. There were reporters from several newspapers taking photos and talking into their cell phones or recorders. A large group of construction workers waited in the shade of trees outside the gate.

One Colonos official earlier opined that this could have been avoided if the parties in the dispute talked to each other instead of talking past each other.

Alerted to stoppage

The gate closure wasn’t a surprise. A group of commercial boaters in a contract disagreement with the marina ownership had been informed by the Colonos last week that vehicles carrying customers to them would not be allowed to reach boating services due to operating without a contract and would be stopped at the gate beginning March 29.

The Colonos, which has operational jurisdiction over Security, was requested by marina ownership to invoke Article 18 of the Colonos bylaws, to wit: “Entry access is restricted to people who are not residents or owners of real estate within the developments (sic), or those who do not have the respected authorization.”  Interpretation of the bylaw is in contention as well as are some of the private matters between marina ownership and aggrieved commercial entities.

Asked after an hour at the scene what would become of the stalled vans, Security Chief Luis Espinosa, concern etched on his face, replied: “No comment.”

Chairman ends standoff

Kaufer arrived at about 9 a.m. and ordered a pass-through for the vans and said he “canceled the operation. It was a mess,” he said.

Consensus over the ongoing dispute among some ex-pats reflects disappointment that the parties could not have found harmony before tainting the community’s image, confounding business plans for the day and annoying some visitors.

At noon, two catamarans of one of the companies were at the dock. A crewman  on board said there wasn’t a morning excursion, but would be one in the afternoon. By about 10:30 a.m., several fishing boats were seen leaving the marina, a typical scene on a pleasant day in Puerto Aventuras.

The dispute has coincidentally given rise to discussions among some concerned stakeholders for an impartial public panel of volunteers to quietly offer to help settle  damaging disputes and maintain the community’s paradisical image.

The future course of the disagreement apparently remains in limbo. Boaters said they want to sit at the table and talk. The marina ownership spokesman did not wish to comment. Both sides of the issue have criticized the Pelican Free Press for biased and/or insufficient reporting.

CARS, PEOPLE AND BOATS were temporarily idled at the main gate and marina Wednesday over a contract feud. (Staff Photos)

 

Play Gringo Bingo at Latitude 20

Bingo is coming up at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday, April 2, at Latitude 20 Restaurant with proceeds going to the poblado Community Center. Come join the fun, says owner Jim Stubbs…

Spanish classes taught by Maestra Gloria Contreras are under way at the Latitude 20 Restaurant. Beginners class from 9 to 10 a.m. and advanced class from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact her at cel 984-108-3517 for more information…

Soccer players aged 15 to 50+ are invited to play on the informal resort team Sundays, 9 to 11 a.m., at the Puerto Maya sports complex field. The resort team, wearing red and black shirts, has informal fun games with a poblado team. The field is in back of the Oxxo store on the main entrance road that begins at Chedraui’s…

Dates of note in April… In Mexico – Heroic defense of Veracruz against US occupation, April 21; Children’s Day, April 30;   In the US – April 1, April Fools DayPersian Gulf War ends, 1991, April 6; Religious: Palm Sunday, April 9; Passover, April 10; Good Friday, April 14, Easter, April 16.

The Mail Bag

Please drive with care, courtesy

Dear Editor and Neighbors:

It is our belief that we are all blessed to live in such a lovely, safe and beautiful haven as Puerto Aventuras.

Like all residential communities however, there is a direct relationship between how each individual contributes to the community as a whole and the level of harmony that exists within that community.

Over the years the number of us who live on this street and the amount of traffic on our street has multiplied by several times.

There are many neighbors with small children, elderly folk, and pets and as we know there are no sidewalks.  That is why, several years ago, we campaigned vigorously for Colonos to install speed bumps (topes) to help control speeds.

SAFE, AND SOUND – New Colonos staffers keeping Puerto Aventuras safe and sound are, from left, deputy security chief Gabriel Vazquez Lopez, operations manager Ing. Jaime Ruiz and veteran security chief Luis Espinosa at the recent food festival. (Staff Photo).

Unfortunately a few neighbors and visitors are totally ignoring the speed bumps, failing to slow down at all for them, and in more general terms driving at speeds that are much faster than is safe for an entirely residential area.  In our opinion it is only a matter of time before we suffer a tragedy and someone or someone’s pet is severely injured or killed by a speeding vehicle.

We do not want to be forced into installing more severe speed controls and we certainly do not want to be forced into making reports of any and all vehicles that either fail to slow down for speed bumps or drive at excessive speed on Caleta Yalku… but make no mistake about it, we are totally committed to protecting the toddlers, children, pedestrians and pets on this street.

We would like to appeal to your sense of community and decency to please limit your speed when driving in Puerto Aventuras in general and Caleta Yalku specifically and would like to thank you for taking the time to read this communication.  Please feel free to share and discuss with your neighbors.

ACCIDENTS DO HAPPEN over the years even in the resort.

We have set-up an email address where you are free to comment or make suggestions concerning this topic: callecaletayalku@gmail.com

Signed/Concerned residents of Caleta Yalku

Nature Watch…

Florida pelican surprises old pal

at chance Puerto Aventuras reunion

By Paamul Jack
On a pleasant Sunday afternoon, having recently returned to Florida from wintering in the Bahama Islands aboard Mirage, my 36′ catamaran sailboat, I enjoyed a long walk – on solid ground – from Burnt Store Marina to a favorite local fishing spot. Walking on “Terra Firma”, after many months on a bouncy sailboat, reminded me of Martin Eden, in Jack London’s book (by that name), who felt the earth wobble under him, after returning from long sailing trips.

When I arrived at the bridge over the river-like inlet, several avid fishing-freaks were still casting their bait down from both sides of the bridge. Being a nature-lover, I also enjoyed watching the many gulls and pelicans that were either floating nearby or perched on the bridge railings, hoping for a snack.

One by one, as the sun slowly approached the horizon, the fishermen gathered their rods and buckets, and left the bridge. So did the pelicans.

But as I was about to depart myself, I noticed a lone young pelican in the water below behaving strangely. He kept moving his long beak violently from side to side, then flapped his wide open wings frantically again and again, but was unable to become airborne. It became clear to me that he was either badly injured or firmly entangled by something.

I walked to the end of the bridge, trying to find a way down the treacherous slope to the river, for a closer look. Half way down, the last fisherman on the bridge shouted to me:”What’ ya’ doin’ man? That river is crawling with alligators!”

Once at the riverbank, I could easily see what was preventing the pelican from taking off – and what was urging him to try so desperately to escape.

A large fish hook, still connected to a tangled fishing line in the distance, had pierced right through the pelican’s beak, making it impossible for him to fly away. At the same time, two good-size alligators where eying him from close proximity.

When motionless, the alligators would slowly float towards him together, but as soon as the bird flapped his wings wildly, sensing the impending attack, the gators would back off.

It became clear to me that without help the pelican’s fate will be a horrible death within minutes. I equally reasoned with myself at the moment that seabirds are within alligators’ natural diet, and that man has no right to meddle with nature’s food-chain. Yet, it didn’t seem fair to allow a fisherman’s mishandled hook to be the perpetrator in the premature death of an innocent young pelican.

I took off my shoes, folded my shorts up as high as I could and, keeping an eye on the gators, I entered the water. The pelican now turned towards me, and the look in his eyes seemed as if he understood my intended mission. As I slowly advanced, both alligators, without retreating, were watching my every move.

Owing to my previous experience with Florida alligators, I was not overly concerned about being attacked by them, and their demeanor left no doubt as to their real target.

Some years earlier, prior to my sailing days, I rented a small dingy for a few hours of fishing  on lake Okeechobee. At about midday, the hot Florida sun and high humidity called for a break. I tossed the small anchor overboard a short distance from shore and jumped in for a 15 minute swim. Back on the boat, while drying off, I noticed that the shore was covered with a strange layer of mostly gray and green colors, as far as the eye could see. Curious, I came closer, only to discover, to my astonishment, that I was looking at hundreds of alligators, young and old, nearly on top of each-other, basking in the sun. It seemed a miracle to me that I was in the water for so long only a few yards from them – without having been slashed to pieces.

Be it a blessing or a curse, the experience eased my fear of alligators.

Now, I was not really sure whether I would be able to free the pelican from the fish-hook, but I was fascinated and relieved to see that his reaction to my approach was in contrast to his tumultuous response to the alligators. Not only did he stay calm as I came within touching distance, but he actually seemed to welcome my advance. He allowed me to quickly grab the end of his beak and hold on to it while I labored at yanking out the metal hook.  After several minutes of intense effort, it became clear that the only way to free him – before the gators get to him – was to work the hook forcefully right out of the bone. I did so reluctantly, and when I examined the damage I found an open  crevice, vertical to the beak, about half an inch long.

Before I let go my grip on his beak, I noticed that the two gators were getting closer. To  make sure my efforts were not in vain, I wrapped my right arm around his body and carried him, like a baby, out to shore. I placed him gently on the ground and let him loose. Sensing his freedom, he took off immediately, to my delight, and to the obvious dismay of the lurking alligators.

The sun was nearly down, and I headed back to my boat with mixed feelings.”Was that really the right thing to do?,” I was thinking.

As if to reassure me – I could swear I saw the very same pelican hovering above me several times, escorting me back to my boat.

After a lazy relaxing weekend, I devoted all daytime hours of the following week to routine maintenance projects, expected of any conscientious sailboat captain when preparing for his next voyage. Come Saturday, while enjoying a sunrise breakfast in the open cockpit, I burst out laughing to the site of a pelican trying to steady his perch on a line that connected my boat to the piling. It was funny to see him flap his wings open, struggling to balance, as the rope under him was constantly flexing up and down with the boat’s movements.

I almost dropped my glass of orange-juice when, to my astonishment, I recognized the crevice on the pelican’s lower beak. After an entire week, and considering the distance to the fishing-spot where I set him free, his appearance near my boat had to be a mere coincidence. I finished breakfast, and then went about my day as usual. When I returned from a shopping trip the next afternoon, I saw him again, perched calmly at the least expected location.

Pelicans are a common site around the marina, flying above in circles, diving in for a catch, resting on dock pilings – or perched way up atop sailboats’ masts – from which they drop enormous quantities of white excrement. To keep my deck clean, I had placed a large, ominous-looking brown plastic owl at the top of my mast whenever moored for long periods. The owl “scarecrow” proved to have been a good investment, as it kept all birds off my mast for many months. But that Sunday afternoon, my relentless pelican was sitting, comfortable and fearless, right on top of my fake owl’s head, looking down and watching my every move. During the following week, I saw him several times a day, perched either on a nearby piling or on top of my (by then mostly white) plastic owl.

I then left the marina and sailed some 50 miles south to ״Bob & Annie’s״ boatyard in St. James City , to have Mirage hauled-out for its annual bottom cleanup and anti=fouling paint-job.

The years went by. My memory of the friendly pelican had faded away long before I sold my boat, some 8 years ago, and retired in Paamul, a small community on the eastern shore of the Yucatan peninsula.

About a week ago, my friend Rusia and I – both avid photo-hobbyists – visited the marina in the nearby resort-village of Puerto Aventuras, hoping to capture some photos of migrating sea-birds. Indeed, a considerable number of seagulls, frigate-birds and pelicans were enjoying the marina’s bountiful sea-life. About a dozen pelicans were gathered around a fishing boat whose crew members were cleaning their catch, tossing away unwanted parts to the contentment of the ever-hungry pelicans.

We were sitting at the edge of the concrete embankment nearby, cameras in hand, when Rusia called my attention to a single pelican that left the group and seemed to float in a beeline, directly towards us.

Jack, Jack – here’s a chance for a good closeup shot, he’s coming straight in our direction,” she said excitedly.

The lone pelican floated slowly, but with obvious determination, parallel to the pier, while looking at us. Our excitement subsided as he went passed us. But then, a few yards further, he turned to face the pier, flapped his wings for liftoff and landed on the concrete dock a short distance from us. This alone was enough to excite any observant nature-lover, for I do not recall , in all my sailing years, having seen pelicans strolling on the docks.

Look, look Jack, he is coming to you,” Rusia said.

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He staggered from side to side as he walked to just a few feet from me, then stood there staring at me, as if trying to verify my identity. Utterly fascinated, I suddenly recalled the two-week episode with the pelican I had rescued from the jaws of the Florida alligators – years ago. I rose to my feet, and took a few “slow-motion” steps toward him, while he remained still. As I came within touching distance, I shouted to Rusia behind me: “Get a shot of this.”

When I was reaching from above to pat him, he turned sideways and allowed me to caress his head several times. Just as I was beginning to think this was all a sweet dream, I felt my heart stop, and a sudden surge of exploding adrenaline crawled up my spine.

A dark crevice, about half an inch long, was clearly visible on the lower section of his beak.

It all came back to me in a flood of memories: his coloring, mannerism, and his lack of fear of my close proximity, were all too familiar. He was unmistakably the pelican I had rescued from  the hungry Florida alligators – almost a decade earlier!

For a short moment the world around us ceased to exist.  There were just the two us – an old sailor and an aging pelican – momentarily immersed in a mystifying, inexplicable bond.

A large boat, crowded with rowdy tourist returning from a snorkeling trip, was closing in to tie up at the very spot. With obvious dismay, the pelican first backed up, then reluctantly flapped his wings and flew away.

We tucked away our cameras and sat down at a shady table close by for a cool drink.

“Jack, what was that all about? You didn’t say a word to me in five minutes,” Rusia asked. When I finished telling her the story, she said:”But that’s impossible, he couldn’t have lived that long!

Full of curiosity now, I pulled out my iPhone, looked up “Pelican” in Wikipedia and read out loud to her, victoriously:”Here’s your answer: Pelicans live for 15 to 25 years in the wild…”

 “Ok, but your Florida marina is hundreds of kilometers north of here!” she argued.“Yes, about 900. But you are forgetting that we are in the peak of bird-migration season.”

She reacted with a mischievous smile on her face: “Come on, Jack, do you really expect me to believe all this?”

“No, not really – not today.”

“What’s today got to do with it? Oh,…wait a minute, my God, Jack, is this another one of your April Fools’ tales?”

“Well, it is April 1st   isn’t it?”

 

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our weekly high-season schedule is 10 a.m. on Mondays. Thank you. Disclaimer: The Pelican Free Press is not responsible for content and/or claims made on sponsor web sites or social media links.

Our next edition will appear on April 12, 2017

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