Early Edition: April 1, 2017
Several vans refused entry
at main gate in contract feud
Colonos Chair Jorge Kaufer takes charge
to end gate standoff before it ‘gets ugly’
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.
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 Day; Persian 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.
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.
We have set-up an email address where you are free to comment or make suggestions concerning this topic: firstname.lastname@example.org
Signed/Concerned residents of Caleta Yalku
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.
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?”
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Our next edition will appear on April 12, 2017
The end – Previous edition below