What Can I Do? (June 2011)

by Barb Eller

Patrick and I were walking along the Malecón one day and a couple from the cruise ship stopped to talk and asked, "What do you do when you spend the winter here?" For one of the few times in my life I was tactful, kept my mouth shut, and let Patrick answer, because in my head I was shouting. "What!!! You are kidding, right?" He told them of the great diving and snorkeling, that fishermen come from around the world to fish in Xcalak, that there were many Maya ruins in the area, birdwatchers loved coming here, and so on. Later, I considered that maybe the cruise ship personnel didn't tell them about the Costa Maya area. Before moving here I did a lot of research on the area, contacted people who had been here, and picked their brains about everything. So let me share with you the different things we have been doing throughout the winter.
I have already shared with you a world of beauty and wonder that I experience while diving and snorkeling. Since moving here I learned of a fish called "permit" that can get as large as four feet. Sport fishermen come from all over to catch and release them. If you live in the Florida area, these fish are similar to Florida pompano. Tarpon and bonefish are other popular fish here. Many fishing boats go out to deep water for the marlin, swordfish and barracuda among others. Many times as you walk along the beach you will see the local fishermen cleaning their daily catch. Once we saw a group of frigatebirds circling high above and then swooping down to the water; as we got closer we could see the cause of the show. A fisherman was cleaning about a dozen barracuda and tossing the unwanted parts for the birds to eat.

If you are an avid birdwatcher or want to become one, Mahahual is a great place to learn. Just walking along the road into town you can spot a number of different birds. Jacqueline from Villas Ecotucan, an eco hotel in Bacalar, will take you on an unforgettable bird walk. I was amazed; it was like listening to a talking encyclopedia of bi