Yucatan Dispatch 4 October 3, 2009 from San Crisanto, México

It turns out that water IS huge, says Jenny to me as the lights flicker back to life in our hotel and the water pump starts working. We have checked into the only hotel in the small Mexican town of Dzilam de Bravo in the northern coast of the state of Yucatan, Mexico. We have been traveling for three days along the coast, driving on sand roads and eating mostly peanuts. Yesterday we chased flamingos into thigh-deep water and today the temperature reached almost 100 degrees C. So yes, Jenny, water IS huge and in most places it is hardly a guarantee. Just one of the many things we completely take for granted in the US.

The assignment Jenny and I have for this part of the RAVE deals with the fishing communities in this area and their intimate dependence on healthy marine ecosystems. Octopus is the main catch this time of year. Hundreds of small boats carrying 3-4 four men leave the port every morning. They spend the whole day fishing off the coast in tiny satellite boats, called “alijos” that are lowered from the larger vessel. One man sits in each alijo, under a murderous sun, baiting lines with large crabs. Their prey is a small species of octopus, which most be very plentiful, as the fishermen come back with load after load of the wiggly creature.

People are immensely nice here. Everyone offers help and information without much nudging and despite the troubles that dominate much of the rest of Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula remains safe and very pleasant. As I move around the various fishing villages, people are quick to smile and show me their catch. They take the time to explain how they fish and the travails of their profession. The only real dangers are the police barricades we encounter every once in a while. They are more dangerous because they have poor signage and are difficult to see when traveling fast on the highway. The officers assure me it is safe and that the barricade is just a way to maintain a close eye on shady characters that might be transporting drugs. Apparently, this is not a big issue in this part of Mexico.

The best part of being assigned to shooting people during a RAVE is that we get to sleep in little towns where it is possible to find a hotel with clean sheets and a fan. Water, as we are finding out is intermittent and optional.