San Blas

You are currently browsing the archive for the San Blas category.

The Mexico Diaries: San Blas

The old church at San Blas. Photo by David Lansing.

After the jungle cruise at La Tovara we went in to San Blas itself which is just one of those typical little Mexican towns with dusty cobblestone streets and an ancient church that seems to list precariously and a congenial plaza ringed by little restaurants selling mostly mariscos and pescado.

Chris and Malin were on a bit of a mission. They were looking for the wife of a naturalist named Armando who had died quite suddenly of a heart attack a couple of years ago. The Fletchers had become quite fond of Armando who they’d hired to guide them through La Tovara on one of their early visits and had also taken them out fishing. In addition to his wife, Armando left behind several children, one of whom was just beginning university, and so they had set up a fund to help send him to school. Now they were hoping to find his wife to see how the family was doing.

We walked down the street past the Mercado and the sidewalk fish market to where they thought Armando’s wife lived but no one was there. Then we walked around the town a bit ending up at one of the restaurants on the plaza where we ordered cold beers and a half dozen shrimp tacos to share. The tacos were very good. They were made from the dried shrimp you find being sold by street vendors in little plastic bags.

Just as we were leaving, Armando’s wife showed up. She’d heard the Fletchers had stopped by her house and came to the plaza looking for them. She was an attractive woman, still very youthful, and seemed happy to see the Fletchers again. They talked about their families and hugged each other and then it was time for us to head back to Custodio. When they got in the car, I asked Chris how she was doing.

“She’s okay,” he said. “Still a little sad. And I think it’s tough financially. But I think she’ll be alright.”

What he didn’t say is that the fund he and Malin set up not only pays the expenses for Armando’s son to go to school but also provides a monthly stipend for his wife to live on. It’s an extraordinary contribution on their part. And no doubt greatly appreciated by Armando’s family.

Tags: ,

The Mexico Diaries: The jaguar

The jaguar at La Tovara. Photo by David Lansing.

When you get back to the end of La Tovara to where the natural spring comes out of the ground there is a cocodrilo nursery where they raise crocodiles to be released into the river. There is also a fenced in pond with very clear water where we saw hundreds of tilapia and catfish as well as about a dozen or so turtles either swimming about or sunning on logs. There was also a jaguar.

Our guide said that the jaguar had been found in a pen at a little village high up in the hills and that it could not be released because it had been declawed. What a magnificent looking animal.

It looked to me to be a juvenile and in good health although you couldn’t help but feel sorry for his modest circumstances—a small enclosure no more than ten by ten with a concrete floor and just a couple of boulders for ambience. Still, the jaguar looked to be in very good shape and was quite active when we were there, rolling around on his back like a dog with an itch and showing off his beautiful smooth belly. Such a rare animal. Such a beautiful animal. Too beautiful to be locked up alone in such a small cage.

Tags: ,

La Tovara crocodile. Photo by David Lansing.

Friday night about three I woke up in a cold sweat after dreaming that I was sitting in my house in Bucerias when it got hit by a hurricane. Of course, it’s not hard to figure out why I had this nightmare. My time in Bucerias has been a nightmare. And a hurricane of disasters. So I decided that I would get up at six, with everyone else, and tell them I wasn’t joining them on their excursion to San Blas. But when I got up and told Chris this he said, “Forget about it. You’re going to San Blas with us.”

And so I did.

La Tovara, the national park in San Blas, is sort of like the Mexican version of the jungle cruise ride at Disneyland. Guides in little boats slowly take you up the twisting waterways of the San Blas water refuge and point out the open-mouthed crocodiles on the banks and the turtles sunning on logs. Except these animals aren’t animatronics. They’re the real thing.

The cruise isn’t quite as much fun as it used to be. Even a few years ago, when you showed up for your cruise at seven or eight in the morning, they’d offer you a free beer. But times are tough at La Tovara; now you have to buy your own beers.

The Fletchers have done this cruise eight or nine times and know that you want to get there right after they open, around seven. That way you see more wildlife and avoid the crowded boats that tend to zip through the mangroves later in the day. So there we were, the first boat on the water, admiring the orchids growing wild on the tree branches and hundreds of tropical birds—tiger herons and green kingfishers and mangrove warblers—when we come around a bend in the river and there’s a six-foot long crocodile just hanging out with his mouth open. I asked the guide why he stood there with his mouth open and he shrugged and said it was how crocodiles regulated their body temperature. Or perhaps he was just thinking of the good ol’ days when tourists would come by and pour a little Corona down his gullet.

Tags: ,