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December 18 2018 – January 24 2019
The biggest topic of conversation on the beach this year is seaweed. Under normal circumstances the long coral reef, just 400 M offshore, protects the beach from strong surf surges and seaweed. This is not a normal year. The city is focusing all its attention to making sure the beach is cleared each morning of all the brown fist-sized clumps of seaweed that litters the water’s edge. The seaweed is raked by hand into huge piles at various points along the beach, ready to be carted away in dump trucks.
At first we didn’t know what had happened but a search of the internet told the story. The seaweed, called Sargassum, is part of the Sargasso Sea, which until 2011, was a floating mass kept in place by ocean current far out in the Atlantic off the northern US shore. After 2011, Scientists identified masses of Sargassum off the coast of Brazil, perhaps moved as a result of the effect of Global Warming on ocean currents. Soon a huge mass of plants stretched from the Caribbean to the shores of Africa. It seems that stronger winds, called El Norte, have swept the seaweed onto the shores all over the Caribbean islands and the Yucatan, even over the coral reef in Puerto Morelos. It was affecting tourism all over the area.
One day, we were surprised to see a strange looking wheel-less machine sitting on the beach, perched on spare tires and a few plastic pipes. We watched workers, with the help of a front-end loader, slowly maneuver the machine into the water. Ray noticed that there was a Canadian Flag logo on the side of the machine. He said it looked like a machine he had seen in Ottawa putter down the canal cleaning up the seasonal accumulation of algae. It was now being launched to help clean up an even larger mess.
Finally, using the pipes as rollers and a strong rope to pull, the machine made it into the water. Once in the water, it motored back and forth, powered by paddle wheels attached on either side of the machine, scooping out seaweed and bringing masses to the shore to be loaded into dump trucks and hauled away. Finally, Puerto Morelos beach was cleared of the day’s accumulation of seaweed. The machine puttered northward, ready to clean up even more beaches closer to Cancun.
We heard reports that the seaweed was trucked away to the nearby jungle where it waited until rains had dissolved enough of the ocean salts so that the seaweed could be spread in local fields as fertilizer. At least it was not left long enough on the beach to rot and start to smell like rotten eggs.
We are back at the same small apartment as the previous year. The owner is Cristina, an Argentinean lady who has lived in PoMo with her family for years. After her children grew up and moved away, she built five one bedroom apartments attached to her home to rent to tourists. Her house is just a block from our favourite part of the beach and just a five minute walk to the center of town. It was perfect for us. Our unit is on the ground floor, with a full kitchen and sitting area, plus a room in what was the original garage, that we use for sitting and hanging our laundry to dry. The price is right for us and we have reserved it for next year as well.
We visit Puerto Morelos because of the beautiful white coral sand beach. It is not a surfing beach as it is protected by a long coral reef, about 400 M offshore. Instead, the beach is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. We follow an established routine for our beach time. We are not interested in sun bathing. We like to have a long swim, heading for the Ojo de Agua, an underwater cenote, and using our snorkels to identify the schools of tropical fish that congregate around the coral rocks about 100 M off shore. If we are lucky we may encounter a pair of graceful Eagle Rays making their way through the water and follow a sea turtle as it dives for food in the sea grasses and surfaces for air. After our swim we head out for a long walk down the beach, which stretches a few kilometers in either direction, to dry off. We never got bored of the sights in the ocean and along the beach.
After our walk, we return to our folding beach chairs that we have placed under the shade of the palm trees, planted a few years ago at the edge of the beach. There we meet and chat with a group of friends, who we have met over the past few years. Maurice Gogol, from Manitoba, rides his bicycle from his apartment in the Colonia section, while Earl and Flo from Abottsford, BC stay each year in a condo next to the beach. Yvonne and Bob Temple, from Ottawa, came this year with their friend Vera, who lives in the same apartment building as the Temples, and sisters Johanna and Neel, friends of Yvonne’s from the Netherlands.
Three mornings a week, I go to Yoga classes, run by Patty Davis, in a nice palapa outdoor studio she has built on the property of the home she lives in year round with her husband and daughters. When I am at yoga, Ray often goes for a walk exploring all the streets of town.
A new large grocery store was a welcome addition to the town. It was a smaller branch of the Chedraui on the highway that separates the more traditional community, Colonia, from the port and beach community of PoMo.In between the two communities is two kilometers of mangrove swamp, home to crocodiles, water birds, fish and other water animals. The half hour walk is nice on a cool day, but on warmer days, the local collective bus or a taxi is preferable. We were glad to be able to buy our food supplies in the more convenient newer store as well as take advantage of a small Wednesday local market in the center of town and several other local stores selling fruit vegetables and fish. We also looked forward to the bi-weekly Saturday organic market, held at one of the beach restaurants. As well as delicious, freshly made spring rolls and brats, we could take advantage of the jewelry, art work and handmade clothing for sale. One young woman sold two piece bathing suits that were perfect for me.
Every year there are more excellent restaurants in town. We enjoyed having brunch once a week at El Nicho and special dinners for Christmas at John Fray’s Kitchen and our Anniversary on Dec 30 at Tanino’s, owned by Consuelo, daughter of our landlady, Cristina. We look forward to finding newly opened establishments next year and getting together with our friends who will be returning to the beach once more.
To read about the rest of our winter in Mexico and see photos, click one of the following
February in Zihuatanejo
March in San Miguel de Allende
Visit to Quéretaro
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