They tell me pirates used this place to hide. Even pirates needed R’n’R and they picked a great spot.
The always-present Baja pickup trucks of local commercial fishermen already out on the water guard the vacant slots of their pangas that have already left to go fishing for the day while several dozen unused pangas loll in the lineup in the bleaching sunshine.
Just below my little restaurant perch, frigates and other seabirds dive on a small school of sardines pushed into the shallows by a school of juvenile roosterfish. Slashing dorsal fins characteristic to the roosters can be seen above bright silver bodies highlighted by the classic rooster racing stripes. I’m the only one that seems to notice.
Bait leaps in ripples in the shallow water. Birds dive to grab. The baitfish fall back only to be terrorized by the roosters. Up goes the bait again… between a rock and a hard place. It’s tough to be at the bottom of the food chain. Everyone is on the feed.
I guess you could feel sorry for the bait, but that’s the way it has always been.
And I wonder how much longer it will be.
I have watched my little bay…my “pond” if you will now for more than a dozen seasons. It’s that small. I have fished on lakes much larger than this, so I call it “my pond.”
I have watched and fished these waters, sometimes hundreds of days a year, and seen much. From the glassy waters of summer to the churning wind-whipped waves of winter, my pond has fascinated me to no end. No day is ever the same. Nature’s flat-screen plasma gift is always in high resolution!
Whales, dolphin, sea turtles, and birds live in my Baja pond. I have swam and snorkeled and tied on scuba tanks and played in the reefs and coral. I have swum with the fish during the day and at night, slept on the cool beaches by campfire listening to the pond talk to the moon.
Sometimes it whispers. Sometimes it howls. Today it sings. The Baja rhythm is an intoxicating siren’s call of what life can be.
I share my pond with others. Or rather, they share it with me. The local fishermen have been here longer than even they might remember. Generations have come and gone. Made their living. Made their mark and given way to the next generation of seafarers.
Relatively speaking, I’m a Johnny-come-lately, but I call these fellow-travelers my amigos and I hope they consider me one of theirs.
Juanillo is a fourth generation fisherman. He has two boats. One he rents to his nephew who pays him a portion of what he catches and sells to the local fish buyer. Juanillo is only 40, but has already invested 3 decades on these waters. His own kids have moved on to the city. He thinks he’s the last of the line.
Ignacio “Nacho” is his neighbor. He is also a fisherman, but unlike Juanillo, he fishes with gringos who charter his panga to fish the “pond” and neighboring islands. Nacho started fishing commercially, but 20 years ago found a lucrative niche taking gringos sporfishing. He makes a good, but meager living, but enough so that he has the only satellite TV dish in the pueblo. He is rightly proud and is a popular guy when soccer and baseball season are on. His weather New York Yankees hat is his lucky rabbit’s foot.
Perdrito is relatively young compared to the others fisherman, he has only been at this for 10 years or so and fishes commercial fish when he can and take gringos out whenever it’s needed. But he’s the 3rd generation fisherman. But his brothers and sisters moved to the city for jobs. He remained to make his living on the pond. He has a young wife and baby on the way. His 5 year-old has a keen interest in baseball and loves playing catch with his fisherman dad.
And so it goes. Same as it ever was.
But it’s not.
There’s a different buzz in the air and it’s not the wind picking it’s way through the palm fronds of the coco trees near my table.
I’m watching a crane and a backhoe. The backhoe is trenching. It’s gouging out huge slits of the Baja desert in it’s maw. Even from the distance, I can tell with each strained lift of it’s arm, another chunk of old Baja ceases to exist. The crane lifts pipe from the flatbed of a big dually-truck and all these vehicles puff black smoke into the airspaces of my pond.
At a table next to mine, a blonde sturdy woman in designer sun-outfit has spread out a map on the table. Using a bowl of salsa and chips as a paperweight, she’s pointing out some items on the map to a couple who look like they stepped out of Los Angeles Magazine. Perfect hair. Perfect smile. Perfect tan. From their Costa Mar sunglasses to their L.L Bean khaki shorts to their Sperry topsider shoes…perfect. Barbie and Ken do Baja. They do seem like nice folks.
The woman talking says her name is “Missy” and I hear words like, “grand investment, “ and “master plan.” The conversation is sprinkled with, “bottom floor” and “spectacular potential.” I think I hear Missy say, “35 thousand homes” and “get-away-from-it –all” in the same sentence. I think that’s an oxymoron. Something is moronic, for sure but she seems to have Barbie and Ken convinced that they deserve something here.
And the drone of the construction machines goes on and I hear the foreman barking something in Spanish.
Just yesterday, I read some newspaper articles from Cabo San Lucas about commercial fishing seiners moving right in on the beach and netting up all the small tuna. Locals and sportfishermen could only look on and gawk. Can they do this? Is this legal? Can they really wrap up all the gamefish? Well, as a matter of fact, they can. They do. They are.
In that same newspaper was another headline story about the desalination plant operating in nearby San Jose del Cabo. In case you hadn’t heard, Baja is a big dry desert. Even before the gringos came there wasn’t enough water. De-sal plants are the answer to creating drinking water.
The one they just build in Cabo is already too small. It was touted only a few years ago as state-of-the-art-be-all-and-end-all. It’s already outdated. And they’re building several thousand more homes around it too.
And speaking of water (but not the right kind), the sewers are backing up and flooding again in the city. Seems the infrastructure is already busting at the seams.
And the big backhoe pulls up another chunk of virgin Baja desert across the way. Is that my Baja screaming from the wound of another in it’s arid skin?
Thirty-five-thousand homes around my little pond? Where? Will they be built vertically?
I sadly realize that I’m seeing the last of the whales, the turtles and dolphins. In a few years, I would no more want to swim in this water than I would want to jump into Long Beach Harbor.
But it will all supposedly bring wealth and prosperity to all. And I try to imagine Captain Nacho driving a truck. Captain Pedrito will be waiting tables in a trendy restaurant and his young son skateboards down concrete sidewalks. Juanillo the fisherman runs a glassbottom boat showing tourist slathered in SPF 30, little reef fish and hoping to get a tip or two for his services.
All of them have satellite TV’s now. A microwave in every kitchen. The grocery store in the pueblo is now Wal-Mart.
Get that crane over here. The future can’t get here fast enough. Same as it ever was. I watch the birds continue to vie for the bait with the roosterfish down on the beach. Everyone is on the feed.
It’s your pond, too.