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Barra de Navidad & Melaque Journal - November 25, 2016

Fish or cut bait

“Fisher people” are coming back this week without tans and with stories of heavier oceans due to the rain and unsettled weather.

We have heard that the fish are biting. The many commercial fishermen and boat rental people are anxious to take or send you out to angle for tuna, marlin, dorado, sailfish and more. 

You’ll get a seagull’s eye view of the picturesque Costalegre coastline. To have a chance at the big game, count on a three to 12-mile (five to 20 km) sail, and approximately seven hours on the ocean. Species in the five- to 20-pound (2.5- to 9-kilo) range can be expected at this time of the year. The largest fish recorded caught in local waters was a Blue Marlin at 745 lbs (338 kilos)!

While you’re cruising, watch for the many bird species, the whales (January/February), dolphins, flying fish or even the famed Barco Encalado – the ship that was run ashore during Hurricane Patricia, October 23, 2015.

Historically, Barra de Navidad and Melaque began as simple villages whose very existence depended on the toils of local fishermen. As more settling happened, fishing was augmented by farming. While the area continues to rely heavily on the fresh fish market, Barra and Melaque have established another lure: tourism. 

Almost any size of panga can be rented for sightseeing and/or fishing excursions with professional guides. Rentals are based upon hourly rates and boat sizes with options of eight to 14 seats. Children under ten years old are free. Posted rates are negotiable, and the protocol allows for your catch to be split with the captain, but, “we don’t catch and release.” This helps to feed the captain’s family or locals who are in need. 

Some of us prefer a day of rod bending fun, and some enjoy snorkeling or scuba trips at hidden coastal beaches. You can combine tours of fishing and sightseeing. You bring your own beverages and food – whatever you will want to consume during the four- to six-hour journey. Some captains will even prepare fresh ceviche from your catch – a delicious combination of fresh fish, lime, salt and jalapeno chiles. 

Area fishing guides are well equipped to handle everything from a 100-pound tuna or sailfish to preparation of ceviche on board, but few boats are washroom equipped, so, bring your sailors cup and don’t be shy. Call Alex, (315) 104-7433, for a veteran of the waters out of Barra de Navidad, English speaking.

For enthusiasts, Costalegre offers world-class fishing and a world-class fishing derby hosted by Grand Bay Hotel in January. Watch for posters in local establishments.

Rotary Xmas Ball

Costalegre Rotary Club invites you to attend their Annual Christmas Ball & Silent Auction – a party to end all parties at Hotel Cabo Blanco on December 15. Proceeds from tickets (200 pesos) support great causes in surrounding communities. The highly anticipated buffet presented by Hotel Cabo Blanco’s chef, Luiz Valdivia, is included along with dancing under the stars to H&R Rock. Don’t forget your extra pesos for the incredible Silent Auction – items are too numerous to mention. Tickets on sale now through Peggy Egan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at Hotel Cabo Blanco. Get them early as this event is always sold out.

Miscellaneous

If you’re not out sailing the seas, then hard pavement may offer some local fun! Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports these days. It’s being recognized as one of the best ways to get out and stretch those muscles and/or meet some new friends. The Costalegre Pickleball Club led by David Marshall, meets every day, 5 p.m. at Hotel Cabo Blancos pickleball courts. 

It’s free, and all that is required is a great spirit, a friendly attitude and good running shoes.

Barra de Navidad Delegado Leonardo Cortez Cardona has received authorization from Ciuhatlan Mayor Fernando Martinez Guerrero to create a playground in Fidel Kosonoy Celedón sports field in Barrio Nuevo. The economic resources for this endeavor were provided by the foreign community. This project was carried out by architect Diego Ballesteros Cobian.  Tracye Ross from Crazy Cactus obtained the funding. 

The United for Barra group will begin “beautifying” the tourist area of Barra this month.  They will meet on Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. in the Casa Ejidal for a discussion and to separate into groups to take on the various areas that need cleaning, painting, etc. Join if you can.

Giving back

One way for expats to contribute to the local community is by supporting Becas for Barra, the scholarship initiative led by Wilf Brousseau and Linda Bello Ruiz. 

Studies show that less than 62 percent of all Mexican students go beyond a grade-9 level. This number is even lower in areas such as Barra de Navidad and Melaque. Factors include proximity to available schools, costs of transportation, food and books, grades, attitude, and family willingness. 

There is one secundaria (middle school) in Barra de Navidad which graduates 60 to 70 students annually. Graduates from this school have two choices to further their education. The first is the Preparatoria Regional de Cihuatlan (under the umbrella of the Universidad de Guadalajara) high school. This facility, however, is 18 kilometers from Barra de Navidad and Melaque and thereby carries heavier costs and burdens on families’ incomes. The second is the Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos (CECYTEJ) in the town of Jaluco. The cost of attending CYTECEJ reaches 14,500 pesos for the 10-month school year.

The first pilot project of the Becas for Barra group in 2015 selected a student to support through the school year, based upon the criteria of potential for success, along with need, grades and willingness. The first selected student has now completed her first semester in tourism. She obtained a 9.0 average, had perfect attendance, was on the debating team and was a member of the championship soccer team, while contributing to her own education by working part time.

Success stories like this are driving Becas for Barra to seek out those who agree that education is “the only way up.” Goals of the organization are to send four new students per year on to their dreams. If you too believe in education and care as much as the creators of this program, contact Brousseau at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to see how you can add your support.