Puerto Morelos Fishing Tournament — Cacophony of Sensory Delights

29 06 2010

Tournament trophies

Festivities include bikini dance contests

Beer flowing. Scent of hot-fat churros blending with boiled corn and crunchy pork rinds. Nutella in a crispy crepe.  Mango and jicama with chili and limon. Swim suits and halter tops. Wet tee-shirts. Lithe bodies and beer bellies. Energy, laughter, joy oozing through every pore….

There’s no feeling quite like a Mexican fiesta, yet I’ve not experienced anything like this Puerto Morelos fishing tournament. Semana Santa (Easter Week) comes close, yet this fishing event generates even more intense adrenaline-filled excitement, possibly because of the weekend time-frame.

A bull-horn kicks off the Saturday morning start with a resounding Boom!  117 fishing boats – opulent yachts to the most mundane nearly-rowboat. Sun high, anticipations higher  – contestants shoot off to sea with strategies and favorite spots in sharp focus. The rest of us drink beer, shop the stands, eat outrageous gut-bombs, and laugh with friends. I’m secretly hoping a small, local boat will snag the winning catch.

The first evening’s weigh-in brings mostly Dorado, lots of disappointed sighs,  a few cheers, excited laughter, and of course, no scarcity of scantily clad young women representing some of the sponsoring organizations – the newspaper Novedades, Corona, Coca Cola, Sea Do….

The Saturday night viewing stand in Town Square sports an interesting  array of entertainment, from modest Yucatan Dancers in native Maya dress to teens in hip-hop resembling Village People. There’s the crowning of Princess Puerto Morelos, a young lady donning a banner and crown to reign for the weekend. And more beer, food, crafts, and booths. Bands play until 3:00 am — I hear it at my condo half-a-kilometer away.

Fishing boats again take off, 7:00 am Sunday – bringing in their Best Catch at 2:00 for the final weigh-in. Neighbors Maurcio and Martha invite me to their family table under the giant canopy – someone staked out this prime location early in the day – and its loaded with Bacardi Anjeo, mixers, ceviche, salads, chips.  I  gratefully accept.

Cheers and excitement to the side, so with drink in-hand I climb makeshift bleachers to view the clearing below – Am I really seeing this? Three-year-olds in bikinis. Judges include Princess Puerto Morelos and one person I know, Danielle of Arte Boutique (does she realize what she’s about to do?) along with a couple others. Emcee is Carlos of male stripper fame (an entirely different, yet fascinating, story). He’s impressive with bronze, buff body bulging from the wife-beater sleeveless tee with Alligator Gym logo and white crop pants. The wee ones dance with wild abandon – – no self consciousness of the hundreds of cheering fans surrounding and towering above. Winners are selected. I wonder about the criteria.  This is a serious — not a feel-good, everyone’s-a-winner — activity. Carlos parades three little girls around the ring and out the gate.

I’m in awe — taking deep breaths — as the next group enters, the girls seeming to be around five. These little ladies are ready and, unlike the younger set, each dances individually. The judges’ selections are brought center stage. But no! Boos and hisses – although I don’t understand Spanish, the feeling is unmistakable – the crowd is not pleased. Three now-self-conscious five-year-olds chew their nails in center ring. Carlos confers with judges – their decision is final. Girls are marched around the ring and out.

On to pre-teens. Age 10 going on 18 – dance moves I’ve certainly not considered – no shyness – heads high and proud – bodies undulating sensuously and provocatively. Where are their mothers? On the sidelines, providing pointers.  I’m getting a clearer understanding of Mexico’s high early-teen pregnancy rate.  Next are girls about 15, with attitude.

The day could not be more stiflingly hot and humid, and  I’m crammed among a growing mass of sweaty bodies. So I make my way back to the shade of the rum-and-coke table. As the age categories increase, I hear the crowd wildly clapping. Cheers. Hoots. Cat-calls. I’m obviously missing quite the performance. 

People suddenly morph to the nearby pier, beside which a tall wooden pole with flag atop has been set into the water. Greased pole contest — clearly, another crowd-pleaser. The teams dive in. Four sturdy young men stand chest-deep in the sea, arms interlocked around pole and each other. Three more climb onto their shoulders, also interlocking arms. Now the competition becomes interesting as lithe, monkey-like boys scramble up wet bodies – and yet more – until the grease does its work. All crash down. Team after team. Splashing to defeat. No one makes it to the tip – yet somehow a winning group is selected.

Excitement builds. Time for the fishing awards.

There’s a scurry around the table of tournament trophies — oversized replicas of Dorado, Marlin, Barracuda — along with giant checks symbolizing the grand prizes , up to $100,000 pesos and a new car! Dignitaries on stage include not only Emilio Muñoz, general coordinator for the Fishing Tournament and its surrounding Navy Day Celebrations, and the Delgado for Puerto Morelos, Pancho Mendoza, but also Governor of the State of Quintana Roo, Félix González Canto.

The well-endowed young ladies in their cheerleader-style semi-ensembles hand giant-fish-head trophies to the actual presenter, the Governor. The winning team from each category comes front-and-center, some with children-in-arms.  A lot of prelude – and at last, with a speech by the Delgado – Grand Prize. The crowd wildly chants – Puerto Morelos! Puerto Morelos! Puerto Morelos! Don Pepe! Don Pepe! Don Pepe! For the first time in the history of this tournament, the winning team is local – sons of grocery owner Don Pepe Espinosa. Not one of the small boats, but homeboys — nearly as satisfying….

It’s Sunday night. Crowds dissipate. A few food carts remain. A moist breeze rustles the coco palms. Raindrops fall….

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10 responses

29 06 2010
Mary Jordan

I’ve posted photographs in a Facebook photo album….

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29 06 2010
deb haugen

Mary, this is a fabulous piece!

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29 06 2010
Crazy Edwierdo

This is way way cool.

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29 06 2010
Crazy Edwierdo

This is w+ay co+o+l!

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29 06 2010
Scott Tom - Online Poker | Tournaments

[…] Puerto Morelos Fishing Tournament — Cacophony of Sensory Delights … […]

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29 06 2010
Dafni

Awesome depiction of the Fishing Derby, Mary! Well done!

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30 06 2010
Christina

Thanks for sending me the latest news…
I also have some news for you…
I left you a message some weeks ago (on the American Line)
but I guess you are back in Colorado or very busy…
Will try again to reach you this week.
Besos

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30 06 2010
Cheryl Murphy

Great descriptions, you captured it beautifully. Put me down for the Kayak club, I will be back in town in December, perfect idea. Now all I need is a Kayak.
Cheers from Cheryl currently in Seattle, tomorrow Vancouver

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5 07 2010
Paul Roberts

Mary – Great piece! And Bacardi Anjeo is my drink. I now wish our sail to Puerto Morelos had been over last weekend. Perhaps next year. Paul Roberts

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20 09 2011
Andrea

Hi Mary, I lived for one year in Cancún and I used to Puerto Madero to swim with my dog. The best beach in the Riviera Maya.
Thanks for sharing!

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