Is it Safe to Eat Barracuda?

Barracuda is an oft caught fish in Costa Maya and can be really exciting due to their size and ferocity when they hit your line. They are also a really neat looking fish. But if you are like me, the fight that ensues when reeling in a creature from the deep blue is only a small portion of the excitement. I get REALLY excited when the fish that surfaces is not only big but something that I can feed to my friends and neighbors as I soak in the ooo’s and ahhh’s and tell the tall tale of how I landed the beasty leviathan.

Barracuda is a tough one and it seems that, like many things in life, there is no definitive and clear black and white answer to the question of whether or not they are safe to eat.  They are a predator fish and like most predators that are near the top of the food chain, they have a higher mercury content in their bodies than the fish they feed on. This alone puts then on the “consume less often” list along with Tuna, Swordfish, Grouper and Mackerel.

But they also can be infected with a toxin called ciguatera. Ciguatera is contracted from reef fish that consume it from contaminated coral, algae and seaweed and pass it up the food chain through biomagnification, the same process that the tops dogs get the mercury concentrations. Ciguatoxin is odorless and tasteless and cannot be cooked out of food with high heat. The symptoms of toxicity in humans include gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neurological effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, muscle aches, numbness of the extremities, vertigo and hallucinations. The symptoms can last from weeks to years in some cases.

So with these two spooky possibilities lurking out there how do we know which of the fish are fine to eat and which will have us seeing little green men? Like we said earlier the world isn’t black and white so not all fish are going to be affected and you don’t want to miss out on a potentially tasty meal right? You would think someone would have come up with a good scientific test to see if your barracuda was poisonous but alas, all we have are good old folk tests like these to rely on…

One test is to cut off a piece of the flesh and lay it by an ant hill. If the ants eat it, it is fine to eat.

Another is to do the same with your cat. If your cat eats the flesh it should also be fine.

Another is to place a silver coin under the scales of the fish, an fish that is not good to eat would turn the coin black.

Some say not to eat a barracuda that is over 10 pounds because the bigger the fish, the older it is and the more other fish it has eaten.

And finally, some say not to eat barracuda during months that don’t have and “r” in the name. Basically May-August. Locals say this is the season where the barracuda dine on a particular seaweed to cleans their system and makes them more toxic to us.

So we may not have the most exact answer to the barracuda question but these folk tests have passed the test of time. I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on any one of them but I think that using them all together as a guide leaves you on the good side of safe. I have eaten barracuda and it is a lovely tasting fish. I would certainly hate for anyone else to lose out on it out of fear. Besides, what’s life without a little risk?

 

Sargassum Attack! Costa Maya Mahahual Under Seige Again in 2018

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It is back and smellier than ever. Sargassum season is in full swing for Costa Maya in 2018 and it is piling up along our shores.

Tourists run from it because when it starts to decay it smells like what I would imagine the early morning bathroom of a hungover whale shark on a Caribbean bachelor party would smell like. Locals dread it because it means early morning and late night shifts on the beaches along the malecon shoveling endless piles of it into wheel barrows to be carted off during by lumbering garbage trucks in the night.

It is a topic that is getting a lot of attention in the small pueblo of Mahahual as well as the rest of the Caribbean Coast of Mexico…

Sargassum is a type of sea algae that grows naturally in the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean Sea. The species that wash ashore are rootless, blooming and floating freely in the ocean until winds and tides bring it to shore. It has always been around, first described by early European explorers who dubbed one region of the Atlantic off the eastern coast of the U.S. the “Sargasso Sea” for its copious quantities in that area.

Sargasso sea

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It serves a variety of positive ecological functions like providing a nursery for sea turtles, a home habitat to different marine creatures like the Sargassum Fish, shrimp and crabs, birds and whales, a food source for a number of little creatures once it lands on shore, and protects against shore erosion.

The problem is that since 2011 it has been amassing in record numbers every year on some of the Caribbean Sea’s most beloved tourist destinations, including Costa Maya. Locals see it as a nuisance and are at a loss about what to do about it.

Apparently, however, there may be a silver lining. Sargassum, it turns out, may be useful. Powdered sargassum has been an herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, indicated for problems like goiters and thyroid issues due to its high iodine content. In Bermuda it is placed under banana trees as a source of fertilizer. Still others claim its phytochemical, vitamin and mineral content as just as robust as other sea weeds commonly eaten in other parts of the world. Yum! Take a bite…

Nobody knows for sure why the sargassum problem grows each year but some suggest it is due to rising sea temperatures, changes in sea currents due to climate change and some attribute it to agricultural fertilizer run-off into the ocean causing more of the algae to bloom.

Either way, we have a stinky problem on our hands again for 2018 and we need to start looking for a way to turn a lemon into lemonade. This sargassum can be continue to be a curse, or we could turn it into a blessing.

You never know, the next time you visit you might sit down to a nice plate of fried grouper on a bed of sargassum salad!

Carnaval Schedule of Events in Mahahual Costa Maya 2018

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Here we go guys as promised! For those gringos without the lingo I will translate for you here so you know what is going on!

Friday February 16 starting at 7:00pm in the Dome!

Kings and Queens of Carnaval 2018 Mahahual

7:00pm – Welcome and Presentation of Hosts

7:05pm – Inauguration by the Municipal President of Othon P. Blanco, Ing Luis Torres Llanes

Coronation Ceremony, Queen of Inclusion, Queen of Pro-Diversity, Emperors and Kings of Carnaval

7:30pm – Carnaval Antics

9:00pm – Presentation of Troupes

10:00pm – (Musical Acts) Los Huiros de Cozumel, Nohoch Purux y Pompi, and the best DJ in the Mexican Caribbean, Disco Macs

 

So there you have it! Looks like this year we are going to be celebrating in the dome instead of under the lighthouse. Stay tuned for updates from the festivities!

Carnaval 2018 Calendar for the Mexican Caribbean

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Carnaval is coming to Mahahual this weekend! I will post a schedule of events as soon as I can get my hands on it! For those who will be here visiting us for the first time you can look forward to live music, performances, comedy, arts and crafts, and more!

Mahahual Locals Spotlight #1

Hello all!  We are back at it after some time off and are starting off strong with a new series; “Mahahual Locals Spotlight”. This series will be published monthly and will highlight the journey of a well-known local who fell in love with our lovely little town and never looked back.

As you know, Mahahual is a special place full of special people that makes up a very unique community of locals, born and raised nearby, Mexican nationals who moved from far away parts of the country, Europeans, Americans, Canadians…you name it! We are all here experiencing this crazy ride together and each of our unique personalities and stories are what makes Mahahual what it is! Let’s get started!

This month we interviewed Lorena Lucidi, the well known, multi-talented, and lovely manager/waitress/owner/bartender of Divino Delicia Italiana, and Divino Delicia Mexicana, two of the staple restaurants here in Mahahual. You can catch her any day (except Monday!) in Divino Delicia Mexicana on the first corner in Casitas serving up delicious cappuccinos, vegetarian omelets, and huevos mexicanos to locals and tourists alike in three different languages, with a smile and relaxed demeanor.

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Costa Maya Life: Well first thing is first, how did you end up in Mahahual?

Lorena: It’s a long story! My husband and I are originally from Italy but where living in London for several years. The weather was bad and the pace of life was just too much for us. We wanted to do something different so we could enjoy life more. My husband’s father, Angelo, had moved down from Italy to Playa Del Carmen and we decided to go live with him. But we quickly realized that Playa Del Carmen, even though it isn’t as big as London, had the same pace as a city 10 times its size.  It wasn’t much different.

Costa Maya Life: Did you guys have a plan for what you wanted to do once you got there?

Lorena: We wanted to start a business renting paddle boards, jet skis and things like that but we realized that it was too expensive there. You have to pay a tax and the tax for each paddle board was as much as for a boat. We also thought about opening up a restaurant there but it was also extremely expensive. The rent and cost of living weren’t that different from Mahahual but to own a business was another thing.

Costa Maya Life: Yeah the tourism industry there is already pretty well established I would imagine! So how did you find Mahahual?

Lorena: Well some friends of ours had told us about Mahahual, it’s beautiful beaches and relaxed charm, and that there was a cruise port. So we came down to check it out and we loved it. We decided we wanted to stay right away!

Costa Maya Life: Yeah that seems to be how it happens!

Lorena: So we went back to get our stuff and moved down immediately.

Costa Maya Life: So what did you do for jobs when you first moved down?

Lorena: Well six years ago Mahahual was very different. There weren’t as many things here and there was a need for almost everything. We met some local hotel owners who let us open a business on the beach in front of their hotel renting paddle boards and jet skis like we wanted to in Playa Del Carmen. Imagine that for two people coming from London where it is cold and rainy all of the time, to a beach town in the Caribbean working all day every day on the beach, it was like a dream for us!

Costa Maya Life: Yeah it doesn’t get more picture perfect than that! So what happened? Why did you stop doing that?

Lorena: Well, being out on the beach all day, every day, is fun for a while but it does get old believe it or not! Business was good but we were having some problems with cruise ship tourists using the equipment and damaging it, then trying to get them to pay for it, or them getting hurt, because alcohol and jet skis aren’t really a good combination….it just became too much of a hassle. So we decided to look into opening up a restaurant because Angelo has a real passion for cooking. He loves it!

Costa Maya Life: And is that what he did in Italy? Owned a restaurant?

Lorena: No. He just loved cooking. And my husband and I had both worked in the industry in London. So we had some experience.

Costa Maya Life: Ok! So we all know that there are a lot of good Italian restaurants here in Mahahual. Were you guys one of the first?

Lorena: There were already some good restaurants in town but not too many when we opened Divino Delicias Italiano down at the beach. We wanted to open something nice, but not too fancy, where people could come for a good atmosphere but not have to worry about dressing up too much or paying to much.

Costa Maya Life: So business was good?

Lorena: Business was great! The first year there was always a line out the door waiting for a table. Every night!

Costa Maya Life: You guys do have some great food. That is totally understandable!

Lorena: Thank you. Then after the first year business kindof normalized and it has been steady since then.

Costa Maya Life: Well to the locals here in Casitas, Divino Delicia Mexicana is THE place to eat and enjoy some coffee. When did you open this one? What is the story?

Lorena: We decided to open this one after the success of Divino Delicia Italiana down at the beach. Before we bought it three years ago, this location was owned by a greek man and functioned more as a bar than a restaurant. When we first bought it we would be open until 5 in the morning and both sides of the street would be full of people because we were the only bar in Casitas. Pizza Papi was there, but this place was the spot!

Costa Maya Life: Yeah I remember when we first started coming down this place was really jumping at night!

Lorena: Yes but after a while it began to calm down some thank God. At the beginning we never had anybody come in to eat…maybe 10 people all day, but at night it was like a disco. Then after a while it began to shift and now we are more of a restaurant than a bar. we can’t stay open too late because they built the apartments above us and we can’t make so much noise.

Costa Maya Life: Yeah now it is really the low key local meet up spot. There are a few more places to go and have drinks in this area but this is still the place where “everybody knows your name”.

Lorena: Yep.

Costa Maya Life: Well that is a great story. One last question and I’ll let you go…What was the thing that really made you stop and say, “Wow. This is the place where we want to be”, when you first came down?

Lorena: Well we came down for two days the first time. The first day there was a cruise ship here so we saw the town and all of the people walking around and the potential to open a good business and that was positive. But the second day, when there was no ship and we saw how quiet and relaxed everything was, we really got that sense of freedom and relaxation that you really don’t get in many other places. Obviously the water is beautiful, the beaches are beautiful and the people are friendly…but that sense of freedom was really the thing that captured us.

Costa Maya Life: Yeah the air here can definitely be infectious. Thank you!

You can catch Lorena, her husband Marco, and her father-in-law Angelo anytime at Divino Delicia Mexicana in Casitas or Divino Delicia Italiana at the beach next to Hotel Pacha Mama every day except for Monday!

You know you’re in Mexico when…

Today some Mexican culture and humor from the Matador Network.  I subscribe to the Matador Network and they have some really good articles, and some excellent writers. They give insight to life in Mexico, as seen through their writers eyes, some are Mexican natives, and some are expats.

1. “Madre” becomes a good thing, a bad thing, practically anything, but also your mother.

2. You can stop a bus wherever you want, as if it were a cab.

3. Everyone around you is wearing an overwhelming amount of hair products.

4. People laugh at you because you said you love chile or longaniza.

5. Sanitation workers are equipped with a bell, a donkey or both.

6. Every celebration is overtaken at some point by a chiquiti bum… and everyone there knows the whole incomprehensible litany.

7. You order a beer and you are asked if you want it “normal.” The opposite of normal can range from a little lime and salt, to an assortment of sauces, chili, tomato juice and maybe even some gummy bears… or shrimp… for real.

8. Someone gets his face smashed into a birthday cake and everybody applauds.

9. Your Spanish skills are immediately put to the test with two common and apparently simple concepts: limón and lima.

10. Fireworks become a totally acceptable substitute for an alarm clock, especially if you have a church nearby (and you’ll have a church nearby).

11. The same goes to the military band of your nearest school.

12. You have to stop your car in the middle of a lonely road because some guys are asking for money for a quinceañera party or for painting the local church. They use a piece of rope to stop random cars and have the quinceañera right there as proof of their good intentions.

13. The first cut in a birthday cake is a circle around its center and nobody has a convincing explanation for this.

14. Fresh made tortillas are available from specialized shops everywhere.

15. People suddenly forget what punctuality means… and you quickly follow the trend.

16. You look both sides of the road even when the crossing light is green.

17. It doesn’t matter what you’re having for breakfast, you’ll get a side of either papaya or frijolitos.

18. You’ll either be greeted with some superb coffee from Chiapas or with water for Nescafe.

19. The wall in front of you is painted with political propaganda, some party info featuring Polymarchs or a moralizing message from the virgencita.

20. Four people hanging from ropes cast themselves into the abyss from the top of a giant pole while playing drums and flutes and everybody acts as if that were perfectly normal.

21. Every single restaurant offers “something else”, like “tacos, tostadas… and something else.”

source:https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/know-youre-mexico/

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Spring breakers reportedly chant ‘build that wall’ during Cancun cruise

I never thought I would see the Fox News quote a publication I write for, but Fox News recently quoted the Yucatan Times as a source.  I came across this today from the editor of the Yucatan Times on Facebook, and I thought some of you might find this interesting.

“Thank you to The San Francisco Chronicle and Fox News for using The Yucatan Times as a source of local news!!!”

Spring breakers reportedly chant ‘

build that wall’ during Cancun cruise

A Mexican newspaper on Monday criticized a group of tourists from the U.S. on spring break who reportedly chanted “build that wall” during a cruise off Cancun, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The chanting occurred on a “Pirate Ship” attraction. The Yucatan Times called the chant an act of “xenophobia and discrimination against Mexicans within their own country.”

The paper described the cruise as an entertainment excursion allows attendees to witness sword fights and drinking. The paper reported, “This situation is far from being an isolated incident, and it adds to the growing number of complaints from tourism sector workers, who point out that in recent days many Spring Breakers have been offensive, rude and haughty towards Mexican people.”

The Mexican paper referred to a social media post by a Peruvian man who was on board the ship.

“Today I was with Suly, my wife (who is a native of Mexico), watching an entertainment show off the coast of Cancun aboard a boat, and at the end of the show, a flock of Americans (maybe under the influence of alcohol, or maybe not), began to sing the infamous ‘Build that wall’ chant louder and louder’.”

source:http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/21/spring-breakers-reportedly-chant-build-that-wall-during-cancun-cruise.html

That is the Fox News report, now here is the editorial that Fox News I think was referring to from the Yucatan Times.

EDITORIAL: Spring Breakers chanting “Build That Wall” in Cancun is unacceptable

CANCUN — What would be a dream night for Suly and Anaximandro Amable, a newly married couple who went to Cancun for their honeymoon, became a bitter experience on Monday March 13.

During a family show on the high seas, young American spring breakers began to sing the controversial “Build That Wall” chant, which shocked Mexican national tourists and workers.

This is just one of the many blameworthy behaviors that young spring breakers have shown recently in Cancun and that are described as acts of xenophobia and discrimination against Mexicans within their own country, which is (or should be) totally unacceptable.

Anaximandro, from Perú, made the following statement on social networks: “Today I was with Suly, my wife (who is a native of Mexico), watching an entertainment show off the coast of Cancun aboard a boat, and at the end of the show, a flock of Americans (maybe under the influence of alcohol, or maybe not), began to sing the infamous “Build that wall” chant louder and louder”.

This chant became popular across the US in the wake of Trump’s Election Day victory. And it went viral on social networks, when students at a Michigan middle school began chanting Build the wall!” during lunch on the day after Trump’s election, November 17, 2016.


The “Pirate Ship” sails out from Puerto Juárez, and the show takes place in the middle of the ocean, where attendees can witness the clashing of swords and the explosion of cannons along with a constant flow of drinks.

Several Mexican tourists on board the ship expressed their annoyance, but the Americans did not stop at all and continued singing the racist hymn.

This situation is far from being an isolated incident, and it adds to the growing number of complaints from tourism sector workers, who point out that in recent days many Spring Breakers have been offensive, rude and haughty towards Mexican people.

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American Tourists at Pirate Ship Cancún (Photo: Google)


post anaximandro

Anaximandro Amable Facebook post (Source; Facebook)

TYT Newsroom with information from:

source:http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2017/03/editorial-spring-breakers-chanting-build-that-wall-in-cancun-is-unacceptable/

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

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