A post card from San Felipe
As someone with a weak spot in their heart for marine mammals(touch a baby sperm whale and see how your heart melts) and who considers themselves slightly green with a tinge of blue to represent the
Sea of Cortes in them, the conversation I had this evening with a local fisherman on the malecon of San Felipe is one I won’t soon forget, probably not ever actually.
Getting local commercial fisherman to talk to a “pinchi gringo periodista de Sonora” has not been an easy task. That is why I alloted at least 5 days in San Felipe for this trip. So people could see me walking around town and hopefully get to know me. I hear it all the time now, alli esta el guey de la vaquita. I was hoping someone would finally deviate from their talking points and have enough balls to tell me the truth about what really goes on here. And believe me even poorly educated fisherman not only have talking points but will stick with them to the bitter end.
San Felipe commercial fisherman talking points go some thing like this. When I ask a local fisherman if
he has ever seen a vaquita marina the standard answer is no. I even got a local fisherman named Chalunga, an Osama Bin Ladin look alike with a beard that would put him on a no fly zone in the U.S.A. de volda, to tell me on camera that after 37 years of fishing out of San Felipe he has never seen a vaquita marina. And even though Chalunga was extremely sincere when he told me that I still find it pretty fucking hard to believe. Especially if you walk over to the extrememly hard to find office of CONANP (Mex. national parks service) office and talk to the local representative there. The CONANP guy has on his hard drive hundreds of pictures of vaquita that he has taken over the last 5 years. He even has a video shot by a local commercial fisherman with his smart phone of several vaquita marina swimming around his panga. One of the vaquita swims super fast right up to his out board engine and then swerves away at the last second.
Now, not only do local commercial fisherman say they have never seen a vaquita marina they also often claim, if you ask, that they don’t even exist. Since if you have not seen something therefore it does not exist. Some go as far as to say that the vaquita is nothing more than a conspiracy by the gringos to shut down areas were they like to fish. I finally decided I had to have some talking points of my own and it goes kind of like this.
When a fisherman tells me that vaquita don’t exist because he has never seen one I ask, “But you believe in God don’t you and I bet you have never actually seen God right”? Now the come back I got from the owner of the Huatusi restaurant floored me, he said to me, ” but I feel God”. He had me on that one, commercial fisherman one, pinchi gringo periodista zero. The game just started and I am already down by one.
Fast forward to tonight on the Malecon. I met Jorge a local sport fishing charter operator several days ago on the beach. Jorge is also a commercial fisherman. Actually much like Loreto in Baja Sur, here in San Felipe all the tourist charter pangas commercially fish. Jorge towed the line and gave me all the talking points during that first encounter. I even got some of them on tape.
Now tonight several days & beers later and after a long conversation on the malecon about God and all his creatures, with words and phrases like, no mames, como es possible, vete a la verga la vaquita, no digas pendejadas, etcetera, and a whole shit load of uproarious laughter in between, Jorge finally came clean and departed from the talking points. Not only had he seen vaquita he had actually eaten one once and it tasted damn good to boot.
It was the kind of spontaneous conversation that you could never capture on tape, not in a million years and yet it was the best and most revealing dialog I have had with anyone in this town so far.
commercial fisherman one, pinchi gringo periodista one, GAME TIED
Viva Mexico Cabrones!! oh yea and I forget the most important part of all, thanks Rosario for you comment, Viva La Vaquita Marina!