Tom Ross: Never feed Pacifico to a Mexican burro

If you're not in Mexico this week, you're in the minority

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Tom Ross

Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Tom here.

It has been more than 20 years since I vacationed in Akumal on the Mexican Riviera. But I did visit the live Web cam that overlooks the beach on Friday. The temperature at noon was 30 degrees centigrade - that's 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

The surface of the bay was only lightly ruffled by the wind, a sign that water clarity would be good and snorkelers would spot parrotfish and French angelfish on the coral reef.

I couldn't help but feel some concern for one sunbather who seemed to be spending too much time under the subtropical sun. Every time I returned to the Web cam, she was still there. I felt like offering her some of my sunscreen. Ahem.

I didn't bother to bookmark the page.

If you are among the handful of Steamboaters who did not leave for Mexico this morning, feel free to join me in feeling sorry for yourselves. If you're reading this at the airport, wipe that smirk off your face.

No matter which Mexican beach resort you check into this week, you are certain to bump into someone you know from Steamboat. That's a guarantee.

Chances are, the snowbirds' feet will be sunburned where gaps between the straps in their sandals let the sun's rays through. Chances are, they won't care. Chances are, they'll be stumbling along on the wet sand left by low tide, and they'll be gripping a clear plastic cup filled with a tropical drink in their right hand. Chances are, the rest of us don't want to hear about it.

Akumal, which has changed a great deal in last two decades, wasn't my first trip to one of Mexico's beach resorts.

It must have been 1983 when we visited the Colonial city of Mazatlan and stayed in a hotel called the Costa de Oro. That was the trip of the great board sailing debacle.

There was a German man on the beach who operated a board sailing concession and ferried experienced customers to an offshore island to get them out beyond the breaking surf.

I fibbed, and claimed to be experienced in the sport. How difficult could it be?

Our visit coincided with the popular Easter holiday for native Mexicans. Mazatlan's shrimping fleet, the largest in Mexico, was anchored just off the island. Families dressed in their Sunday clothes were hosting parties on the decks.

I managed to climb onto the board just fine and went screaming over the chop on a near reach. However, I couldn't tack and change direction in the gusty winds. I quickly found myself marooned among the tightly packed shrimp boats.

I recall enduring a good deal of heckling from darling little girls dressed in immaculate white dresses before the German fellow came to my rescue. Later, I drowned my shame in a few bottles of Pacifico, which I shared with a gregarious burro that ruled the island. That was the end of my board sailing career, but the beginning of a beautiful friendship (the burro and I still exchange postcards at the holidays).

The highlight of the trip was a deep-sea fishing charter, which netted a 25-pound Dorado (the same fish we know as mahi mahi).

I paid a man on the dock $2 to filet my catch, packed it into the trunk of a taxi and hauled it back to the Costa de Oro.

The hotel chef baked the huge filets in milk and nutmeg and charged our party $4.50 a head for the side dishes he prepared to accompany the succulent fish.

Anyway, since you and I are holding down the fort in Steamboat Flats this week, I though you might enjoy reminiscing about earlier trips to tropical beaches. Feel free to crack a couple of Pacificos for me. Better yet, drop half a can of limeade, one of those bottles of beer and a half dozen ounces of Sauza into the blender and let it whirl your cares away. Cause don't you know, it's five o'clock somewhere.

And if you want to check out the Web cam in Akumal, you can find it at: http://www.locogringo.com/Upload/akumal-beach-cam.html

The skies were just starting to cloud over a little bit at 4 p.m., but the temperature was still a balmy 83 degrees.

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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