When the early autumn rains subside and the hurricane winds diminish to a whisper, look for me in a thatched-roof cabana under the palm trees on a sparkling white-sand beach south of Cancun, Mexico. The sound of the softly unfurling waves is nature’s irresistibly seductive lullaby.
In the morning, my guide from the fishing village of Punta Allen–an unfortunately dull English corruption of the more descriptive Punta Ayiin or crocodile point–arrives by boat. Tanned and muscular and standing barely five feet tall, he has Maya blood and a Maya heart. His people have lived here for thousands of years. Their magnificent Mesoamerican limestone architecture and hieroglyphs and celestial mapping still echo one of the world’s great vanished civilizations.
We are off to explore Ascension Bay. In the distance against a slate sky, wings of white egrets flash like flapping mirrors. A cow manatee and her rare two calves surface. More than 300 species of birds and more than 100 mammals flourish in this incredibly rich 1.3-million-acre watery national park called Sian Ka’an–the place where “the sky is born,” according to the ancient Maya.
It’s one of the few places on earth where the diligent fly fisher has a reasonable chance of catching a bonefish, a tarpon and a permit in the same day. In seasoned saltwater parlance, this qualifies as a grand slam. These are fishes of the colorful coral reefs and shallow flats and mysterious mangrove lagoons. The brilliant-sided saucer-shaped permit are the most difficult. Day after day, casting into blinding sunshine to clear water, I manage to hook one or two of the species but never all three.
Each evening, to console myself, before rum cocktails and a dinner of fresh local seafood, I float in the gentle caressing swells of the blue-green Caribbean sea, the cares of the rest of the world a million miles away.
Thomas R. Pero is the editor of Fish & Fly magazine.
Longest runway: 11,483 ft, 90-mi drive
(lodges meet anglers and escort them).
FBOs and ground handlers:
Air Cargo Alliance, 52 555 592 5432;
ASUR Cancun FBO, 52 998 848 7241;
ICCS Mexico-MMUN, 52 998 874 0808;
Interlink, 52 988 461 63;
Manny Aviation Services, 52 722 273 0981;
Menzies Aviation, 52 998 886 0176.
For detailed information about
Sian Ka’an, visit UNESCO’s Web site
Pesca Maya Lodge
Ascension Bay, Mexico,