by Harry, Thursday, February 10, 2011, 09:49 (2720 days ago)
edited by Harry, Thursday, February 10, 2011, 09:57

Buenas Dias autre vez mis amigos....

On Wednesday Ilana and I "Did Barra." Started with Avi's tour and combined it with a visit to the Refugio de Potosi. To quote my very particular Daughter, who has never been one to lavish praise and is especially prone to embarrassment by her accordion-playing comedian wannabe Dad.... "it was our best day of the trip so far."

I'd like to preface my review of Avi's tour with a suggestion that everyone who visits this area would do well to enjoy what he has so far produced. In my view, Avinael Cadena Banuelos is an enormous talent, and I sincerely hope that this will soon be a viable business and that the integrity of what he has to offer will continue. And this, of course will depend substantially upon whether Barra becomes more developed, and if it does - will the unique, sensitive and lush ecosystem of the Barra mangroves be preserved?

I contacted Avi by email. He responded very promptly same day. It was about a 1/2 hr. taxi ride from Madera, and the price was $250. Must have been one of the syndicated local drivers, because he had photos of both Marlon Brando as Don Corleone and Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa lovingly framed behind the driver's seat. (just kidding)

We met Avi on the beach in front of the lagoon as arranged. It wasn't hard to do. As soon as we got out of the cab and walked through a restaurant (which you more or less have to do to reach the beach) I told the mesero who approached us that we were here to take Avi's tour. He nodded affirmatively and whistled to Avi. All was ready. We were expected.

We're bird lovers. Ilana loves all animals, but has a particular affinity to birds. We weren't disappointed. The Barra teams with life. We saw 4 types of herons, frigate birds, kingfishers, and heard but didn't see doves cooing in the mangroves. We paused a couple of times to fish. Avi took out a scoop net and quickly retrieved some of the little crabs of the bay. They're small. Perhaps 4" across the back point-to-point. Cooked in soup he says.

I wished sincerely that my good friend Vancouver Tony could have shared the moment with us....Tony knows ALL ABOUT catching crabs..

Then Avi demonstrated fishing with the casting net. It's quite an art to throw so that it spreads properly. I'm sure he learned it very much out of necessity as a child... On his first toss he brought in a surprising number of herring-like little fish that are a staple food here. I gave it a go, and though I caught one or two fish , my casting technique was far from great. Totally fascinating.

Ilana wants me to tell you all about Avi's passion for what he does. She wants you to know that it was an experience like right out of National Geographic magazine.

Avi charged us $300 pesos for this experience. I gave him $1000. And it's worth all of that and more.


We then had breakfast in a vast but empty Barra restaurant and then hopped a "progresso" to the Refugio. I think Ilana liked that ride better than anything we did at Disneyland. Back of the truck like campesinos off to work in the mango orchards....

The Refugio was very worthwhile. Your 60 peso admission helps them continue their good works. It was very interesting, though truth be told I felt myself starting to get a little woozy in the heat of the day at 12:30 pm.

Loved the place. Ilana petted LALA the hairy Mexican porcupine.

They've got a fine selection of parrots, hawks, and a funny indigenous chicken-like bird that followed us around the compound. You've gotta see Jurassic Park where iguanas rule as dinosaurs in ages past. A big old boa constrictor, and a little crocodile pond are more treats that can be a fun tactile experience for kids of all ages.

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