Place Where You Live:

Puerto Aventuras, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Iguana, Phase 4

The Caribbean coast of Mexico, commercially known as the Riviera Maya, exploded with people during the past decades. Puerto Aventuras, where I live, appears quaint. The town boasts an international community, a nine-hole golf course, hotels, restaurants, shops, and a marina. To add to the aesthetics, a Spanish-inspired palette is provided. The commercial zone is home to a dolphin petting zoo. Mangroves are regularly destroyed and there are enough impervious surfaces to suggest that something that lands on the highway can slide through the entrance gates, down the road, over the topes (speed bumps), around plant pots, and into the ocean. Few seem bothered. The town is growing and the newest part, known as phase four, is not yet complete. So, when the new boat engine needs breaking in, I take the opportunity to explore the new development.

I lower my camera bag into our Carolina Skiff, release the lines, and push off the dock. Paul, my other half, works the engine and drops two lines in the water, just in case. Condos stand shoulder to shoulder and rubbish collects among the mangrove roots—the few that survive. Cement or tile replaces the natural landscape. I don’t think the builders understand the function of green spaces. At the end of the canal new waterways cut through the limestone, marking the first stage to the development.

Phase four is still natural, but in transition. We catch and release jacks and see a tarpon roll. I see the home and hunting grounds of kiskadees, terns, and grackles. A kingfisher bounces from stone to stone. A green heron is on the hunt. Iguanas crawl into the cracks of the canal walls. In the branches of a mangrove, I focus on a female anhinga drying her feathers. Her neck slithers as she waits. The anhinga is a favorite bird of mine, and I’m lucky to see three, today. I hear birds talking, hidden behind the thick brush. Every bush and tree teems with life and beyond the tree line, I know, the wildlife clings to its habitat. The construction in phase four is steady, fast, and undeniable. None of these birds will be protected, and so the dreamer who works overtime for the once-in-a-lifetime vacation will see the quaint concrete jungle in phase four, and be made a fool.