Welcomed to Tenecatita at Gunpoint

On our way down the Gold Coast we stopped at a large bay called Tenecatita. We pulled into the first inlet named “The Aquarium”.  There used to be a small town here known to locals as Rebalsito up until a year ago. At our previous anchorage in Chamela Bay members of the sailing vessel Neener had warned us that things were not right at the Aquarium in the Bay of Tenecatita.


The Aquarium had been a cruisers favorite stop. The name, I’m sure, was given for a live reef in the inlet. The setting was magical. The inlet was lined by a wide sandy beach in the shape of a new moon. The backdrop was lush, with palm trees marking the highest points of the vegetation. Before we had arrived here there was a village with restaurants and other businesses that tourists and cruisers would patronize. A river ride from the other end of the Bay let out at the Aquarium as well, where people could enjoy some food, drinks and hospitality at the end of their river run. Today there are no families, or businesses present. It was just as Neener described. Things were not right here. This is the story we got from them:


On August 4th men with guns surrounded the village. It was 3 am. The men made their way into town on foot and pickup trucks and woke up the villagers by firing guns into the air and violently knocking on the doors of the residents. Men who tried to protect their home and families were beaten. Tear gas was used, children and infants were affected. Families were told to leave and by doing so leaving everything they owned behind.


Once the village was successfully overtaken the men celebrated. They raided the restaurants, ate the fresh seafood and drank the beer. The invasion was complete.


The men with guns, it turns out, were a combined force of local police and hired guns. They were owned by a business man that had worked in cohorts with the governor to overturn legal deeds of the land belonging to the villagers. They wanted the bay, it is beautiful here.


We were alone in the bay when we dropped the anchor. White pickup trucks started moving up the beach. I could see a man jump out the back with an assault rifle slung to his back.  There was no village left, it had been bulldozed several months prior. Instead we stared at several large but lonely looking mansions that had sprung up in the ashes of a once vibrant place. Jade, Paul, Daniel and I wanted a closer look. We blew up the dinghy and took it to shore.


At our landing we were greeted at the beach by a large mustached man with a chromed .44 strapped to his belt. His arms were crossed and a group of young men with rifles backed his presence. They looked ready for anything. We smiled and asked if this was a restaurant. “Private, no pictures, you can walk on beach only” was his response.  Given that all beaches in Mexico are public by law this was not surprising and did not feel like an invitation to enjoy this bay.


We hung out on the beach watching them watch us.  Weapons in hand they looked ready to defend their newly occupied territory.  We spent the night here and even decided to snorkel in the Aquarium. The beauty of this live reef did not override the terror that still lay in the air of the people that were forced out of their homes so recently.


We pulled our anchor and motored deeper into the bay of Tenecatita. Our hearts touched by this injustice.


Read more at http://cyberpueblo.com/group/tenacatita.