Pizza, Chocotuna and Giant Parrot Fish


Great pizza at Mario’s in Akumal Pueblo. You can’t miss the big Pizza sign on the main street in Akumal Pueblo. This is the town where the Mexican people live after all the Americans and Spanish bought up all the beautiful beach property and forced the locals to leave their little beachfront casitas and move across the highway. Kind of a drag, to say the least.

Mario’s opened about five months ago in June-July 2009, according to Mario’s son, who speaks good English. The pizza slices are individually made — not part of a bigger pizza — little pizza triangles served blazing hot for 25 pesos (about $2), including two toppings. They are delicious! Since it’s also a bakery they excel in making pizza crust. There’s also a selection of baked goods including baguettes, croissants and traditional Mexican pastries.

Sitting outside at this little table I observed life in Akumal Pueblo.

Mario's Pizza and Panaderia in Akumal Pueblo. Muy sabroso!

Dr. Liz, a pretty young Mexican doctor runs the pharmacia next door. Kids play in the street, Gringos drive up for the doctor and the grocery store down the street, locals cruise the main drag in cars, teenage novios walk arm in arm. Along with a slice of pizza you get a little slice of life in this Mexican village.

This sure beats what one of my former roommates, Rally, has for dinner. Rally doesn’t like to cook, so his protein fix is — sit down for this one — tuna fish and chocolate milk in a blender. He says first you taste the tuna and then there’s a chocolate aftertaste. “It’s much better with two containers of chocolate milk than just one.” Imagine that.

I saw the most amazing parrot fish today. While snorkeling on turtle patrol I saw one about a foot or so long with the most gorgeous colors — every color of the rainbow. I told Abraham about it and he told me about the giant parrot fish out beyond the green buoy. The green buoy is the entrance to Akumal Bay for the boats and the sort of boundary where the bay ends and the reef opens into the sea. He said the giant parrot fish hangs out there just around the time the sun goes down.

I was fascinated. I figured I’d be cold since the sun was going down, so I put some potatoes on the stove in the communal kitchen, grabbed a towel and headed for the beach.

I took the Vigilante (Patrol) kayak out, tied it up around the green buoy and set out with some trepidation, since I’ve heard that the sharks come in at night, the sun was going down and there was no one else out there. But I figured if I spotted Jaws I wouldn’t be too far from the kayak to swim back and paddle to shore.

As the sun sets, the translucent turquoise water turns a more ominous dark green, so with some guarded fear, I slipped off the side of the orange kayak into the unknown. Once in the water with my mask and snorkel I could still see the familiar fish, sand and coral and felt more at ease. As I kicked farther from the kayak I saw some huge coral formations and schools of beautiful blue and yellow striped fish and thought, “If I were a giant parrot fish this is where I’d hang out.” Shortly after this thought some large, dark shadows appeared in the water. I wondered if they were the big permits — a type of fish that Dario had talked about. Suddenly I saw a giant parrot fish — maybe two or more feet long. It was a spectacular blazing orange and blue, different form the younger rainbow-colored one I saw earlier that day and hefty like a sideways turtle — almost scary except that they were so beautiful. Then there was another . . . and another — in all six or seven of these magnificent piceans, swimming in a splendiferous school like an otherworldly vision or dream. Happily, I swam back to my kayak as the sun set, magical mission accomplished.

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