"Could we take a few hours off fishing to see that one afternoon?" Bob asked.
"I'd like to do that, too," I said. You could tell we were the junior members of the party. Art and Roy were not concerned to answer this foolishness. Obviously, this was to be a quest for fish, and Mayan temples were not on the schedule.
And then we were losing height, dipping toward a vast complex of lagoons just ruffled with a little wind. A long brown shape slid along in the water, then boiled away with a tail flick as the shadow of the Cessna fell across it. It could only have been a shark. "Did you say we have to wade these shallows?" asked Bob, saying what I was thinking.
"Yes, it's more fun to wade," said Art dreamily, coming out of his trance as we started our run-in to Pez Maya's sandy strip. The sharks probably thought so, too, I reasoned silently. The Yum-Yum Lagoon, did they call it? The name sounded sinisterly replete.
On the ground, about 800 small Mexicans whisked our gear away, Roy and Art had us swiftly processed through lunch and by 2:30 we were down at the boca, the small tidal pass that feeds the vast backwaters of the lagoon. The skiffs were drawn up ready there, and ready also was laughing Rosalito, guide henceforward to Art and me. "This is going to be all eye work to begin with," Art said. "We've really got to stalk those permit...."
Rosalito picked up the last word. Smiling gaily he said, "Permit no bueno." He pointed to the sun, adding classically, "Ma�ana." The permit question being settled, he opened the motor up and we batted through a maze of mangrove-lined channels until we hit open water where, plain in our Polaroids, a small bomb-crater-sized hole appeared in the shallows. Close to it, he plopped in the anchor and looked at us encouragingly. "Fish away!" his expression said.
Looking like a man who had been invited for the salmon fishing and instead has been given a hand line and told to catch a few eels, Art reluctantly set up his gear, tying on a small pink jig. Not very clear as to what we were about to do, I followed suit, following him also when he flicked his lure the full 20 yards across the hole, let it sink and then retrieved it in jerks. On maybe the 17th cast, something small connected itself with Art's jig. He fetched it splashing to the surface as Rosalito, a guide justified, giggled happily. "A jack, how nice," said Art, thinly. He made the international fishing gesture to Rosalito which means, "We shift ground, now, now, now!" Nodding agreeably, pleased that he had found sport for us, Rosalito hauled the anchor, started the motor and took us to another lovely hole, just like the first.
"When does the stalking and the eye work start?" I asked Art.
"Ma�ana" he said, a little tight-lipped I thought.
We didn't catch anything in the second hole, but a big barracuda came up and leered at us for a while. Naively excited, I turned to grab the spare rod in the stern, the heavy one armed with a big plug. "Leave it," Art said, as one who addresses an eager but imperfectly trained gundog. "That's there in case we see any tarpon." I came to heel, putting it down carefully. I hadn't realized that barracuda were quite so positively beneath contempt.