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07 - 11 November 2002

by Tom Harvey

Conditions in San Blas Mexico

Between November 7-11 I went to San Blas Mexico.  I am pleased to report that just two weeks after the hurricane most hotels and restaurants are open, electricity is on, and phone service was partially connected.  The coast road from Puerto Vallarta through Las Varas and the road from the Mazatlan-Tepic highway are open.  Most houses in the community sustained some damage but are still standing, most have roof damage, and flooding from the storm surge or rain ruined many people’s possessions.  The town itself is slowly getting back to normal and are working hard to have everything ready for this tourist season.

The guides and I scouted many birding hot spots.  In three days of scouting, not intensive birding, we observed 147 species including several local specialties such as Bare-throated Tiger Herons, Boat-billed Herons, Wood Storks, Great Black Hawks, Crane Hawks, Wilson’s Plovers, Mexican Parrotlets, Mangrove Cuckoos, Citreoline Trogons, Masked Tityras, Mangrove Swallows, San Blas Jays, Purplish-backed Jays, Mangrove Vireos, and Mangrove Warblers.  Other birders reported Rufous-necked Wood Rails and Russet-crowned Motmots.

All of the birding spots described in the various guides are accessible, including the river trips and trailheads in the small towns.  Some are damaged more than others.

Because San Blas is a small town without many resources, mostly supported by fishing, agriculture and tourism, the impact to people’s lives has been tremendous.  Everybody in town sustained damage to their homes and lost possessions.  If you wish to help, the best thing you can do is to go birding there.  Stay in the hotels, eat at the restaurants, hire birding guides, drink beer, eat seafood at the beach, and enjoy yourself.  More than anything else, the people want to get back to normal and get back to work.  If you wish to do more, pack an extra $20 bill or two, give it to Josefina at Hotel Garza Canela or Camillo at Hotel Posada del Rey, and ask them to give it to a family in need.  Already the tourists are returning.  There was never so much as a blip in the crime rate around town.  The effects of the hurricane are something to behold and will be evident for some time to come.

Tom Ryan