Vallarta Living | February 2009
|A Fish Catching Miracle in Mexico|
Bill Bell - ontheroadin.com
I try not to write much about my other life: the life I have in the small Mexican coastal village of La Penita de Jaltemba, 60 kilometres north of Puerto Vallarta.
Still, once in a while this cynical and somewhat jaded 54-year-old ex politician/journalist/lobbyist (what an awful combination) comes across a human interest story that will bring a tear even to my eyes.
La Penita is located on the small Jaltemba Bay on the newly named Riviera Nayarit coast. Mexico is a strange land, and in the state of Nayarit some things just don't make sense to the thousands of Canadians and Americans who make this piece of paradise their winter home.
When you walk down the cobblestoned streets and peer in the open doorways you will find Mexican children that are well-loved, hugged, kissed and doted upon. Yet travel up into the Sierra Madres coastal mountains to the state capitol of Tepic and you will notice abandoned children scrounging the streets and landfills for anything of value. Much like the homeless now found in the US, they sleep under bridges and in abandoned buildings. The big difference here is these are children as young as four and five years old, many forced out on the street because they were physically and sexually abused.
Both the federal and state governments are trying to solve this problem, but they are a far cry from having the resources to keep all of these children off the street. Christian organizations have stepped up to the plate to offer a secular solution, such as the orphanage Casa de Niños.
Amazingly Casa de Niños was started 40 years ago by a prison minister, Dr. Frank Gonzales, who found young children living in the Tepic Prison.
"While ministering in the prison in Tepic in 1968, Gonzales saw several little boys among the inmates," said now director, Russ Krube. "When he questioned the warden, he was told that the boys were homeless street children. Since there was no children's home in the entire state of Nayarit, they had no choice but to put the boys in with the adult prisoners."
Today according to Krube, the orphanage handles between 22 and 35 abandoned and in most cases abused children. But even at that, because of resources, their screening process prevents helping the children that have become too hardened by the streets of Tepic.
"We are unable to equip and train our staff to handle the long-term street kids, or help as much as we should with the ones with special needs," Krube said, pointing to a young Mexican girl whose parents, living in the isolated surrounding mountains, never talked to her. "She is nine years old and she cannot speak either the Indian dialect or Spanish language properly. Our staff is not trained to handle that, but we do our best."
The orphanage offers primary schooling, beds and a kitchen and large playground. It is clean and well run, but upon a closer look one can see it is in desperate need of funding.
"We are always in need of something," Krube says pointing out the need for new beds, paint, computers and basic supplies. The list is long. "Our goal is to get the families back together, but that is not always possible. Children can spend their entire childhood here."
Funding comes from American and Canadian Christian organizations, but the most unusual method comes from an extraordinary man. Only in Mexico could an architect from Oregon build a bass fishing lodge as a means to fund an orphanage.
David Sanders came to Casa de Niños through his Christian organization as a volunteer to help. Once there, he realized he had to try and do something more than just a few weeks of handiwork.
Sanders came up with the concept of building a bass fishing lodge on the newly dammed Santiago River Aguamilpa located in a remote part of Nayarit just 60 kilometres northeast of Tepic. Avid bass fishermen from the United States and Canada would come, and 25 per cent of the proceeds would go towards the maintenance of the orphanage. He would name it the Fishinmission.
"This Mexican bass factory is best known for providing hours of non-stop bass-catching action that at times can be truly amazing. While double-digit bass are becoming more and more available in this relatively new reservoir - with the lake record well over 13 pounds - it is the sheer numbers of solid quality bass, (in the two to six pound range) that have given this lake its reputation," Sanders says proudly.
It has been an expensive process for Sanders, but he believes that his hard work will pay off and help give the orphanage the funding it needs to continue it good works.
Looking at the dramatic and inspiring views of the reservoir from the Palapa Lodge, one can see why Sanders would see God's hand directing his work here in Mexico
As for the fishing, we caught 49 bass in just under five hours.
You can reach Sanders at FishinMissionAdventures.com.