Gulf of Mexico

For centuries there the maps of Mexico showed an island called Bermeja located off the north coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It wasn’t a big island, but it was there. Then, suddenly, it wasn’t there. Now…islands don’t just disappear, so was it there, or wasn’t it, and if it was, where did it go? These days, it’s known as a phantom island. What’s interesting about this island is that a search for it found nothing that could have been called an island. While it is strange that an island was on a map and then wasn’t, I began to wonder why it mattered. There was a reason…oil rights. When a question arose concerning oil rights in the Gulf of Mexico, where the island was concerned, research started when someone pointed out that the island has no real boundaries, and therefore, no rights to oil in the Gulf of Mexico. So, authorities started looking for this piece of land, but they found only water. I’m sure that settled the question of oil rights, but it doesn’t explain whether or not the island ever existed, or if it was just an error on the old maps.

Of course, no pictures of the island are known to exist. All we know is that one century, it’s sitting pretty at 22°33′ N, 91°22 E in the Gulf of Mexico and the next, it’s vanished, confounding maritime investigations and aerial surveys alike. While it may seem to many people as no big deal, the Mexican people want to know where it went. It wasn’t inhabited, so you might wonder why it is so important to know if it did and if so, where it went. The thing is that while it wouldn’t be like the island of Jamaica went missing, it still changes what the Mexican people thought they knew about their world. For some people, that is akin to having your computer have a virus, and you can’t seem to get rid of it. Ok, maybe that is extreme, but in a techy world, that would be a good comparison.

Bermeja was a common fixture on maps drawn by Spanish explorers back in the 16th and 17th centuries. Strangely, its location sometimes varied slightly and sometimes its name appeared as Vermeja, but its existence was not in question at that time. In the 18th century, however, the island’s cartographic presence started faltering, before it eventually dropped off the horizon altogether. Its last mapped appearance dates back to the 1921 edition of the Geographic Atlas of the Mexican Republic. So, what happened to it? If you ask me it eroded away, but that is just my opinion. There are many theories regarding Bermeja’s mysterious fate. Some say that “global warming” caused the island to succumb to rising sea levels. Some wonder if an underwater earthquake caused it to denigrate. Then, there is the conspiracy theory that maybe, the CIA blow it up. They theorize that with a view to expanding US sovereignty in the oil-rich Gulf the island had to go. Others say that while that might be far-fetched, perhaps it’s not entirely impossible. I suppose that given its small size it might not have taken much to blow it up.

The Mexican and United States governments negotiated a treaty to divide Hoyos de Dona in 1997. Hoyos de Dona is a stretch of international waters taking in the area where Bermeja was once believed to be located. Now, the island mattered, so the Mexican government sent an expedition out to find it. The reason…if Bermeja did exist, it would significantly extend Mexico’s maritime limits and, more importantly, its right to the oil deposits within these limits. They found nothing, and the treaty was signed. Still, there was the authorized period of delay on oil exploration and exploitation in Hoyos de Dona, giving them a little time. That period of delay is to expire in 2010, Mexico started the hunt again. The implications for the country’s economy were just too appealing to ignore.

The “hunt” consisted of three official investigations that took place in 2009. All three used the most best technologies available at that time. They left “no wave unturned and no depth unplunged.” Nevertheless, Bermeja, nor any sign that it existed, could be found. There are those who think that it’s simply time to admit that the island never existed, and maybe it was invented by early explorers to mislead their rivals. Julio Zamora, president of the Mexican Society of Geography believes so, and says, “Countries making maps in the 16th and 17th centuries published them with inaccuracies to prevent their enemies from using them.” If ships saw an island on the map, they would avoid the area, thus allowing the map-makers free run of the area. I’m not sure why that would be important, but I suppose it’s possible, but Irasema Alcántara, from the Geography Institute at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), disagrees, saying “We’ve encountered documents containing very precise descriptions of Bermeja’s existence. On this basis we firmly believe that the island did exist, but in another location.” Well, now, that puts a whole new spin on an otherwise totally confusing situation. Maybe, we should just leave well enough alone and say, “Now you see it, now you don’t.” Highly unlikely.

My Aunt Jeanette Byer, is such a sweet person. She is easy to get along with and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her. For a number of years we didn’t get to see her much, while she and my Uncle Larry were living in Louisiana, because he took a transfer with Texaco when things here in Wyoming were slower. I can imagine that it was a fun time for them, however, because it was near the Gulf of Mexico, and warm year round. There is the hurricane factor too, of course, and that might not have been so great. Nevertheless, my grandma, Hattie Byer and several other of my aunts and uncles went down for visits, as did my parents. I remember my mom, Collene Spencer telling me that it was so humid there that you couldn’t get dry, no matter how many times you dried off, and it was a little hard to breath through the humidity. Aunt Jeanette assured my mom that you got used to that after a while. Strangely, when my husband, Bob and I went to Louisiana years after Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry moved back to Wyoming, I don’t recall the humidity issues that my mother had experienced. Maybe I just liked summer and humidity more than my mom had, I really can’t say for sure.

I was glad when Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry moved back to Wyoming, because then we got to see them more…oddly it was most often in the hardware store. I guess we were both doing projects at that time, hahahahaha!! Nevertheless, we always stopped and visited before we each went back to our shopping again. They were always great to talk to, and they laughed often. Both of them had these wonderful, infectious laughs, and I often wondered if that was part of what attracted them to each other in the first place.

Aunt Jeanette knew Uncle Larry when they were kids in school. As sometimes was the case, and still is today, people knew each other for years, and even became high school sweethearts before they married. When you think about it, that isn’t a bad thing. Becoming friends before you start dating, means that you at least know if you can stand to be around the person for more than ten minutes at a time. Well, Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry knew that they most definitely could “stand” to be around each other for more than ten minutes, and in reality, for much longer. The could “stand” to be around each other for life, and it would be a life filled with laughter too. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 85th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When you are on vacation, the idea is to relax and enjoy yourself, but all too often, there are so many things to see and do that you find yourself needing to go back to work to rest up. I have been on many of those trips. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed my trips. I have been blessed to have gone many places, and I have many wonderful memories from my trips. Still, I must say that not all of them have been relaxing.

As a caregiver, who also works full time…when I can stay at work full time, I have a lot of stress in my life, and sometimes what I need the most is to relax…even if only for part of a trip. Today was that day. The drive from Mississippi to Florida was beautiful, with splendid views of the Gulf of Mexico. The green trees and lush grass were calming to my soul.

The time spent at the beach, however, was the best of all. We walked barefoot through the sand, which is really crushed sea shells, and laughed about the fact that is squeaked as you stepped in it. Then we laughed at the little birds who were eating something at the water’s edge. They would run out there when the water receded and then turn and run away from the next incoming wave. Their little legs were moving as fast as they could possibly go. Then they would look back at the water as if to scold it for interrupting their dinner. They were just so funny!! I only wish I could have been quick enough to get a picture.

We walked along the water’s edge, letting the warm Gulf water run over our feet. The breeze was gentle and warm. It was so relaxing to just enjoy the sensations of the water and the salt air. We stood in the water, laughing about the way the water made our feet sink into the sand,and trying not to fall down as a result. Then we found a place to sit in the sand, and we sat relaxing for quite some time. There is just something about listening to the waves crashing into the beach and the gulls squawking above that is somehow peaceful.

We talked very little. It didn’t seem like that kind of a moment. It was a time to sit and quietly reflect on the trip we had taken, and the beauty of the Gulf water around us. We watched the waves coming in and waited to see if they would finally make it to our feet. Bob found a sea shell that the waves washed in, and we watched the sea gulls trying to steal fish from a pelican.

Finally, we picked up our sandals and the sea shell and made our way back to the car…relaxed and contented, and grateful for the day God had blessed us with. It was a perfectly beautiful, amazingly relaxing, wonderful kind of day.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Check these out!