El Playador

few days ago I picked up a friend by Tropic Air and gave him a lift. He said he was stopping by El Playador Hotel. As I left him I wondered if our tourists and visitors know the meaning of "EI Playador". And then I wondered if kids today ever go beachcombing. "El Playador" means a beachcomber.

As a young boy, every Saturday and everyday during the summer vacations, I would go walking with my dad. And almost everyday, we would do some beachcombing. Sometimes we would go beachcombing for specific things, and other times we just walked a half a mile and took whatever we found.

Beachcombing for bamboo was common. It was split along the length into strips which were used to make lobster wooden traps or to repair rotten parts of the trap. Bamboo was also split in half and used as pickets on the fence or on the walls of a small house instead of the palmetto sticks. Beachcombing for lumber was also very common. I'x 6' or 1'x 8' pieces were frequently found. 2'x 4'x 8' or 4x4 posts were also plentiful. These usually came in varied lengths. 25 years ago most fences around San Pedro were either made of driftwood or bamboo. Most of these driftwood pieces had no nails which indicated that they were washed away from some ship or dumped overboard. Some driftwood had nails so it must have come from some island in the Caribbean or from the Mexican coast of the Yucatan.

There were two types of glass balls or buoys found on our beaches. The large ones, usually green, measured about 14 inches in diameter and were inside a rope netting. My dad said these were used es buoys by Japanese fishing vessels. Then there were the small ones that measured about 6 inches across and came in red, green and crystal' sad said these were used on fishing nests to keep them afloat. I had at least 50 large ones and 75 small ones piled up in my yard at one time. Wish I had them now when the large ones are fetching 200 dollars. Don't find these anymore as they have been replaced by styrofoam buoys.

Then we beachcombed for pieces of a material called "[acre". There were people who purchased it and sold it to Mexicans. It was said that it was melted and used for sealing the mouths of bottles - paraffm sort of stuff.

Yes, we also found ropes of varied lengths and thicknesses. The half inch thick rope was used on dories and the one inch thick on boats. Occasionally one found a two inch or three inch thick rope that was perhaps 100 feet or 200 feet long. These were kept until someone came around looking for a rope for a barge or something big and usually fetched between 100 to 200 dollars.

On one particular journey along the beach, my dad and I found a drum full of diesel. Another time it was a drum full of kerosene. Mr. Lorenzo Mendez, a San Pedrano, found a drum of perfume concentrate. He quickly sold that drum at 10 dollars a quart.

Yes, we also found light bulbs that worked. We were especially delighted when we found coloured bulbs that worked. Bottles of odd shapes and colours were also picked up and used as water containers. It was always a delight to pick up along the beach tennis balls or solid rubber balls or eight inch plastic balls. Yes, we also found good footwear like plastic sandals, and if we did not mind wearing them in two colours, they were perfectly usable.

The trick to beachcombing is to move far away from town or inhabited areas. Most fishermen sort of had their respective areas and made sure they combed those areas regularly.

Today what is on the beach is trash for everyone. Not so 25 years ago. A lot of the stuff was valuable. Some girls owned their first plastic dolls thanks to the beach. And I do recall that at least one window of my first house had a window made from a piece of drifted wood. Indeed there were people who built entire garages or store rooms out of driftwood. The art of beachcombing was a popular hobby and pastime. Today only the name "EI Playador" remains.

Why not go beachcombing. You might find a girl or a boy. Or perhaps a bagful! Happy beachcombing!

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