Friday, April 8, 2016

Missing! Five Islanders and the Anastacia

Anastacia - before it went missing.  Isla Fiesta photo

They are husbands and fathers, brothers and sons, uncles and nephews, cousins and friends; and they are missing.  Five friends left Isla Mujeres on a 32-foot boat, the Anastacia, Wednesday March 30th.  They were headed towards the island of Cozumel to fish for sharks.   

They have not been heard from since.

Waiting for news
At the fishing coop where the Anastacia berths the families wait, faces pinched by worry and love, seeking comfort from each other.  

Eyes brim with tears that quickly spill with the arrival of more friends, affectionate hugs, and soft words of solace.  An upset child picking up the unsettled mood, tugs at a sleeve of his mother, plaintively asking: When is papi coming home? 

But each new day is a morning filled with hope and optimism.  “Today is the day we will find them!” 

The search coordinating committee is made up of many islanders including Jorge Fernando De La O Pino papa to Jorge De La O, the captain of the Anastacia.  

Javi, Marla, Jorge Sr., and Jill

Others members are Marcelo Cupul Ku, Rogelio Digurnay Perez, Marcelino Cupul Avalos, Javier Martinez Cen, Marla Bainbridge Martinez, Wilberth Ancona Argaez, Julio Sosa Chuc and Thelmo Burgos Uc.  Jill Hardekopf is also helping out with her American contacts.  

Most of the committee has other jobs that they have taken a leave of absence from, allowing them to devote time to finding their family members.  In the case of Jorge Sr., the opening for his new restaurant has been delayed indefinitely.   Javier Martinez Cen (Javi) and Jorge Jr., have been as close as cousins since birth.  For him, and all of the other families, this search is intensely personal.

Currents - Mexico, Cuba, US
The search grids are based on suggestions from highly qualified experts from around the world and experienced members of the community, fishermen, captains and mates who know the currents and wind patterns.  From early morning to late at night coordinators makes phone calls to authorities seeking assistance, asking permission, planning for the next day’s search grid, raising money to pay for the massive amounts of fuel required, and answering hundreds of emails and Facebook posts.  

All through the day optimistic words of hope are spoken.  Never give up!  We will find them.   Each sunset is the beginning of a night filled with very little and restless sleep, exhausted brains spinning with questions.  Where are they?  Are they okay?  What can we do next?  Where should the search focus tomorrow?

Huachisan III and crew searching in Cuban waters

Deline García Canto talks with pride how his papa Juan de Dios García Povedano (Huacha) and crew aboard the Huachisan III have been given permission to search in Cuban waters.   They are tired, worried and a long way from home, but still searching for their friends.  The Mexican government has initiated the request for assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, and are still waiting on their reply.  

Also out searching

The navy, the harbor master, and the UltraMar passenger ferry have all assisted. Mexico News Daily with a readership of twenty thousand expats carried the story a few days ago, as did a TV station in Houston because Jorge De La O lives there part of the year.  A gofundme campaign has raised thousands of dollars to assist with the cost of fuel for the search boats; more is needed.  

Locals and expats have come together providing basic needs for the five families, waiting without a source of income, for the return of their husbands and fathers.  The search committee is working remotely with the specialized, volunteer Search & Rescue team from the USA.  Their arrival has been delayed, awaiting documentation.

Isla Mujeres is a strongly knit community of locals and foreigners all pulling together to bring the five men home safely, hopefully with an interesting adventure story to tell their children.  But the social media network is slowly picking at the threads of the community, bit by bit, picking and unraveling the fabric of the island.  

Social media is a curse and a blessing.  It is an instant form of communication.  And an instant form of condemnation and criticism.   Why didn’t they do this?  Why don’t they do that?  I could do this better.  Not taking into account the tangled regulations involved with three separate countries – Mexico, USA, and Cuba who hasn’t had a diplomatic relationship with the USA from 1960 until just this year.  Permissions are required to cross, enter or fly over airspace and oceans.  And not taking into account the personal toll on the family members as each new rumor is bandied about as “the truth” while family members are left to wonder: Why wasn’t I told.  I am sitting right here five feet away from the coordinators.  Why didn’t they tell me my son was okay?  And then it’s revealed to not be the truth, but just a fast-moving rumor spreading like wild-fire through the internet searing the hearts of those waiting for news.

Dawn of another day of hope!

Maybe today is the day that they will find them!  

Be strong, stick together, and work to a common goal.  It’s what makes Isla Mujeres such a special place in a complex world.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie

Please feel free to share our blog post. 

If you would like to help - please donated to the Find the Anastacia Fund gofundme


Robin Bradley said...

I shared and copied to Islaholics. I did URGE everyone to join the Rescue Anastacia site for updates. So well written so sad so hopeful too many emotions to list. I can only imagine what it is like for those closest to them all. I appreciate every effort I will NEVER criticize or condemn anyone for all the effort put in to this. Isla Mujeres is a magical place and that magic will be preserved!!! THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!

Lynda & Lawrie said...

Thank you Robin for sharing and supporting the search. Everyone is very hopeful for a happy ending. Cheers Lynda