Source: The New Yorker
The water of the Bacalar Lagoon, on the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, is as pure as glacial ice. It contains scant organic material: some of its oldest inhabitants are oligotrophic microorganisms, so called for their minimal diet. As a result, the lagoon puts on a spectacular display in the sunlight. It’s said that there are seven distinct shades of blue in the water, from deep-sea indigo to sunset violet. In English, Bacalar is sometimes called the Lagoon of Seven Colors; its original name in Mayan, Siyan Ka’an Bakjalal, translates roughly to “place surrounded by reeds where the sky is born.”
My wife grew up near Bacalar, and we moved there in 2019. Last May, we started adjusting to pandemic life. In the town center, hotels have “blue” in their names and a local brewery serves blue beer to ecotourists. Our house is in a more secluded spot, about eighty yards from the shore. At five o’clock each afternoon, I would stroll to the lagoon to meet my wife’s seventy-five-year-old grandmother for a swim. The water appeared vibrant and transparent. Save for a police watchboat, which passed by in the evenings, we were always alone.