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Carretera 180 curves through a series of hills before reaching Champotón's immensely satisfying vista of open sea. This is an appealing, if a little dingy and sometimes smelly, untouristy little town with palapas at the water's edge and plenty of swimmers and boats. The Spaniards dubbed the outlying bay the Bahía de la Mala Pelea, or "bay of the evil battle," because it was here that the troops of the Spanish conqueror and explorer Hernández de Córdoba were first trounced, in 1517, by pugnacious locals armed with arrows, slingshots, and darts. The famous battle is commemorated with a small reenactment each year on March 21.
The 17th-century church of Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción is the site for a festival honoring the Virgin Mary (Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception). The festival culminates each year on December 8. On that day the local fishermen carry the saint from the church to their boats for a seafaring parade. In the middle of town are the ruins of the Fortín de San Antonio.
The Champotón area is ideal for bird-watching and fishing. More than 35 kinds of fish, including shad, snook, and bass, live in Río Champotón. The mangroves and swamps are home to cranes and other waterfowl. The town is primarily an agricultural hub—its most important exports are lumber and honey, as well as coconut, sugarcane, bananas, avocados, corn, and beans.
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