I will start with my only grievance. Rudolpho (Rudy), the rooster who lived in the yard next to our cabaña who begins crowing around 4am and never stops. Rudy is my least favorite part of Chacahua, even worse than the hour of mosquitoes that begins when the sunsets and takes you to dinner time. It is not just that Rudy crows. That would be enough, but it is the way he crows. Just when you are getting used to his crow’s rhythm and tone and using it to lull you back to sleep, he lets out one that sounds like he is choking on a gumball. Something like, “ROO-RA-ROO-A-DOOGARAGAGACA.” I have tried imagining it as the sound Rudy will make when I kill him, which I really feel the urge to do. I am trying to channel on the meditative practices I have learned on my journey to overcome that urge.
But, beyond that grievance, Chacahua has been not a detail short of amazing. The lack of internet and fancy hotels only adds to the majesty. The town is still a community that has not yet been shifted to completely cater to tourists. The men are fishermen. There is a community center that is more for the locals than tourists that hosted a lively gathering of youth and adults playing music together on Saturday night. The main beach is long and has something for everyone. A calm area to swim, big waves for surfers, solitude for skinny dipping if you go for a walk. The natural landscape is a combination of pristine beaches, mountains, and a saltwater lagoon full of mangrove trees and secret tunnels constructed by the fishermen. If you cross the lagoon to the “otro lado,” you get your very own beach. Nikki and I did a little bit of everything. The first day was spent settling in, the second with the beaches, the third with the lagoon. The entire trip felt like a constant bath of beauty. I caught myself drifting into a song I would sing with my friends in college, taught to us by my friend Rebecca. To be sung in rounds with hand movements and harmony:
Now I walk in beauty,
Beauty is before me,
Beauty is behind me,
Above and below me.
Day 2 looked like this...
|Skinny Dipping, Chacahua|
|Surfers from the Point, Chacahua|
|Yoga, Otro Lado, Chacahua|
|Pacific Coast, Chacahua|
|This is Real, Chacahua|
|Music and Youth Development, Chacahua|
|Pavel's Place, Chacahua|
|Nikki making Orange Juice, Chacahua|
|Morning Music, Chacahua|
|Secret Tunnels, Chacahua|
Our initial stop was at the spa of the laguna, an area of bubbling, gurgling water that smells strongly of sulphur. My first reaction was to get the hell out of there, but Pavel stepped off the boat, so it seemed we were staying. I carefully and daintitly stuck my foot in the muddy bottom and sank to my knees. Pavel demonstrated crawling like an alligator deeper into the bed. He rolled in it and covered his head. Nikki delighted in the pit of minerals. Quickly covering herself in it and wearing the contentment in a big smile. I, I tried to enjoy it. I remembered the big dirt patch in our backyard growing up that we used to fill with water and slip and slide into. How much fun it was to get dirty. Yet, as I held my breath, trying not to swallow the putrid smelling air, I was having trouble remembering that child. I have been enjoying a Dalai Llama quote lately that a fellow traveler imparted to me, “Be childlike, not childish.” If there was ever an opportunity to exercise my childlikeness, it was rolling in the mud in the laguna. So, little by little I surrendered to the experience and then I reveled in it. I made a facemask of mud. I pretended to eat it. I caked my arms and chest and massaged it into my knee imagining it had healing powers.
|Mud Mask, Chacahua|
After 30 minutes at the spa, we paddled around the laguna some more and then found our way back to Pavel's. There, we cooked octopus tacos from freshly caught octopus. Nikki and I chopped vegetables while watching the waves roll in and were schooled in how to cut an octopus and the proper order to combine the ingredients when sautéing them. Pavel was struggling with a minor or maybe major foot infection, but insisted we drink beers and relax. So, we did. We ate a feast right on the beach and then succumbed to the afternoon heat. We gathered out books in hand as we settled into our hammocks, but more as a guise for the real intention to sleep. After napping, we went back to the home of Pablo where we had left our stuff and boats to gear up for our nighttime adventure into the lagoon. Pablo was not there to give us our backpack which he had been storing there, but we were assured he would be back “ahorita”, in English the equivalent would be “a bit”, an arbitrary amount of time that means nothing. We decided to wait. His home is on the laguna and feels like art. He has designed the plants and buildings with attention to detail. You feel the specialness of each handmade shell wind chime. He later explained that he loves recycling and using trash for art. He has masterfully arranged blue sky vodka bottles around his garden as decorative elements. We sat in his hammock area that looks out over the laguna and just took in the beauty. It literally felt like the beauty was being showered upon us. I was moved to do some yoga, and get dirty once again. Why do we get so freaked out about getting dirty?
|Laguna view, Chacahua|
|Wind Chime, Pablo's Place, Chacahua|
Incredibly, the best was yet to come. Once the sunset and we made it through mosquito hour of hell, it was time to go back out. Pavel's infection was still a bit inflamed, so Pablo offered to take us out on his motor boat instead of kayaking. We were fine with this change as it was getting a bit cooler and it was quite dark. He took us out to the middle of the lagoon in an expansive place that appeared to have land on all sides. In the dark, the milk way subtley cloaked the sky. Below us, was another milky way. With every disturbance of the water, it lit up like flittering christmas lights. Pavel encouraged us to jump in and swim with the plankton. As we spun our bodies through the water, it was hard not to imagine we were mermaids in a fantasy land of magic spells and secret truths. When you splashed the water in the air, drops of light dripped down your face and arms. The water maintained the heat of the day allowing us to comfortably swirl with the plankton for what felt like hours but was probably more like minutes. On our way back to land, we watched the fish dart through the water creating streaks of moving light. And then, suddenly the fish started to jump everywhere around us. As if there was a big celebration under water that they just had to share. I was mesmerized by the electricity of the water, the jumping fish, the star-filled sky, and then... a fish jumped directly into our boat. Seriously. A keeper at that. Pablo and Pavel regaled in their luck of having so seemlessly caught dinner and joyously chanted, "otra, otra, otra," in hopes more fish would follow.
Day 4 we woke up with the sun and Rudy's incessant crow. Ate a final breakfast at Franco and Janet's and reveled in the magic of the night before. We left with more to do. Dreams of playing music with the locals, learning to surf, learning the names and the calls of the birds. But, we left full. Full of gratitude. Full of vitality. Full of beauty.
|Sunrise, main beach, Chacahua|