Jumping into the unknown to a place called Chacahua -(picking up from this post – https://harrybrake.com/2016/11/25/9800/)
Getting directions that seemed a BIT elusive, written on a receipt, but possible. So far so good. One Love – Banorte – 35 pesos, close. Waiting at Banorte – something didn’t seem right, so I inquired at a transit station to other locations, “Esquina, directo, azul .” Yes, I saw the blue bus sign I waited, the next three buses, not what I was looking for. And wasn’t it a van I was looking for? I was restless, I bought a 25 peso torta at the local pasterleria and noticed just 2 stores down from Banorte, another van transit. I asked a attendant from yet another transit the location of the vans to Zappolito, and yes, he pointed to the van station across the street. Got it. Exactly 45 pesos. So Banorte yes, but BESIDE Banorte, a white van station, that is your ticket to Zappolito, on the way to Chacahua.
On our way with 9 other people in the van, roughly 40 minutes later as I saw the ocean race to my left through the window, we stopped at a town called Rio Grande, truly familiar to the Old West towns, narrow main street, lined with stores, with one small exception. Half cutaway Volkswagens that were scooters, similar to the type you would see in India – they filled the streets everywhere, this Rio Grande’s taxi, and they were everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE. We stopped, the lady beside me returned from the store we were resting at, with a small cardboard Whiska’s box, but inside you could hear the chirping of the chicks she just purchased. My mind only wanted to think of positive reasons she was buying those chicks, and I just decided they would have the freedom to run around her yard, however, my gut told me something different.
The next stop was an empty, side of the road station for crossing to the next leg of the trip. I crossed the highway, and found out for 60 pesos I could go right to the mouth for a collectivo that would take me to the mainland. So I was beginning to deviate from my planned cost to reach Chacahua, but y gut told me yes, this is the way to discovery! I jumped in the single taxi, and on our way the drive told me how everything was pulled back in time at Chacahua, time had literally stopped he told me. You will love it. My anticipation grew. He told me about the desire for the boat people (as Javier had called them when we called two weeks ago) that ferry you across the water to partake in that tour, and yes, I knew in the back of my mind they would direct me to the cabanas they wanted me to stay at. This worried me as I purposely was taking a set amount of pesos to avoid having the whole lot “disappear” and to impose ny self made budget of a vacation under 4000.00 pesos for the week. However, I knew what would be would be.
We arrived at the very empty mouth of the collectivo lot, , three
simple motorboats, a store that consisted of open fencing and tin on one side, palm fronds on the top, and two very relaxed locals on hammocks. What was not so traditional was who I would come to know as Chris, an Australian local who had his stack of supplies read at the edge of the store, heading to the mainland. His thick accent cut in asking, “Where you from? Where ya headed?” (EXACTLY OUT OF CROCODILE DUNDEE ACCENT – NO JOKE!) – Perhaps the nicest guy I EVER met, that I never met, out of nowhere.
His discovery of me heading to Chacahua, and his heading to the mainland and offering me a ride to go with him, his friend, and supplies, was a no brainer. It just felt right, I said yes immediately, and he told me it will be a 30-40 minute wait as they fixed the boat. I told him obviously I was not in a hurry obviously, and just waited in silence with the locals that spoke great levels of their native Spanish while I again listened is as much as I could.
Another taxi pulled up, a group of people exited with suitcases, and the two relaxed locals immediately came to life grabbed their belongings and got them on the boat as part of the collective to head to the mainland. They motioned for me to come as part of the collectivo but I was grateful for my gut, I wanted to stick with Chris who made me his offer, and luckily, he was there at the store gathering items when the “boat people” wanted me to come to him. I told Chris I would wait for him – and while this seemed to not settle well with these two pilots of the collective, my mind had been settled long before with the deal to go with Chris based on where they would direct me to stay and the price they would charge me, I screamed Gringo and having a set amount of funds only, I was guarding it closely to last until I returned to Puerto, so I COULD return to Puerto, with no expectations of an ATM to where I was headed. Chris was looking out for me in letting me choose his offer.
The boat was fixed! I helped Chris load up supplies he was bringing back to his beach, packages of bread, cases of milk, jugs of water, suitcases, his arrival from Australia back to his home here at Chacahua. I found his friend Randy also coming with us, his two Schanuzers, and some excitement as we boarded. We were in, but Rikki and Lucy were not, and they found a chicken. More than finding, they wanted the smallish chicken. They began chasing the chicken and one of them, not sure if it was Rikki or Lucy, bit into the chicken as Chris and Randy tried to stop them from proceeding further, I sensed instant knowing how my hounds would react. Yet somehow, they were able to stop them with just a mouthful of feathers obtained an safely on the boat without a second chance to make good on the first attempt.
The ride, AMAZING (see below the link). VERY similar to the trips we had taken on 9th grade, new student retreats in places I would never find on my own. We began formalities of finding out Randy owned a hotel at Puerto, Chris and him had been friends and they were making plans to purchase a sailboat and sail across the Atlantic, the details were just exhilarating to see these two so settled in a place so separated from everyone in Chacahua, yet settled in Puerto where they had met. As we cleared the amazing views of the lagoon with Augustine at the motor, who I would discover owned where I would be deciding to stay, we entered the mangroves. If I thought the crossing was brilliant, I had seen nothing yet. NOTHING.
The boat dove into the mangroves, and cranes were everywhere. Low lying mangroves and paths that seemed like a maze greeted us as we weaved through mangroves that separated the lagoon from….what ? I did not know. After about 10 minutes, and passing 100 pesos to Chris for gas, (I believe I would have been charged a lot more for the crossing and no tour of the layout as I was seeing before me) – we exited the mangroves and Voila! An open channel and a wide range of cabanas and a smallish line of food stands, empty now, and a town greeted us! This was TRULY out of a movie, only this was real life, this was AMAZING. I realized I did not have to get out of the boat at this point to realize what an amazing experience I had stumbled on. Literally. We passed a gentleman that waved stiffly and the boat turned around – we were picking up Augustine’s father.
We stopped on the shore of this narrow channel, for the pick up and weaved our way through a neighboring channel, where we came past another individual in a hammock. Augustine was waving to him, asking if he would meet us on the next shore and drive us with the supplies to Chris’s house. He began to get out of the hammock, as we made our way down the shore.
Exactly as planned, we landed, got out and there was maybe one of the most rusted out Toyota-like pickups I ever saw in my LIFE. Yet, we loaded the bushels of oranges, groceries, everything, including four people and two schnauzer’s, and we were off. Past a sandy road that had individuals coming out of their homes to see what and who was coming down the road, this was amazing, this was a step in the past and rewinding the clock – definite – just as I had been nestled in the woods of the National Allegheny Forest in Genessee pay and no one would have been able to find me, I had swapped a forest for a beach that existed in no one’s mind at all. We came to the beach, our driver switched to four wheel drive, and onto the beach we went and all I can say is breath taking. The pictures do not do this justice AT ALL – AT ALL – and yet we passed cabana after cabana, after cabana. We arrived at one stand out cabana literally 40 feet from the ocean, unloaded and my mind began to catch up with what was happening.
Okay, I met a local from Australia, local here now for the past four years, by chance also his friend who owns a hotel in Puerto, who happened to be at the mouth of the collectivo at the SAME time as me, and this all worked out. I could not figure out HOW, but 30 minutes later, when we are introduced to the cabanas we would be staying in, for 200 pesos, and the hammocks, the restaurant that was open to our every need at a moments notice, the four of us at a table served up a concoction of OJ and who knows what – and saluding each other, I realized how insane, how crazy how Repentino. this had become, and yet it had become something I NEVER NEVER would have dreamed of happening. I did not know Chachua before this, and now, seeing the fisherman in their boats in the ocean before me, the mountains rising up and a body of endless water in front of me that stretched as far as the eye could see, seeing NO ONE, NO ONE in sight at all except four kings on a beach – I knew this would be a Thanksgiving I would never ever forget in all my memory.
As dusk began, Chris disappeared into the kitchen of the restaurant,
and 30 minute slater produced one of the largest burgers I had ever seen in my life, layered with onion, cheese, bacon, mayo ketchup – there are no words. So here I am, in a cabana layered with palm fronds,
my own shower, the beach licking and whispering to my ears, a FAN and electric no less on a most deserted beach that is untouched by modernity, owned by Augustine, watched over by Chris for months at a time, welcomed in by Randy, Chris’ friend who never had met me ever, and realizing that there is NO REASON AT ALL these three individuals should have offered me anything at all. Yet, they did- they offered me more than I should have been offered and gave me paradise. When I say paradise I literally mean a paradise I would, should, and could have only thought would be in a magazine or a book as a continuation of the end of the movie Shawshank Redemption.
Yet here I am and as the sun is rising above the coast of this untouched, unknown, unheard of by many beach, I am in wonder at how the meaning of Thanksgiving has become truly a mesh of hundreds of amazing people who have just been there, in a moment’s surprised notice, and turned everything into one HUGE surprise. Colleagues, students, friends, unknown before friends that have become family, and family, and 100 more reason to be thankful for things I can not expect. This is only day 1 at Chacahua. 5:30 AM fishing is on the ticket and we are headed out to fill the boat – until then – know Thanksgiving is also full of surprises, sand, cabanas, beaches, and paradise. Thank you everyone for again, helping me be the adventurous, cautious, risk taking, optimistic person I am becoming every day.
Day 2 of the experience in this amazing AMAZING lagoon, untouched? I am steel trying to put it all together but coming soon! 🙂
If anything I have learned, HOPE IS a good thing, and going into the unknown, it is a bit scary, BUT, the benefits that result? You can TRY to put them into words, but the experience is forever.