Chacahua: Untouched, Mystical Mexico

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By dianagster

After hours and hours of traveling through a tiny–but newly paved–road through the South of Mexico, amidst palm trees and rickety bamboo huts we finally see the sign: Chacahua 29 km. The sign points towards a tiny muddy road surrounded by lush jungle. After a bumpy hour, we hop on to a tiny motorboat and cross a lagoon alive with mangroves, crocodiles and cranes. Up ahead, the mouth of the lagoon widens impressively and merges harmoniously with the ocean. The boat stops and we step off to Chacahua–a beautiful untouched land, a place where locals know no prejudices, an island of complete relaxation rustic style.

We clamber off the boat and are received by a flurry of tiny bare feet approaching us with open curiosity. Brown children with masses of curly hair peer at us from behind dark wide eyes, probably wondering who these strangers with shoe-covered feet and music coming from strange cablings are. A little girl boldly approaches my friend Daniel and thrusts a set of playing cards in his palm which he kindly rejects–we are eager to drop our stuff off at some accommodations first. Nonetheless, I take her gesture to be a clear symbol of how fast we’ve been welcomed into the island.

After crossing many sandy paths, quiet save for the waves crashing on one side and the sound of tropical birds chirping on the other, we reach a wider road lined with straw houses and lush gardens–Chacahua’s main, and only street. Behind the threadbare huts with roosters and dogs running around, old men with straw hats gather on stone benches and hammocks while their wives cook and gossip. The spicy aroma of garlic and fish wafts through their outdoor stoves and mingles deliciously with the sea breeze and the fresh smell of exotic plants. Further down the road, a handful of boys of all ages play a frenzied game of soccer while a guitarist strumms a mellow tropical song–the perfect background music for the relaxing, unified atmosphere that prevails.

The Beach and Food of Chacahua

Once at the beach, groups of squat, straw and bamboo cottages surrounded by hammocks, tables and chairs shaded by palm roofs await us: the accommodations. We settle for a rickety cabin owned by El Piojo, who is notorious for his hospitality and cheap prices. For about seven dollars, we get a shared bathroom along with a straw cabin complete with a brightly colored double bed, mosquito netting, murals on the wall and and a floor of sand.

As I settle into the cozy cabin, I look forward to a week with no TV or electricity–without those everyday distractions I am sure to appreciate new aspects in life. My chance comes immediately in the form of a shower. The outdoor, hilltop water source with birds chirping, and the juxtaposition of warm sun and cool water on my skin washes away my city girl demeanor. Even the absence of a mirror strips of any lingering signs of vanity.

Feeling humbled and clean I stroll towards the hammocks where a choco-banana milkshake, breaded shrimp with lime and some savory quesadillas await me, deliciously fresh. Five urban dwellers who now don scraggly, tangled beach hair, a fresh tan, and a Chacahuan open, friendly manner join me for lunch and light conversation. They claim that Chacahua is the only beach on the coast that has not been tainted by exterior commerce, disrespectful tourists, or greedy overpricing locals. I agree.

As if to prove our point, El Piojo chooses that moment to saunter over to our table, carrying complimentary glasses of homemade mezcalito for us to sample. He also gives me one more reason to relax by explaining that his policy for charging consists of an account where accommodations, food and drink are written down and only charged at the end of our stay. No counting money, no waiting for bills, no hassles.

“Oh, look there’s Benji,” our host suddenly exclaims, “He’s quite the character. Has never left the island.” Sure enough, an eccentric, one-eyed, old man is approaching us, singing loudly.

Benji grasps my hand and hugs me amiably. His animated voice entertains us with stories about Chacahua–his grandmother the town millionaire, who owned the only brick house in the island, the time the government unsuccessfully tried to intervene in Chacahua, and the pleasures of island living. “Man, I be living here all my life and let me tell you, my law is nature. No law man in uniform gonna tell me what to do, no technology gonna invade Chacahua. If you gonna come you gonna respect,” he declares.

I ask Benji about activities to do in Chacahua, and he chuckles and gestures toward the beach. But, he says, if we want something else, tomorrow he’ll take us swimming in the lagoons at sunset, where multi-colored fluorescent plankton light up the water. “But for now, I be going. Remember the same sun is for everyone, the plants, the animals and us.” And with that, he saunters away.

We opt for a walk as well, for the day stretches languidly on. Daniel and I stroll along the beach, basking in the peaceful sun’s glow and in the endless strip of bare, uninhibited sand and lush jungle. On an impulse, I run freely towards the ocean.

Gentle waves lap around my waist. Thousands of brightly colored fish swim underneath me, unfazed by my presence. Even the pelicans are at peace, lolling like ducks on the sea, letting the water guide them. I venture deeper into the great crystal clear waters, where the waves crash harder and my toes barely touch the ground. My reverie is interrupted by Daniel’s deep intake of breath “Manrays,” he says in a hushed whisper. I turn to see two dark shadows gliding in and out of the waves. One suddenly jumps impressively in a sort of pirouette, followed in perfect synchrony by the other. Awestruck, I watch their water dance from a farther distance.

“Woah, we truly are in a peaceful natural oasis,” I murmur. We move on with our nature walk, spotting various species of birds, dolphins and even an alligator which we promptly pass by quickly. Dotting the beach, are the occasional nudist tourists, groups of locals eating together and even children wandering by themselves. All seem immersed in freedom and peace.

As we walk back to town, wisps of night begin to paint the sky with hues of oranges and pinks. The sun slowly descends into the water, leaving its reflection sparkling vividly in the waves. Within minutes Chacahua glows an eery blue that paints even the soft, sand colored cottages and roofs.

In the distance, we hear the sound of beating drums. At this point, Chacahua is pitch black save for the tiny light of the bonfire where the sound comes from. Daniel and I stumble blindly around and I look towards the sky for guidance. I am greeted by the most enchanting, magical site of all: millions of dazzling stars dotting the dome of sky, tantalizing and hypnotizing. Untainted by artificial lights and electricity, the stars glow in their entire captivating splendor.

In a daze, we make our way towards the bonfire, our eyes rooted to the sky and our ears serving as guide. We arrive too overwhelmed to speak, and simply let ourselves be carried off into a trance of mystical chantings and myriads of stars. I partake in the raw, powerful sounds of tourists and locals gathering together with djembes, handrums, chants, and good vibrations paying tribute to the mystical land of Chacahua.

4 comments on “Chacahua: Untouched, Mystical Mexico

  1. Pingback: Mystical Mexico « The Errant Æsthete

  2. dianagster on said:

    top pictures by Nikolai Yamakawa

  3. Snakes on said:

    Love your writing style and the design of your blog, its very original! Well done, look forward to reading more.

  4. just randomly found this when searching for info on this beautiful picture i came across on google earth.. this sounds like heaven. i cant even figure out how you would get here

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