Saturday, January 25, 2014.
Just a couple of miles east of Hautulco, Bahia Chachacual is perhaps a mile and a half wide crescent shaped beach with rocky promontories at each end that thrust sharply out to sea. Several tiny rock islets within the bay mark the locations of coral reefs teeming with fish. Great sea turtles can be seen lounging on the surface waiting for nightfall to come ashore to lay their eggs.
Still further inside and at the extreme end of the bay there is a second, tiny cove of a couple hundred yards in width that is protected from the constant ocean swells by its parent cove and a coral reef that breaks the surface at low tide. If Chachacual is the mother then it is inside her womb, the seconded tiny cove that we now have Maiatla safely anchored. I had dropped our bow anchor in 20 feet of water onto a hard sand bottom, good holding for our 65 lbs CQR anchor. Then I loaded our stern anchor into the dinghy and motored it ashore to plant it in the fine beach sand just above the high tide mark near a twisted old cactus growing at the edge of the jungle.
Back aboard Maiatla I tensioned the boat up between the pair of anchors drawing our stern in towards the shore until the bow anchor saved us from beaching ourselves. With Maiatla’s stern only three boat length from the beach and with 10 feet of clear water beneath our keel, we would call this home for the better part of a week as we wait for Melissa, our daughter to arrive.
Our tiny bay is an almost perfect base from which to dive and explore the coast using our rigid inflatable dinghy. Our tiny piece of paradise owns a jungle fringed beach that is flanked by coral reefs alive with fish sporting colors that could challenge any rainbow or impressionist painter’s pallet. The inner sanctum is protected from high winds and the deep ground swell by reefs, towering cliffs and jungle canopy so the water was calm as the proverbially mill pond so sleep would come easy here. As I stare down into the waters beside the boat I can see several tiny Porcupine Puffer fish had already taken up residence in the shadow that Maiatla was casting on the rippled sand bottom. We quickly set up the great sun awnings that protect the deck from the heat of the late afternoon sun. With our shade in place we stripped off and dove in to play with the tiny yellow and black fish that seemed to be fascinated with the boats rudder and bronze propeller.
Ah perfect right? Well not quite. As I said in the beginning, it’s almost perfect. But not perfect. So what could be wrong with the little paradise that I have just described you may well ask? It wasn’t until after watching the sun set behind the distant cliffs as I barbecued chicken on the stern that we realized the first flaw in our little piece of utopia. Mosquitoes! Ok there weren’t many and they were not like the ones we get back at home that can be detected on the airport radar like an approaching 737, but there were just enough of the little beggars to be aggravating.
Now I’m not one to be deterred from a course of action and run and hide from a few tiny mosquitos but these are not just your run of the mill, blood sucking vampire type bugs. These little hypodermic needles with wings can carry malaria or worse, dengue fever so with all bravado aside, out came the bug spray, anti-mosquito netting, smoldering coils and citronella candles. Our first night we dinned indoors on “almost” cooked chicken.
The second great flaw would not make itself known until late in the morning the following day. We arose about 8 a.m. and since we were entirely alone neither of us felt compelled to dress. While Jan sat in bed reading from her tablet, I prepared our ritual morning cup of tea and cooked eggs and bacon. (Frying bacon in the nude requires certain precautions). Jan dinned in bed as I retreated to the cockpit to eat and take in the spectacular view. With breakfast over, Jan did the dishes as I remained sitting in the shade of the cockpit awning and began to read my book as the first wisps of the building onshore breeze began to carry away the morning heat.
A chapter later I dove in for a cooling swim then returned to my book and a second cup of tea that Jan had brought topside as she joined me to admire the view. Ok so far so good, right? Well it was just after 10 a.m. when I heard what I thought was distant thunder. I glanced up at a cloudless sky then towards the very distant inland mountains that were shrouded in the usual tropical blue haze, but there was no sign of a thunder storm anywhere.
As I continued to listen the booming got louder and rhythmic in nature. It only took a few minutes for us to realized that we were about to be joined by others, not drum beating headhunting cannibals hurling spears at us from the jungle fringes, but something much worse. Jan and I were both stunned to see a great catamaran with gigantic speakers blaring a Mexican version of rap music round the distant point. The music boat’s cargo was a hundred or so holiday revelers who, apparently had already decided that it was cervasa time. Oh but wait, the cat was not alone as leading the way were three more panga fishing boats loaded to the gunnels with all the chattels to support a first rate beach party, complete with coolers stocked with cold beers and margarita mix.
The Mexican pangas shot past Maiatla to assault the beach with practiced precision. By the time the catamaran with all its revelers had anchored just a beer bottle toss from our bow, the beach crews had all the tables and chairs planted in the sand and all in the shade of gaudy, multi-colored beach umbrellas.
I turned to Jan who was still sitting next to me. “So I guess I should get some shorts huh?”
Within an hour, another great cat arrived along with an assortment of sports fisherman and jet skis to share our now very tiny bay. At the peak of the day there must have been well over a couple of hundred very white bodies lying about our beach or bobbing in the water next to Maiatla with snorkeling gear on. All the action seemed to have been well choreographed to an odd assortment of Mexican and American music emanating from the cat’s great speakers. (I hate the Mexican accordion and tuba music which sounds striking like polka music with gastronomic troubles).
It was an interesting day as we watched the antics of all the frolicking tourists, but not a day that I had left home for to come and see. The spectacle, I must admit was not entirely unexpected as a local couple, who had first told us of this place, warned us that “Some of the tour boats bring snorkelers there, but don’t worry, they won’t stay long.”
Well true to their word, by 2 p.m. the boats began to load up and move out. Surprisingly the Mexican beach crews broke camp just as fast as they had made it, picking up garbage and raking the sand just before leaving. By 3 p.m. our bay was again blissfully deserted leaving us to wonder if we had truly seen what we had seen. It was time to strip back off and have a beer, swim and a snorkel on our private reef lying next to the boat.
Peace and paradise had returned.