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MAJAHUAS BLOG  (Trip to Turtle Beach - Estación Biológica Majahuas)

PLAYA MAJAHUAS - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOI awakened early to catch the 7am Cihuatlán long haul bus heading from San Patricio-Melaque toward Puerto Vallarta.  I purchased a 2nd class ticket to La Cumbre for $55 Pesos.  The bus did not leave Melaque until 7:30am and I arrived at La Cumbre at 9:40am after many stops to pick up and drop off passengers at various places along the way.
La Cumbre is a small village (pop. 900) at the Mex 200 junction (Crucero) to Tomatlán 118km north of Melaque and 12km from Tomatlán.  I disembarked the bus at the shaded La Cumbre bus stop one block from the Crucero.  I looked around for a taxi heading for Playa Majahuas but most were picking up uniformed children on their way to school in Tomatlán.  I walked back to the junction and sat in the shade of a small eatery as the morning sun heated up.

RIO TOMATLAN - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOAfter consuming a cold pop and waiting over 30 minutes for a taxi which never came, I decided to start walking north in the direction of Puerto Vallarta.  I crossed a long bridge spanning Rio Tomatlán and found the access road to Majahuas which was well designated by a nice highway sign.  Playa Majahuas was purportedly 6km away which would be a long walk in heat of the day.  I was hoping to hitch a ride with a local farmer or maybe a taxi would eventually come along, so I started walking toward the beach.  After a few km only three vehicles passed by but only one stopped; an older couple in a broken down van.  They told me they were stopping at their home in El Problado, a few hundred meters up the road.  Thanking them for stopping, I kept walking  in the hot sun until I passed their small pueblo.

PLATANOS FORK - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOI passed large banana (Platanos) plantations with the occasional pickup truck parked in the shade.  Workers were trimming the lower branches off, and wrapping plastic bags around the fruit to keep the bugs off.  I came across a large irrigation ditch on the left side of the road with smaller concrete channels leading off into the banana groves every so often on both sides of the road.  After walking another 2 or 3 km with no rides, I was compelled to sit down on a tree shaded corner to drink from my bottle of water and consume a few cookies that I had brought with me.  It was a welcome short rest as I was getting de-hydrated.  I had noticed the odd mosquito along the way, but as I sat resting I was soon bitten on the leg.  After killing the culprit I quickly left.  About another km up the road when I came to a fork in the road I did not know which way to go.  The right fork had a sign with the word CEDETEM and a government logo on it, so I took the left fork as this seemed to bank toward the water. 

WILD CALVES - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOTraveling along, I encountered two calves who had broken loose from a corral and now were trapped between the road edge and a barbwire fence protecting the banana fields.  The calves spooked when seeing (hearing) me and ran quickly along the road edge.  They could not get through the fence and were too afraid to jump up on the roadway and run away.  Twice I tried walking quietly past them on the far left side of the road, but they spooked both times.  The third time I was successful.

END OF THE ROAD! - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOThe road up to now had wandered right and left through the banana fields roughly toward the playa.  But now the road banked sharply left heading directly south parallel to the beach and I could see about 1km directly down a long straight stretch.  Assuming I had already walked the 6km, the exact distance yet to walk was unknown.  I was ready to give up and turn around as I had not seen any other vehicle and I knew walking was my only choice.  What changed my mind was the sound of breaking surf off in the distance to my right.  Continuing onward the road started to bank back toward the beach and after about another km I came to a clearing with buildings alongside a large Laguna.

MUELLES (DOCKS) - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOThere were docks (muelles) with launches (pangas) tied up, but none had motors attached.  I walked to the end of one muelle and could see across the the lagoon to a long sand spit with many palapas and palm trees, but there was no way to walk there.  I was at the end of the road!  There were a few old buildings behind a barbwire fence, and after looking closely I noticed an elderly couple eating lunch outside.  I called out to them and asked if there was a road around to the spit.  The man slowly walked up to the fence and introduced himself as José Alcaraz (81 years) and offered to take me across in his panga as there was no road around.  I helped him by carrying the outboard fuel tank and untying the boat from four other pangas which were tied to trees leaning over the lagoons edge.  The motor started with two cranks so we were quickly underway crossing the laguna.

HAYACINTH WATER PLANTS - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOMany large Hyacinth water plants bordered the lagoon's edge.  Although very beautiful, they seem to be taking over the Laguna's shoreline and clogging the boat launching  ramp.

MAJAHUAS PALM TREES - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOAfter a 5 minute boat ride, we landed between two of the old palms bordering the shore.

CACUAMAS (BABY TURTLES) - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOJosé proudly showed me a blue tub crawling with baby careyes (Cacuamas) which were to be launched that night.  Night launchings yield greater turtle returns as they are not consumed by daytime flying birds of prey like gulls or pelicans.  Cacuamas must walk down the beach to pick up the scent of the beach so they know where to return many years later.  I've been told that they usually return with in 50km of where they were hatched.

CORRAL DE INCUBACION - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOThere were two young men looking after the whole "Campamento Tortuguero" site, but I never met them as they were out cruising the playa for turtle tracks.  Female tortugas come ashore in the night, leaving a good trail to where they buried their eggs.  The eggs are then dug up and re-buried in a secure location (Corral de Incubación), where they can be closely watched until their recorded hatching date.

SR. JOSE ALCARAZ - CLICK FOR LARGER PHOTOI stayed on the spit roughly an hour taking photos while talking with José before heading back to his house on the other side.  He charged me only fifty Pesos for the ride in his launch (his personal tour was free).  Not wanting to walk back to Mex 200 in sandals, I asked if he would drive me back to pick up a south going bus, which he did for another fifty.  I will gladly repeat this trip at a later date.  Signed: MéxicoMác  (Note to self - Take better walking shoes).