(Trip to Turtle Beach - Estación Biológica Majahuas)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
Many 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
After a 5 minute
boat ride, we
landed between two of the old palms bordering the shore.
José 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.
There 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.
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).