Our expedition boat docks, by a grouping of mangroves,and we disembark into a thatched eating area where a local family will serve us fish for lunch.
While they cook we are taken for a tour of this coconut farm, watch Polo skin a coconut using a metal spike stuck in the ground and then crack its shell into halves and distribute the white meat inside to any who want it.
There are chickens roaming free, lying on the hot sand or pecking each other in territorial disputes. In one cage is a crocodile, and, in another, snapping turtles fight over fish in a small bowl.
When we are done watching coconuts get skinned, a gray haired man in a ball cap loads us into the back of a long wagon with wood seats and a canvas top, pulled by a tractor, and we are taken up a winding sandy path to the beach on Stone Island.
“Be back in an hour,” Polo says to us, when we hit the beach, then he looks for a chair and a shady spot to talk with the tractor driver, a couple of young men renting ATVs, the skipper of our boat, and a few tourists who don’t care about more sand.
The beach here stretches unimpeded for miles in both directions and the coconut trees tower over all. It must have been what islands in the Pacific looked like to our father who fought in World War 2 as a LST Captain in the Pacific.
Members of our group spread out along the beach.
Some walk with heads hunched over looking for shells. Others spread blankets and take a sun bath. Some walk in the waves. Others look for pictures in paradise. Some are talking in intimate conversations and others are just roaming this beach that goes as far as you can see with nary a hotel or resort.
The island has been protected by an order of a past President of Mexico – Felipe Calderone. He decided that the island, once owned by a rich family, would serve the public interest by being left protected. This simple decision has a more lasting influence on his country than some of his more lofty calculations. Presidents can do many things but not all of them are right or necessary.
After our assigned hour, we load back into our wagon. Byron, an older man in his eighties who can barely walk and uses a cane, has taken this exact trip for twenty nine years but can not come next year because he didn’t choose to re-new his timeshare at the El Cid in the Zona Dorado. He is a farmer from Minnesota who keeps coming back because the people here are friendly.
On the way back Juanito revisits us and Polo sits on the bow, places fish on his head, and lets frigate birds lift them away in their beaks, right out of his thick black hair.
It is a memorable expedition. No one gets lost. There are plenty of refreshments and diversions. The price is cheap, thirty U.S. dollars, our guide is informative and light hearted.
It would be fun to spend a night on the beach and have a bonfire made of driftwood and listen to pirate stories.
I would pay to go on that one too.