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 island’s coconut farm, watch Polo skin a coconut using a metal spike stuck in the ground. When done, he cracks its shell into halves and distributes the white meat inside to any of us 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 with the coconut skinning, a gray haired man in a ball cap loads our group 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 uninhabited beach on Stone Island.
“Be back in an hour,” Polo says to us, as 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 seeing more sand.
The beach here stretches unimpeded for miles in both directions and 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. He didn’t talk about the war but I’ve seen old black and white filmstrips of action in the Pacific and it was never a tourist vacation.
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 down this beach that goes as far as you can see in both directions with nary a hotel, resort, home or business.
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 and have lunch on a big covered patio by the Acutus. 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 have been friendly.
On the way back home, Juanito revisits us and Polo sits on the bow, places a fish on his head, and lets a frigate bird lift it away in his beak, right out of Polo’s 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.
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.