Hike to the Hidden Beach (Interns Have Fun)
Conventional wisdom would tell you that combining a startup, with a non-profit, with the dreaded “internship” would be a recipe for a 90-hour workweek with no pay and forever-imminent financial ruin. Maybe it’s because we’re here in Mexico, where “the only things that move quickly are the cars,” or maybe it’s because the Bay of Banderas is too beautiful to allow itself to be ignored, but even we lowly (ha ha) interns have found ample time to explore our glorious surroundings.
This past weekend that took the form of an adventure to La Boca de Tomatlán, a name that conjures up to my mind a kind of hellacious kraken that will swallow you up, and which in reality was not anything close to that (unfortunate, as I had been imagining something akin to the last scene in Fantasia).
Our voyage (such as it was) began inauspiciously enough with a series of three subsequent bus rides that took us first into the bustling civilization of Puerto Vallarta Centro and then far, far, beyond it into mountains, where a canopy of palm trees shades the sun on the left and on the right is the ocean and an endless trail of gated resorts. We got off with the other stragglers at the very last stop, where a bus that could not have been built after 1990 was forced to make a hairpin turn down a road that was as close to vertical as a road can be without being a roof. I was grateful to get off and fall down the rest of the road on my own two feet rather than in a huge wheeled object, and we were greeted at the bottom by a bridge over muddy water, which we crossed with the inevitable person who decides it will be funny to rock the rope bridge. We were on our way to a beach accessible only by boat or a hike through the mountains – roads don’t reach that entire section of the bay.
The hike wasn’t difficult physically, but psychologically it took a bit of a toll: one of my fellow interns had instilled in me a fear of snakes (a founded fear; poisonous snakes are native and common to this region) and jaguars (unfounded). While I got one glance at what appeared to be a long garden snake, I was terrorized most by harmless hoards of crabs whose bright yellow and purple shells in the underbrush sent my imagination wild every time they appeared. I was the first to arrive at the beach. The granite rocks I climbed down at first appeared to be spinning, and I wondered if I was dehydrated, but as I got closer I noticed that the rocks were covered in crabs, completely camouflaged by gray shells and dark speckles that matched the veins of the rocks.
The wonderful thing about an unreachable beach is that it is likely to be, unlike the rest of touristy Vallarta, rather empty. Beyond the occasional fashion shoot that makes use of this seclusions and natural beauty, it is apparently rather quiet. A small white beach opens from a series of ever-rising waterfalls, which bring cold mountain water to mingle with the balmy sea. One single restaurant stands stilted over the water, which served an excellent house margarita (secret ingredients: ginger and mint) and an incredible (if explicit) plate of octopus.
On our return hike there was less concern about the animals we might encounter; we were more concerned with the monsoon that picked up speed over the course of our walk. A sprinkling mist had begun when we left, which one day in Mexico during rainy season would show means only one thing: it is about to pour. So we slushed back in a beautiful warm rainstorm to get on our three buses home.