Written by El Gallo on 02 Oct, 2000
The rising north wind is chilling the beach, and chasing the waves over the flats, piling up riffles high enough to catch and block the low pink rays of the sunset. The wind-piled ripples are sharper, more triangular in profile than the gentler shapes…Read More
The rising north wind is chilling the beach, and chasing the waves over the flats, piling up riffles high enough to catch and block the low pink rays of the sunset. The wind-piled ripples are sharper, more triangular in profile than the gentler shapes of the wave-created ripples, and they fan due south, parallel to the beach and across the grain of the foaming wave runs.
Whenever a depression in the flats forms a shallow pool, the surface dances with the windrows, each ridge a prism projecting slashes of pink light onto the bottom, only inches below. The parallax projects the pink slashes below the wavelets where I see them through the waves themselves. The instant impression is that leeward slope of each wave is pink, the color coming and going as the wave moves. The contrast against the grey-green bottom and the greenish water reflecting darkening sky works very well, pink waves dashing and dancing against green. If the water deepens to more than about three inches, the illusion falls apart and the pink light is clearly seen as a refractive projection of a wave, just like the pulsing webs on the bottom of a swimming pool.
As I walk along the flats, the rising tide sends sheets of water over the sand, wetting it for the time it takes to sink in and seep back to the sea. A flicker of light on the sand catches my eye, shining brightly, then fragmenting as water washes over the spot where I saw it. The light shatters, swarms, and re-figures as I walk and as the wetness ebbs and flows. I realize that it is the reflection of Orion, trying to resolve in front of me. Seeing that, I can start to pick out other stars and constellations shining up through dark water, shivering to flinders like quicksilver drops, sinking into the sand as it dries.
The bioluminesce only lasts two days, but that's enough for something so magical, such a biochemical circus coming to town for a light show. We're out fooling around with it all night, skipping stones across the flatter water, the impacts drawing dotted green lines out into the night, tracers back to some source where light, gravity, and friction join. We splash dishpans into the water, the insides lighting up like flashlights as the little animolecules give up their flash for out entertainment. We drench each other with the water, seeing ghostly green outlines of people in the moonless dark. Slime beings lurching and dancing, then fading out like dying instrment panel glow. Two of the girls strip off and jump in, slashing green glow around them, then swim into the dark water, their progress announced by green fire, like alien flames from a hyperspace exhaust. As they walk back in, they are formless shadows, but each wave that breaks over them momentarily borders them in green, which fades like a radar blip, then repaints with the next breaker. The waves aren't really big enough to surf, but Pablo tries it, aching for carving green neon lines.
But the best effect is later, when I walk home. The flats in front of the palapas are flooded, swampy to damp to firm. I kick through a puddle and Francesca gasps, pointing down at the green fire I'm kicking up in the wet sand. We stomp and roll in it, experimenting with different consistencies of sand. Francesca likes to kick up big gouts of blazing green mud, but I think the best lick of all is walking along the edge of the muck, where the water permeates the sand and is set off by the pressure of my feet. I place my foot down and it forms a green outline. I put more weight on it and the light spreads out around it like a shadow of light. For some reason I can see how the glow is going deep, creating a hemispheric bowl of light under my foot. I bob on the foot and the green glow pulses with it, like thin ice. I lift up my foot and watch an eerie green footprint fade down into the sand like an X-files ending. I find I can walk a circle about four feet around, reaching my previous footprints just as they fade, my second passing giving them a new lease on light. Phillipe says, "I wish we had some acid for this." Terry says, "Screw acid, I want some of that stuff." The funny thing is, you can buy it in little plastic tubes. But why?
Written by El Gallo on 01 Oct, 2000
Technically, Isla de la Piedra isn't an island. You can drive there if you don't mind a couple of hours of insanely terrible road. But practically speaking, you get there by motor launch, the typical local fishing boats called pangas. The trip…Read More
Technically, Isla de la Piedra isn't an island. You can drive there if you don't mind a couple of hours of insanely terrible road. But practically speaking, you get there by motor launch, the typical local fishing boats called pangas. The trip across the river, which isn't technically a river, either, but an esturary, is nice, good view of the Pacifico brewery, and the waterfronts. Very pleasant in the evening and night. There are essentially two ways to get over: the ferry terminal, and the embarcadero. For most day trippers the ferry dock is much better, though it costs like 4 pesos instead of 2 (so 40 cents instead of 20). For one thing, the terminal is easier to get to from town. You can just walk over there, actually--if you walk the Paseo del Centenario from Olas Altas, you end up right there. AND it takes you to the beach, not the village, saving a mile of walking on the Island side. To get there take any bus that says "Ferry" (or some reasonable mis-spelling). Many of the Sabalo buses that run from the Golden Zone down the waterfront continue to the Ferry terminal. Or, you can catch one at the main Market downtown, on the east side. When you hit the ferry building, head to your left until you dead-end into the Navy compound and see a sign saying "Paseos de lancha" and "Isla de la Piedra". Walk in past the soccer field, bearing right--you want the ferry launches, not the fishermen. If you pay 8 pesos, keep your ticket for return. On the Island side, just walk up from the pier and you'll see the beach ahead of you.
The other way is to go to the embarcadero, more remote from downtown, over by the Navy barracks and in a somewhat tougher part of town. Tell a cab driver "embarcadero a la Isla de la Piedra". Or take a bus from the southeast corner of the market, across the street where you see people waiting. San Marillo goes there, but so do others. Just ask the driver. Get off two blocks after you pass the brewery and walk south a block to the embarcadero. If you're going over at night and there is nobody in the box office, reach in over the door and throw the switch that turns on the light up top--they'll come get you,but it'll cost more if you have less than 4 people. On the island side, you'll be in the village, right in front of the UNESCO school and Osuna's. You can walk either direction and end up at the beach, but most people go left and follow the concrete road. An interesting walk--through an agricultural village, past the basketball court and baseball field. Don't piss off the big pig by the black house or you'll regre it. You end up coming onto the beach to the south of the restaurants. Or you can catch a pulmonia at the pier, or take a horse-drawn cart. If you get caught on the island after the "last boat" has gone from the beach dock, don't panic. Watch the sunset, stick around for the dance, walk up the beach to see the blue herons stalling in out of the night--then just walk or cab over to the village pier, where the boats run all night. Once on the Mazatalan side, your best bet is a cab or pulmonia, but there will be one there waiting for you. If not, walk out to the road, go right to the filling station, and catch any bus going to your left and you'll end up downtown.Close
The isla has always been a day trip, not a destination--but with more and more Americans and Europeans seeing it as a destination, it's starting to accomodate. There are no hotels, and probably never will be thanks to ejido law, which is to complex…Read More
The isla has always been a day trip, not a destination--but with more and more Americans and Europeans seeing it as a destination, it's starting to accomodate. There are no hotels, and probably never will be thanks to ejido law, which is to complex to get into here. But there are getting to be more and more little rooms-out-back to rent, and camping is extremely doable.
The nicer places get grabbed up for the season, of course, but if you poke around you turn something up. Best bet is NOT to just show up on the island looking for a bed, like so many backpack types are doing. Best bet is get a cheap room in Mazatlan (where there are LOTS of cheap rooms) and come over for a day of swimming, beachfront sipping, and house-hunting. Ask a couple of people, not just one. Victor, at the eponymous restaurant, is a good source, because he knows everybody and is not renting anything himself.
The main places you hear about are Lety's and Marisela's. Overpriced, dingy shitholes where you use the bathroom of the restaurant, you want my opinion. But they generally let renters run a bar tab. You can sort of walk along the beach looking past the palapa places and see who has just added a sleeping room.
If you are down for the season and want something nice or big, check with Hilaria at the "Puesto del Sol" restaurant, in the middle of "Palapa Row". She has two new apartments--and a nice house that I lived in for a year. Or call her at 044-69-87-50-37, write to Hilaria Navarro, Domicilio Conocido, Isla de la Piedra, Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. It's a simple one-bedroom (though I've seen a dozne hippies live there) with a shaded porch where the ducks chase the chickens around, view straight out at beach, across from a pizza parlor, and I put in on-demand hot water in the shower. She charges more every change of tenants, but we're probably talking around $120 a month.
At the north end of the beach are a few possiblities. The "Casa Zen" is a great little commune-style place with wonderful buildings--but you never know if they are in the mood to rent or not. Walk in and ask, it's worth it to see the place. Next door, at what everybody' calls "Mama's", the northernmost palapa restaurant, there are three or four very spartan brick units for rent--no kitchens, you eat at Mama's. Whose son goes fishing every morning, so she always has it fresh. A pretty good bet for a week on the Island, actually. You're paying maybe $3-4 U.S. a night.
Another good possibility that nobody ever finds out about is to walk across the spit that separates the Isla from it's own offshore island, Goat Island--the spire of rock seaward. There are a few little places there, most of them geared up to serve flash-crowds of day-trippers who arrive by catamaran, blitz out, and go back to Mazatlan. Obnoxious folks, but fun to watch playing volleyball. Anyway, the last of these places says, "Pizza" and they do make pizza, and is it ever awful. But their other food is good, and the owners, Carlos and Victoria are just the salt of the earth. They will rent you a third-world lean-to off the restaurant, or one of their new cement rooms out back. Cheap. Like living with a family. And there's the nice little hook beach right out front, fishing off the rocks, easy walk to the Isla beach, easy access to boats to town.
Or, you can usually work out something to camp at a restaurant. Lety or Victor will probably let you pitch a tent if you eat there and maybe help them put the chairs up at night. If you want more solitude, walk up the beach a mile or so and tent out. Best bet is to build a palapa over your tent for shade--no problem because there's a lot of driftwood, and palm fronds are pretty easy to find, considering the beach is lined with about a zillion trees grown for commerical coconuts. Bit thing--sand fleas. Have repellant, don't wear outside clothes into your bed or bag, etc. Buy water and food from the market near the pier in the village. Just you and the breakers, and your occassional passing tractor.