Motorbikes, thunderstorms and itty bitty turtles
Puerto Escondido: the “pipeline of Mexico”, the famous surfing spot, the miserable anchorage, the false refuge from broken engines and broken forestays and broken spirits. On our passage to Huatulco, we passed the town 3 times, tormented by its proximity and erroneous sanctuary. Apparently we were determined to set foot here, to compel ourselves into enjoyment of the place that wracked my dreams for the blink of 6 hours on a distantly dreadful day.
After arriving in Huatulco, washing the salt from the boat and our nerves, hugging goodbye to our Crew MemberEmeritus, and dismantling the forestay, it was time to get off the boat for a reprieve. Both Danika (our land-based advisors and voices of sanity as we hove-to in sight of a bay we could not enter) and Agape had traveled to Escondido by land. Bolstered with their recommendations, we booked an AirBnB, hopped on a bus and soon found ourselves wandering down a dirt path towards a cabana to the thundering beat of crushing waves a block away.
We checked ourselves in to a backyard thatched cabana and headed off in search of food and entertainment. Walking through town, we stumbled on a motorbike rental and with no discussion required, stepped inside to inquire. Exploring this town by motorbike, enjoying fast agile days on land, seemed like the best medicine to counter our long slow nights at sea. Within minutes, we were zooming away, helmeted and squished and happy.
We spent days getting lost on unnamed streets, sipping coffee, watching world-class surfers battle incomprehensibly large waves. We spent evenings lounging in our cabana reading, showering off the days’ dust, playing cards. We spent nights at beachside restaurants and hippie bars with all-women staff, weaving our way around potholes on dark dirt roads and skirting rainy season downpours. It was glorious.
One afternoon, our explorations found us north of town bumping down a sandy trail that dead-ended on a new beach stretching miles away from us. The rumble of thick forceful curls of water hurtling themselves onto a fine sand beach, the heartbeat of the ocean, vibrated across the beach, through the motorbike and into our body, mirroring our own heartbeats. We sat in awe, trying to comprehend in the powerful display before us, the only humans in sight.
As we strolled at the edge of the surf (even ankle-deep, the water was persuasive), a small hut with a tarp roof and a short rope running horizontal to the ocean appeared. Curious, we approached the young woman under the tarp busying herself with papers and heavy bins. We had stumbled on a small Olive Ridley turtle hatchery, and just in time for that evening’s release.
Sea turtles are a symbolic creature to the lifecycle of our relationship. The first New Years Eve John and I celebrated together was on the sandy shores of Ghana, watching a brave mother climb from the sea to lay her eggs. We spent the day we got engaged swimming with sea turtles in a protected reserve in the Caribbean. The night before we got married on the beach in Tulum, the entire wedding party gathered around in dimmed whispers, transfixed by a mother as she dug a hole, laid her eggs, buried them and struggled back to the sea with tears in her eyes. Sea turtles have been with us for each major step in our journey.
A small crowd gathered on the beach of Escondido as we made the suggested donation, flipped through a pamphlet diagraming the lifecycle of the sea turtle, and mingled. After a short introduction, given in quiet Spanish, we were handed small coconut shell bowls and the young busy woman scooped itty-bitty turtles into our bowls.
It is impossible to hold such a tiny determined creature without feeling the full weight of the arduous life ahead of them; the hope, the struggle, the fear, the growth, the distress, the love, the sacrifice. It was the perfect highlight to our weekend getaway, after a discouraging week, to encourage these little creatures into life. I gave my tiny baby turtle a pep talk: Don’t give up! There will be times when you want to, when life feels too hard and too scary and you just want to crawl in a hole. But the world needs you – it needs you to be strong, to be present, to do your best. You can do it little tiny turtle, you can do it!
My itty-bitty turtle tumbled from the bowl on the sand and stopped. I imagined his intimidation, facing that huge surf and the journey ahead. But he quickly gathered his strength and started the long wiggle-waddle down the beach. Before long, he was swept into the seething sea; swimming with all his itty-bitty might to reach the relative safety of deep water. (of course he may be a she; I’m not well versed in determining the sex of itty bitty turtles)
On the way back to the bus station, we dropped our motorbike off with a wisp of nostalgia. She had taken us all over this stretch of coast, had bottomed out on every single one of the 427 speed bumps in Escondido, and had led us to a sea life experience I won’t ever forget. We returned home refreshed and ready to tackle our engine issues with new energy and optimism. It’s a good thing, too; we would need all of that extra vigor and confidence over the next week…