Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beach Time

My continuing annoyance with the noise pollution and the realization that my sojourn here was almost over combined to lead me out of town to camp on the beach. (Plus, I'd feel better if I used the camping gear I'd brought.)

I planned to avoid being out in the heat of the day and to not have to carry a lot of water. I left about 4 pm, still hot but late enough not to have to worry about getting sunburnt. I headed down the beach out of town. Without a car it's hard to really get away from people entirely - there are houses scattered all along the coast around Loreto. And there are spots where vehicles can get to the beach and then drive up and down it.

But still, it was a relief to get away to where the loudest noise was the sound of the waves on the beach. The beach is a mixture of sand and rocks. Huge numbers of shells and shell fragments were mixed in. Dried starfish collected in some spots. There's some garbage, but given all the people, I would have expected to see more.

For some reason there are large numbers of sea slugs washed up on the beach - some still with signs of life, some dead. They varied in size from an inch or two up to seven or eight inches. They were a mottled brown and I couldn't find them in my book of local marine life. I wonder what caused them to be here? I read so much about environmental problems that I wonder if there is some kind of pollution that is killing them. Then again, maybe they die after they have bred as some creatures do.

Other creatures or portions thereof were more or less explicable. Fish heads, tails, and bones were obviously the castoffs from fishermen. A pelican with half a wing missing, the white bones sticking out, was she the victim of a shark? She paddled away. I wondered how long she'd survive like that. A pelican with one wing hung around our hotel in Galapagos, but I suspect it was fed by the staff.

A bat faced ray with a wingspan of 5 or 6 feet had washed up. The skin from the top of it's wings had been removed with straight cuts, the work of someone's knife. A baby shark about 2 feet long lay at the edge of the water intact although missing it's eyes. The victim of fishermen or natural causes? The "hammerhead" from a hammerhead shark lay further up the beach. On one of the islands I'd seen part of a sea turtle shell. Hard to understand why people are still killing these creatures.

I still find the concept of the "marine reserve" here a little strange. Everything is still allowed - sport and commercial fishing. You just have to buy a license. (As you also have to do to snorkel or dive.) I guess the license cost reduces the fishing, especially commercial, but it still seems contrary to my idea of a "reserve". I guess it's a bit like our provincial parks that the hunters would say exist so they have somewhere to hunt.

I took no book to read, no journal to write in, no ipod to listen to. It's been four weeks since I've watched TV. I walked till sunset, made camp, ate a cold snack. I retired with the sun and rose with the sun. Beach time. I woke several times and gazed at the stars. Something yipped off in the distance. It didn't sound like a dog, maybe a fox. There were a few hoots that might have been an owl. It was very peaceful among the cactus. I could hear the quiet murmur of the surf.

I stopped in a hollow enclosed by bush and cactus just back from the beach. It was unlikely anyone would stumble on me here. A few minutes later, in quick succession, three different kinds of birds stopped by to observe me. Seemingly satisfied with my presence they continued on with their business.

I woke just before 6 am. The sky was starting to lighten and I threw on my clothes, grabbed my camera, and headed to the beach to catch the sunrise. There was a bank of fog offshore, hiding most of the islands. The sky gradually turned pink and brightened and finally the disk of the sun appeared through the fog and finally rose above it to start warming the day.

I returned to my hollow to pack up my few things and eat another a meager cold breakfast. My pack was light - I had my smallest tent, sleeping bag, and thermorest, waterbag, and little more. I wandered back along the beach enjoying the quiet early morning. It wasn't quite the end of my trip but it seemed like a fitting finale to my time here.

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