Enchanted Mangrove Forest

I woke this morning at dawn, with my head spinning and my lips feeling parched, but I couldn’t sleep, so I got out of bed, showered, and joined my mother for coffee.

I went back to bed with Fuzzy around eleven and slept til one, then had lunch with my parents: a delightful salad of greens, tomatillo, red bell pepper, celery, onion, tuna, and tortellini with an olive oil and herb dressing. Tasty, fresh, and almost healthy.

Afterwards, Fuzzy and I went back to the casita where I tried to nap, but couldn’t school my mind to sleep, so I dragged him out to the beach.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Forward,” I said.

“And then what?”

“Turn right.”

And so we did, meandering down the beach toward the mangrove, watching shore birds play in the froth, and looking for shells. (We actually had a bag with us, so didn’t find any worth taking.)

About an eighth of a mile into the mangrove, there is a stream that flows from the desert to the sea, creating a miniature delta, and also creating a sandbar, upon which sits a single lone tree, much like a lone cypress. We waded – I waded – he jumped – across the stream, and found ourselves in a magical forest with singing birds, and the soft whisper of the waves, with the stream merrily flowing, and shells strewn around.

I watched two crabs dance around a third, and saw sand worms spit water at my toes. I wanted to go back for the camera, to capture this magical section of beach on film, but Fuzzy didn’t want to go back alone, and the tide was rising. Had we both gone back to the house, a return trip would have been impossible. Indeed, this is the first time in the week I’ve been here that this sandbar has not been submerged.

And so we captured it with our minds and hearts instead: watched gulls racing along the coast, heard the cries of frigate birds, saw a pelican dive for fish. At one point, seeing one, I said, “Duck.” Just as Fuzzy turned to look at it, the orange-headed creature looked at me, then ducked beneath the waves, coming up just a few inches from us, in shallow water. We stayed there, still and quiet, for several minutes, then turned back for home.

This has not been a warm December in La Paz. Indeed, it’s been abnormally cold, with temperatures in the low seventies, and high winds. The locals, Mexicans and American and Canadian ex-pats alike, are bundled in sweaters and long pants and SOCKS, while I’ve been scampering around in capris and tevas. Tomorrow is our last night here, and then on Friday night/Saturday morning, we’ll be home with our dogs and our soft bed (Mexican mattresses are distressingly rigid), and as much as I love living on the beach, I’m ready for winter and cozy evenings piled with quilts and blankets, and noise.


But I’m taking a piece of La Paz back home with me: the brilliant moonrise we saw on Christmas Eve, breathtakingly beautiful; the still picture of the moonlight beaming down, cutting a swathe of warm light across the midnight sea, the sounds of gulls and pelicans and owls, the joyous spiralling of the local hawks, and the sunset I’m watching as I write this, facing out to the bay, with the lights of La Paz winking into view across the water.

And of course, I will take home my afternoon in the enchanted mangrove forest.

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