Magic in the Marietas

Cable and Pacific

Weaving’Wonderful’ on the Bay of Banderas

…As our sailboat neared the Marietas Islands, schools of jellyfish amended the captain’s chosen snorkeling spots twice. Just as well. While I wouldn’t trade memories of an accidental swim through tiny diaphanous sea jellies a few years ago, I remember with equal clarity the lingering stings along my upper lip.

Beach; Marietas Islands

My solitary week in Nuevo Vallarta had etched some bold new strokes into who I knew myself to be. I had flown through jungle canopy on zip lines, negotiated city buses and explored Puerto Vallarta on foot. I had kayaked in the Pacific Ocean and run miles along the golden crescent shore of Banderas Bay. Talking to strangers had yielded vibrant vignettes of lives far removed from my own, and lively music had set rhythms in my heart that made hope dance in directions my feet longed to follow. And now, I floated toward rocky protrusions called the Marietas Islands.

Other-worldly. Agave and other similarly scrubby brush covered craggy masses punctuated by arches and overlooks. The cliffs seemed a breathing being beneath the constant motion of landing and launching sea birds —most with specially coated feathers for ocean plunges. Frigates, not so biologically well-equipped, added drama by thieving fresh fish from the mouths of successful divers. As we slowly made our way around the largest island to a safer snorkeling spot, I spotted my first blue footed booby bird and then several more of the stumpy birds perched on the boulder tips of outer islands.

Marietas rock from beach

The Marietas Islands, popularized by Jacques Cousteau and now protected as a national park area, is volcanic in origin and surrounded by coral. We dropped anchor near a steep beach nestled amongst its cliffs, and a dinghy took us in range of the coral and marine life. Our guide kindly broke the rules and allowed me to remove my life vest to free dive down into fish range. The water was clearer than I had expected; I followed one fish after another until it was time to relax on the postage stamp of a beach. A few of us explored the unspoiled island in our bare feet, ducking under arches to find still more caves and overhangs, wandering a splendid twisting geological maze.

I didn’t want to leave.  I wondered how long it would take —climbing
Marietas Islands off of bowthe rocks, feeling sand and sea swirl between my toes and watching fluttering sea birds —before the passage of time would matter again. As the boat slowly backed from the islands, stark yet lovely with their swirled caves and arches, I cradled the moment. I breathed in every sensory bit of it and wondered how it could all be so perfect when there was no one to “nudge” or share it with. It was revelation to me that a tree could fall within its forest and that my ear alone could be enough to hear and mark its sound. And, it was pure freedom to know that bliss could wrap its arms around me, just me. It didn’t have to be a group hug.

We soaked in the music and salt air on our sail back until that group from Appleton, Wisconsin grabbed onto the cables on the side of the boat and began dancing. Before long, someone grabbed my hand, placed it firmly on a cable, and I was dancing too

MORE:  “Weaving’Wonderful’ on the Bay of Banderas”

“Beyond the Bay (The Marietas Islands)”

“A ‘Photo Hike’ through Puerto Vallarta (Part One)”

A ‘Favorite Day’ in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco (Part Two)”

13 Comments to Magic in the Marietas

  1. great post and the whole series…
    keep up
    we are travelling with you..

  2. SonyaSunny

    Hi, – da best. Keep it going!

    Have a nice day

  3. The photos remind me of the Greek Islands. All volcanic I guess. A wonderful journey, makes you come back with a totally new outlook on life. I love that feeling. A natural high that you just can’t describe it to people who don’t enjoy travelling off the beaten track.
    I have wondered about travelling around this area. Any safety issues for women?

  4. Heather

    Thanks, Demetrios. I had thought this would be a single post, but once I “launched” the memory I found there was a lot more to it than could be covered that quickly!
    SonyaSunny: Thanks for the visit!

  5. That’s a magical looking voyage.

  6. Cate: There’s some sort of “confidence euphoria” that grows out of a good solo trip! It definitely spills benefits into the rest of your lifetime. As you well know…
    I traveled alone there maybe… 3 years ago? It felt fine then within the usual parameters: I didn’t wander around much after dark, dressed appropriately, and listened to my “uh oh” instinct when exploring. The bigger issue presently is with the drug wars. There was a pronounced military presence when we visited Playa del Carmen (opposite coast) just before Christmas. We stayed at a fairly insulated resort for our quick get-away, but I ran up the beach a couple of miles to where the locals continued to hang out and celebrate birthdays -within view of armed boat patrols. It’s a lovely area that happens to be their home. I hope the government finds a consistent way to govern and soon.
    Jean-Luc: I still smile when I think of it. It was.

  7. Hello, to GoogleReader!

    Have a nice day

  8. Sounds heavenly. I do love Mexico

  9. What a beautiful place. It reminds me of the Greek Islands as well. Right now, I miss the ocean!

  10. Heather

    Thanks for adding me Zoran!
    Wendy: Hopefully, people will feel safe in traveling there again soon.
    Erica: I miss it too! I start getting pangs after a few months away from the sea. Time to head for a shoreline…

  11. Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Remarkable .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

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