Back Roads of Nayarit: True Adventures in Paradise: Platanitos, Crocodiles, etc. (Part 2)

In Part 1, we departed from Rincón de Guayabitos with four of us in the jeep. We stopped at Zacualpán to help some poor Huicholes and then toured the outdoor museum. We then went to Turtle Beach and had a look around.

Reboarding the jeep, we leave Turtle Beach and return in the direction we had come. Noting a hand written sign that said “Crocodile 5 pesos,” we turn toward the estuary and finally come to a palapa and a few small pens containing crocodiles; or at least I thought they were. A man came out from the palapa and explained that they were caimans. For the life of me I cannot tell the difference. Although the difference between alligators, crocodiles and caimans has been explained to me many times I do not know the difference. I only know that where they swim I refuse.

Editor’s Note: “Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. We are sharing his stories in an effort to preserve Bob’s memory – and to help Bob’s partner and traveling companion, Vicky Flores Ramirez, who still lives in La Peñita and quietly carries on the work that she and Bob so loved. You can learn more below. 

25 - Looking for a friend in the pond
A crocodile or caiman: This and others were held in caged areas with small ponds. They were captured in the estuary. A small handwritten sign that said “Crocodiles, 5 pesos” was nailed to a palm and there was an arrow pointing toward the estuary. The roads were not good and the place was hard to find. There was a palapa and a few pens on the edge of the estuary. The caretaker said they were hungry and had no food. I think few visitors come here.

24 - More crocs or caiman
More crocs or caiman: There is a large crocodile farm not far from San Blas where they are raising hundreds for release back into the estuaries. The species was endangered in these parts and it is illegal to kill them.

He further explained that there was a shortage of food for them and they were very hungry. I noticed that no one in our group volunteered to go in and comfort them. There was a pile of coconuts on the ground and he cut the end off of one for each of us. The cool coconut juice hit the spot because it was getting hot and we were thirsty. I am afraid that if he is depending on pesos from the odd tourist that happens on this spot to feed these creatures, the crocs are in for a hard time.

26 - Opened coconuts
Opened coconuts: He cut off the ends of the coconuts and we each drank the sweet cool juice. Then, you can see what we did with the inside in the next photo.

27 - Suprise!!
Surprise!! I snapped this of Vicky as she was enjoying the creamy sauce that lined the enterior of each coconut. Delicious.

We hop aboard again. We make another stop on this long beautiful beach. No one lives here for miles and it ends at the mouth of Boca de Chila, the old pirate cove (another story). Here is the only road that I know of that will bring you to the beach. We get out and snap a few photos. There are also miles of coconut groves and, according to a couple of hard to get maps that we have, more estuaries, sand bars and other interesting things. If only I had balloon tires on my jeep I would like to check out this long isolated stretch, just to see what is there. Our next stop will be the beach at Platanitos. We return on the rough road to the highway and turn left. Soon we arrive at an intersection where a side road joins and where you can see a beautiful little cove with palapas. This is Platanitos. At that intersection on the right can be seen a few buildings and a defensive position that is manned by Mexican Marines, from time to time to provide cover for a check point on the road below. What are they checking for? Going left and down, we pass the beach and palapas. Note: Last October this whole stretch of beach was wiped clean by Hurricane Kenna. It is nice to see that is has been largely rebuilt. A few fishing pangas are scattered here and there. You can always eat fresh catch here.

29 - My kind of beach
My kind of beach: A light surf and shallow beach. Good swimming here. Looking back toward Turtle Beach and Punta Custudio. It goes for miles and nobody lives there. You could play Robinson Crusoe here.

30 - A palm lined beach
A palm lined beach: Miles of coconuts and a long wide beach. There are worse places to spend your time. This is ejido land. They and buyers are waiting for government approval to develop this end of the beach, even though that still leaves miles of natural beach, I can’t help but wish that it doesn’t happen.

Leaving the beach we go left around the small mountain and soon come to the estuary. We can see Turtle Beach right across the way. There is a clearing below and I see cars parked. We could easily swim across or maybe wade. Who is afraid of the caiman. Me?? Continuing on we come to another small home development at Punta Custodio. We pass a short distance, find a shady spot and have lunch. The usual, turkey ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips, bread and butter pickles, pickled beets, small snacks, beer, soda and coffee.

32 - The mouth of the estuary
The mouth of the estuary: Between Punta Custodio and Platanitos. The developers want a bridge across here.

33 - More beautiful beach
More beautiful beach: Turtle Beach as seen from across the estuary at Punta Custodio.

After filling ourselves we drive on down the hill to Platanitos, park the jeep and have a look around.

I have heard that this place is scheduled for development as soon as the ecologists are dealt with. Hotels, a golf course, homes and of course a bridge across the estuary. Farewell to the little fishing village of Platanitos.

It is 2:04 in the afternoon and the kilometers are 361. Now we head home. Reaching Zacualpán, we stop at the old, semi roofless packing shed where the children of the workers are that we helped this morning and pass out all of the clothing we have aboard. The children tell us that the adults well be returning at about 6 p.m.

After exhausting our supply of candy and clothing (we handed out all of the food earlier) we tell them we will return in a couple of days with a little more help. Back to the jeep and we return home.

Note: We did a bit of shopping and returned when the adults were there with food and more clothes. It was after dark, so it was difficult to take photos. My digital does not do well unless the light is good.

by Bob Howell
Originally published April 2003 on La Peñita Folk

Back Roads of Nayarit” is a series of essays written by Bob Howell, a long-time resident of Jaltemba Bay. The series details his day trips and adventures between 2001-2007. We are sharing these stories in an effort to preserve Bob’s memory – and to help Bob’s partner and traveling companion, Vicky Flores Ramirez, who still lives in La Peñita and quietly carries on the work that she and Bob so loved. Sometimes her bodega is packed full of donated clothing, school supplies, toys and medicine; sometimes it is bare. If you enjoy reading these articles, please consider making a donation so the McKibben Foundation (Nurse Vicky’s Dispensary) can continue helping schools, seniors and needy families in the Jaltemba Bay area. And if you have copies of any of Bob’s old stories or photos, please contact us.

Click here to read Tom Plattenberger’s personal dedication entitled “In Memory of Bob Howell” which serves as an introduction to this series.

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