Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THE MARIETA ISLAND EXPERIENCE


From Wikipedia: "The Marieta Islands were originally formed many thousands of years ago by volcanic activity, and are completely uninhabited. The islands are about an hour long boat ride west-northwest from the coast of Puerto Vallarta and are visited daily by hundreds of tourists, yet no one can legally set foot on the islands. In the early 1900s the Mexican government began conducting military testing on the islands because no one lived there. Many bombings and large explosions took place on the islands causing amazing caves and rock formations to be created. After a massive international outcry, started by scientist Jacquues Cousteau in the late 1960s, the government eventually decided to label the islands a national park and therefore protected against any fishing, hunting or human activity."

            With these islands as our destination point our group of twelve and another twelve tourists boarded a sailboat and we set off from the Marina Terminal in Puerto Vallarta. The ship that would take us to the islands was built in Holland in 1938 and is still used on a daily basis by Pegaso Chartering today. I can’t remember what we had to pay per head to go on this all-day excursion but even without the spectacular whale-watching and the snorkelling that came with the ride, it would have been well worth the ticket just to sail on that ship that day.

            Many of the tourists on the tour thought that we’d sail up to the islands and get a ride to a beach and then snorkel in the water around the islands for a bit and then be shuttled back to the ship for the ride back home. It was kind of like that, but not quite. About forty-five minutes away from the islands our tour guide informed us that we’d get within 600-700 meters, almost a kilometre, away from the islands and then they’d get us a little closer in the outboard shuttle boat and we’d then have to snorkel through a hole in the island to get access to the beautiful sandy beach inside the island. Easy, eh? For some…yes; for most…no!

            It was a bit of a shock for the non-confident swimmers, my wife being one of them, and the crew sent the more confident or experienced tourists on the first shuttle boat. I’ve been in and around water since I was a baby so I was anxious to get in the water and swim with the fishes. Deb, on the other hand, didn’t know if she’d even leave the ship.

I had taken an underwater camera along and got some pretty good pictures around the islands and in the caves. I was up on the beach when along came Deb through the opening in the rocks completely shocking the rest of us. She is not only a non-swimmer but a little panicky in the water at the best of times so it was some monumental fear-conquering that got her to that beach.

Once on the island, though, the effort to get there was well worth it as that beach was beautiful and completely surrounded by rock. There were other caves to explore and everyone who swam into the area warmed up on the beach and took in the breath-taking sites.  

As the tour was on a tight schedule our time on the island could never be long enough and we had to get back out to the ship, which turned out to be more difficult than getting there. The waves coming through the hole in the wall kept pushing us back in toward the beach but, again, perseverance prevailed and we all managed to get back to the ship safe and sound. At least the difficulty in the return trip kind of kept our mind off of the cooler water temperatures.

As a newbie hot holiday traveller I still have a hard time defining the top one hundred moments from our trip but the snorkelling off of the Marietas Islands is right there at the top. Next time, and there’s definitely going to be a next time, I think I’ll see if I can prolong my swimming with the fishes but I think Deb will file the one life-threatening I-think-I-can moment into the memory banks and be happy reliving the whole ordeal through the pictures.

“Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed is more important than any other,” Abraham Lincoln.

No comments: