But I was on a mission. I was determined to make my way to Playa Frontón.
After chatting with some of the locals at the boat launch (there is always a gang of 8-10 guys hanging out at the beachfront waiting to take you wherever your heart desires), I was told that the next boat for Frontón would be leaving soon and it would cost me 800 pesos (20 dollars).
Do NOT pay that much.
I bargained down to 600 pesos, although a sharper bargainer than I (and maybe one that doesn´t look quite so American) could probably get the price even lower.
While waiting for the other passengers to arrive, I struck up a conversation with one of the boat guides to find out what was what at Playa Fronton. I asked him if I should be bringing along any food and water since I hadn´t packed any and hadn´t had breakfast.
The next thing I knew he was leading me through town and back behind a row of shacks to an abandoned lot with a mata de mangos. We scoured the ground for the good fruit and then climbed up on top of the roof of the decrepit cement building to pick even more. By the time we were finished I had a bag full of mangos to make it through the day and plenty to share.
Soon enough I was hopping into a boat and headed off for a jostling little ride on turquoise waves.
If you wander around behind the palm trees a little bit, you´ll find some stony ruins built alongside the cliffs.
And they let me strap up and give it a go!!
Regretfully, I don´t have any pictures to document this little escapade....so since there´s no photographic evidence, you´ll have to trust me when I say I climbed to a frightening height. Once I couldn´t feel my arms any more from clinging to the cliffside like a terrified spider, I decided it was time to let go. I unpried my fingers from their death grip and rappelled down the mountain to safety, wondering the whole time what I had been so scared about.
After thanking my new friends for the adventure, I made my way back to the beach to cool off in the crystal water (mountain climbing is hard work!) and soak up the sun.
I ate nothing but mangos the entire day and have never been so happy in my life.
Of course I chose to go up.
Soon, I myself was also doing some sinking...into the soft sheets of my bed, where visions of mango juice danced in my head.
Jónaton (pronounced Joan-ah-tone), my guide, and I spent nearly 3 hours snorkeling and navigating our way through the coral reefs hidden below the glassy surface of el mar.
Jonaton probably took me farther than a half mile from the shore line and we covered at least several miles of water in our journey. Surprisingly enough, I never got tired as the sea water was salty enough to keep me bouyant on the surface without too much effort.
I wish I could put into words how absolutely amazing this experience was. I felt like the Little Mermaid. Except I was a little mermaid on a mission: to find and kill Nemo. Ok, that sounds pretty gruesome, but in all fairness, harpoon fishing is a pretty fair sport. The fishies have as much chance to escape capture as the harpooner has to catch them...knowing where they are and anticipating their movements is a practiced skill. Which is why I didn´t actually do any harpooning myself; I wanted to avoid any possible scenario in which I had to explain to my parents that I had accidentally harpooned my own leg. Maybe the next trip. For now, I left the tough stuff to Jonaton, who was an expert. Shy and sweet on land, he turned into a barracuda under the water. I trailed behind him, taking in the scenery and keeping a lookout for sharks (I don´t actually think there are any sharks in that water...but when you are in the middle of the ocean you can´t help thinking about it). The scenery, by the way, was breathtaking and I learned a few new vocab words along the way too. For example, the two giant sting rays sailing beneath me like kites I came to find out are called Manta Rayas...or in slang Cholos. The striped eel was appropriately nicknamed a pez machete. I also saw an inky black octopus, a blue crab the size of my hand feeding himself with his crabby claws, a vibrant orange star fish bigger than my head, tons of tiny jellyfish which lit up like they had live wires for veins and which I vigorously tried to avoid, and fish in every color imaginable, including the bright red pez cotorra (parrot fish) that Jonaton was stalking through the deep.
In the end we ended up with 5 nice little red fish, a giant conch shell, and a lobster. Not a bad little catch.
"Wow, you´re dangerous!" That´s what the onlookers said to Jonaton as as we walked back along the beach to the boat launch with our prizes. Sweet, shy Jonaton just smiled, and I couldn´t stop smiling either.
Ok, I didn´t actually "catch" it myself, don´t get so technical on me, mister. But I did make sure no sharks ate Jonaton while he was harpooning and that was an important job. Definitely worthy of a lobster
I would love to tell you exaclty how to go about finding your own harpooning expedition at Las Galeras, but all you really have to do is ask around. Find Jonaton if you can. The whole 3 hour excursion, including full rights to whatever we caught, only cost me 700 pesos. (plus I gave 200 to the ladies at El Restaurante Modesta for cooking the catch). If you went out to any restaurant and ordered lobster, it would probably cost you about that much, and you wouldn´t get the 3 hours of fun and the extra 5 fish and conch shell souvenir to boot).
Best experience ever!