Childhood Fantasy Realized

 I've woken up at 4 am for no reason...but then there's always a reason for everything. This time, I think it's because my soul has decided that it's already time to share this wonderful experience I've just had, one of the deepest in a long here goes.

 Some friends and I visited Las Marietas yesterday, in a small boat that belongs to one of them. Las Marietas are a group of islands off the coast of Mexico that have been declared a bird sanctuary, devoid of human habitation. They are essentially big rocks jutting out of the ocean, treeless except for a solitary palm on one, but covered with desert plants and seabird colonies.

 As we circled around close to the shore, I was astounded by the incredibly clear blue water around the islands, bursting with all forms of sea life. The islands themselves are like Swiss cheese, pockmarked with caves and arches that beckon irresistibly to adventurous souls. Most parts of the island are quite inaccessible, thanks to the short cliffs and the waves pounding against them. As we swooped under a rocky arch that guarded an underwater cave whose roof had fallen in, I looked up and locked eyes with a Blue-footed Booby. It peered down at us like we were ill-equipped space invaders.

 Eventually we anchored close to one of the few beaches that could be swum to. We jumped into the water with our snorkel gear, instantly transported to a strange and beautiful world which we humans could only take glimpses at. Right away I saw a large Moray eel snaking its way along some rocks. As I approached, it coiled its body and opened it's mouth in a defensive posture. Point definitely taken! (Although I did follow it at a safe distance until it disappeared into the bigger rocks).

After some time exploring this amazing underwater world, I joined the group on the beach (..."joined", as in was spat out by the ocean in a fit of panic after I saw a group of barracudas) which included a small boy. Even the beach had its human boundary, with overhanging cliffs restricting further access to anyone except the islands chosen residents. The boy had found a small cave and we crawled into the darkness of it, the sound of the waves deadening and the wet sand becoming cool. As our eyes adjusted, we realized we weren't alone. A small seabird was regarding us carefully, trying to keep its distance in the enclosed space but not attempting to exit the cave to safety. I thought this rather odd, and there was something about the bird's demeanour that It wasn't until the boy's father entered the cave that we noticed in a dark corner near the bird was another identical one, freshly dead in the sand. It was then we realized that the little seabird had lost its mate and was refusing to leave its body.

 Once we exited the cave, I remained sitting outside and the bird came out, wandering the sand looking very lonely and lost. I was overwhelmed with sadness for this small creature, now facing the world utterly alone. It seemed forlorn and unsure of where to go, pacing around slowly and uncertainly, turning back towards the cave often. It even came hesitantly towards me at one point, as if it sensed that I understood its pain. It occurred to me again, as it has in the past when I've watched animals, how self-obsessed we humans are...unaware as a species of the equally significant and poignant moments being carried out all around us.

 As we returned to the boat and made our way back to the mainland, I felt so completely awed at the entire experience. The range of emotions had been intense. Ever since I was a very small child growing up on the prairies, I had dreamed of seeing such a place. I am obsessed with caves, and the natural mystery they seem to epitomize. These islands seem to be one giant mystery and a part of me aches to explore every bit of it, while another, wiser part seems to acknowledge that this place has no desire for human intrusion. Just as we have our cities, with which we so ruthlessly dominate the landscape, the birds have Las Marietas...a place that sets itself apart, so peacefully and decidedly just for them.