I've been telling everyone I see today that I watched a sea turtle lay her eggs in Mexico. And it is true.
While we were there, several people local to Tulum told me that it is the season for sea turtles to lay their eggs. They recommended that we walk along the beach at night - calmly - to try to spot one of them. So on Saturday night, we set off to find a turtle. Driftwood surfaced in several spots and in the darkness from afar we were sure that we had found our turtle. Each time, we were wrong and so after about 30 minutes of walking, we just got into talking and enjoyed the moon on the water and our feet descending into the sand with each step.
Then we stopped dead and sunk deeper. This was not driftwood in front of us. This, right where the water met the shore in its final push, was a sea turtle. 350 or 400 pounds of sea turtle. She was majestic - the most royal, lumbering thing I had ever seen. The photos are bizarre because this was at 11pm, but you can kind of get an idea of the light, the space, the splendor of this moment.
I've seen turtles in the water. Balletic. On land, they transform into barges. She began at the shore and slowly, slowly made her way up to the top of the beach. Every movement was an undertaking - but she was so completely devoted to her task. After she had moved up the beach a few meters, we gingerly moved close to her tracks - which were 3 feet across. Her belly rubbed smooth the middle and the borders were flipper chops cut in the sand - like parentheses stacked on top of each other, over and over in the sand. After 30 minutes of slow toil, she reached the top of the beach - where a line of wooden lawn chairs formed a roadblock. These were not frail chairs (I tried to move one a bit to be out of her way and could hardly do it). With one of her flippers, she knocked one clean over. Note: Chris and I were very respectful - we kept our distance until we realized she was essentially blind on land and we were not disturbing her even a bit. When she determined the sacred spot where her eggs would be kept, we sat reverently on the chairs to watch her go to work.
We sat there for an hour. It was clear she had done this before. It was like a routine produced and rhythmically reproduced in exactly the same manner. First, she used both her front and back flippers to dig a hole around and engulfing herself - her entire self. She was quickly covered by sand. When the hole was about as deep as she was, she started to dig the smaller hole where the eggs would actually be stored. This hole was dug only with her back two flippers. One by one, delicately - almost daintily, she would drive her flippers in and would perch sand on top of them to fling it away from the small hole. As you can see, I was perched close enough that one of the flippers of sand was flung in my face and eyes and I did my best just to blink it away and keep watching I was so intrigued. In one flipper would go, carefully, meticulously in exactly the same position as the last time, to keep the nest's diameter unchanged. Deeper and deeper, until she was finally persuaded that this would be the sanctuary for her babies that she would leave behind.
August 29, 2010
I turned 30 this weekend and decided (on Thursday) that I was yearning to go somewhere for my birthday (I guess I am always yearning to go somewhere, but this was an opportune why and wherefore). Xavier is in Paris (I was going to be there with him, but an interesting befalling at work made it so I couldn't take off that much time). So, sitting at my desk, co-workers shouting out ideas as they floated in, I decided on a place my brother, Stephen, had recently been: Tulum, Mexico. And who better than my favorite travel partner/very good friend Chris?
Tulum is south of Cancun 100km. It is 'off the grid,' which - in this yoga town - is sold as 'green.' It basically means that you can't charge your cell phone because there isn't electricity in your straw hut. Pretty charming.
The straw hut did have a pretty staggering ocean view and a little tub outside for soaking/gazing.
The straw hut (or palm hut, I guess) also had an uncertain, but very enticing, staircase down to the beach and water below.
Foremost, this hut was iguana jetty (please correct me if iguana is not their real name). They were everywhere. They were my favorite part. Yes, I am easily charmed by iguanas. I don't know what it is: maybe it is the way their glare is a slow burn, maybe it is their grotesque back legs and long finger-claws, or just simply the way they live up to 'reptile' - the way humans should live up to 'human', if you know what I mean. Chris remarked that the majority of the photos in my camera after this weekend were iguana photos. That tells you.
This is a pelican diving in the water, scooping up fish.
August 26, 2010
Pluvial New York makes a girl moony.
Under the rain the buildings don't have anything to do with each other. Under the sun, they seem to be associates - maybe even confidantes. The grey and condensation makes them hostile and menacing.
But these ladies are just three little maids from school gazing out the window on the 31st floor.
August 25, 2010
I went missing. But here I am again. This site has really become a series of photographs. It used to be a lot of writing. I like writing - stories - small details observed. However, you have to be sitting down, both hands propping up your chin, eyes dilated to let it in. I haven't been doing that. My camera has though. Photographs are lucent because you can take them and they sit there like that, with their legs crossed for you. They even think after it is all done.
So, I went missing here because my camera got lost there. I left it in Saint-Tropez. Just abandoned it, jilted my faithful friend. It finally came back to me. Thanks to the fair-haired French postal system, a 3-day voyage turned into a 9-day slog and it arrived in a lambasted box, but it arrived safely nonetheless.
August 15, 2010
Today I am leaving Saint-Tropez. My deepest bow - my nose to my toes - to this town. Yesterday, it sang its salute to me: a severe summer storm - that silenced even the yawping seagulls (who, in a town like Saint-Tropez, often wake you up at 5 AM unloading their complaints) with the cannonade and clapping of the thunder. I had spent 45 days in Saint-Tropez and it was the second time I had ever seen rain. So, on the subject of my departure, Saint-Tropez and I are in accord.