I lived in South Florida for eight years. During that period of time, I probably went to the beach just a handful of times. Yet, I’m a beach lover. I love the sound of the waves lulling me to sleep, or crashing and invigorating me. I love the feel of the sand underneath my toes, and underneath my entire body. I don’t need a chaise lounge. I can lie directly on the sand, or on top of my sarong.
My preferences for beaches, though, are quiet ones. In Spanish, we call them playas virgenes. They are untouched. Or uninhabited. Or unadulterated.
This story is about my trek to another “South Beach.” It’s in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. I won’t disclose any more details, to keep it untouched for as long as possible. But there are many other similar beaches in Mexico, and in Baja. I encourage people to find their own “South Beach.”
Whether one prefers to go where the super models hang, or where the gazillions of tourists suntan, or if you crave the solitude, as do I. Find your space in the sun. Find your space in the sand. Find your space in the water.
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Despite the fact that I’ve been here before, and two people try to give me pointers to get here, I get lost. The first detour takes me up a sand road to a promontory that gives me flashbacks to the movie “Vertigo.” Although I get dizzy looking down, I can’t deny it’s a breathtaking view. The rolling tides crashing between two mountains and the narrow gap between them, swallows up the foam.
On my descent, I realize I have to veer north to get around the mountain to the beachfront. The only way in is through what appears to be someone’s front yard. I pass through the gate and recognize the fencing is almost an optical illusion. The path is public. But I doubt anyone except my beach bum sources have walked this way. The grounds are a cross between Fred Sanford’s yard and an oasis. In the middle of nowhere, where you can hear the sounds of the cowbells and the crickets, there are yellowed books strewn in boxes. A weather-beaten satellite dish. An empty jacuzzi standing on its edge. A car with no wheels. And an array of cans and bottles.
Either the owner is an alcoholic, a glass recycler, or planning a master work of art with empty bottles, but it’s an interesting roadmap.
I walk uphill, past a never-finished house made with cement blocks. Inside is a wooden chair and more boxes of “Sanford & Son” collectibles. Just past the walls of the house in waiting, I find the secret mountain pass and it appears clear sailing. The incline is not too steep for me in my flip-flops, and the narrow stone-studded path looks familiar. I’m in the right place.
Then it hits me. A flashback from several years ago when I spent the night in a trench I dug in the sand on my very own South Beach to protect me from the cold winds. I was alone for nearly 24 hours on a vision quest here, and evidently I bonded with the brush, the shore and the cliffs.
Yes. The cliffs. The decline. I recall it was precipitous.
As I approach it doesn’t look that bad. Then I sees the overgrown winding walkway is filled with cactus, barbed wire and steep narrow openings covered in loose stones. I scope it out. Instinct tells me I need to backtrack to go down the least scary of the declines. I grab a few small stones and crouch, in case I slide down like a toboggan. I’m just getting over a badly bruised foot and remarkably it has healed well, but I have to avoid pressure on the outer side of my right foot. Not so easy when the path is just wide enough for one foot followed by the other. I’m about to chicken out and return home, but the sounds of the waves crashing beckons me.
I make it to the finish line. I take off my sundress, chanclas and vinyl knapsack and hang them on a three-foot-high rock. Knowing they are safe, alone on the rock, I sprint to the cool blue and refresh myself in the ocean.
Then as if to prove it really is my own South Beach and mine alone, I walk 20 minutes in one direction all the way to the first structure. It’s a beautiful white gazebo-like house on a small promontory with the windows and doors open. There is someone inside. I splash in their private beach before I about-face and walk the 20 minutes in solitude back to where I left my belongings.
Silence is golden. We all need to listen to our inner silence. To me, this is best done by listening to the loud crashing sounds of the waves on the other South Beach.