Attack of the Jejenes!

Matanchen has served up a big lesson on making plans while cruising: It’s mostly an effort in futility and a waste of time.  Those beach bars we we’re so looking forward to patronising?  Oh yeah, they line the beach as promised, alongside THOUSANDS of tiny, swarming, itchy, biting no-seeum like bugs known in these parts as Jejenes.  Scratch, itch, scratch, itch, ouch!

Backing up a touch, we left Isla Isabela yesterday morning and had a lovely short, eventful sail across to the mainland (see previous post for details).  The bay here in Matanchen is a 180 degree contrast from our last hooking spot.  It’s amazingly wide and shallow with  a slooooowly sloping sandy bottom.  We entered the bay proper with a mere 30 feet of water reading on the depth finder.  Two miles further into the bay, yet still pretty far from shore, we still had 10 feet of water under us.  Very unusual but we’ll take it.  This flat, wide open sand bottom means we can drop the hook wherever the heck we want and the boat could drag hundreds of feet before we’d have an issue.  A refreshing change from Isabela where 50 feet in the wrong direction would have resulted in a close encounter with hull crunching rock.

Arriving a couple hours before sundown we were excited to kayak ashore for the promised hammock and cerveza time.  Paddling up to shore, we were happy to see a restauranteur walking down to the water to greet us newcomers and lead us to a table.  We were less thrilled with the MILLIONS of Jejene bugs that accompanied him.  To the amusement of our new friend we hopped out of our boats and both immediately performed an athletic jumpy slappy dance on the beach while diving in the dry bag for bug spray.

A New York minute after landing feet in the land o’ bug we were ready to turn tail and retreat to the boat, but our entrepreneurial greeter wasn’t letting patrons go so easily.  He grabbed both kayaks and took off towards his kitchen where burning coconut husks we’re billowing smoke from a big tin bucket.

Being intrepid travellers, and very hungry, we decided to stick it out for the sake of fresh shrimp dinner.  The burning coconut helped (some) and we ate fast.  Cerveza and hammock time had to be forsaken to the BILLIONS of Jejenes wanting to feast on us, but the fresh shrimp his kitchen served up were worth the hundreds of bites we slathered with hydrocortizone back on board.

Coco Husk
Brian sticking close to the Jejene repelling coco husk smoke.
View from the restaurant kitchen, Matachen bay in the background
Pura Vida at anchor in Matachen bay.  Beautiful & wild.

Not being the type to let TRILLIONS of blood sucking invisible bugs keep us down, the next morning we took bug spray showers and headed back to the beach.  Destination: La Tovara, a fast panga tour through a mangrove swamp and jungle wilderness.  A couple kilometers walk and two requests for directions in our broken spanish later we arrived at the dock and hopped into a panga for a fast, exciting ride through the mangroves.

No tour in mexico would be complete without a stop for lunch and this one didn’t disappoint.  The panga dropped us at a lovely little spot overlooking a freshwater pool to lounge and watch the fish.  We settled in, but couldn’t help but wonder about a loud hum coming from the back of the restaurant.  Being hopelessly curious, I grabbed the camera and went to investigate.  The reward for nosiness?  A peek at mexican ingenuity.  Mexico is a country with huge wealth discrepancies, and I always admire examples of people making the most of what they have.  In the states this would be a building code crisis and shut down immediately.  Here, it’s the only way the town gets freshwater.  

Mexican jerry rigging at in action.  Need to repurpose a building and only have access to a minimal set of tools?  No problem, just grab a hammer and get to ‘whackin.


Rope swing over a freshwater pool in the jungle
La Tovara lunch spot
Mandatory lunch and siesta time while on panga tour.

We’re getting a bit itchy to move on, and more than a little itchy from the QUADRILLIONS of jejene’s here, so likely we will pull anchor and float down the way in a day or so.  More posts when fun things happen!


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