Descent to Wizard Beach

Boat hike chocolate. We return to the chocolate shop, taking the boat across to Basti, climbing to the highest point on the mountain, eating truffles, drinking café mocha. Ali Sun joins me; the coffee makes her giddy. We don rubber boots, descending into the jungle.

The boots are for the mud, ordinary rubber boots for no ordinary mud. Ankle deep, sucking like quicksand, churning below the rare overturned coconut husk or washed-ashore board dragged up the trail.

Down to the beach, using roots as footholds, now crossing an open pasture with two horses owned by someone, somewhere.

Warrio sees things in the jungle no one else sees. He knows names, healing properties, culinary application, We watch for stinging nettles; we share a species of cacao known as monkey chocolate.

The trail flattens, mud gives way to sand. Wizard Beach is long – at least a mile. The jungle leaves a thin band of sand, ample room for fewer than a dozen who brave the trail down. Storms have turned the sea angry. Huge waves build a hundred yards or more offshore; swells push against each other at angles, churning up sand below the water, creating riptides.

Our friends entertain baby Belo while Ali Sun and I walk west. The beach ends as rock and coral curve north, jungle grows to the edge, suspended over sea. We wade in waist high, still el mar pulls and tugs. Two hours at the beach, the sun is shy, peeking out from behind rain clouds rarely.

We start back, the steep descent to the beach has turned into a steep ascent to the chocolate shop. Ali Sun steps into the mud, she continues, the boot stays. She spins around, her be-socked foot plunging in. She finds a root to sit on, pleased to have a second pair of socks.

Up, up through the jungle, through the chocolate shop, down to Roots, where we enjoy pescado y langostinas. A boat ride back at night, a welcome bed, we sleep deeply and longly.

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