December 30, 2008

A visit to the swamp in La Manzanilla with Kayak Dave

LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - The Admiral and I took a tour of the mangroves in La Manzanilla last evening, the same mangrove swamp that is home to about 250 crocodiles, a protected species.

I suppose they need some protection from poachers, but they seem quite large enough to take care of themselves.

Croc in swamp
Croc resting in the sun in La Manzanilla

The purpose of the tour was not to look for crocs, though we saw two during the tour. The tour was to get a look at the abundant bird life and other critters that make their homes in the swamp area, just a few hundred yards from the beach, where people have been building some huge McMansions, a few getting into trouble with the authorities for encroaching on the federal zone.

We saw at least a dozen different types of birds, big and small, and a couple of iguanas I swear I recognize from a Japanese horror movie I saw a few years ago.

Birds in the trees
Waiting for sunset - and the gringos to leave

The tour was led by a fellow we call Kayak Dave. Last year, he sold off his kayak touring business and moved to Wyoming, only to get second thoughts about that move. (Smart guy...) He came back to La Manzanilla and now offers these swamp/birding tours in large skiffs that are paddled. No outboard motors to make noise there.

Dave was also formerly the owner of a restaurant now known as Cafe Risa, the cafe purchased by Tia, Toby and Macy Richardson last spring. They labor each day keeping up with an increasing demand for cinammon rolls and good coffee and food.

We were accompanied by our Arroyo Seco neighbors Randy and Karen, and also Nate and Beth, formerly of Harrisburg, PA, now La Manzanilla residents until sometime in March.

Into the swamp
Kayak Dave in the back of his boat

Perhaps the most amazing part of the tour - besides the birds, the crocs and the knowledgable narrative from Dave - was that the swamp was virtually mosquito free. Yup, no mosquitos.

And we paddled through right at sunset, the normal time when I get chewed up. I did have enough 'Off' bug repellent on for the entire boat, but apparently there isn't much standing water to give the bugs a place to lay eggs and hatch.

Croc ahead
Croc to the left

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