A piece of paradise I never wanted to leave. We spent five days here though it could easily have been ten, fifteen, a month… we kept saying to each other “what day is it? do you know that date?” Time stood still. We met people here in our hostel who had been there for three weeks and just kept extending their stay.
The village had been recommended to us by a couple we’d met in Paso del Mango and we’re so happy we went. Rincon del Mar is a little fishing village, the main street strung along the waterfront with only a handful of hostels and travellers.
We spend our days out the front of our hostel, reading in hammocks, swimming in the sea, sunbathing and snoozing. It’s the most relaxed and friendly hostel we’ve been in so far with people chatting and playing board games and making friends.
One morning Moz and I walk all the way along the long southern curve of the bay. It’s just him and I; we swim in the sea and write a message in the sand to Matt – his son Timothé is a month old today. The day after we get up for a run, hard work barefoot and hot already in the early morning sun. The sea cools us off and we do nothing for the rest of the day.
I go barefoot over the road to buy food from the grumpy shopkeeper who seems displeased at custom. We get onions, tomatoes, rice and Moz buys fish from the fisherman, scales them, guts them and grills them on the barbecue. Too delicious. There are regular blackouts and we cook in the dark, with phone torches and candles stuck in plastic bottles of sand.
A highlight of our stay was our plankton trip to a nearby lagoon. We set off early evening as it was going dusk: there was us two, a lovely couple from Austria – Lucas and Therese – and two fishermen. The small boat set off, crossing the swell and the speed of the boat meant that we felt unsteady and water was coming into the boat. To try and do something productive I offered to bail the water out the back of the boat with a cut-off Coke bottle. To say I was terrified might be an understatement. I was convinced we would meet our watery deaths out there in the sea, and the drawing darkness was doing nothing to ease my fears. After half an hour, we reached a small deserted island to watch the sun setting and I began to relax: the island was the nightly home for thousands of seabirds and the sky was full with birds coming to roost. We watched the sun set behind the horizon, surrounded by the sound of bird calls and the slow lap of the sea. One of the guys pulled up the anchor and we were off again into more pitch black, huge waves and fear. I’ve been working hard over the past year or so to overcome my fear of deep and open water and I was thinking (between making up headlines about or deaths) that this experience might have set me right back. Moz was amazing, telling me to keep breathing and squeeze his hand, which I did probably cutting off any blood circulation.
We eventually rounded the curve of a bay and the fisherman drew the boat up onto the sand; we hopped out and helped to push the boat up the sand and into a narrow tunnel in the trees that lined the water. Back in the boat and we paddled through the dark tunnel of the mangroves, thick with the smell of sulphur and surrounded by think twisting roots. Suddenly we were paddling quietly into a large and very still lagoon, black water all around us. In the middle, the fisherman behind me touched me on the shoulder and indicated with a splash of his hand that we were here and should get in. It’s scary being told to get in dark water in the pitch black but we took off our life jackets and, one by one, jumped in.
I don’t think I can quite find the words to describe swimming in plankton: our whole bodies were suddenly shining – our hands and legs and in our hair and the beards of
Moz and Lucas. Underwater, the plankton lit up your face and Therese exclaimed that she could hear them: we all put our heads under to hear the crackling. Lying back, kicking my legs and arms and looking up at the huge upturned bowl that was the glittering stars of the night sky, I knew that it had all been worth it. Swimming with plankton has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before and feel sure I may never do again, and I feel so lucky that Moz and I have done it together.