Sunday, January 30, 2011
Above the Tide
Forty minutes north of the port of Veracruz, an inviting sweep of dark sand stretches along the coast before disappearing into rolling dunes. Chachalacas, as the beach is known, is like much of Mexico's coastline: at once pristine and stunning, yet simultaneously as hectic as any public plaza in Mexico City. Small family-run restaurants jostle for space on the sand, staking out territory with umbrellas and palapas, while the roar of rented ATVs blends with the crash of the waves. As late afternoon settles on the beach, however, this bustle subsides into an odd sort of serenity.
The vendors who ply the beaches selling shovels and buckets and the lancheros who hawk boat rides are reminders of the precarious economies sustained in these tourist communities. Away from huge hotels and resorts in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, the steady trickle of visitors seeking some measure of solitude keeps alive a multitude of isolated beach communities.