The usefulness of wasted action

Oct 24, 2008 at 12:26 PM
I decided to go see Playa Conchal yesterday. I had been setting it aside for when I felt up to it because it is on the other side of that volcanic rock outcropping I've mentioned before.

As usual, on the walk to the South, I watched the patterns in the sand, plus I spotted some gorgeous shells which I picked up to give to my sister - who has a decorating-with-shells fetish that threatens to tilt the balance of her otherwise amazing and wonderful life. Actually, she pulls it off beautifully. Sea shell covered frames, mirrors and chandeliers are all over her house and they are simply amazing looking. I don't know how she pulls it off, but every house she lives in has a theme and it is all pulled together with exquisitely good taste. I am jealous. I am utterly missing the decorating gene.

Anyway, I collected some pretty shells for my sister on the way and had to leave them in a secret spot for myself when I reached the rocks. Rock climbing with your hands full is like skiing in high heels. It's not done.

So I tucked my flipflops into the back of my skirt (a beautiful look on me, I might add) and I started climbing. The volcanic eruptions that form this particular hillside appear to have occured at regular intervals over a period of time. The layers of rock have been tilted by plate tectonics - like a tipped over stack of pancakes. You can see a small bit of each layer in 30 degree angled stacks. Better than climbable, practically walkable in sections.

I easily made my way across the first third of it, and ran across a nearly naked local child, splashing in a pool in the rocks and trying to land his flip flop on a small fish living there. I kept going, around the section that wanders out toward the sea.

Near the steeper red hillside, almost halfway across to Conchal - I found dinosaur footprints, preserved in the rock. If I had to guess, the prints were made just before an eruption and the clay-filled soil was pressed and preserved between volcanic rock layers. I situated myself for a good long look. Very exciting. OK, they might not be dinosaur prints, but something about as heavy or big as an elephant made them when that rock was maliable soil. At some time before this was a beach, perhaps when water levels here were lower (or the land was higher?). Whatever creature it was was no where to be seen. When it lived, it had big, longish, two or maybe three toed footprints. It left a print about 6 cms deep. I stuck my feet into them. My feet looked small and I wondered at the size of the creature that made them. Prehistoric alligators? Huge land mammals? Small dinosaur? Unknown. I am not a good tracker. I can barely tell the difference between various prints made by present day animals.

I continued my round of the rock. The rocks got darker.

On the other side of the rock, the gaps between layers were full of water. It was crystal clear. In glancing for a better footing, I noticed a tiny blue crab picked algae off the rock. I settled in again, and watched him for a moment, living in his altogether temporary, impractical home, and noticed he was there with about 100 of his closest friends. It is amazing to me the ecosystem that will grow up in a tiny pool that might evaporate in the sun at any moment, yet thrives as though nothing is wrong. It is the nature of living things to prosper as well as possible in whatever space the world is wiling to give up to us - no matter how small or confined, as though nothing was wrong. I suppose between tides and rain, the crabs live in the tiny cracks in the rocks that I was so carelessly stepping on.

I moved on. I reached an area where I had to avoid stepping on little black, living sea creatures. I took a closer look.

Tiny little mussels were clustered around tiny little lakes in the rocks, (and there were more of my crab friends there). I felt like a giant standing beside beachfront property, watching the denizens press and punch forward toward the lip of the water - the best spot to be is apparently touching but not IN the water. Each little tiny black mussel was pushing his friends out of the way as best he could with his only muscle, his tongue. As the water continued to evaporate, I swear I could feel the mounting panic in the tiny world they were living in. It is a mussel squish mussel kind of world out there, people.

I chose to watch the brilliantly blue crabs instead, they at least weren't quite so mean to one another.

When I arrived on the other side of the rocks, the layers of rock widened apart slowly, and the space between was filled with white shells leading me to the beach like a royal welcome. A very easy end to the climb, making the last ten meters of rock far easier to "climb" than expected. And making me feel as though Conchal had foreseen my arrival somehow and arranged to carpet the last leg of my journey in its prettiest shells.

When I got there, I noticed other people. My fellow beachgoers clucked over me, telling me how dangerous it is to climb the rocks. I couldn't actually understand them but warnings of dire consequences look the same in every language. Tut tut, click cluck, tsk tsk.


Perhaps at high tide and if you've never climbed rocks before, it might be dangerous. But it was a very tame rock - easy hand and footholds, only a slight angle, piece of cake. Some parts could even be walked and it was only a simple rock outcropping, not even a long or tough trek.

I ignored them.

I wandered away and sat down. The entire beach has no sand -- it's all shells, every inch. Tiny and beautiful,smooth shells. It looks white fronm a distance, but up close, the shells are light pink, teal, white, and that fleshy pink color of baby toes. A little grey mixed in here and there, and tiny bits of that tan brown color we're used to in shells as well. Every so often, a little abalone winked at me in the sunlight. All the shells were as small as or smaller than a thumbnail. But there was no sand whatsoever.

It was lovely. All well rounded, no sharp edges. No dirt. No mud. You sank into shells up to your ankles walking the shore, and there was absolutely no dirt in the water, even when you slushed away the shells to look at the water locked in the beach. It was crystal clear and as the shore faded into the sea, became a lovely light greenish blue like a postcard as it slowly deepened.

Conchal is the most perfect beach I've ever seen, the most perfectly representative of tropical paradise of any place I've ever been on this planet.

I pulled my flip flops off my butt, fell over backwards and tucked my shoes under my head as a pillow and I let the warm, tropical water rush over me again and again. It was a soft, easy wave, because Conchal is a tide pool, hidden from the more heavy current on the other side of the rocks.

I lay there and laughed and enjoyed my magical bed of stunningly pretty sea shells and I suddenly understood what my sister loved about them. I laid there soaking up the sun.

Then, annoyingly enough, one of the locals who had chided me about climbing la rocas came over and pulled my arm. Nudge.

I opened my eyes, squinting up at her. I suddenly noticed I wasn't wearing a bathing suit, my clothes were soaked through and my skirt had ridden up enough to need fixing, but not enough to make me embarassed. I fixed the skirt while I looked up at the lady annoyed.

She said something in Spanish (again, with her mouth closed, how do they do that?) and I said "yo no se" - I don't know. My pat response these days.

She pointed up the hill a bit, away from the shell beach.

I looked. I watched an ATV crossing over a simple dirt path from Playa Brasilito to Playa Conchal.

I had somehow missed, from the other side, that there was an easy dirt path from one side to the other.

But if I had not taken the rocks, I would have had a far less enchantic journey.

I ran up and down Playa Conchal for a few minutes, and seriously enjoyed myself. I swam for a minute and was bone tired. Swimming is tough exercise. On the trip back, needless to say, I took the dirt path. But I thought of the tiny blue crabs.


  1. Robin Says:

    They were trying to tell you about the monster that left the tracks:^)

  2. Shelley Says:

    I can't believe you climbed over the rocks!!! Oh my!

  3. jere Says:

    We need photos. -- Dad

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Desi. In your "Me" section, you mention "BFE." What does that stand for?