Isla Carmen to Isla Danzante, April 25th 2008.

In the original planning for this trip, the people without desalinators were going to have to start with 12 gallons of water. But we decided to return to the store after the first half of the trip. The south tip of Isla Carmen is close to where we started and if we circumnavigate it then we will be close enough to duck back for a day. Under this plan the people without desalinators only started with 6 gallons each but they would have to restock.

We paddled down to the southern tip of Isla Carmen. On the way we ran into some Canadian paddlers from Montreal. We compared notes about where they rented their kayaks and how they got permission to paddle to the islands. We were paddling without permits so it was interesting to see how it was supposed to be done. You are supposed to go to an office of the Comision Nacional De Areas Naturales Protegidas and pay them around $2 per day per person. They give you a bag full of bright Tyvek bracelets to wear, like the ones you get at rock concerts. Each paper bracelet is supposed to be indelibly marked with the day of the week that it is good for, but this had not been done! So the Canadians just kept wearing the same one and had lots extra. They gave us a half a handful of them so we looked like we were supposed to be there. From then on, whenever someone roared by in a motor boat we waved at them with the arm sporting the bright bracelet.

I have tried to do things the right way a few times, to get official permission to visit the islands. But I became fed up with the system. They donít have a phone number to call, a post office address to write to, an email address or WEB site. You donít know if they are going to let you go where you want to go or if they have quotas that have been exceeded. You just have to show up. Since I plan my trips months in advance and drive thousands of miles to get there, I usually donít want to take the risk of asking someone if I can paddle. They may say no! I sat on the front door of the office in Bahia de los Angeles once to try and do it right. I had to delay my launch by 4 hours (missing tides and calm weather) but nobody showed up to open the office in time! Perhaps they will open maŮana. I left in disgust and have never darkened their door again, even when I saw that they were open as I went by on other trips.

The Canadians stopped on the beach at the southern tip of Isla Carmen while we continued south and crossed over to Isla Danzante. During the crossing we were visited by a pod of dolphins again. We rounded the southern tip of Danzante and started up the west shore. We met an outfitter-based group and talked to the guide. He told us the weather report: Stronger and stronger winds are expected for the next two days. Right on queue we started paddling into a wind that slowed us down. We landed on a large gravel beach. There was some protection from the wind but not enough to put our tents up on the beach. We had to tuck all the tents up between the rocks, bushes and cacti. This was an official designated campsite with a sign (knocked over) and a capped piece of PVC pipe with holes in it, mounted on a stick. Each official beach had one of these, but what are they? Doug Hamilton proclaimed that they are brooding nests for the rare endangered biting no-see-um.

A group of 12 kayakers went by late in the day. We feared that they had a permit to be on our beach and we would be evicted. They kept going but I donít know where they could have gone to ground. The beach south of us had another guided group in it already and there were no more beaches until you started up the other side of the island. We expected this popular island close to shore to be busy but fortunately it was not.

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact