At La Gringa we made a pass through the deserted fish camp and down the strand between the lagoon and the protected bay. The Herons and Egrets were there, the crabs and clams and small shells strewn along the beach of smooth round stones drifting toward the calm water and the overflowing memories we had collectively formed across the many summer months at the northern extremes of Bahia. It seemed there were always three herons. They must somehow measure the real estate. I remembered Robert Aurdry and The Territorial Imperative, a great book describing the nature of animals and territory.
Nothing was changed on the beach, it was all there in front of us in its simple, natural majesty. We had all missed La Gringa so badly, had had many family rememberences of the old green huts, of families living there in the early years (to us), of the fish processing plant and the Japanese family that struggled to harvest sea urchins for shipment east to their homeland, of the many moments in time we had lived and learned there, in the magic of a kingdom off, on its own.
We drove back to the small side road traveling inland, westward then north and across the several kilometers of sand and rock and down the rugged volcanic path to our new home. This was the first time Michael and Kevin had seen Las Cuevitas. We parked along the beach above the high tide line on new and larger smooth round stones.
It was evening and we opened the tent trailer and stacked the myriad supplies and gear alongside. It was about ninety degrees but the sun was in its dying arc. Michael and Kevin, glad to have the two-day drive behind them, shook off the boredom running up and down the beach and into the shallow water, chasing sea gulls and pelicans with Lassie on their heels. We fixed a simple dinner, opened the camp chairs and watched the sun set over the hills to the west and the magic it created on the cumulous clouds to the east.
As it grew dark that first night we lit a kerosene lantern and settled inside the tent trailer with the screens to protect us from the bugs attracted to the light. Before long the boys were slowing down, lying on their shared bed, reading. Mary Ann and I talked about building the hut.
I set a camp chair near the water and put on an album of low-key Spanish guitar and listened to the small waves lapping at the stones. We were here now, arrived at a place we would spend our summer and lock a lifetime into a few months with the four of us, before the boys were fully grown and before I was too old to share the sensitivities of youth. By 9:30 we were all ready to turn the lamp off.
The first night on the beach at Las Cuevitas I knew we had selected a good location for our summer. The swells from the open gulf were slightly larger than at either the south end of the bay, or La Gringa, still inside Bahia, but the change added a degree of freshness, the water here was more open, more free of encumbrances. Cliffs to our immediate north and south, defining the ends of our little beach, were roosting places for pelicans that came from the south end, where they often spent much of their day. During the night we could here them occasionally diving for bait. Our beach was protected from the west by the hills of the plateau and by the northern and southern volcanic points, and felt secure. A breeze stirred through the mosquito netting of the trailer that I knew we would be protecting us for only another night or two, cooling the air while we each reviewed our hopes for tomorrow and then slept.