We jumped on our bikes, all six of us. We rode north to the end of the bike path at the edge of town. There is always a police blockage there but they don't bother us. Mat knows one of them and he lets us leave our bikes there so we can catch a collectivo to Simon & Lola's, a tacky tourist restaurant about 20k up the road towards Playa del Carmen.
Six of us is a lot to find space for in a van, so we split up, 4 and 2, its 40 pesos and Mat and the others wait for us under a makeshift shelter beside the road with a huge billboard overhead advertising the restaurant on the other side of the road. From there, we go the down a long dirt path with mangroves on both sides of it. It’s dense, lush, and as you get farther from the main road, really quiet. Birds are making some noises, but in the heat of the middle of the day there is little going on.
This always feels primeval, V says. It's so humid and so fucking hot as the sun beats down on us - I snap a picture of the group from behind and keep walking by myself. It's better this way because I love this road, this path and I need to take it alone. My shirt is soaked and sticking to my back.
One time V and I came here alone. It was a Thursday and we, or I, wanted fried fish. On the walk from the collectivo stop we were silent. About 1/2 way down the road to the bay we saw a lemur. It jumped out of the mangroves and stared at us - its eyes were a startlingly light blue -- its black and white striped tail standing straight up in the air.
For a short moment it looked at us and saw us for who we were - it wasn't scared but curious and intrigued. We stopped and V reached for the camera. In those 5 seconds it took to get it out, the animal took a big leap into the mangroves and was lost back into the void of the jungle.
That small incident, that brief moment in time, we still talk about. The lemur that knows us and gives us a story a memory to share with it. The lemur and us.
That afternoon we all drank Dos Equis and had fried fish. It’s so good here, he does it all over an open fire. The fish becomes so crisp so quick, the skin is a mirage of crackling scales and skin, the teeth still in its mouth, biting, sharp - I start with the cheek, that luscious part of the fish that many give up for scrap, which is in reality, the best blend of fatty meaty goodness. Tortillas on the side, but in reality you can just eat the fish and be so pleasantly content and know that there is no better restaurant on earth. There is no question about what this place means or represents, it is everything that restaurants in cities are not - at once elegant, precise and delicious while also being a castaway among the shadows of the world. A balance, a harmony of fried goodness, of ceviche, of cold been under a palm tree, of laying in the sun in a hammock while you digest, of the waves crashing very calmly on the shore and a dog running around chasing birds and lizards. Is this the ideal life? Is this the place that we have been looking for for so long? This Chamico only works during the day because, no electricity, no current, no energy but the wood fire, so as the sunsets, they close up shop. Lunch is your only chance and if you’re late, then sorry, you made the trek for nothing - go back to town for a taco. Keep me here, keep this place serene, quiet, keep this from becoming like the rest, like those that promise so much but leave you wanting so much, leave this place alone I think, never tell anyone how to get here, never mention it, never give so much as a clue to anyone that asks that Chamicos exists because from then on it will stop existing, it will change, morph, prices will go up, hotels, condos, people in boats will show up demanding things that don't need demanding. This exact moment will not happen again, this feeling that I have now - how do you hold on to it? When will I feel it again? Where will I be?