Of monkeys and surf

Mal Pais Travel Blog

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Path to Mal Pais beach

The guidebooks and surf camp reviews warn of the howler monkeys that wake and howl at the crack of dawn. Well, the monkeys do indeed howl, right on cue, waking me up around 6 AM.  Boy, are they ever noisy! I'm not bothered, however. I lie in bed, listening to the sounds of the rainforest waking around me, insects chirping, birds singing, monkeys howling and shuffling in the trees. The other guys and gals sharing the rancho with me are fast asleep. They must be heavy sleepers if they cannot hear those monkeys!

After awhile, I hear a scampering and look up in time to watch a little black howler monkey walk across a branch to sit on the top of the wall of the rancho, across from me. The rancho is open and the little one could come in but doesn't, content to just sit on top of the wall and look around for a few moments before scooting off.

Horses along the beach path
I lie in bed, watching in amazement and I wonder if the monkey will climb down. The poor sleeping guy in the bed across from mine would wake to find a monkey hanging out just above his head! The monkey is quite small and I chuckle to myself. Such a loud noise for something so small. The adult monkeys aren't that much bigger. I can see them walking on the mango tree branches not too far away. They don't seem particularly shy at all.

I roll out of bed to get dressed and go for a walk around 6:30 AM. It's still cool but I can tell it will be another scorching hot day. There are a few clouds in the sky but they will clear. The main restaurant area is quiet, the staff slowly trickling in to get the kitchen ready for breakfast. The hardcore surfers at camp are already awake to catch an early ride before the sun gets too hot to bear.

I walk down the path toward the entrance of the camp complex and cross the street to find the dirt path that reaches the beach. I stop for a few moments, seeing horses along the path and I admire their beauty and grace. Perhaps I'll see about sunset horseback riding.

Down by the beach, the tide is very low and there's no one around. Mal Pais beach is incredibly rocky during low tide. Further down the beach toward Playa Carmen, there are a few surfers in the waters but the beach from Mal Pais to Playa Carmen is empty for the most part. I take the opportunity to explore and walk down Mal Pais beach, taking pictures along the way. The sun is warm and the sound of waves crashing is soothing.

Quiet beach first thing in the morning
I am quite amazing by the lush, beautiful scenery around me and I simply enjoy it.

Forty minutes later, I am back at camp, picking up my bag and heading off to Artemis CafĂ© for breakfast and internet time. I have a 10 AM surf lesson with Teal and 3 other travellers on exchange from the US and going to school in San Jose. I can't wait to grab a board and get out there.

The surf is just awesome! It's like riding a bike. I haven't forgotten and am able to pop-up. I get quite a few good rides but I'm still a beginner riding white water back to shore. Progress is slow but it's not like I have ocean back home to regularly practice. I'm not worried, however, content to ride the waves as best I can.

Mal Pais beach in the morning, low tide
I will have plenty of opportunities to practice this trip. Teal spends more time with the other three as they have never surfed before. I am free to practice on my own and he watches me and gives me pointers now and then. So I wade out, climb on my board, watch for waves and catch some when I feel ready....what is that thing in the water? What the heck just bopped my leg?? Jellies! Jellies all over the place! Oh wow. A fear grips my heart. I don't want to get stung. Luckily, I don't, even with jellies floating all over the place. Later, I learn that one of the Irish guys suffered jelly stings. Poor guy. Red tide.

The trek back to camp seems very long carrying two longboards with one of the girls. We have one board under each arm and we are exhausted by the time we return. I'll have to practice more so I can progress and start using shorter boards. My arms can't take the long ones! I settle in, relax, grab my backpack and head out for lunch at Artemis to upload pics.

In the afternoon, when the tide comes back in, I head back to the beach to just veg and relax. I swim, sunbathe, watch the surfers and enjoy Paradise until sunset. I heard sunset is quite spectacular and I am determined to see for myself. It certainly does not disappoint!

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Path to Mal Pais beach
Path to Mal Pais beach
Horses along the beach path
Horses along the beach path
Quiet beach first thing in the mor…
Quiet beach first thing in the mo…
Mal Pais beach in the morning, low…
Mal Pais beach in the morning, lo…
Rocky beach at low tide
Rocky beach at low tide
Morning sun
Morning sun
Waves in the distance
Waves in the distance
Forest along the beach
Forest along the beach
Palm trees
Palm trees
Light and rainforest
Light and rainforest
Further down the beach
Further down the beach
Palm trees along Mal Pais beach
Palm trees along Mal Pais beach
Sun is starting to set, Playa Carm…
Sun is starting to set, Playa Car…
Setting sun
Setting sun
Watching the sun sink toward the h…
Watching the sun sink toward the …
Sun kissing horizon
Sun kissing horizon
Setting
Setting
The sun has set and the sky is pink
The sun has set and the sky is pink
Mal Pais
photo by: loscar727