BY SOFIA JOHN
Our hostel was comically treacherous: the doors to the communal shower were alarmingly low, the rooms were uncomfortably dark and damp, and the bunk beds were falling apart. During the night, a board from the top bunk plopped down and smacked me awake. Despite the less than luxurious living conditions, my friends and I were content. It did not matter where we slept, we were happy as long as we where able to surf (or in my case, as long as I could get a picture with a surf board).
The surf was indeed exquisite. The waves were high enough to be fun, but not too strong to be especially dangerous. In addition to surfing, the beach offered a host of activities including kayaking, horseback riding, and snorkeling. One of my friends spent the day helping a local artist build a sand sculpture of a water dragon fighting a crocodile. After dedicating several hours to the sculpture, the artist offered to prepare a bonfire for the entire group. His name was Miguel, and we were to meet him back at the beach after sunset.
When we met Miguel back at the beach he told us that the beach belonged to us and he just wanted us to have fun. Perhaps his zealousness should have raised a few eyebrows, but we were convinced that he was a genuine friend. We helped him collect driftwood, then got the fire going. Around the fire, Saul shared his story with us: he had been drifting around Latin America from beach to beach only with enough money to avoid hunger. He mainly gained income from allowing tourists to take pictures of his sculptures. He sometimes got lonely on his travels; therefore he enjoyed befriended groups of travelers like us.
As the night progressed, some of Miguel’s friends joined the bonfire and some of my friends left to take a late night swim. With the constant flux of people, someone was always with our belongings. However, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly who acted as guard at the time of the theft. By the end of the night, a bottle of rum, two jackets, an iPhone, and a wallet had disappeared. Miguel seemed furious when we reported the losses to him, and promised that he knew who was responsible and that we should meet him the next day on the beach to recover our belongings. However, on the next day, the only trace of Miguel left was his sand sculpture.
*Names in the article has been changed for identity protection.