Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - Visit Chico's Paradise along the Los Horcones River just south of Boca de Tomatlán and you will often see the crazy diver "Marco Loco." His real name is Marco Antonio Ibarra Cazares, he's 40 something years old, and he lives on the river in a small palapa.
Marco grew up in the nearby town of Las Juntas and has been entertaining the patrons of Chico's for years by diving into the river, sometimes blindfolded, into one of its many pools from the huge rocks along the shore. I am told he has excellent underwater vision which allows him to swim with the river otters.
Other animals in the area include jaguar, jaguarundi, white-tailed deer, raccoon, coyote, fox, armadillo and iguana.
Birds are many, the most endangered being the military macaw or guacamaya. Of interest to birders are the mountain parrot, cacique, purple sparrow, and chachalaca. In its forests, species such as cedar, pine, amapas, walnut, oak, coconut oil palm, as well as the "coffee tree," Capomo (Brosimum Alicastrum), and mezcal cactus predominate.
The Los Horcones River is the last undammed wild and clean river in this region of Mexico and is the life blood of the small villages along its length beginning in the mountain town of Tomatlán, which means "land of the tomato," and ending in the ejido of Boca de Tomatlán where it spits its crystal clear water into the ocean.
Boca de Tomatlán literally means "mouth of the Tomatlán." The discovery of silver in the nearby Sierra Madre mountains in the 1850's brought many people to settle in this area as they worked the mines. After the Revolution of 1910, land was granted to these folks for their use and thus the villages along the river began, eventually becoming the recognized ejido of Las Juntas y Los Veranos from two groups of farmers who wanted to claim the land for themselves. Today the population numbers around 580.
Both Boca and Las Juntas are working to help protect the entire area and keep it as natural as it was when originally created thousands of years ago. With more and more interest from outside to buy and develop this wilderness, its future is threatened. The people who live and work here have long loved and honored the river for all the life that it feeds and spiritual beliefs it supports.
There will be a music festival on January 11 at Chico's Paradise, 1-6 pm, to celebrate the beauty and ecological contribution that this richly biodiverse area offers to all. Click HERE for more information, then join us this Saturday, or go to Change.org, to add your voice and support to protecting and preserving this beautiful and important paradise.
Sandra Cesca has lived in Puerto Vallarta for 11 years. She is a cultural tour guide with her own small business: Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours. She is also a cultural photographer and writer whose work can be found on Your Cultural Insider and Sandra Cesca Photography. Contact her: sandra.learn.vallarta(at)gmail.com.