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Surf photographer Daniela Caram describes herself as pata de perro. The literal English—“foot of the dog”—does the phrase no favors. In Spanish, it connotes someone who can’t sit still, opting instead to journey around the countryside.
Based in Sayulita, Nayarit, Caram turns up everywhere on her country’s beaches and cities. In the last 60 days she’s been seen in Baja’s Vizcaíno Desert, Mazatlán, Punta Mita, Tecomán, Guadalajara, Puerto Escondido, and…here.
“It’s known to most locals, but that doesn’t take away from its magic,” Caram says. “You access this almost-island by crossing a vast estuary in a panga. When you arrive, you enter a land divorced from, but still part of, Mexico. The fishing village has its own rules and customs, and those from outside respect them. There are no cars, and sometimes no power.”
Traveling with surfers Leila Takeda and Marcial Monreal, they found the secret that everyone who arrives here discovers: an Afromestizo population making the town feel more Caribbean than Mexican. Descended from enslaved West Africans brought in to work the area mines and plantations, today they tend to their fishing and work the modest tourist trade.
The overall effect of the place is one of wonderment, both natural and societal.
“I woke up before dawn, like I always do,” says Caram. “I grabbed my camera without disturbing Leila. The sunlight cleared the mountains, and the horizon suddenly merged green and orange. Golden waves ran toward the fishermen—the only ones yet awake. Or nearly. Looking back at the estuary, I found Leila and Marcial up and checking the flawless barrels wrapping, empty, into the little bay.”