Over the hill that dominates the peninsula of Punta Mita, the road leads up the Pacific coast towards the expat surf town of Sayulita. A few miles to the south of there I visited Imanta, a new eco-concious resort of seven casas that blend seamlessly into the rugged coastal landscape. As eye-catching as the accommodations were, however, it’s the critters underfoot that had me fascinated: land crabs – all about the size of my palm. At first there seemed to be a handful scattered about near the palapa that serves as a reception area, including a few bright red “queens”. However, as we made our way down the hill towards the beach, the pathway was littered with crabs scurrying to escape the crunching wheels of the golf cart. The crabs were no longer a curiosity, they were a horror film. Or a musical, depending on your mindset. I half-expected them to start caterwauling down from the trees. Arriving at the beach I now saw a plague of crabs – literally hundreds, if not thousands – digging holes in the sand with their dominant claws. The enterprise looked like a giant anthill or termite colony spreading out laterally across the sand. Every human step suddenly became an invitation to accidentally break through and be devoured inside the intricate network of subterranean crab lairs. “Crab,” I heard Roy Scheider shouting in the back of my head. “Crab!!!”
I soon discovered that there is a great crab migration which takes place annually along this coast. Descending from the hills with their sacs of eggs, the crabs bury the kids in the sand before retreating back to the hills. The whole process takes place in waves over a few weeks time and once the little guys hatch, they, too, go running back from whence they came.
Needless to say I became somewhat obsessed and horrified by the photo-shy crabs, to the point of accidentally chasing one unfortunate guy up a tree. Despite the claws they are far more afraid of us than we are of them. A stretch of freshly swept beach became a tapestry of crab retreat in the blink of an eye as one small group of crabs scurried away. I still keep thinking about what a great textile the pattern would make: crab tracks.
As interesting as it was to observe all of this crustacean activity for an afternoon – and I won’t even get into lunch – I don’t think I’d warm to staying at Imanta during the great crab migration. I kept flashing back to all of those over-the-top, Nixon-fueled eco-disaster films of the late 70’s and early 80’s: The Swarm, Food of the Gods, etc. My fear of becoming some other creature’s dinner would ensure I never slept a wink – no matter how high the thread-count of those Egyptian cotton sheets.