By Jackie Leavitt
As we approach at daybreak on our sailboat, Isla Isabela rises from the sea with the sun, silhouetted in the glowing pink and purple clouds. We turn around to the southeast side to anchor next to two five-story-tall rock islands: volcanic statues twisting toward the sky. We feel so far from mainland Mexico, secluded in this bubble of seascape mysticism. Electric blue plankton float past our hull in the morning like glowing mermaid magic. Hundreds of birds hang on the afternoon thermals, turning clockwise into a drowsy cyclone, slowly rising into tiny spiraling specs in the sky. In the evening, a blood-red moon, just past full, climbs from the dark, undulating ocean.
Frigatebirds wiz around the whistling and honking blue-footed boobies that wobble on aqua-colored feet in the shrubby mangroves’ shade, and stoic, sedentary pelicans lounge by the wave-kissed rocks. Brown iguanas camouflage with the earthy floor, and fish — sky-blue with golden fins — dart among the muddled salt water washing over beige coral. Tiny hermit crabs cozy into the prettiest shells littering the broken and bleached coral beach, and I accidentally kidnap one, thinking its home is vacant.
The illusion of an untouched, wild archipelago is only broken with the scattering of abandoned plastic bottle caps, Coca Cola containers and other debris that slipped through the waves to the island’s shores from a different world.
Nevertheless, Isabela inspires awe and easily captures your heart. As we gaze upon her, rocking in the swell, another sailboat passes back and forth in the anchorage before moving on to the mainland. From the deck, a man serenades her with his trumpet: a jazzy rendition of Michael Buble’s ‘Buena Sera': …did I tell you that I love you? Buona sera, señorita, kiss me good night.