Chacahua is an Afro-indigenous island community just off the coast of Oaxaca state. As the bird flies, Chacahua is very close to Puerto. But as the humans travel, leaving Puerto Escondido in the morning, it took us 6 different transportations (taxi, combi, collectivo, taxi, boat, and another collectivo) to reach Chacahua by early evening.
Dusty and humid, the open air colectivo (a truck with a canvas cover stretching over the back) offers a refreshing breeze on route to Chacahua.
The main source of income for local families is either tourism, artisanal fishing, or gathering pebbles from the shoreline to sell for construction. Nothing happens very fast in Chacahua. There are no paved streets. The town itself is constructed on soft sand. Between 1000 and 1700 doing anything under the mid-day sun requires some recovery time in a hammock afterwards. Everything slows down in Chacahua, so much so that the community has their own time zone to accommodate the attitude. Your cellphone won’t register the difference but when making plans with any local, you must be sure to clarify the hour to “normal time” or “outside time” as Chacahua operates one hour behind the mainland.
The island is protected as a Marine National Park, surrounded by mangroves.
View from the lighthouse or faro in Spanish. Our little cabaña was in the middle of nowhere which felt like the middle of everywhere living among the wilds.
The island is a stretch, but the little community of Chacahua is nestled on the edge of the island with a pier stretching out to see.
Sunrise over the Pacific Ocean as a fisherman takes advantage of the early light.
Filming the forgotten places...
Families live in little cabañas such as this one along the beach and the lagunas.
Everything is upcycled in Chacahua. With an old bottle and an old broom stick, "fishing" limes from the trees is fairly easy and super fun. We make our morning tea and mid-day lemonadas with fresh limes straight from the trees.
Trash is a fairly large problem in the community. Mostly, families burn their garbage outside their home when their bins and full.
The mangroves surrounding Chacahua are home to a few ancient creatures such as this family of crocodiles.
In Chacahua, Coast 2 Coast worked at the local school with primary students and the team was adopted by one of the local mom’s who put a roof over the heads. Coast 2 Coast facilitated a weeklong photography workshop with students where kids learned to observe their ordinary surroundings in an extraordinary way using GoPros, point-and-shot digital cameras to tell visual stories about their home.
We held our photography classes at the local school in Chacahua. Students took pictures of their school, houses, and favorite common spaces and then watched them on the computer to learn about composition and different techniques to capture magic of space, characters, and actions.
Students also participated in underwater photography workshops with GoPros. Every afternoon, the local kids come to the jetty to bodysurf, bodyboard, and surf. Our workshop on the beach was about observing from a different angle, a daily activity to perhaps gain another perspective.
The classic underwater selfie.
Jared documenting special activities for Mexico Independence Day: 15 September 2015.
Coast 2 Coast was also in Chacahua to celebrate Mexican Independence Day on the 15th of September. Our participants were outfitted with cameras to document the community celebration of Mexico's spirit.
Nothing quite like fresh Horchata (milk and cinnamon).
Together with the Ocean Conservancy, we hosted a beach cleanup after the festivities together with the local community. Because Chacahua sits on a river mouth, the community is flooded by trash people toss upstream as waste makes its way out to sea.
At the end of the workshop series, participants presented their photography to their community and enjoyed an evening of movies.
Local mother served popcorn and fresh drinks for the audience.