Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I have to tell you about the whales!

We had a day off on Monday so we took advantage of the three-day weekend and went to Atacames, a beach town on the Northern coast. The place is apparently known for its crazy parties, but on this particular weekend the “dry law” was the rule—no selling or consuming alcoholic beverages. The dry law was in place so everyone could be clear minded for the vote (the vote would decided whether or not the newly proposed constitution would pass. It did.) The vote was the reason for the holiday on Monday. Full circle!

Anyway, Atacames was pretty quiet because of this law, so we had all the time and space we wanted to play on the beach, body surf, take naps outside and…go whale watching! I had never been before and apparently September is a great time to go see the whales. The water was very temperate and I don’t blame the whales for sticking around. The whales! We went out on this dinky little boat; I really didn’t think we’d see any whales so I was content with the blue-footed boobies we saw as we started the boat ride. Look closely, their feet really are blue.

All of a sudden the little boy on the boat with us (son of the navigator/driver/captain?) started yelling “aquí, aquí, aquí!” (which means here!). And there was the back end of a very large whale (were they humpback whales? maybe, unfortunately I'm not sure). That alone was magnificent but it kept getting better. We’d see a little bit here and there until we finally got to see the tail surface. We were totally satisfied, but all of a sudden a whole whale surfaced—the whole thing! It just glided up through the water, not jumping, but gliding smoothly until it went back down and sent water flying. We were so close! And then another time we were close enough to hear the whale speak as it went back into the water. It spoke, and it sounded just as you would imagine. We were all silent, looking at each other in disbelief. The whale talked!

That’s when the magnitude of what was happening hit me. I lost the ability to support myself physically (read: I fell down into the hull boat) and started laughing hysterically. Of course, my laughter turned to happy, overwhelmed tears. I cried so hard, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. From then on (we were on the boat for a good hour and a half after that) I lost it every time we saw another whale. We even saw a baby whale flying out of the water! It was just playing around with its mom, and at one point we were so close that the boat driver turned off the motor and we sat there in silence staring at the mom and baby, who were resting at the surface. The baby was so playful, I couldn’t believe that such a huge creature could want to jump around and enjoy itself like that.

Our Boat

Definitely not our boat.

It was a spectacular and strange weekend: stinky hostel, local surfers who put on an impromptu variety show (they even set up a stage in the sand with stray pieces of wood—they wanted us to perform but I think they were more interested in performing for us). Oh! And I was stung by a jellyfish for the first time! It didn’t feel good, but my friend knew the remedies: first you rub sand all over the wound, and then…yes, someone has to pee on you. Everyone was willing to “pitch in” (a little too eager maybe?) but in the end there could only be one winner (or wee-ner, haha). I think it worked because the swelling went down, but it might have been a mere distraction to the pain. Who knows? I’m fine now so no worries.

I really wanted to post a video of the whales (there’s even a video of the baby jumping through the surface) but I’ll have to wait until I can get it from my friend’s computer. Check back! Life is great! –M


Bernadette Matthews said...

It makes me SO HAPPY to know that you are SO HAPPY!! Plus, I love whales. and you.

Carol said...

Amazing! You made me feel as if I was right there with you! What a wonderful, natural high. I am sure the whales enjoyed you, too. Can't wait to see the videos.
Love and blessings,