The Land of the Whales met us with desert-brown scenery and never-ending-forks-on-the-off-road all leading back to the same path. As we pulled into the Kuyima Eco Camp lost oasis of civilization (well, sort of), the vast San Ignacio Lagoon opened up in front of us.
Before our first “meet the whales” trip we grabbed lunch at the nice dining room palapa. All the seafood is locally caught and truly delicious, and the staff is ready to accommodate any diet restrictions and preferences.
As I have mentioned before, only a small section of the Huge San Ignacio lagoon is open to the whale watching and you can only get there by 10-passenger pangas (small boats) operated by the licensed guides. There can only be 16 pangas at any given time in the lagoon with a 90 min per trip restriction.
We get our full orientation:
Guide: “Do not touch the flukes (tails), blowholes, eyes or pectoral fins (flippers)! And have fun!”
Me: “uuummmm...anything else? So the rest is ok to touch?"
Guide: “Sure! Pet them, hug them and if they come up for a kiss...Kiss them as much as they want!”
Me: “Ha! Good one! Thanks for getting our hopes up...I will be so lucky if I just get to touch one whale with at least my pinky!”
We suit up: water shoes, windbreakers, life jackets, hats, dry bags, go pro sticks, water proof phone cases...ready for a photo battle, off in the little panga we go!
With currently 88 caw/calf pairs in the lagoon and still over 300 whales total there is no shortage of interaction...we immediately “get picked up” by another pair that is all about scratching their bodies against our boat and using us as a “rubber-ducky-toy”. This big Mama really enjoys getting us wet, so she comes up and blows at us at just the right angle. Or maybe she just gets a kick out of my "laughing screams" that kind of become a norm at this point.
There is no WiFi or cell service...No IG, no FB, no news, no emails...kind of liberating, since in this day and age there are not too many places on earth where you are completely and officially “off the grid”.
We “suit up” and find out that since the wind chop is pretty high today, we will be shuttled by land to the area right next to the whale watching spot. It's a pretty bumpy 10 min ride in the van, but upon arrival we are rewarded by the beautiful and calm mangrove with our panga awaiting us. Let the adventure continue, what will today bring?
If you are an experienced whale watcher, you know that the weather and the sea conditions completely change the behavior of the whales. In my personal experience, watching the Grays off the Southern California Coast, the windier – the more breaching and the high energy behaviors we usually see. Well, today is no different...we are seeing breaches all around, pec slaps (flippers slapping the water) and the most “alien-like” behavior of all: Spyhopping. It's hard to describe the feeling when suddenly-and-slowly submarine-like a giant, long head comes straight up out of the water just enough to show it's eyes...turns to the right, turns to the left...and slowly submerges beneath the surface...and now imagine, like in synchronized swimming, 4 or 5 of those heads popping out of the water like mushrooms...are they looking at each other? Are these aliens watching us? are we on another planet called “water world”? It's very mysterious and spooky an the same time.
After a very long petting session, the big Mama picks up the calf with her rostrum (nose) and pushes him up to the boat, to ME!!! All I hear is “KISS HIM!” all around me. Oh, you don't have to tell me twice! I lean over and put my lips on his soft, warm head. I just kissed my "hubby's baby whale"! CHECK! I'm good...we can go home now!
The ride back is the very opposite if smooth...it's rough, we are bouncing on the waves like that “rubber ducky” and that extra life jacket i'm sitting on is saving my butt right now, literally...but nothing can mess with my happiness – a true bucket list experience I will never forget.
It is kind of sad to leave the camp...one more night under those stars would be perfect. But it's time to go, it's time to share with the world what we have just experienced. On the ride back to the civilization we almost don't talk...it's like an understood silence...this place is magic, this place is like no other on Earth...I can be honest with myself, I'm Victoria and I'm a complete-head-over-heals-Whale-Addict...and I'm not ashamed.
I'm really looking forward to getting some cell service and WiFi, so I can already book the trip for the next year and this time we are not coming back alone!
Who is with me?