MORE WHALES AND SO MUCH MORE PART 1

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the seriesBaja California

 By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Going out in a panga into Bahia de los Angeles, a bay on the Sea of Cortez, seemed a more interesting diversion than sitting by our travel trailer looking out to sea.  After all, by the time our caravan pulled into this scruffy little Mexican town in Baja California, we were ready for more adventure.

The Never-Bored RVers were far from disappointed by their decision to shell out $34 each to cruise around the bay.  As soon as our skipper, Joel, launched us onto the rich blue waters, we were getting our money’s worth.  I quickly spotted a whale’s spouting mist high into the warm air a quarter-mile ahead of us.

It was a finback whale, the second longest animal on our planet, and it was right there in front of us.  American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews called the fin whale “the greyhound of the sea… for its beautiful, slender body is built like a racing yacht and the animal can surpass the speed of the fastest ocean steamship1.”  But, after two days in Guerrero Negro on the Pacific side of Baja, would this be an anti-climax?

Whale Watching

Not for a second.  While we didn’t see a breach (where the whale comes out of the water) or a spyhop (similar to a breach, but this is when the whale goes straight up to look around the surface of the water).  The broad dark tail fins (flukes) glistening in the morning sun excited members of our two boats time after time.

Attention to their performances was often interrupted by the dramatic dives of the blue-

Coming down at 60 mph - Ouch!

Coming down at 60 mph – Ouch!

footed booby – yes, there is such a thing, and that’s the real name.  A dozen times each minute, these sleek seabirds circled and dove from heights of up to 100 feet at 60 miles an hour into the choppy waves.  Tough way to feed a seafood habit, but cheaper than a rod, reel and boat.

Whale WatchingFrom our distance, we had to take Joel’s word that they have blue feet; however, later in the voyage my trusty camera showed it to be true.

In my excitement to relate our mini-cruise, I’ve blurted out lots of words and chose some appropriate pictures … and at that point, we had more than three hours remaining before turning toward our dock.  There will be much more in Part 2, but before turning to starboard, I’ll spend a moment to talk about Joel [pronounced “Hoel”], the enterprising captain of our craft.

“Joel, how did you learn to speak English so well?” asked a shipmate.  “I have learned from friends and Americans who come down here, but if you ask me about anything other than the boat, the bay and the animals we see, I don’t know.”  He did know a lot about his environment and was very capable of explaining it all to us and answering questions.  A smart man.

Joel in command of the panga and the language

Joel in command of the panga and the language

And his interest in learning has been passed along to his son, a marine biologist, and daughter, a college student in philosophy.  I mention this because, despite our being surrounded by a totally different culture than what we experience in the States and in Canada, we met many educated locals.  And those I encountered who understood no

Senora brings our change in pesos after filling the tank.  We appreciated her smile.

Senora brings our change in pesos after filling the tank. We appreciated her smile.

English were very friendly, which we found very welcoming when pulling into a Pemex gas station and not knowing how to say “Fill it up.” Stay tuned for Window Island and Skull Island, clamming and more.

1 This and corroboration of other facts was through Wikipedia.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved

 

THROUGH A BAJA WINDOW — PART 2

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the seriesBaja California

By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers

Our little boat sped onward, cutting a wide wake through the mildly choppy waters of Bahia de los Angeles.  We had been adequately entertained by the flukes of finback whales and the speed-demon descent of blue-footed boobies.  Our skipper, Joel, was now steering his panga out of the areas of the bay closest to shore, out to the islands of the Sea of Cortez.  Some of us weren’t ready to leave so soon, but what choice did we have?

As Monique & I have often experienced in our RV travels, some diversions along our path to adventure, expected to be humdrum, actually turned out to be the fondest of memories.  This 4-hour cruise was one of those unexpected highpoints.

Rather than weaving a verbal account of our afternoon at sea, I’ll present a few pictures to tell the story, with a bit of commentary as explanation:

BIRDS:

It was a seabird-watchers’ fest.  “Birds of a feather flocked together,” some intermingling, and some going solo, but they were everywhere and the variety kept us looking to take it all in.  I know most of the species, but I prefer to give you just a sampling of our observations.

1.  THE BIRDS COLLAGE

SEASCAPES:

Our skipper knew the history of every island and pointed out interesting sights, like caves and wildlife inhabitants.  Skull Island, top left, (with its “Bird Snow,” the result of centuries of bird habitation) and Window Rock, below, stand out as memorable formations, but every point of land had its own fascination for our party.

2c. Seascapes

SEA LIFE:

With the Sea of Cortez depths so crystal clear around the islands, it was easy to see underwater from our boat, and even get decent photos of a few.  Every species that we handled was returned to the seabed – except the clams, which supplemented our evening barbeque and later became the feature attraction in clam chowder.

3. Sealife

ABOVE THE SEA:

And finally here we are, plus a predatory coyote scanning a rocky island for its dinner.  What we didn’t see were big-horned sheep, which inhabit that same island, but we were satisfied with all the sights, sounds and sunshine of a wonderful day on the Bahia de los Angeles.  That’s us at top left, me second from left and Monique on the right, with Patty, Mary Ellen, Judy and Steve in the crew, in a photo taken by Joel, bottom right.  As the clam-diggers gathered dinner, the other boat drifted into shallow water, adding to the fun of the day.

Creatures

Thanks for joining us on this voyage that was a lot more exciting than we expected.  And by now you’re probably tired of “Three-Hour Cruise” theme music churning through your head, so it’s time to return to U.S. soil.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved