By Barry Zander, Edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers
You can read in magazine articles or see programs on TV about how whales can communicate with humans, but being among them brings it home! It qualifies as a lifelong memory.
Driving down to Scammon’s Lagoon, where the massive grey whales breed, give birth and play, is … well, let’s just say “an adventure.” To negotiate “the much-improved roads” for 600 miles from San Diego, California, takes patience and constant alertness. More on the ride down in a moment, but we are here to pet whales, and that’s what we did.
A whale-watching launch (the locals call them “Panga”) holds eight tourists in seats along
the sides and three in the middle. For those on the sides, there is a better opportunity to touch or even pet the newly born calves. I set my cameras down long enough to stick my hand out and feel the skin on the nose. Each of our crew who had the experience described it differently, but I didn’t hear anyone say anything other than it was a thrill.
Grey whales are incredibly large beasts. When the mothers swim past the boat laterally, they just keep going, something like when those 18-wheelers whiz past your RV on an interstate – seems to never end. The word for them is “mammoth.” These sleek leviathans can be identified by unique spots that have formed from years of having barnacles on their backs.
I don’t want to spoil the moment for you when you get down here, so I won’t go into further detail about what you might see and feel. I will dwell a bit on the sensation of realizing that you’re among mammals that seem to enjoy the chance to show off their calves to the travellers. Mammals, like your dog or cat, interact with humans. What may be hard to imagine is that these huge creatures of the sea are mammals just like us and relate to us.
The protected preserve in the vicinity of Guerrero Negro may be a one-of-a-kind town. There are whale-watching tours throughout the world, but nowhere else that I know of provides an opportunity for people above the surface of the ocean to interact with these heroic-sized mammals.
It’s a special experience, in which we are participating as members of a Fantasy RV Tours & Creative World Tours caravan. As I sit in the lobby of a hotel/RV park writing this, I hear dozens of arriving travelers asking for parking sites and rooms no longer available. I’m thankful that our part of the trip is to drive, eat and enjoy. No problemo!
Most of the roads are narrow. Making it more of a challenge is the lack of shoulders: veer
too far to the right and you’re struggling to get back on the blacktop. Making the trip more interesting are military inspections and fruit inspection, none of which, for our group, was an actual inspection; it was simply a minor delay. Two other delays were tolls and pest control spraying: again, no big deal, but we shelled out pesos for the privilege.
A few bad spots in the road, lots of potholes to look out for, and miles of steep grades all made the drive interesting. Easing the concern over safety and roadside problems were two Angeles Verdes, “the Green Angels,” a team of Mexican tourist department agents who stay with the caravan to keep us out of
trouble. They are there to get us through traffic situations and make minor repairs along the way. We have enjoyed their participation in some of the group functions.
There is lots to see on the route, from the unique vegetation like cardon cactus and cirios or boojum plants; the rock garden; the shanty towns; the ocean. Since it is slow-going on the roads, we had plenty of time to get to know the landscape.
One other stop while in Guerrero Negro was the salt mines, actually the 42,000 acres of ponds and salt refining – largest facility of its kind in the world. Definitely an educational experience only a short trip from where our whale-watching boats docked.
Looking ahead to the next chapter in this trip, we turn to the northeast of the Baja California Peninsula, pushing our rigs toward the Sea of Cortez, with the experience of seeing the grey whales in their southern habitat before they begin heir 6,000-mile swim northward.
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved