Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Michal Houston drove the long haul to San Carlos for whale watching at Magdalena Bay.  The new roads have shoulders and are all paved. Quite an improvement from the "old" days. Still it is typically an all day drive at 300 miles from Cabo. We left early and stopped at Constitution for lunch, a small town with a passable lunch. The truck drivers on the road flash their lights if they see an open range area where cows, donkeys or goats are on or near the road.  We made many slowdowns for open range areas. Drivers in front of you can see high above the curves and signal you to pass even if it is over the double lines. The truckers are especially helpful and courteous. It was a fast and in my chicken-sh** opinion, with foot pressed hard to the floor, a: will-I-live-through-it drive? Michal drives these roads all the time and she averaged seventy mph on the open road.

We arrived at the hotel late and ate snacks for dinner. It had a cold shower and barely flushable toilet, but rustic doesn't bother me. Neither of us had breakfast the next morning.

Enrique, our boat driver, took us about one hour out and we saw baby whales feeding with a few mothers.

The babies have grown and feed on their own in this deep water area where plankton is plentiful. You can see the small eye on this baby.

At times there were three boats all trying to follow a single whale and their numbers were pretty scarce. You can spot them because they leave a light blue slick on the surface of the water. Then, of course, they come up behind you the next time.
Enrique suggested boating another hour and twenty minutes out to the end of the sheltered Bay of Cortez where the water is shallow. He said we would most likely see a lot of whales this late in the season feeding on small shrimp called krill.

And we did see hundreds of whales. This is a relatively small whale compared to others we saw.

About one and one/half times the length of our boat, this whale and others are constantly diving and eating. Michal was hoping, as in a past trip timed earlier in the year, the whales would rest on top of the water and come close to the boats where she and her guests could pet them. Described by others as a once in a lifetime experience.

Cruising close to the boat is a thrilling experience. But by the time you get the camera in position, all you see are the barnacles on its back.

True to his promise, we could look all around us and see twenty to thirty whales at a time feeding, blowing, diving. My camera records in seconds, but the dive took a nano-second and all I got was the tail sinking back into the beautiful blue waters.

Rising high out of the water, the eye as big as a saucer looked right at me. A huge whale. My camera managed to get the nose as it disappeared into the deep.

When they surface and descend, they rock your boat, but even so, we never felt in any danger from the mammoths of the deep.

Visible on the back is a set of spikes. It is so much fun to watch them breach.

On the return trip from approximately 28 miles out, we pulled in to a peninsula  full of birds for a bano stop. The wind came up and made the return trip choppy and Michal claimed this was her last trip. I thought how brave of her to take friends whale watching. She said her other trips were not like this.  The wind burned my eyes under my glasses and they were swollen and reddened and bruised. After miles of bone jarring travel the boat jerked and I twisted my knee painfully.  I'm now wearing a knee brace that immobilizes my knee joint. Enrique apologized for the rough ride. He doesn't control the wind. We were out six and one/half hours. And, despite the rough ride back to shore, whale watching is a thrilling experience and I would have done it again.

We ate dinner at Alcatraz, an outdoor dining room surrounded by palm trees.  We talked with other whale watchers that entered the bay from a different point and hurriedly got on the road headed home.

Michal drove to La Paz and we checked into the El Moro Hotel, a place she and her husband, Sam, often stayed. They were boating people and watched this place change from a few rooms and a pilapa to a beautiful, luxurious hotel. La Paz means peace and the whale's tail with the arch welcomes you into the city that has seen the same major growth changes as Cabo.

There were only two rooms available in the hotel and we quickly checked in, kicked off our shoes, enjoyed a drink on the patio before dinner. What was really funny is our lovely room, with a beautiful full service kitchen and living room contained a queen sized bed. The only other room was next to the back side of the building with no view of the beautiful grounds and up two flights of stairs. We decided we could share the bed. Years ago,  Michal and I traveled to China together. We were leaving our cruise ship and it was a long bumpy, dirty drive to our next destination. When we arrived late in the day, we were assigned a room with a queen sized bed. It happens because of the way she spells her name, more like Michael than the common spelling for Michelle. We were tired and dirty and decided we'd change rooms the next day.

It turned out to be a beautiful, warm and balmy evening at El Moro.

We sat at an outdoor table. I ordered a white fish that was served on a bed of quinoa with fresh spinach, sage and herbs with fresh pineapple. It was absolutely delicious. Maybe different types of quinoa grow here because the kernels resembled garbanzo beans and Michal speculated that their English translation might be wrong.

A youngish couple sat next to us and their son serenaded us with his ukulele. He seemed to enjoy practicing his English which was quite good.

I'm not much of a dessert eater, but Michal ordered a decadent chocolate cake with two spoons. Then, as a car pulled up next to the outdoor deck, she hollered over to some English speakers. "Free chocolate cake."  This tall fellow came in and chatted with us. They were Canadians. He got a to-go box and went happily on his way with a half a piece of half eaten chocolate cake. Michal has such a playful personality and she flirts with every dog and cat she meets no matter where we are.

In the morning, at breakfast, we ate inside. We couldn't help but admire the ingenuity of this planter that drips water from top to bottom and works in a narrow space. Breakfast was wonderful and more than I could eat.

More, tomorrow.