Whales

We waited 30 hours for the right weather, exploring the nearby town and trying to find wifi. Finding the right place out here in the Laguna Ojo de Liebre, considered one of the best whale watching spots in the world, was a bit tricky – mostly because we were looking for it at night.

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Now that we’ve driven at night several times, despite attempts to avoid it, I’m beginning to second-guess the advice that we “shouldn’t drive at night in Mexico.” When I first heard someone say that I took the inflection in their voice to mean that there was some bandito danger, that we had some high chance of being robbed or worse at night. Since then several other people have reinforced that conclusion. But I think this sentiment might be a bit like the claim that “the north star is the brightest star” – completely false yet everyone repeats and believes it. Maybe it was originally a warning about pot-holes or difficult driving conditions. Either way, I find it no more dangerous to drive here at night than anywhere else.

Overall the driving experience is better than what I’m used to. In the states I often find myself at an intersection befuddled by the reaction time of the drivers around me. Back home it is quite common that when four people come to a four way stop from different directions at roughly the same time, they will gawk at each other waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Finally someone makes a move and then the decision cascades. Meanwhile the cars pile up behind them and maximum inconsideration has taken place. Here that never seems to happen. People treat STOP signs more reasonably. They slow down, actually look both ways, and then go if it is clear. This significantly reduces congestion and it is quite considerate. Perhaps the difference here is that people aren’t worried about being harassed by the local law, so they feel free to drive courteously. Whatever the reason, it is rather nice.

Another thing that is nice is the gas is nationalized in Mexico. This means that there is no point in driving around looking for the gas station with the best price – they are all the same. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of nowhere or in a big city it is all the same. At first I didn’t know this, so I would look around trying to find the listed price of gas. In most places it is not even listed, which threw me off. Now I just have it filled up and then ask how much. Oh, and the best thing is that it is significantly cheaper than in the US. About $3.10 per gallon once we make the conversion. That’s a good thing because I’m eating a little more food than I calculated and Chihiro likes coffee, tea, alcohol and cigarettes. We calculated how much she would save if she quit everything but alcohol over the next 50 years and it was a quarter of a million US dollars. I think that’s a great argument for dropping those habits. You can pay for a whole house simply by giving them up and saving. Of course it would require actually saving ☺.

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On the water we searched for whales, which was surprisingly easy. They were everywhere, traveling mostly in mother and child pairs and about a third of them were single males. Most would slowly move away from us after surfacing, so we took pictures from about 20 meters away. After about an hour of darting around the lagoon we crossed paths with a mother and a four-week-old baby. Most of the whales up until this point had stuck the middle of their backs out of the water, every now and then bringing their blowhole to the surface and spurting up a geyser. Sometimes when they swam away we say their tales at the surface. In the distance we saw one whale trying to spot where our engine was coming from. He pushed his face high above the surface, but he was too far away to get a great picture of.

This pair of whales gave us a completely different show. The baby was full of energy and very curious about us. He began wiggling around. It looked like mommy was saying “no”, but he couldn’t handle it. He swam towards us and I reached down to try to touch him. Angela was giddy, trying to touch the baby too. Then the whale turned and bumped into our boat. The jolt was quite impressive. It almost threw us all out into the water. On the other side of the boat the whale was swimming like he was very proud of himself. He did a little dance and then returned to mom. We all instantly fell in love with baby whales!

Thad

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