Whale, whale against the coming of the night….
Our ship pulled into the harbor of Cabo San Lucas midday on Sunday. Some of the passengers had visited Cabo ‘back in the day’ and were horrified. The powdery white sand and calm blue water still rim the island, but now they are crowned by a horizon of hotels. The dockside swarmed with greased tourists roaming the harbor with drinks in hand; competing sound systems dueled it out from crowded bars (“Wasting away in Margaritaville…”) hawkers hawked souvenirs. Sea lions gone lazy lounged on a lower pier. After the breathtaking solitude of Copper Canyon, and after our Sea of Cortez days where, other than a handful of small wooden fishing boats, SilverSeas was the only vessel in sight and we didn’t see a single building - the transition was jarring.
From ship notes: “A five-story hotel complex at the edge of the harbor blocks the water view and sea breezes from the side streets. San Lucas may soon be Mexico’s gaudiest tourism capital.” A scary thought if you have ever visited Cancun and Cozumel. (I feel honored, ancient ,and anxious that I saw Cozumel when the surrounding water held a kaleidoscope of tropical fish and at night the unelectrified islands went dark.)
Sunday morning we finally saw a whale, a small orca dip diving not very far from us. Score! But the best was yet to come. Sunday afternoon we joined a group on a catamaran and circled the harbor. About 25 of us took the Zodiacs over to the docks; once on board our own loud music was playing, we had drinks in hand and were mightily smeared with sun block.
“All of those tourists covered with oil…"
Then… then, as the boat took us out into the waters where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, a pair of Humpbacks suddenly preceded the boat blowing and breaching. Each time one would breach and twirl its massive body into light and air, we would cheer and scream and hug like football fans when the quarterback makes that final touchdown in a tight game.
Humpback Whales Breaching off Cabo San Lucas
While the Sea of Cortez was a turquoise sheet of glass, the Pacific has been nothing but high rolling sea, passengers staggering around like drunks with nowhere to go. Not I. My first, ever, seasickness, I‘ve mostly been prone, as I suspect is true for a number of our fellows. Early tomorrow morning we disembark in San Diego for two nights with my sister, Gretchen, and her husband. But the first thing we’ll do is take our dear friend, Molli to lunch. She innocently showed the manuscript of Midnight Lemonade to her literary agent neighbor and changed my life forever.
Rick’s Fun Facts
The water in the Pacific Ocean just north of Cabo San Lucas is a place where Humpback whales breed and raise their calves, then begin to migrate north along the California coast during the Spring and Summer to feed mainly off Alaska. Different from what Ishmael says in Moby Dick – “it is not down in any map; true places never are” – it was right there, a five minute boat ride away from the tourists covered with oil. Unlike humans, the female Humpbacks are typically bigger than the males, but seemingly like many of us on the SilverSea cruise, they eat about one and a half tons of food a day.