Today started a little slowly, a fog hung over the sea and the whales seemed reluctant to come and play, but as the fog slowly lifted the whales seemed to become more active. Maybe it was just that we could see them more easily, and they could see us. There were two highpoints of the day for me. One was a boat full of local Mexican tourists, all shouting and screaming with delight when the whales came close to them. It was a non stop chorus of happy shouting and talking, and I’m sure I heard someone say ‘Ay Corumba!’ as the mother came really close and blew water all over them.
The other thing was watching a mother letting her calf play with the people on the boat. She watched carefully as the calf rubbed itself along the side and was splashed and petted by the family onboard. Then she slowly cruised over and raised her massive head out to be touched as well, before slowly swimming away. There is no doubt the whales come to enjoy us as much as we enjoy them. They can swim away at any point, but they choose to come right up to the boats and seek the human touch.
It was another beautiful day out on the water today. We went out early, on the water by 8am, and stayed out for five hours. It is a two hour drive in each direction to get to the harbour so by the end of the day we are all exhausted. However we had nearly two hours of play time with a couple of pairs of whales this morning with no other boats around. The babies were very frisky first thing in the morning and seemed to slow down a bit towards midday.
I am still shooting with my Go Pro. It is small and easy to use, and as everyone else has a big camera and housing, I decided to keep my behemoth in the hotel. It is just a bit too bulky for this kind of work, especially with five other photographers. The drawdown is a thousand images a day to troll through, although the reject button is getting a good workout. There’s a couple of good ones in there though.
We are in Mexico for a week, staying in a beautiful Golf Resort in Loreto with a group of friends, going out every day to play with the grey whales that come to visit this part of the Sea of Cortez at this time of year. The mothers all have new born babies and over the last decade or so have developed a relationship with the fishermen in the area. They bring their babies to the boats, scratch themselves on the gunwales, and actively encourage contact with people. They lift their huge heads out of the water and get you to scratch them all over, even opening their mouths to allow you to rub them on the tongue, something that makes them produce rumbling sounds that we cannot help but anthropomorphically associate with pure joy.
Not all the whales do this, but we had three great encounters in the four and a half hours we were on the water today, and saw maybe twenty or more mother and calf pairs. If they don’t want to play they calmly move the babies away from the boat as we approach. We respect their privacy and move on.
At the end of the day we saw something that has not been scientifically noted in this area, at least to Tony’s knowledge, dolphins feeding by forcing the fish onto the shallow sand banks and then almost breaching themselves to scoop them up. They don’t go as far out of the water as the ones observed doing this in Carolina, but they are definitely going up into the shallows and forcing the fish almost onto the beach. Something amazing to see.
There have been quite a few thunderstorms over the past few days; hot, humid, sunny days with a dark brooding thunderstorm in the last afternoon. As this one came in I set up the tripod and shot this image over around a ten minute period, then layered the images all together to show all the lightening strikes in just one small area.
We went back to El Tiede today, just Greg, Isaac and I, and I am glad we did. The weather was spectacular, and we climbed above a thick layer of clouds just at the tree line and emerged into clear blue skies and full sun. I stayed in shorts and T shirt the whole day.
Isaac had a great time jumping on ice puddles, climbing on lava fields and running around on the paths to his heart’s content. Greg and I scouted good flying locations and I got the quad in the air to capture video and stills. It was a lovely way to end the holiday.
I have done a considerable amount of driving on this trip and today was no different as we drove to El Teide, the tallest mountain in the whole of Spain. It was a fantastic trip and even though most of the car was motion sick from driving the switchback roads up and down the mountain, then the kids got altitude sickness when we reached the top at 3500m, everybody decided it was the best day out of the whole holiday. So good in fact, that Greg and I are going back tomorrow with the quad whilst the girls are out shopping in town to get some aerial shots.
Another lovely spot. We totally circumnavigated the island today, stopping to stuff ourselves at lunch time and a bit of pearl shopping on the other side of the island. The rental car packed it in by the time we got home, so Hertz are kindly delivering a new one to me right now.
It’s raining a little bit right now but hopefully it will clear up soon so we can stroll into town and watch the procession for the Three Kings Festival that starts this evening.
We spent another great day driving through all the towns on the north of the island, Moya, Firgas, Galdar and Agaete. All of them beautiful little towns but probably better visited on a Saturday as most of the shops were closed today. We had a great seafood feast in Sardina, a tiny little town with a lovely little beach and a couple of great restaurants. This is a fantastic island and two days is not really enough to see even half of it. Anyway tomorrow we must move on.
The difference between Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura is startling. One could be on a different continent.
We arrived last night in the marina of Las Palmas which is a big city, nothing like the small towns on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. We took a long drive into the centre of the island today through beautiful little towns and winding roads, to visit the calderas of Bandama and the national park at Pico de Las Nieves. Both offered fantastic views of the island, but it was a long day in the car and we were happy to stop for a long lunch at a small local restaurant that we discovered specialised in BBQ. We stuffed ourselves with chicken, beef and pork all cooked to perfection on a wood fire. A last stop at Las Palmas on the way back to the boat and a good stretch of the legs wandering around the artisanal market stalls and Las Ramblas was a great way to end a lovely day.
After a great night last night bringing in the New Year on the boat and watching Willo trying to match the fireworks in town with his own brave display, we are off to Gran Canaria. We stopped right at the bottom of Fuerteventura for a quick swim and a little rest before making the seven hour crossing to the next island. Fuerteventura is very different topographically to Lanzarote, with large swathes of sandy brown landscape and hardly a tree on the whole island.