The workers were friendly as ever along with the group of people we would be whale watching with. They had come from New York to Texas all to explore this sacred act of nature: mother whales raising their infants and putting on fat before taking the couple-thousand mile trek all the way up to Alaska for the summer.
It was a small group of about 22 people total and the atmosphere felt warm because everyone was so accommodating. From the moment we walked in, everyone talked to us, interested in why young adults like ourselves desired to do this trip.
And of course, being a foodie, I must comment on the food. They were overly amazing about it. There were vegetarians, koshers, and of course paleo me, and somehow we all figured out how to eat a delicious mexican-style meal. Breakfast consisted of eggs mixed with potatoes, habanero peppers, and bacon and a side of white rice (and beans if you like them). One day lunch consisted of zucchini with tomato sauce (with a delicious cheese sauce if you wanted). And happy hour was the best: home-made guacamole with home-made chips-- it was literally the creamiest I have ever had! So mouth-watering. My favorite meal though, was the dinner we had the first night: scallops right from the bay cooked with some tomatoes, onion, and zucchini-- simple, local ingredients, but so delicious.
But back to the whale watching. The first day we arrived we headed out for two trips. You can see how close we got to these whales in the picture, but really they don't do it justice. It was breathtaking. I kissed whales about ten times. The same mom whale and her baby (who we named Scarface because of a propeller gash on his head) found us on three different trips. Out of over 300 whales! The amazing thing about these grey whales is that scientists have found them to be the friendliest whales of their species and they don't know why. We don't offer food, we just enter their natural habitat and they instinctively know to come up to us because we will offer our love-- either in the form of kisses or scrubbing the barnacles off with a brush (see the picture!).
And if that really doesn't seem like enough, they also had kayaking, octopus fishing, and poker (which we played in the baking sun) amongst socializing too. We were only there for two days and for children that was enough, but I would have liked to stay at least another day. Even for the stars it would have been worth it. They freckled the sky, twinkling like gems. And the best part at night was the absolute silence. No cars. No humming of electrical wires. Just air.
Our trip didn't end there though! We drove back to San Diego, having a bit of a traffic jam at the border, and stayed at the Torrey Pines Lodge. It was an old hotel, but the golf course and restaurant made it worth while. We ate a delicious lunch and dinner there with locally grown food (classic California fare) and the golfing was a neat experience as well. We started at 7 am so the sun wasn't out and I was a bit worried. But around 9:45, that sun crept out, the temperature warmed up quite a bit and all the holes we played neighboring the ocean were amazing. The 18 holes didn't drag on like they sometimes do at poor courses. At this one, it felt just right.
Overall, I am so thankful we took this trip and it was a surprise! If I had known beforehand we were staying in huts, I probably wouldn't have been too enthusiastic. But that's just judging before you get there, which I often do because of my expectations. Staying a hut was enjoyable for me and a camping experience without having to pitch your own tent (plus soft mattresses). It is unfortunate that Mexico isn't the safest right now, but we didn't encounter any trouble along the way, besides the annoyance of the military checks. For the beauty we encountered with the whales, I would definitely persuade anyone to do this trip in their lifetime, even if you are not a whale person. Their enormity is incomprehensible until your hand is on their head and they spout a five foot jet stream of whale snot right at you. Nothing except being there could top that experience.