Pattison on Wheels

Thursday, March 6, 2008

2-29-08: Whale Circus!

As I awoke early there was almost no one about. It was a beautiful sunrise on a beautiful day. The water of the estero was mirror calm. I took photos of the boats, birds, the cannery, whatever. It all looked good in that light.

As the boat drivers started arriving and working their hustle I folded up the tripod and wandered back to my camp spot for breakfast. As I was eating a gringo approached and invited me to join their party and split the cost. I accepted and packed up and off we went. There is one spot where most of the whales seem to be and there were plenty of whales but none came right up to the boat. It all seemed a bit too commercial and the boat driver would put the boat right in front of the whales which seemed pushy to me and one of my fellow tourists kept talking baby talk to every whale she saw. It was a gorgeous day and I felt privileged to be among the whales but I see there are issues with this whole bridging-the-gap thing. If we treat what may be the most brave and wise ambassadors from another species as if they were puppies for our entertainment we might not get to the crux very quickly. And the crux is a great mystery which can be stated simply. “What’s in it for them?” We know the comercial and stuffed animal gratification that the humans get from it. What do the whales want from it? Why do animals, some of which may well remember our slaughtering their kind, make this overature of trust and affection?

Back on land while I had a nice parking lot chat with some of the gringos the crowds poured in. Busses. Big tour busses. School busses. A truck with equipment for a disco band for the evening festivities.

So I headed out of town looking for a place I could see the whales from shore and be away from town. This morning was too promising to leave it behind quite yet. I spent more than five hours on roads which were not suitable for this little car. Finally I did find a place though. Tucked into the mangroves but with a view of the water I pitched my tent on a strange rubbery clay ground much of which is paved with scallop shells. I don’t know if there will be whales here but it is on the estuary north of town but somewhat south of the real whale area. But who knows, maybe early in the morning . . .


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