Day 5 Miles: 91
Whales! We began our morning with a whale-watching tour in the lagoons by the Pacific Ocean in Guerrero Negro. Each Spring the Gray Whales travel from Alaska to Baja to breed and give birth. The females mate with as many males as possible, which our guide called, “Fifty Shades of Gray Whales.” Very funny, Lucien.
Accustomed to whale watching in the Pacific Northwest, I was armed with seasickness remedies and binoculars. I knew it was a different type of whale watching when we caught the first glimpse of our boat, the 12-person, outboard motor boat ironically named “Leviathan.” There would be no need for Dramamine today!
Our 15-minute ride out to the lagoon led us by huge barges of salt, as Guerero Negro produces five percent of the world’s salt – both industrial and the table variety.
Ponds adjacent to the lagoons are filled with sea water, the water evaporates, and the salt is broken up with huge machinery, placed on conveyor belts, etc. Time-intensive work, to be sure, but not of the back-breaking variety that would merit the old phrase, “Working in the salt mines.” The mine employs about 1,000 people, and positions are inherited; our guide will take over his father’s position when his father retires.
The randy, amorous male whales stay in the Pacific and enter the lagoon only to breed. The babies and moms hang out in the lagoon, and the babies are curious about the boats. Therefore, on several occasions both moms and babies swam right up to the boat, looked at us, and even let us touch them! We squealed like little children.
When we weren’t up close and personal with one or two whales, the entire lagoon teemed with them. We were encircled, surrounded by the sounds of expelled air and the sights of plumes of water spouting from blowholes, making rainbows in the mist. In the distance, several whales breached or showed off their tail fins. I would estimate that we easily saw 50 or more whales in three hours. The guide told us over 2,000 have been counted this season.
After whale watching we hopped in the rigs for a short drive to San Ignacio, home to a mission built in the 1700s and a quaint town square. The town is like a little oasis, surrounded by date palms planted by missionaries around the time of the mission was built.
We camped at the “Rice and Beans Oasis RV Park,” which served up tasty margaritas and chile rellenos for dinner.
I watched the bartender mix the margs with liqueur from a green bottle and had a chuckle. Instead of “Cointreau,” the French orange liqueur, they use “Controy,” the Mexican version.
I bought a bottle for the group’s margaritas, as the Wagonmaster has been using only tequila and sweet and sour. Much better!