Sunday, 15 July 2018

Sea of Cortez, La Paz, will we ever paddle?

Having had our paddle last year surrounded by wonderful glaziers, we decided on sunnier climes for this paddle, La Paz, Mexico. After our Alaska trip where we flew in, paddled, then flew out again, we decided this time we would stay longer.

Finding my house on the interactive map in Schipol airport

Getting flights for when we wanted to go was easier than we thought it was going to be. Getting a place to stay our last week was easy, organising 2 days Scuba diving was easy, organising a days horse riding was easy, however, the main part of our time away was to go paddling - and this wasn't quite so easy, so much so, we were on the plane and I was still hoping we would actually get paddling!
After a very lonnnggg flight, we eventually arrived at La Paz. It was a bit worrying to see so many police in the backs of trucks dressed head to toe in black carrying massive guns! We did eventually get used to this.We were offered  breakfast at our hotel while our rooms were prepared (it was only 8am). It was great sitting in the heat watching our first Hummingbird. After we were given our rooms, we went in search of food. Armed with our trusty Spanish dictionary, off we set for the supermarket. It was surprisingly easy to get the food for our trip, with lots of small packs of all sorts of things that go into tortillas. After that it was so hot it was a necessity to get ourselves an icecream and beer!

Back at the hotel, we were shown our boats to check over, Ken's had no front bulkhead, but that seemed to be quite common for his size of boat! I was so glad we had our own BA's and paddles.
Next morning, as we were trying to get kit organised, water decanted into containers, all the gubbings we were going to need for our trip, the office was STILL going over our route. We had emailed our trip plans a while back, we had rearranged them at one point to take into consideration that they didn't want us to do a 30k crossing, but they were still suggesting different routes - aaarrrggggghhhh. The taxi had arrived at 9.00am to take us to our put in and papers were still getting signed!
Eventually the van was loaded with our boats, kit and 80L of water.
The journey was going to take 4 hours. Once we were getting near the end of our journey, the land was changing from cactus covered deserts, to rugged mountains with sneaky peaks at the sea in between. We arrived at Playa Loretto where our driver tried to get us as close to the beach as possible, taking us over some very soft sand, getting us stuck! We speak no Spanish, he spoke no English, so with a lot of sign language, we all worked together to try to dig and work the van out - to no avail! We were stuck! There was another truck on the beach, but no-one around. After more digging in the sweltering heat (still getting no where) 3 kayakers appeared across the water. I went to speak to them and was extremely relieved to find out they were from Illinois and the truck was theirs. The van was soon pulled out, we were unloaded, the boats reloaded,we waved goodbye to our Mexican driver. It was just so good to eventually be paddling!
WooHoo! Eventually getting paddling!
 We weren't paddling too far the first day (9k)  as it was now getting late, it gets dark by 6pm. We found a lovely stoney beach (Sparkly Bay, my name for it, haven't a clue what the Mexicans would call it), hauled the boats in, got our new tent up(replaced after all the pinging in Alaska!) and had our first gourmet meal.
Shiny new tent
Then we watched our first whale just off the corner of our beach, then before too long along comes a couple of dolphins.
Our first dolphin
 By the time we are finished dinner, it is dark. We soon realise that when it starts to get dark, it gets dark fast! We also soon learn to make sure our tent is up and the dinner made while we can still see, as soon as a light is switched on, all sorts of bugs and moths come out.
Dinner by lamplight
 After this we sat in the dark amazed at the number of stars, then were treated to a light show. When the fish were jumping they were sending out luminescent splashes. We had never seen this before (read about it) and it was just magical - no photos, but magical! What a great start to our trip!
Day 2.
Up nice and early (yes, me up early!) even though we had been woken up during the night by the puffing of dolphins close in the bay, just settled down, then a donkey somewhere decided to start braying!
The first of many cracking sunrises
We were treated to a beautiful sunrise. Had our breakfast and was on the water by 7.15 - am!
Early morning paddling
 This is unheard of from me! We were out by Window Rock by 8am. Window Rock actually looked more like an elephant.
Window Rock
 Lots of Pelicans here and lots of Magnificent Frigate birds gliding high above us. After that, we had a 16k crossing over to Isla Monseratt. From quite a distance, we could see "a something!"This shape would appear, then disappear after a while. This went on for quite sometime before we realised it was the blow of a whale..  It was reaching about 30' into the air and took a while to dissipate. This was why we thought it was the colour of rock on the island behind it or possibly the sail from a yacht, but as we neared it we were able to time when it was likely to surface again - we just didn't know where! We didn't particularly want it surfacing under us!
As we got even closer to the island a pod of about 30 dolphins passed in front of us, then an unidentified fin passed!!! Next thing we know, about 20m off to our left was suddenly a terrific "swoosh!" The whale had reappeared, the blow was MASSIVE and we could feel it vibrate right through us. It gently surfaced and seemed to keep going, we then realised it was a humungous Blue whale! I think we were both so excited, neither of us took photos (soon to be the story of this trip!), but just enjoyed the spectacle of this giant! Next time it surfaced it was quite some distance off heading north.
Doesn't look like a 16k crossing
We landed on Isla Monseratt, had a stretch of the legs and a wee wander around. It's a bit un-nerving being out in a desert with vultures circling around you - did they know something we didn't? Lots of Ospreys too.
Dry river bed
Left these shells behind, some were as big as my hand!

Lovely turquoise waters
 We had intended camping the night here, but the forecast later was for the wind to pick up a bit so after  lunch and a bit of a siesta we headed back across an increasingly bumpy 16km crossing. There ahead of us, again just where we were aiming was another blow. We kept on course keeping an eye on it. This one wasn't nearly as big as the Blue!, but probably still bigger than us! As we got close to the land, in the trough of the next (big) wave, I could see a large dark "thing" swim towards me. I did panic, thinking the whale was about to surface right under me! It did take me a few seconds to realise it wasn't the whale, but an enormous whale shark! I could have kicked myself (except I was still in my boat!) the whole point of coming paddling here was to see all sorts of wonderful things and not panic!!! The whale in the meantime had vanished - as had the whale shark! We did have another mysterious fin swim by us soon after followed by a huge pod of dolphins cutting behind us, charging through the water at a terrific rate. I was exhausted just watching all this wildlife. It was only day 2 and we had already seen the biggest whale in the world AND the biggest fish in the world - what a day it had been.

Campsite No2
More vultures
We found a lovely beach in Agua Verde, set up tent, then went for a lovely refreshing swim. We were in bed quite early. The early morning, a 37k paddle and all the days excitement had left me jiggered!

No comments:

Post a Comment