Saturday, January 31, 2009

I would like to add something to yesterday’s events that I thought about this morning. It is specifically for my past students but relevant to anyone, especially a young person with “dreams”.

I mentioned that when I first went into town I was in tank top and shorts after working in the yard. The local people were dressed in many different outfits but it was clear that it was an occasion where one was expected to show the proper respect by what they wore, that being causal but very clean. I didn’t give it much thought at that moment because I was leaving anyway. When I did decide to return I caught myself and determined that this may become a unique opportunity to show my respect too. Not just to the official but to “my village”. I dressed in my favorite tropical pants that have been with me everywhere, and just washed, and a simple long sleeved crew neck tee also very clean. Of course always my “campaign” hat.

Well, it felt good, I looked good and I sensed that my friends, especially Vicente and Luice, were grateful that I showed this simple but important respect. Because of that momentary reflection before going I arrived in a state of personal “power”. It was as much a sign of respect for myself as for the situation. I was the only Gringo in the village yesterday and I knew I was being watched.

The point to my students and other young people who might access this blogspot is to always be aware and respectful of another country’s traditions, however insignificant they may seem to you at the time. It might just make the difference between accomplishing your “dreams” or not.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It has been blowing again so haven’t been out for a few days but there is something to report nevertheless. About three days ago I was on my way to see Vicente when I happened to see another local friend (Luice). Last year he was running for office as Delagado for the area where I live. It is the first step towards a more ambitious political position and I thought I would congratulate him on his success. It dawned on me right then that maybe I should talk to him, as my delagado, about my dreams for a whale sanctuary and ultimately a marine lab here in El Cardonal. Even with my very broken Spanish the passion took over and I was articulate enough at the end for him to sincerely pledge his assistance in making my dream come true.

That’s very cool. Today I was again in town center doing some errands when I saw a large gathering at the school. I stopped and saw Vicente there and asked him what was happening. Well, not the governor but the Presidente Municipal was going to be there and Vicente reminded me of his suggestion that I may even get a chance to talk to her. A Presidente Municipal is one step down from the Governor of Baja Sur. She is the top political official for The East Cape from La Paz down to Los Barriles. There are 5 in all of Baja Sur. No, I didn’t get a chance to talk to her but read on.

It was 2:00 and I still had things to do but when I got home I figured why not go by later after I’ve cleaned up (I was in shorts and tank top) with the pictures, plans and other documents I promised Luice that he could use to support my case with the “higher ups”. I did just that and as soon as I got there Vicente was introducing me to various people he thought I should know. I had that great poster Peter Armstrong put together for me of the Blue Whale and was showing it around. I figured I might as well go up to Luice (he was sitting at a table with the Presidente signing some kind of documents) and give him the materials I had for him, including the poster. He was glad to see me and when I suggested that I should leave the materials in his office he asked that I leave them with him right there. Good move! As I was walking away another man stopped me and asked if I had any more of the posters. He said the Presidente wanted one….or four. I hustled back to the trailer, got the posters and was back in el centro in 5 minutes. I delivered the posters and the man introduces himself as the Presidentes environmental chief!!

So he says that he will be in El Cardonal next week and would like to talk with me about the whales. At this point you can imagine how I’m feeling. None of this was planned or if it was, and I suspect it to be so, it was engineered by my eternal soul and the guides who have chosen to be with me in this lifetime.

Just before I left, with my soul about 2 feet off the ground by the way, Vicente comes up with the warmest smile and as I give him the thumbs up he says, “poco a poco”. If it all comes to naught it will make little difference, the love and support I have been given regarding this dream is in itself beyond Earthly measure.....thank you all.

I feel I need in this day and age to clarify something. It has to do with terminology. Please do not think that because I use terms such as soul that it implies anything to do with Judeo-Christian Mythology. I am a “Born Again Pagan” and proud of it but there are words which simply work the best. Don’t mean to offend anyone but it has to be clear where I stand on this very important issue.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What did I say yesterday about no whales? This morning I rose a bit earlier than usual and thought I'd go up on my bodege roof for a look around. Sun had just come up and the skies were very dark with pretty angry looking clouds everywhere. Wind was light but steady from the North again and it looked like another blow was in store. And then I saw a Humpback! It was about 1/2 mile out and moving leisurely North. I considered waking Vicente but the weather did not look promising and it was kinda early....and it was just one whale. was 3 whales! I hopped (sort of) off the roof, grabbed my camera and took off for Vicente's. He was awake, looked at me and knew...."ballenas", he asked? Well we were gone. Had to get the key to the panga motor from Antonio first. He lives in the next village south, Los Algodones. We get the key and head to the beach. Problem is Antonio is already out with Adilene I and the battery on Adilene II is dead. Vicente knows where Antonio might be, jumps in his truck and heads south. 5 minutes later I see Antonio coming full speed to the beach with Adilene I. He jumps out, Vicenete pulls up in his truck and we jump into the boat. Wind is coming up but I know pretty well where to look for the whales. Trouble is it has now been some time, at least a half hour...they could be anywhere.

We go North by East in way more chop than I like for spotting and see nothing for about 1/2 hr, the wind continues to blow harder. Boat is rocking and rolling but I have to tell you I'm loving it! Then I see the dorsal of one whale about 1/2 mile further out. Vicente didn't see it but he trusts my knowledge and eyesight. No good, where the hell did it go? We wait 15 minutes in case it had gone deep but still nothing. I suggest we go further North. Another 15 minutes and we both see it. In fact all three are there. Much excitement for both of us, first whales of the season you know....and three at once. At this time of year there is always a possibility of a calf in the group. I get good flank shots but no flukes so it's cool but I sure would like to get a good fluke shot. There is a calf and that's probably why the adults are not diving deep (flukes up). As we continue to track these three I see two breaches back maybe 2 miles South. I don't think I'll get any fluke shots from the ones we are with so we head for the other two. No, not least five maybe as many as eight (difficult to tell when they are being very active...and they were). Of course the wind continues to build and there is so much action I don't know where the best shot might be. When they are all around you, and they were all within a mile at most of each other, it is very difficult to choose! Well we stayed out as long as we could and I hope that maybe I got three, at best four, good fluke shots. That is also the way of field work. You don't always get what seems so readily available at the moment. We eventually had to come in because the sea was getting a bit rough for landing on the beach. Regardless I feel great!!

I will now put the pics on my computer and see exactly what I got. I’ll let you know. I was right. Out of the possibly 10 whales I encountered today I got 3 good IDs and one mediocre. Good enough for me.

Really blowing outside now. I consider the whole experience today blessed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

No whales since those we saw in early January. Interesting. Indeed, one of the many interesting aspects of field work is that you never know what to expect. Word is that quite a few were seen about a week ago around Los Frailes which is a bit south of me, and heading my way. We'll see. It is still early for the Humpbacks to be here in any numbers. I may just take a run out to the Blue Whale zone (10-15 miles) this week just to see what's going on out there.

Weather has been good for some time so Vicente and I are poised! The Governor didn't show so no contact there.

I sincerely hope you are all as happy and satisfied as I am at this time...if not, I hope you will be soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

May not post this until tomorrow but today I went out for my first 2-mile kayak. That’s 2 miles straight out into the sea not along the coast. I do that because it gets me into the middle of what I call the Whale Zone. Most of my Humpback encounters take place from about ½ mile out to about 4 miles out. I’m always looking for a chance encounter that might prove exciting. It is of course almost impossible to try to “catch” a Humpback in a kayak but I have been able to plot an intercept more than once and it has been well worth the effort. Today the sea was absolutely calm so it was easy paddling and a beautiful morning.

No encounters but I did see a really good-sized Mobula (smaller version of a Manta Ray) doing some great flips out of the water. I get such a kick out of them and they always make me laugh out loud with their acrobatics. I also saw a herd of Dolphin further out but if you think catching a whale in a kayak is hard you should try a dolphin! There were lots of jellyfish out there which I hadn’t expected but I couldn’t resist going over the side and swimming for a refreshing and it was getting hot (no stings).

Vicente went out with some sports fishermen heading towards Isla Cerralvo but I haven’t heard from him if any whales were spotted. He has a network of friends that let us know whenever they spot a whale so maybe we can get an ID on it. Rest of the day I spent lounging in the shade of my new palapa reading and writing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Went out today due to a break in weather and attempting to maintain a tradition (last year we ID’d our first HB on the 21st. It’s name is now Odin, the second whale adopted by my son Zack). No luck today but Vicente will come get me the minute he or his friends see one and we will vamos! Otherwise I will probably wait until the weekend to go out again in order to conserve research funds.

The land donation is still in the works and I am pursuing it at leisure. After all, it is a life style I am more than ready to adopt…and have chosen to do so. It may be necessary to establish a Mexican non-profit first and to do that I need to talk to Carlos Narro and I have e-mailed him and………it’s just not to fret about. In the meantime my whale loving friends down here are putting together presentations and benefits to help raise the money for next years season.

The American economy, or lack of it, has impacted people (the Natives) here and it is sad because for some it means taking animals (turtles & sharks particularly) that they otherwise wouldn’t. I can’t, and have no right to fault them so I just go on doing what I can, and believe me that is very little. Nevertheless I do sense a generally higher consciousness developing regarding the environment and that is of course terribly satisfying.

Friday, the Governor of Baja Sur is coming to visit El Cardonal. It appears that I may have a chance to meet him and perhaps mention the marine lab. Once again Vicente seems to have some connection there and suggested it might happen. On the other hand Vicente is a dreamer like myself and may be conjuring up realities that don’t exist, and as a dreamer also, I have learned how to wake up without it jarring my goals or my confidence.

While we were out today I realized once again what an extraordinary place this is. From the water one can see a narrow strip of Sonoran type desert running at a gentle slope for about 2-3 miles inland and then running into a relatively massive mountain range that rises abruptly to 3-4000 feet. If you then imagine that running out to sea below you is a sharp slope that is 3-4000 feet deep at 4 miles out…well it’s pretty damn impressive!

I’m really looking forward to getting out to that deep zone in my kayak. I never know what I will see and there is always, always a chance for a close encounter with a Whale, Dolphin or Mobula.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

For any of you wondering what has happened during the last week whale wise.....well, nothing. The weather is STILL not settled enough to go out to sea so I have nothing to report. It's not as though there is some great storm out at sea (my standard on that is pretty high having "weathered" a gale in the mid Pacific while at the helm of the 84' sailing schooner Dariabar) but it is difficult to spot whales even in a 2-3' wind chop from a panga. Nothing from shore either so it's all good. Of course it would be nice to go out looking especially at this time in the season because this is when to expect to see females with new born calves.....and that is a real treat!

I am enjoying my time immensely, reading, doing lots of writing, drawing and working in my desert garden. Outside of a perimeter of two or three imported plants I am keeping the desert as it is (always loved the desert since my graduate days in Tucson) just trimming it and encouraging it to reach for the skies.

I have begun to regularly practice meditation again. A combination of The Mer-Ka-Ba, a little transcendental meditation from the 60's and some louise Hay mantras. Along with a bit of Native American shamanic practices and connection with my "guides" a la Ron Scolastico....I'm moving right along. It's actually quite serious business and very important and rewarding for me.

Hope you are all doing well and I will report on my first encounter whenever that might be.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Well, this is the situation. My “home” is all that I dreamed it would be. The palapa over the trailer is perfect!

The weather, not unlike previous years, is pretty blowy so I haven’t been able to get out to search for whales. They are here however and possibly in numbers greater than before…possibly. I’m OK with waiting though raring to go because soon the weather will break and Vicente and I will be on the trail like Holmes and Watson, though who is who is debatable!

Talk about synchronicity, the mother of one of the young women renting the “big house” across the road was a classmate of mine in………1947-1950 at Lincoln Elementary School in Redwood City, California. And she remembered me as one of her brother’s playmates during that time. Ain’t that a hoot. For the past few days we have been reminiscing about those innocent, wonderful days after the War (WW II that is) when everyone just wanted to forget the horror (though Americans have no idea of the HORROR of War) and get back to family etc. It was an idyllic time in the SF bay area for sure. Well for some of us anyway; the lucky ones. There were lots of folks whose lives were as tough as ever and we were not going to hear from them until the ‘60’s.

At any rate, it has been a treat. Wind is dying a bit as I write…enough to go out tomorrow, we’ll see.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I am settled in now and finishing up the business end of establishing my roots here. I am at the moment in San Jose Del Cabo completeing various forms, paying fees etc. 

The whales arrived before me this time, Vicente said he has sighted 15 already so we are going out as soon as the wind dies. Reports are that it will be good Friday or Saturday. I saw my first one from shore yesterday. Wind was up so couldn't tell much from the blow and the wind chop prevented seeing it's color or fin shape...nevertheless delightful!  

My posts will be relatively short due to internet server problems for me but I will try to keep those of you interested up to date. No major meetings yet just laying the ground work. No news on the land donation but however it turns out I'm cool.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Have arrived, am safe, palapa is excellent, spiritual journey beginning.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Arrived safely in Muleje today. I am 2/3 's of the way to my home in El Cardonal now. The desert I drove through today was exceptionally green this year, absolutely beautiful. I stopped for lunch at the base of Tres Virjenes (three dormant volcanos in the middle of the desert) and simply enjoyed the quiet and the natural beauty. I'm getting a bit tired of salami, cheese, crackers, hard boiled eggs etc but tonight I'm treating myself to dinner in town. 

New Years Eve in Ensenada was, as always, a surprise. Hussongs' was packed and I was on a roll. Perhaps one day I'll share some of the more intimate details, for now....well it was a "trip"! Hope you are all safe and will see 2009 as a rebirth, I certainly will.