Tag: Blowholes!

Playa Dominical, Costa Rica

Playa Dominical, Costa Rica

Our last stop in Costa Rica.

Beach Score: 6 out of 10

Not the most scenic beach. Though it’s probably because it looks like many of the other surf beaches we visited — namely Playa Grande, Playa Guiones, and Playa Santa Teresa — and thus its score suffers from redundancy. The sand isn’t whiter. The views aren’t prettier. It did, however, seem to have some good waves. If that’s your thing (as it was with my father-in-law, who caught several).

Craft Brew Score: 7 out of 10

We ate comida and imbibed cervezas one night at El Fuego Brew Co. The design of this place is awesome. Completely open floor plan overlooking the jungle and with filtered views of the sea. Modern yet tropically rustic. A rainstorm plummeted the brewery while we ate, drank, and were merry, firing smells and slights and sounds down from El Fuego’s metal roof and making the merry that much merrier.

The beer was tasty albeit flat. As has most of the craft beer we’ve tried thus far in Central and South America. Perhaps it’s just a Northern hemisphere thing. Northern hemisphere temperament. US and European beers have a more carbonated kick. And proper carbonation — and temperature, on the frontier of freezing — seems necessary in tropical climates. Drinking flat, warm beer near the equator is the equivalent of drinking a slushy near the Poles.

Whale Tour Score: 8 out of 10

Spent one day spotting humpbacks in the waters outside of the Parque Nacional Marino Ballena. While we didn’t see as many whales as when we visited Bahia De Magdalena in Mexico, it was a fun and scenic (where the picture above was taken) tour nonetheless. See video of a mom and her calf below.

Cafe Score: 9 out of 10

Unfortunately we discovered this place after we dropped Andrea’s dad and sister off at the airport. Cafe Mono Congo. Perched just up the mouth — would that make it down the throat? — of the Rio Baru and Pacific Ocean. The coffee and tea, brewed through a traditional chorreador, a wood stand holding a cloth bag, was exceptional. The breakfast burritos were the best we had in Central America. The service impecable. The vistas incredible. We saw Fiery-billed Aracaris, Cherrie’s Tanagers, Bluegray Tanagers, and Yellow-Throated Toucans in our short visit.

Bird Score: 10 out of 10

These Yellow-Throated Toucans were having a good time in this mango tree. Managed to catch one catching a piece of mango.

The Whale Tour

The Whale Tour

Written by Everett (typed by Dad)

Date: 31/1/2018

We went out to see the whales. I was scared at first, but then when I was looking at them it was fun. A whale went under our boat. It looked like it was turquoise. We saw lots of whales. We saw blowholes. And we saw one jump.

Bahia de Magdalena, Mexico

Bahia de Magdalena, Mexico

I’ve never been patient enough to beach-comb. As a kid, after I’d exhausted all other activities that I deemed more entertaining, more substantial, I’d spend a token ten minutes searching for the best shell I could find. That shell was usually chipped. Or miniature. Not worth collecting. That was certainly, however, due to lack of effort.

The shoreline at Bahia de Magdalena — at least the section in front of the Mar y Arena campground, where we stayed — was shells. Buckets and buckets of shells. Combing was not necessary. Large, intact shells were just a shoe crunch away. Serious combers would be bored, since I imagine part of the enjoyment is the hunt. Yet I could hardly muster a minute to search. But, of course, I’m not that serious.

But we didn’t venture off Mexico 1 to search for shells. We were there for whales. Gray whales in particular, who spawn this side of Baja from January to March. Everywhere we’ve stopped, both on the Sea of Cortez and Pacific side, we’d be whelmed with whale stories from the campers that preceded us. Just yesterday folks spotted shark whales on their kayaks. A pod of gray whales came through the bay a few hours before you arrived. So went the stories. Hence, when confronted with the $185 USD price tag (later negotiated down to $150) for a tour in an oversized canoe with a motor, I was skeptical. Darn near obstinate. I’d been on one whale tour prior in my life, as a teenager on the Oregon coast, and all we saw was ocean — though at one point I think I convinced myself and my family that an errant pelican was a fluke (pun intended). But there we were, in Bahia de Magdalena, and there didn’t seem much else to do. I wasn’t going to beach-comb.

Fog blanketed the bay the morning of our tour. We’d also heard that prime spotting hours were between 7am and noon. The fog didn’t lift until 12:30pm — I was feeling pessimistic about our chances — but after it did, the bay emerged glorious. If there was a day to die in a canoe that shouldn’t be powering the seas, that day seemed as good as any.

We skated across the ice-like ocean to the mouth of the bay. Took about a half hour. We saw one blowhole in route. My pessimism veered toward optimism. Then, seemingly as soon as we arrived, a chorus of blowholes sang from nearly every direction. Then a whale jumped and crashed into the ocean in front of us. Then tails waved. Then backs breached. We were surrounded by dozens and dozens of these massive mammals (see videos below). It was awesome. Once-in-a-lifetime. Even Everett, who had buried his head in Andrea’s lap the entire boat ride to the mouth of the bay, citing fear of sinking, was jumping about the boat and yelling “this is phenomenal!”

As soon as we headed back to campground, the sea, that temperamental temptress, blasted us with wind and waves. The vertebrates in all our spines are closer as a result. However, nothing could damper our mood. Everett kept his head up the entire ride back. Paheli was so excited she practiced her sign language without prompting. And Andrea and I exchanged some rather adult glances. I even picked up a few shells after we returned.