Dolphin Spotting

It’s 5:20 am. There’s a faint gray glow in the sky. The sun is just beginning to rise behind a thick cloud cover. I sip my coffee on the front porch, look out over the gently lapping water and wonder if today will be today. We’ve tried almost every morning since we’ve arrived here, but are always foiled by bad weather and heavy currents.

I hear footsteps approaching on the wet grass. It’s our captain. “Today is good. We will go,” he says with characteristic brevity.

The boat is ready to launch

The boat is ready to launch

I finish my coffee quickly and go to wake up Hugo. I wrestle his drowsy body into a life vest as Gareth packs the camera and a snack, just in case it takes longer than we expect.

Heading out to sea

Heading out to sea

The sun creeps higher and pinkens the sky. The motor hums reassuringly as we slice through the water.

The sun is still hiding, a downside to traveling in the rainy season

The sun is still hiding, a downside to traveling in the rainy season

I’m really not sure how far offshore we have to go. I’ve become used to the ambiguities of life here, of only understanding a fraction of what’s happening at any given time. I just trust that the captain will find what we’re looking for.

An expert eye on the horizon

An expert eye on the horizon

Hugo is nestled between my knees. He doesn’t really have a place to sit in the narrow boat, so I keep a tight hand on him as we speed forward.

Everyone's keeping watch

Everyone’s keeping watch

The captain points: “There, I see them.” The race is on.

Suddenly they’re everywhere, hundreds of them, surrounding us. Leaping and splashing, a soft pffff as each one takes a breath.

It's an experience impossible to capture on camera

It’s an experience impossible to capture on camera

Sometimes it’s just a dorsal fin cutting above the surface, sometimes they leap, full body out of the water in twos and threes. We see their eyes looking at us.

Hugo kept saying "Maybe we'll also see some narwhals." At age 3, anything is possible.

Hugo kept saying “Maybe we’ll also see some narwhals.” At age 3, anything is possible.

It’s time to head back to land. The mist has burned off the mountains and we get a clear view of our house as we come around.

Coconut palms and mountain tops

Coconut palms and mountain tops

We’re home in time for second breakfast.

It was an early wake up call even for this early bird

It was an early wake up call even for this early bird

When I talk to our captain later that afternoon, he tells me (with more than a little self-satisfaction) that the fancy resort next door sent out some boats that same morning and never found the dolphins.

It was nice to have the pod to ourselves.

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