A Blog from the Sea of Cortez – Part 2

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The Cabo Expeditions crew at Costa BajaDay 1, May 31st (La Paz)

We arrived in La Paz and checked in to Pension Baja Paradise, a small and simple pension house. Everyone was very excited.

We had a meeting on the rules and regulations for the trip, plus a safety briefing. People didn’t ask too many questions yet as they were still shy.

We went to the marina to check out everything, prepare our luggage, and make sure that we had all the supplies that we needed.

Day 2, June 1st (Espiritu Santo Island)

We set off in the Expedition VII and Expedition VIII, with guests in one boat and most of the crew following in the other.

Serenity in the Sea of CortezThe first thing you notice out on the Sea is something you hear, or don’t hear. It’s a sound that can’t be recorded, bottled or sold. Silence. Quiet. Peace.

Maybe that’s where the name La Paz came from. The quiet is as close and immense a presence as the sky and the water. You can’t see it in a photo.

When we grew close to the long, rugged island of Espiritu Santo, we couldn’t stop remarking on the sugar-white sand and utterly clear turquoise water. It was the first time for everyone who was not part of the crew and their first impression was “WOW!” It was great to see the reaction of guests and how the team conducted themselves during the trip.

Arrival at Espiritu SantoWe pulled up on the sand, formed a human chain, and unloaded the equipment. The first order of business is always shade and water. I reiterated to the group how important under the sun it is to conserve our energy and keep ourselves hydrated throughout the trip. We set up the tents. Anchoring the Zodiacs out from shore, we used the kayaks to go back.

When it was time to go in the water, we supplied each one with his or her own gear. “You’re each responsible for your own equipment.”

We gazed in wonder at the fish, corals and scenery for hours. When we came out of the water, we listened to the sounds of nature. When you don’t have too much noise in your head you can turn around and find the source of the sound.

Sunset kayaking at Espiritu SantoWe realized an important thing: going to the bathroom is an intimate ritual; when you don’t have those comforts, it’s hard to concentrate. We set up a portable bathroom with shade and made sure that it was always clean for the next user.

We did a little bit of kayaking. Some people were shy at first, but as they saw others doing it, they joined in. People just needed a little push.

Sunset… It’s amazing how we’re used to checking the time every so often and keeping a running commentary of events. People would say, “Wow, it’s still early, but we already did a lot of things!” This trip was the time to put away our watches. We were not going anywhere.

Each sunset is different. There is a short window during the day when it’s not daytime, nor is it nighttime.

Fifteen minutes before and after the sunset is when the colors are the most beautiful – the colors of the rocks change and the water takes on a fiery glow.

Little cave at Espiritu SantoAt dinner we provided lamps for everyone. All of a sudden we could see how many stars there are. It’s so nice to watch the stars without the bright lights of the city; you could actually see shooting stars (and satellites?) pass by. The stars seem big and soft and almost within reach out here.

It was difficult for some people to sleep on the first night even though they were tired, because they were still excited.

We had to learn that it’s a time to let go, knowing that the next day is going to be different. We reminded ourselves not to think about things that are going to happen when we come back.

The next day would be a revelation for us all. On the faraway island of El Pardito in the Sea of Cortez, we found ourselves asking “how can people live with so little and be so happy?”

To be continued…

My Exhilarating Exploration Around The Sea Of Cortez, Told In 8 Days

Cabo Expeditions crew departing Cabo San Lucas for La PazOne thing I like about working at Cabo Expeditions—the never-ending thrill of discovery. Like this 2-week trip to the islands in the Sea of Cortez which Oscar organized for the group. It was an exploration mission. But to us, it was a field trip. And we were giddy like school kids.

We were northbound, from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz to Loreto. The ‘giddy school kids’ were me, Ana Maria Yarza, Adriana Siller, Oscar Ramirez, Luis Landeros, Michael Hull, Richard Hull, Richard Enrique Garcia, Aaron Rosas, Jose Alberto Haro Romero, Jesus Ramon Hernandez, Jose Calvario, Manuel Salvador, and Oscar himself.

Miguel helping a stranded mola mola back out to seaDay 1, May 31st in La Paz
We arrived in Costa Baja Marina in La Paz. We used inflatable skiffs with me driving the Expedition VII and Jose at the helm of the Expedition VIII. Not long after we set sail, Jose already got his first dose of excitement. He saw a Mola-Mola that looked like it got lost and got stranded in the harbor close to the rocks. Jose and I managed to help the sunfish back into the sea. From being disoriented, the huge fish then happily swam away.

Snorkeling and hiking on Cabo Expeditions' Islands ExpeditionDay 2, June 1st at Espiritu Santo Island
It was midday when we got to Espiritu Santo. Here, we camped at Candelero Bay. We spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling and hiking. I went diving in the pristine waters for which the island was known. We then spent the night in the camp we set up earlier. We were exhausted, but invigorated for the day ahead.

Day 3, June 2nd at San Jose Island
Normally, we stay on the northwest side of this island. But the winds had us camping on the northeast side instead. We stayed right Palma Sola beach or ‘lonely palm tree’ —so named because of the lone palm tree guarding the beach. Staying here feels like being in an oasis in the middle of the desert. Except for the fact that we snorkeled, hiked, and kayaked. This trip was really becoming less of a job each day.

Camping on Agua Verde IslandDay 4, June 3rd at Agua Verde Island
This time, it was my turn to witness an extraordinary scene at sea. One mile before reaching Agua Verde Island, I saw 2 groups of orcas! One group was made up of 2 adults and a calf. The other was a pair of adults that swam around the first group. It looked as though the four adults were teaching the little calf to hunt! What an amazing sight. It made us all think of that adage, ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child…’

Later in the day, the fun continued. More snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and collecting almeja chocolata. Yup, chocolate clams!

Sunrise at Honeymoon Cove at Danzante IslandDay 5, June 4th at Danzante Island
We were feeling adventurous today so we tried our hand at fishing. And learned the hard way that we weren’t good at it at all. After hours of repetitive casting and waiting, we finally caught a single small bonito. We gave it to the seagulls for breakfast. Then we went back to activities we were better at: snorkeling, hiking, kayaking…

Hiking and camping on Danzante IslandDay 6, June 5th at Danzante Island
We were still at Danzante Island when our adventurous streak struck again. We hiked up the mountain! I’ve always loved hiking because it reminds me of life—sometimes you have to take two steps back and find another way to reach your destination. This hike, however, proved to be more challenging than we thought. There was no visible hospitable path to trek on. It was a climb worthy of seasoned hikers. And we were way too out-of-shape to be considered that! Haha! We failed to reach the summit but still, the experience was guaranteed unforgettable.

Come sunset, I saw two more orcas, which made me realize that orcas are indeed social animals. They rarely travel alone. Just like us.

Chilling out and reading a bookDay 7, June 6th at Coronado Island
Just like the previous nights, everybody—except for a couple of us—slept on the beach. I waded back to the skiff and readied myself for bed. Once in the skiff, however, I simply ended up reading a book.

It was peaceful, until I heard splashes in the distance. It sounded like a humpback whale, breaching. But the water was already pitch black that I couldn’t see even a shadow of the mighty breacher. The splashes sounded again, piercing through the night. It went on for a good 45 minutes! The whale must have been at least 200 meters away but the sounds it made resonated. It could have just been the acoustics of the bay we were moored in. Still, the possibility of a whale right out there got me so keyed up that I had to rouse the others. I told them what I heard, I told them what I thought. I was completely animated! And… they went right back to sleep. Didn’t they believe me? Sigh. It was the highlight of the whole trip for me, nonetheless.

Relaxing in Loreto after 6 nights of campingDay 8, June 7th in Loreto
It was our last night in the north. We were now due south for the next leg of the trip that would take us from Loreto to La Paz to Cabo San Lucas for another 7 days of exploration and escapades. Again, my adrenaline brimmed. Unfortunately though, my back wasn’t cooperating. The pain had become a constant discomfort that I was forced to simply come back home to Cabo San Lucas by road the next day.

Compared to the past 8 days, that trip, of course, had been uneventful. So I simply spent it dreaming about my mysterious night time whale. And smiled contentedly.