Baja – The “Blah Blah” Day
No, it’s not what you’re thinking – Monday, our first full day on the sea-kayaking trip, was anything *BUT* blah! “Blah blah” refers to all the talking that Sergio told us he would be doing during the day – how to get into and out of the kayaks, how to load our gear, what not to do while in the National Park, how to pee and poop (yep, there are rules on how to take care of bodily functions), and many more.
I’ll get that one out of the way right here: Men pee in the ocean. Women pee in the ocean if they’re comfortable with it (like when they’re swimming); otherwise there’s a portable toilet they can use (which will be emptied into the ocean by the crew). Everybody poops into a *different* portable toilet – and DON’T PEE IN THAT ONE. Used toilet paper is burned in the metal can the crew provides.
TMI? Probably. But those are the kinds of things tourists need to know in order to preserve the environment of the islands.
So that’s what “blah blah” was all about: basically, the rules of the road – er, ocean.
Amazingly, we actually all gathered in the hotel lobby at the appointed time (although I no longer remember what time that was) and piled into the van for the ride to the jetty where the boat was tied up. We had been given dry bags at the previous night’s meeting and had packed our gear in them before going to bed, so all we had to do was store our extra stuff (and our luggage) in the hotel’s secure room and then depart.
The panga (aka “boat”) was sitting in the calm water, loaded with kayaks, coolers, etc., and waiting for us. We posed for the requisite “last known location” photo before boarding (one must, after all, leave behind a camera with a final photograph if everyone disappears at sea):We rode for about an hour before reaching our first stop, where we unloaded the kayaks and our gear, and made various preparations for doing some actual (gasp!) paddling. The main things we had to do with the kayaks were adjust the foot supports [the bow paddler has static supports, while the stern paddler’s supports control the rudder] and figure out how to attach the spray skirts. Our gear filled the hatch areas, but since we were supported by the panga, we didn’t have to carry the food or water we’d need for the trip (or the tents and bathroom!). There were two solo boats and three two-seaters. Rosa and I were assigned a two-seater; SO and Grant were given another; Mike and a crewmember took the third; and a second crewmember had one of the solo boats. The other solo boat wasn’t used until Frank, our other tourist, caught up with us on Tuesday. [Some of these details might be wrong; I was having too much fun to really pay attention to everyone’s boat assignments.]
The panga then abandoned us to our fate and we were on our own.
As we paddled north along the west shore of Isla Espiritu Santo, we made several stops to learn about the ecology of the area. We saw mangroves (or “mangos”, as one of our group insisted on calling them), crabs, and really interesting rock formations. And puffer fish skeletons. LOTS of puffer fish skeletons. Apparently, sometimes they puff up and can’t unpuff, and then they die. What kind of evolutionary advantage does *that* give you???
So we paddled for a while and came around a point of land, and lo and behold, there was our panga! And lunch! I have to say, the crew did a magnificent job of feeding us! Every meal was different, and the treats they whipped up were oh-my-gawd delicious! One night we had Dutch-oven pineapple upside down cake; one night it was peach upside down cake; and one night it was chocolate cake. Lunches always included the Gringo staple (PB&J), but if you ate the other option you were guaranteed a treat.
After lunch, they let us relax in the shade for a while, but Grant chose to try paddleboarding instead. He got really good really fast, and thereafter he spent almost all his free time on a board.
After playtime was over, we loaded up the kayaks again and headed north toward our first night’s camp. Along the way, we passed a frigate bird rookery. They’ve been raising their young there for a long time – you could tell by the amount of guano lying around.
We reached our campsite in late afternoon, after several hours of steady paddling. The panga had gone on ahead, of course, and when we got to camp, our tents were all set up and waiting for us. We had the first of four scrumptious dinners and then spent the evening relaxing and watching the world go by. That day’s sunset was truly awesome:
Notes from the first day:
- A two-seater kayak is much more maneuverable when you use the rudder.
- If you don’t paddle, you don’t progress. There’s no helping current like you’ll find on a river.
- The sit-in kayaks they had weren’t as comfortable (for me) as my sit-on-tops. It was awkward folding myself into the cockpit, and I never could figure out exactly how to adjust the footrests to make my legs comfortable.
- On the other hand, the gel seats they had were *way* more comfortable than the seats I have! Imma hafta look into getting gel seat cushions for my kayaks!
- Make sure you get all your “tent-arranging” done before bedtime, so when it’s time to retire that’s all you have to do. Otherwise, you’ll get yourself all sweaty and hot, and likely be miserable most of the night.
- Sleeping under the stars (even in a tent) is wonderful, and when you combine it with gentle surf noises it’s a really great way to sleep.