Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Land Time Almost Forgot – Sea Kayaking Adventures - Day One

By Linda Ballou - Special to Baja Life Magazine Spring 2001

I am certain that the sights that surround me are much the same as those experienced by John Steinbeck and his crew of naturalists when he explored the region in 1941. As I recall their early adventures, our head guide Jackie, brings me back to reality as she tells us that we are about to be introduced to muscles we never knew we had. Our group of twelve, all in varying degrees of physical fitness, receives instructions to push, not pull the paddle, so as not to become overtired. We are to use a flat palm, and a loose thumb on the paddle, ore else suffer from tendonitis.
As I donned my life vest, I began to fear that I might have made a terrible mistake. Much like the pelicans I had been watching just moments before, I too was an awkward disaster just waiting to happen. I prayed that like them, I would acquire grace once in action. I remembered the outfitter's literature, promising that by merely practicing a few exercises prior to the trip, any reasonably fit person could enjoy the thrill of gliding over serene waters in a sea kayak. None-the-less, my stomach churned as I contemplated the fact that within moments, nothing but a thin shell of fiberglass would separate me from the deep blue waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Before I could further consider my fears, we were off. At three miles an hour, it would take us an hour to reach our first stop at Danzante Island. I soon found myself enjoying a unique sense of freedom. There I sat, balanced neatly on the bow, watching as swarming shoals of fish darted below and pelicans scooped dinner into their fleshy pouches. I felt like a dolphin riding the crest of the waves - finally fearless! . . . .

By the time we stopped for lunch, I was thrilled at being in this vast ocean wilderness. As we cruised across the waters, the brilliant sun beat down upon us. I was eager to escape the heat and experience the underwater world of marine life. Clad in snorkel gear and fins, I prepared to enter the waters Steinbeck had dubbed, "ferocious with life." Biologically the richest body of water on the planet, the Sea of Cortez supports over 900 species of marine vertebrates and over 2,000 invertebrates. As I slipped into the transparent waters that lure outdoor adventurers from around the globe, all that was visible was the rust color of the cliffs surrounding our beach camp and a few darting electric blue fish. The sea shelf dropped off abruptly to depths where there is no visibility, so I headed back to my group and the lunch that awaited me. Just moments after leaving the water, a fin whale the size of a city bus emerged, arching its great girth. Stunned that I had been just feet away from this behemoth creature that swills krill by the ton, and has a heart the size of a Volkswagen, I realized I needed to be more alert during my explorations!

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Stay tuned for more of Linda's adventures on Day 2 in the The Land That Time Almost Forgot.

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