The noise of the alarm clock interrupts the sound of the ocean waves. I switch it off, my heavy hand causing the mobile to fall. I turn around and continue sleeping but I suddenly remember why the alarm clock is waking me up on a holiday. With my eyes swollen and only half open, I look for the still damp bikini while the images of the boat, the dolphins, the sun cheer me up and make me move. “Come on Uli, stand up and come with us!” I try to convince my boyfriend to join the sea excursion. Yesterday evening he was firm about not coming, “I don’t want to see exploited animals and stupid tourists again!” he grumbled. Last year in Thailand we had promised not to support a certain type of tourism. We didn’t want to see natural landscapes ruined by people behaving as if in a bar, treating nature like a garbage bin.
This time was different. We arrived one morning as dawn broke. The Pacific Ocean welcomed us with its waves, while the village and its people slowly woke up at their Mexican rhythm of life. We stood feeling the grains of sand between our toes, dressed with our city clothes and feeling the breeze on our skin still dirty from Mexico City pollution.
One afternoon, a life guard approached us, “Hey guys do you want to spot some dolphins out in the ocean? There’s also the possibility to see turtles and whales”, “Whales???” we exclaimed. “Yes, if we’re lucky enough we’ll see them, they were spotted very close to the beach a couple of days ago.” We told him we were going to think about it, acting as if we weren’t absolutely tempted.
“Please help me with the cream” I try to get Uli up. Probably at the risk of being wrong, he joins us. We buy liters of water and meet the life guards at the beach. We help pushing the boat in the ocean and jump on it. It’s us, a Mexican family and another two young couples. This familiar atmosphere already feels good. The morning light makes us all look beautiful and hides the swollen eyes of the night. Lidio and Hugo, the captain and the guide, lead us through the high waves of the Pacific. “Look at the sides so you don’t get sick!” says Hugo with a smile of experience. I follow the instruction, however, I soon feel all my organs upside down. The waves come towards us as big as those drawn on the kids books and I turn my head to the side.
We’re nowhere in the middle of the sea and the boys start to whistle to call the dolphins. We all look for the friendly mammals but apart from waves and seagulls having breakfast there’s nothing to see. For a long while everyone is in his world, we stare at the impenetrable ocean and sometimes we cross gazes and smile to each other. The dolphins come out of the blue and start to show off their acrobatics. “On the right!” says Hugo, “On the left” says a member of the group, “Look in front” says another one. We all announce our sights, but we’re to slow to catch what the others spot. I see them jumping far away and then I see them right by the boat, I can look them in the eyes, observe how they swim. Their proximity tells me that they feel comfortable with us. The spurts of salt water blend on my face with a tear that I didn’t even notice. For once, we humans are the small ants passing by without disturbing the world around us.
We continue navigating and leave the dolphins to their daily activities. Daydream starts again triggered by stormy waves and a clear blue sky. My day gets even better when I spy Uli’s face and see the corner of his mouth pointing upwards. I’m so busy enjoying all these good feeling that I forget we’re expecting to see whales and turtles. It’s only when I see Hugo’s brown feet moving forth and back on the boat frame that I come back to reality and start to observe around. There they are. Mister and Mrs turtles in their most intimate intercourse. He’s above her shell and they don’t even notice we’re getting closer. They just keep on copulating. Hugo invites all to jump into the water and swim nearer to them. “Are we supposed to disturb them right now?” ask the pregnant girl behind me, “They don’t care about you” he assures. “Splash!” some of us enter the open ocean. The two creatures carry on undisturbed while we enjoy observing them. We get so close that we can see the details of their snouts, their shells, their fins. My undeveloped powers of scientific observation let me establish that turtles couple for a long time and quietly.
When I swim back to the boat I take a moment to feel the ocean. I don’t swim, I just move my body in order to float; the blue of the sea is so dark that I can’t see my feet. I wonder about the whole world underneath me that I can’t see. The waves don’t allow me to see neither the horizon nor the coast. The precariousness of this moment is at the same time a great sense of freedom. I take it with me and climb up the boat ladder.
The silence of the previous hour is now interrupted by chats, jokes and laughs. I guess the jump in the water woke us all up. Before the end of the excursion we spot a huge black spot and two fins on the surface. A magnificent manta ray moves elegantly and slow by our boat. Hugo shows us a small scar on his ankle, “I stepped on a manta ray on the beach once. I stayed in bed for three months” he says proudly.
Back on the beach, Lidio and Hugo tell us to buy some red onions, chiles habanero and tostadas and meet them for lunch, after their fishing trip. We agree, I think they want to make up because we didn’t see the whales. A couple of hours later, in the very same boat we navigated earlier on, Lidio is cutting stripes of fresh dorado fish. In about fifteen minutes he prepares a promising ceviche that makes us drool. Thankful, we savor the delicacy and get to know the boys a little more.
Two days later, we take the bus back to Mexico City at 7 pm. We want to enjoy the sunbeams, the ocean roar, the hot sand underneath our feet until the last moment. We eat ceviche, this time at the restaurant, we walk the whole beach, we contemplate the horizon. It’s really time for the last swim. Short after, with the towels around our backs and the bags in our hands we give the sea our goodbye gaze. Wait. That is a huge fin. It’s coming on surface and disappearing in the water again, as if it was waving. Jesus, this is a whale! Visible from the beach with bare eyes there is a whale swimming in the ocean. First she shows the fin, the she jumps, then she spurts water high in the sky. As she swims, we walk parallel until the last piece of beach. I wave back.