Whale Walk

When living on Calle Ecuador in Puerto Vallarta, our view of Bahia de Banderas from the balcon stretched wide—an awesome vista. We could see Punta de Mita across the bay to the north. South from Punta de Mita, straight in front, lay the Islas Las Tres Marietas. Scanning the open water further south, our eyes met land again at Punta La Iglesia on the south side of the bay.

After moving there, we watched the sun swing from behind Punta de Mita in the north at the summer solstice to inland of Punta Iglesia in the south at the winter solstice. Every day at sunset, we noted the apparent solar movement. In mid-January, the sun has moved north from Punta Iglesia enough to set on the southern end of the bay.

One morning looking out at the bay, we spotted whales. The whales were here.

Whales, ballenas!

A quarter-mile offshore, a catamaran and two pangas were dead in the water within a hundred yards of three wallowing whales. The people in those boats were getting a real close look.

I had a morning meeting in Old Town, Colonia Emiliano Zapata, so I kissed Alice goodbye, hurried down to the street, and scrambled down the steep Calle Panama to reach flatter terrain. I zigzagged across the cobbles of Colonia Cinco de Diciembre toward the north end of the malecón, the shoreline’s broad walkway.

There they were—the whales. They had moved further south, even closer to shore—now just a few hundred yards out.

I could swim to them from here.

As I eased into a comfortable pace weaving through strolling tourists and locals, the whales seemed to move with me. They would sound and gain a few hundred yards, then dawdle together for a while. I was so pleased my pace synched with the whales’ movements it took a while to realize most of the people on the malecón were oblivious to the whales. Every hundred feet or so, I met a person whose gaze also had locked on the whales and we exchanged smiles.

It was like walking along with a dog—until we arrived at the south end of the malecón and they turned west—out to sea—untethered—free—wild. 

A high-five tail-wag. Gone.

Whales. Humpback Whales.