Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whale Watching

In February, three friends and I went to Samana Bay to go whale watching. My friend, neighbor and fellow ex-patriot Kathy Jackman is the reigning queen of fun trip planning. Anything fun that we do, she is likely to be behind. She has wanted to go see the whales, and so when she realized that the peak time was at hand (mid Feb) she called to see who was in for an adventure.

I am always up for some girl time, and so the kids were assigned to their daddy (wonder what the hair looked like at school?) and off we went!

People were so excited to go whale watching with me that they even made a sign so that people would know where to line up! Wow! Are these people friendly or what?

We left at 6:00 in the morning and drove the 2 plus hours from Santo Domingo to Samana Bay. The road to Samana is a toll road and is also one of the best roads on the island. It is only two lanes (one going each way), but there are no 2 foot pot holes and so it is great! You drive for awhile, pay a toll, drive awile, pay a toll, etc. I believe that there were three tolls to pay each way. And the strange thing is that each toll was a different, odd amount (like 72 pesos, or something like that), so that the toll workers had to make change at every toll and you were never prepared with the amount, because it was different at each station.

We arrived in Samana about 8:15 or so and so we had some time to drive around the town a bit before we went to the office. Our boat was scheduled to leave at 9:00, so in traditional Dominican fashion it left at 9:30.

A view from the boat of the bay.

My ex-patriate friends and sanity savers. From left to right they are: Denise Lilly (from Layton. Her hubby is over the welfare department here), Nancy Rappleye (from Layton. Her hubby is over seminaries and institutes here) and Kathy Jackman (from South Jordan, or maybe West Jordan. I can't remember! Her husband is over the accounting department here). Kathy has been here the longest, going on three years in July. Denise came a month after we did and Nancy came this last summer. They are so fun and a great support. Kathy lives in the same apartment building with me and Denise and Nancy live in the building next to the temple.

We decided to go out onto the front of the boat to enjoy the view. It lasted about 15-20 minutes and then it decided to rain too hard to stay outside. Drat!

Sitting in the front of the boat. Wish I had thought to bring my binoculars! I loved the look of this little island that was in the bay. You could snorkel out to it from the beach area. Unfortunately, it got too cold and rainy to do it while we were there.

This is one of the workers on the boat. Seen here tying us up to the dock.

I stole this photo from Nancy's facebook and thought that I could blow it up bigger, but it was too grainy. The water was so beautiful and I just love the little islands with the palm trees on them.

Sighting the whale! Thar' she blows! My camera batteries were too slow to catch anything good, but you can see the dorsal fin of the whale in this picture.

Whale going down for a dive.

Wish that my camera was fast enough to catch the spouting and the tail, but alas, it was not to be.

The seventh grade class from Carol Morgan makes a trip to Samana every year, as a culmination of their whale study unit. Kari lucked into going on it the very first week that we got here last year. The 7th graders had gone a few days before us, and Kathy's son was part of the group. They were so lucky to have a huge group of whales in the bay when they went and they were very active. They were even seen breaching the water! When Kari went they had dolphins gliding along the side of their boat and there was a large sea turtle swimming by the boat too.

Unfortunately, probably because of the weather (you know that whales just don't like to get wet), we just saw this one guy the day we were out.

Some of the boats that were at the dock. Boy am I glad that we were in a bigger boat and not one of the small ones that were going out. I got a bit seasick, even with 2 dramamine pills, and so I can't imagine what it would be like for someone in one of the small boats! Notice the people on the dock wearing sweatshirts..... these are Europeans, not Dominicans, so you know that the weather was a bit cold that day. The one time in the last year that I have wished that I had brought a jacket along with me!

We got back from the boat ride at about 1:00 and decided to eat our lunch sitting up in this tower. There were several of them along the "malecon" here. A malecon is what the Dominicans call the street that runs along the shore line.

After lunch we found a group of shops and went looking for some souveniers. Nancy found some jewelry that she liked, as did Kathy, and Denise got some fridge magnets and some other fun things. I was a party pooper and didn't get anything.

Around 3:30 we headed back home, back to the chores, children and chaos!

As we were driving home, I snapped this photo of a home along the side of the road. This is pretty typical architecture for the homes here. The nicer ones are also painted in this type of bright paint.....looks like something that Kambrielle would pick out!

This is one of the rice paddies that we passed by. They were all along the roads in this one area and so I got a decent picture of this one. The green of the growing rice plants is very vibrant, like something in a photo that you would see of Ireland.

There was one stretch of road where there seemed to be a palm tree plantation. The trees were growing as far as you could see and as deep as you could see as we drove thru. I have no idea what they were being grown for, but you could see in some sections where old trees had been harvested and new ones were growing. Hmmmm, must investigate this further......

We got home around 6:00. I gave hugs and smooches all around, helped with homework and dishes and then thoroughly crashed around 9:00 (love that dramamine)

Can't wait to go again next year with Kevin. There is a lovely resort there that would be fun to stay at. Maybe he and I can get away for a weekend and enjoy the quiet feel of the beach there.