Now Hear This



National Geographic and Lindblad have teamed up to create a nature lover’s perfect cruise.

We embarked yesterday evening after killing the day in La Paz with a lunch on a patio (Italian food), a visit to the Serpentario, and a bus ride north to the ship (30 minute drive).  What immediately sticks out in the part of the Baja are the cacti which look like Saguaro, but aren’t.  Let’s call them cousins to the southwestern AZ cacti.  They are Cardon cacti.  They grow everywhere.  Palo Verde trees are prevalent as well.  The desert looks likes, drum roll please, desert.  Except in the lower part of Baja on the Pacific.  There is an area west of a very large mountain that gets more rain than anyplace else and it enjoyed a green tinge. 

 

Along the highway.

Along the highway.

Good sized cactus to give you an idea.

Good sized cactus to give you an idea.

One footnote on the serpentario.  We got to visit with a King snake, a Horney Toad , a five toed snake that had two feet by it’s head, and one other that we can’t remember.  Some sort of constrictor snake.  It was actually quite fascinating and the young Mexican man did a great job with the introductions to the various species.  Oh, and a tarantula.  It is a facility that rehabilitates reptiles and spiders and iguanas.  Lots of iguanas there.  

After boarding, we had a safety drill followed by happy hour followed by dinner.  Turns out this ship is not even a year old.  She is a beauty and we were lucky to score a room with a balcony…not sure how that happened but we are thrilled.  Two chairs on our deck.  The ship holds about 100 people (guests) and lots of crew.  Captain Hook is our captain…really…He introduced himself as Andrew Cook) and then he said, “I’ll let that sink in for a bit.”  Young, handsome and extremely personable.  There are four or five naturalists on board, a videographer, two camera experts, a scuba diver expert, and an expert on experts!!  

The food is fabulous with an emphasis on healthy fare and gluten free servings.  Beet juice was the juice boost this a.m. as an example.  But not to mislead, they serve the best cookies and when we returned from snorkeling a bit ago, we were greeted on board with hot chocolate laced with Bailey’s.  

The cabin is small but very well appointed.  The pillows are soft and the ocean facing wall is almost entirely a floor to ceiling slider.  Oh, my oh, my.

The passengers are very interesting as well and it’s open seating so we haven’t broken bread with the same people twice…yet.  The woman sitting next to us at breakfast was seated next to us at LAX gate.  She hails from Pennsylvania and is a dog breeder and an official judge of dogs and as such was fresh off the Westminster dog show about a week ago.  She knows dogs…especially sporting dogs.  OMG.  Great conversationalist too.  We had a great breakfast with her.  

The main activity for today was snorkeling.  But before I get into that…we spent about an hour with a huge pod of dolphins, scores and scores of them.  They really put on a show. 

I was shotting this from inside so sorry for the dirty window but…hey, must strike while the iron is hot.

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 As they cavorted about, one of the naturalists was on the loudspeaker giving us the low-down on them.  Their presence pushed back all the activities by an hour because watching nature is numero uno priority with this cruise.  

Rayman strikes again.

After lunch we got outfitted for our snorkeling.  Shorty wetsuits, fins, masks.  I managed to put the wetsuit on incorrectly and also the life jacket.  The 777 woman pilot was standing next to me and set me straight on the life jacket…very cool to met a woman captain for United.  We then set off on a Zodiac which is a rubber dinghy essentially.  When asked how the water was, the man in charge of water sports replied, “Refreshing.”  It was about 65 degrees, hence the wetsuits.  We entered the water from the shore and paddled around until Rayman got a leg cramp and I summoned the lifeguard for help.  That was the end of the snorkeling.  He convinced them he was all right and he headed for shore.  I lost track of him so I intently watched the bottom searching for his body until I saw him standing in waist high water.  Then I was able to breath again and managed to suck in an entire mouthful of salty water.  Saw a few fish but the snorkeling wasn’t all that good.  Water wasn’t very clear and there were not that many fish.  But the experience was “refreshing”.  

After dinner, there was a program in the reception room.  The naturalists gave talks.  The most interesting was the man that specializes in all things whale.  He gave us a history of the gray whale which featured going back millions of years to explain how the land animal that predated today’s gray whale, became the gray whale.  How the bealene formed and how the whale is closely related to today’s hippo.  Riveting talk complete with pictures that were shown on all the big screen TVs around the room.  

Then we trotted off to bed to let the visions of whales dance in our heads!!

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