Friday, July 07, 2006

The Sea and I

I'm back from a "great" adventure... I'm not sure if you would call it great, but for a girl like me whose only sense of adventure so far has been the roller coaster, I would say it’s bordering on great. Being the fanatic that I am towards marine creatures, I had this idea of watching whales that were migrating up north towards Alaska. I've always been fascinated by these massive yet mellow creatures... I had been ready to give an arm and a leg to go watch these creatures... and I almost did this time.

Now, when people talk of whale watching and when you watch these shows on National Geographic with whales splashing about and people squealing and having fun in their boats, it makes you conjure this mental picture of a nice sturdy boat that would sail into the ocean, with the breeze ruffling your hair (and the works), and lo! there come a bunch of whales floating by your boat, and you squeal and have your little merriment. Quite a nice picture in your head, ain't it?... Well my little bubble was pricked...

We went to Monterey Bay and bought our tickets, and the lady at the counter cooed that it would be "wise" if I bought a motion sickness pill. I was offended that my petite size should deceive her into thinking I was a wimp! My uncle apparently holds the same belief and before I could object and steer clear of the misconception, he'd already bought it. And oh well... in the intent of nothing perturbing me and my whales, I took the pill.

And off we went sailing... or should I say speeding in our little boat. It was amazing; the first half hour of the journey fit right into my imagination... The wind blowing, the gulls flying by, fish jumping up, the ocean frothing and rocking, the boat riding the waves... heavenly. Then came the 'captain's' voice announcing that the sea was rough and the ride would get a bit harsh and bumpy. Adding to this he sped the boat, and the first 10 minutes of the journey was undeniably thrilling and exciting. The boat rose and plunged with the waves and it was like a roller coaster ride on the waves! But how long can you stay on a roller coaster?

A roller coaster ride lasting for 10 minutes is fun... but then if it’s doomed to last for 3 hours... hmm not too thrilling any more. We had to get right into the middle of the Pacific, which meant it was an hour and a half journey to and fro. At this point my imagination got rudely disrupted. The squeals and oohs were replaced by screams and cries... The whole boat was madly rocking that it was difficult to compose one's balance unless both hands were dearly clinging onto something solid.

That being the case, the whole boat sunk into this gloomy aura of "please show us land!" My whole system was being tumble washed and the motion-sickness pill seemed to be holding me on after all! Finally did the boat slow down, but it made no difference as the waves were still lashing. But we had reached the whales! The way I scurried out to the front of the boat, must have been a sight worth recording.

Clinging onto each other and the rails, we were craning our necks in all directions. This is one of the first times I cursed my disadvantaged height... tiny as I was, it was a 'whale' of an effort to catch sight of the sea.....and there it came! The burst of water from beneath the waves and the tail fins flapping out! Reveling in the moment of ecstasy, I wrenched open my camera and a wave tilted the boat and all of us came down hard on the floor, screaming. I screamed even louder at the panic of my daddy's precious camera being thrown off. But my dad's excellent training taught me how to value and protect the camera’s life during unfortunate events such as seas playing tricks on me.

As we stumbled back to the rails, there were another two whales gently gliding on the surface. With the boat gyrating on all its axis, and me leaning on the rails, with ten other people leaning on me, my dad would have shrieked like a terrified banshee had I tried to open his camera. I looked around wildly hunting for my uncle, hoping to beg him to try take a picture of my dear whales. And I spotted my uncle, alone in one corner, sea sick.

And I decided to quit my mission... mental photographs are better captured. Watching people get sick makes you feel left out... you crave to join in and I joined in soon. The rest of the journey was morose... me and my uncle huddled together rubbing each other's frozen hands and shivering against the icy wind, desperately gazing into our watches and periodically getting sick till we reached land. I know how Columbus must have felt when he reached this very land....

The fury of nature's elements doesn't occur to us till we have experienced one of these gentle elements rip off their veils to give us a taste of their wrath. This was my first encounter with Nature’s fury and it grounded me on the respect Nature deserves. Man is but a tiny speck. And now I know what journey I have in store if I get nicked by the pirates of the Caribbean… Johnny Depp being on it, is still not worth it.