La Playa

So far, I am the first one up every morning.  I’ve taken to drinking some coffee on the balcony, and then heading out for a long walk along the beach before the sun gets too scorching. (This is really only good for avoiding sunburn, it’s plenty hot.)  I walk all the way down to the point and all the way back up, the sea splashing my feet, and me marvelling at the waves.

We are on Kitebeach in Cabarete, so named because the wind and surf are consistent and strong – perfect for kiteboarders.  Dozens and dozens fill the beach in the afternoon, but in the morning, before the wind comes up, the surfers sleep and I walk the beach just about alone.

There is a reef here, a little ways out, and it protects the beach. The waves are still fierce and strong, but it makes it possible to swim – provided you’re a strong swimmer. We see no little kids anywhere near the water here.  There’s an undertow, and getting out is a little tricky – but once you’re past the point where the waves break, you can swim for hours.  (Then you have to come back in – past that point where the waves break again. Yesterday one caught me from behind, knocked me face first into the beach,  folded my legs over my head then rolled me along the sand like I was a shell. The trick, I am here to tell you, is to see that as an emergency. You have to rush to stand up, once it lets go of you, or the next one will really have it’s way with you. If two get you, the third one is sure to, and then you’ll still be spitting up sand and examining your sandblasted knees at midnight.)

By where our little apartment is, the beach is just sand, but farther down as I walk I find rocks, and cliffs of stone for the waves to crash on, and it’s all been carved into wild shapes by thousands of years of waves.

I could watch it all day, and it’s just water.  I’m amazed.

That’s today’s Spanish word.  La playa.  The beach. 

I know what I saw

Yesterday morning I woke up early.  It was sort of ridiculously early, and I lay there listening to the waves, and decided that being awake early in the Caribbean couldn’t possibly be a bad thing, and I went and made myself a cup of coffee, and took my laptop to the big balcony that’s on the front of the apartment that we’re staying in.  Hold on, I’m there now. I’ll show you what it looks like. 

Whoops, sorry.  I forgot what you’re mostly going to care about:

(Not sure what I’m making yet, but its Tosh Merino Light, in Bluebonnet. I have two. They are sitting there at the ready.)

We’re right on the ocean, a garden of tropical plants the only thing between me and the crashing sea, and it is beyond beautiful.  Roses, hibiscus, birds of paradise… a stretch of pretty flowers and palms is the only thing that we look over to survey the sea and waves. Every so often a bunch of Dominican guys ride by on horses at a full gallop. They take tourists rides at a slow trot, but morning and evening they give them their heads, and charge along the beach, laughing and racing the horses right along the edge of the surf – waves splashing high around them.  It’s a fabulous view.  So yesterday morning I got up and came out here to write, and I drank coffee and watched the sun come up over the sea, and then I checked my email. A lady named Annabella had written me an letter, saying that she had been here just a few days ago, not quite in Cabarete, but in a tiny town a few kilometres away, and she told me to keep an eye out for Humpback whales. Apparently they swim right by here, 3-5 thousand of them migrating to Samana from the arctic to have their babies and mate.  I thought this was pretty cool, but that my odds were slim. Still, all day I kept an eye to an ocean.

Right before we walked down the beach to dinner, about the time of sunset, I saw something. I told my mum I saw something, and she assured me that it was not a whale. She actually assured me that there are no whales here, that we’ve been here before, and there were no whales, and that nobody talks about whales, and that if you want to see whales, you have to go to Samana. She reminded me that we are in Cabarete, not Samana, and told me that I had whales on the brain because of the email from Annabella.  I told her Annabella (whom I have never met) didn’t strike me as a the sort of person who would just make up some crazy whale story.  My mother laughed.

We took a few more steps, me with my eyes to the sea, and there! A splash! I turned so quickly to say "Look! There!" that I sort of bashed her with my arm a little. This proved fatal to her chance to see it, since she was instantly my mother – reminding me to apologize before anything else could happen, which I did, but… she missed it. Still, I made her and Erin and Hank stand there for ages… standing on the beach, staring at the ocean. After about five minutes, they decided that I was nuts.  They posited that I had seen a piece of the reef, a wave cresting, a bird… They wanted to stop looking. I made them stand there. I insisted. After a few more minutes, my mother pronounced my whale imaginary, told me that I’ve always had a vivid imagination that was easily influenced by suggestion (and she is not wrong, I guess) and we all walked on. 

I walked sort of sideways, so I could watch for the imaginary whale.

We got to the restaurant, and Hank went inside to look at the menu. (He is on a constant search for familiar food.) We stood on the steps, and l noticed a a few guys sitting on the steps in front of us, and one of them was pointing out at the sea.  I told my mum, that guy sees the whale. My mother told me that she was pretty much done with my whale obsession.
Still, we were standing on the steps waiting, and there’s nothing to look at, except for the ocean, and the three of us were doing just that, when right in front of us, a humpback whale leapt out of the ocean, twisted gracefully in the air and sunshine, and landed with an enormous splash. 

It was right there. That’s the spot where it was.  (I took that picture afterwards because even though the whale isn’t in that picture, I was just so stunned that had been there that it seemed reasonable to document it.) It did it like… nine times, and we all stood there in awe and were completely enthralled, and yeah.
I was a little smug.  Imaginary whale my arse.
Thanks Annabella.