Our first day there and we roll into our normal routines, once everyone checked into their hotel, we went out for the evening stroll, and then congregated by the swing bar, to watch the sunset, a ritual of mine which everyone warmly embraced. Its one of the best spots to watch the sunsets on the island, and when the skies are clear, the sunsets here are so amazing. You just don't tire of them. It is always a race to finish the daily camera chores, or dinner, or siestas' to get to the beach to make sure you see the sun and sky go to bed for the night, its always awe inspiring to see the sky turn into brilliant golden colors.
The swing bar, which was just added this season in front of my favorite place to watch the sunsets...which is the ultimate past-time on the island.
Image by Paul Spielvogel
The first day out on the water could not have been more perfect. The sharks were thin in the local waters so we decided to venture out into the blue where we had reports of large gatherings happening. We got to the whale shark grounds and we were not disappointed. Over 100 sharks were gathered together feeding on millions of grouper eggs floating with the currents. Everyone was blown away. Just seeing one shark is a thrill, but seeing 100 plus sharks is always a sight to see. Everyone got their fill of shark after shark. It was awesome. I enjoyed watching everyone's expressions as they popped in and out of the water. The smiles, the eyes, you just can't feel that good everyday.
The following days the ocean went to crap and tropical storms moved in making a mess of it. We had winds, rain, bad swells, one day we got caught in a really bad storm that scared the hell out of everyone. Not the normal conditions we are used to around Holbox, but we made the best of them and we were only grounded one of the 8 days scheduled for these trips.
We had a few days of bad weather, which is not the norm here, but this is the tropics and summer is hurricane season, and what is adventure if there are no risks? Battling ocean swells in search of whale sharks. On this particular day, the winds had died down towards the end of our day, and we were able to find a few sharks to interact with, in clear water.
Passing storm clouds, always make great photo opportunities. one of the busy roads on Holbox Island. Image taken during rush hour traffic.
We did make the most of everyday and each day we were gifted with windows where the winds would die down, and the swells would settle for a while and we were able to find sharks and sometimes mantas to interact with. During those moments we were able to have some great encounters and everyone had a great time with life changing experiences.
We even ran into mating turtles. In fact in my 8 days at sea, I think we ran into 10 mating turtles on the surface. A great sign for the species. Manta rays were also a treat and a nice break from our long whale shark encounters.
Last season was amazing and I had some pretty exciting moments in the water, but this trip to Holbox this season was by far my favorite trip out there yet. I thought I had seen and experienced the very best that Holbox had to offer, I was wrong. This year the marine life taught me something new and I am humbled and grateful for the experience. The world has changed me, of that there is no doubt, I am a better person for the experiences I have been privilaged to have experienced, and I feel it would be a disservice to the animals that have given me so much to not share their stories and moments, This season I had 2 days of what can only be described as encounters with God, or moments where the universe was in harmony, or whatever you want to call it. I was gifted two perfect moments that are forever burned into my soul. I wish I could share them both with you, but one must be kept a secret because that is the way nature intended it to be.Here is one of the great moments out there...
We had this huge manta ray that we were trying to interact with and everytime we jumped in, the manta would dive down and pop up way off in the distance. The manta clearly did not want to play. But we were desperate for an encounter with it. That day I did not spend much time in the water and by the time we were trying to encounter the manta, I had pretty much called it a day. But for some reason I decided to jump in to try and see the manta, even though I know mantas don't care much for interacting with swimmers here, however this was a huge manta, it was hot, and I said what the hell, I want to see it. There was about 5 of us trying to jump in with this animal, and when the captain motored up to it, we all dropped in. I was on the outside of everyone, and I saw the manta drop straight down, turn and swim to the right - which was right where I dropped in - so I started swimming after it, and before I knew it the manta was swimming upside down - directly beneath me - looking up at me, within touching distance. I never tried to touch it, and just swam after it. For more than four minutes I swam directly above the manta. She was looking at me, and I was looking at her. She was so beautiful, and I could see her studying me, curious about what I was. It was such a spirtual experience; no song, no words, could quite explain what was going through my mind at that moment. I was just absorbed by the beauty of it all. A moment with God. I left the water a changed person. Hard to explain with mere words, but I did. The ocean and its animals have taught me so much about living...true and pure living.
Don't worry, I'm not going to start chanting or anything. But its another one of my great moments in the water that I wanted to share with you all.
A quick shout out to everyone who joined me out there this season...Thank you! It was by far one of THE best whale shark seasons we have ever experienced. The animals, the sunsets, the island, and the beautiful people...You all made it amazing and special.
Till next season!
Our fist group to go sharking with us.
Our 2nd group, chilling at the swing bar, our home away from home!