A Whale of a Time

It was a quick 200km ride to Guerrero Negro for supplies before camping in another palapa at Ojo de Liebre/Scammon’s Lagoon. The ride into the campground goes past huge salt flats (this is the site of the world’s largest salt works) on a road which starts as paved and then varies for the final 15km from packed sand to washboards with powder lined edges, to areas of the fluffy stuff which occasionally compromised my traction on my way to the beach campground.

I’m fond of palapas on beaches. This would be home for two nights.

That night I had befriended Antonio, a boat captain and gatekeeper, and Shari Bondy of Whale Magic Tours. Shari was camped at the first palapa on the beach for the entire grey whale season. We ate, drank and she gave me a refresher in friendly phrases en Español. It’s been 20+ years since I’ve taken high school Spanish, so Shari started with the basics. “Hola. Como se llama? Me nombre es Robyn.. igual que Batman y Robin. Duh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh BATMAN!!! Mucho gusto! Igualmente.” (Hello. What is your name? My name is Robyn.. like Batman and Robin.  Duh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh BATMAN!!! Nice to meet you! Equally.)

“Habla espanol? Estoy aprendiendo. Ayudarme.” (Do you speak Spanish? I’m learning. Help me.) This bit has been the biggest shift in how I communicated. Rather than respond “Poquito” (A little) or “No,” it’s better to say that I’m trying to learn and appreciate patience and practice. People are nicer when you visit their country and at least try to learn their language beyond asking for a cold beer or the location of the bathroom.

Shari Bondy grey whale
Beautiful grey whale photo, courtesy of Shari Bondy.

In the morning, Shari guided a fantastic tour while speaking in both Spanish and English. We found a friendly mother and calf who took delight in snuggles from our crew and nudging our boat to one another. I left my phone safely at camp, so no pics. Here’s a video of that same pair of ballenas grises (grey whales) that Shari has set to some upbeat music. It was taken the day after my trip.


Shari has local friends who trek out the the lagoon to hang out, talk and share meals. There was a lovely couple who brought by seafood and taquitos for Shari, and they shared this incredible feast and very funny stories with me. I could catch the gist of phrases and intentions, but still needed help with communicating. Shari helped all of us understand each other whenever it was necessary.

After two days, the Mucho Gusto Moto (I can rename my motorcycle) said “Adios!” to Shari and I made our way to San Ignacio.

Mi estimada maestra de ballenas y espanol, Shari Bondy!

Update: Shari and her husband now have a lovely inn and campground down in Bahia Asuncion. Sport fishing, whale watching, and other tours are available. It looks lovely and I hope to stay there the next time I go to Baja! Click here for more info.


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