Finally whales

Staying with a journalist and history student is really helpful when you want to learn things about the country and the continent you are visiting. And I appreciated the fact that Lucas was always very measured in his comments, emphasizing which were the facts and which was his own opinion.

On my second week-end at his place, his class mates came back to revise for a sociology exam they had to take a few days later. I made for some company, listening to them while I was checking my friends’ latest news on Facebook. Asked questions every now and then. And fell asleep around 4.30 am, while they were still clearing out neo-liberalism in Chili. Next morning I was pretty much as well prepared as they to pass the exam.

Mai, Lucas and Gabriel studying.
Mai, Lucas and Gabriel studying.

I had been in Puerto Madryn for about a week, and I still hadn’t seen any whales from close by. I therefore decided to start finding out what my options were. Unfortunately, they were all very expensive. Especially if I wanted to see all the the other creatures living on Península Valdés. On the next day, Mathilde and Barbara, two couch-surfers from France and Portugal, arrived. As Lucas had to work, it was nice to have some company to hang around with while he was away.

Once it was clear that we didn’t have any other choice than to make some clear cuts in our budget, Mathilde and I were off to the Península to get on a boat and have a closer look at one of nature’s most impressive animals. And we were not disappointed. It was funny to think that the whales were getting close to the boat for the same reason that we were trying to get close to them. On both sides it was all curiosity. As we were told by Barbara, who is a young biologist, that’s exactly the reason why they are called “Ballena franca”. Because they were so frank, it was easier to hunt them.

As we were in the middle of the reproduction period, we got to see some groups copulating as well. In other words, we were caught watching zoo-pornography. Because of the current of the water, males have to collaborate with each other in order to hold the female still. One or two whales put themselves at her side while another one tries to get underneath and fertilise her. Sometimes, she tries to resist the advances of her companions and lies on her back. But at some point, she needs to take a breath and has to turn over again. The males take advantage of that moment to try again. Each male gets an opportunity to “offer” his genes. I don’t know about you but that’s what I call a “whales gangbang”. I know, I know… This is called “nature”. But as a feminist, I couldn’t help but feel for the poor creature who kept on being assaulted as a bunch of humans were “admiring” this “magic” moment. On the other hand, I didn’t feel like lecturing a 50 tons mammal on his unacceptable behaviour.

On our way back, Mathilde and I were lucky to enjoy the company of Elodie and Lionel, a French couple we had met on the boat. And the commodity of the car they had hired. That allowed us to stop at the “Birds’ Island” as we were heading back to Puerto Madryn, which was quite an amazing view. And wave the whales goodbye one last time at the Playa del Doradillo.

Landscape close to the
Landscape close to the “Isla de los pájaros”.
Elodie driving through the Patagonian sunset.
Elodie driving through the Patagonian sunset.

When we were back amongst our own species… happens we couldn’t find any specimens. They were all in front of the television, watching the semi-final game against the Netherlands. They popped up again – massively – once it was clear they were going to the final. And, damn those Argentinians can make some noise! It was one hell of a party. And what can you do but cheer with the crowd?

Big and small, everybody's watching football.
Big and small, everybody’s watching football.
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