Sperm Whale (Just)

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The primary reason for our visit to the Azores was for the opportunity to see a whale – not dolphins, porpoises or the like, but a genuine whale.   The first few days we were there the sea was too rough for the sightseeing boats to go out.   A calmer day was forecast so we booked to go – with the chance to see a Sperm whale.  Off we set in a double-decker boat.  On the journey out they gave us a talk on what we might see – setting our expectations.    A whale was spotted so we headed for it.

A Sperm whale has its blow hole on the front of its head which made the sight of it a little unexpected.  We watched the whale for about 15 minutes as it hyperventilated before its next dive.  The whale took a last breath and then upended, tail in the air, and disappeared below the surface.

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Footnote:  I little confession here – I was lucky to get any pictures at all, indeed it took a great deal of mental fortitude on my part.  Just prior to us spotting the whale I had an attack of the landlubbers nightmare – fortunately the boat was equipped with an ample supply of ‘just the right size’ plastic bags.  From what I saw, several others had similar problems.  I was fine until the boat stopped and again when the boat resumed it’s forward motion back to port.   I wasn’t swell in the swell!

—Stephen—

To Tortuguero

Our guide, who introduced himself during the mid-morning breakfast session, called on us to load our luggage on to the appropriate shuttle-bus for the onward journey to Tortuguero – he was a little bemused by the fact our family had none.  We were soon on our way for the next leg.  It was a bit like “Wagons Roll!” as all the buses set off in convoy down the road. Our guide explained that some of the roads were so rough it was worthwhile that they all stick together, in case one broke down.   Sections of the road were a bit dodgy to say the least.  (Our return ride, after our stay at Tortuguero, was delayed by an hour because of a landslide.)

After what seemed like an age, we arrived at a sort of inland river port – where we were put aboard a covered flat bottom boat equipped with a meaty looking outboard engine.  We were asked to don life-vests before setting off down the river at a fair rate of knots towards our ‘hotel’.

_MG_7634Many of this type of boat filled with orange clad tourists zipped up and down the river at ‘changeover’ time.

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Lop eared cattle seemed to be the main breed in this part of Costa Rica – I guess these arrived by boat too.

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A little bit of excitement when a young fawn was seen swimming across the wide river in front of us – everyone was relieved when we watched it struggle ashore – crocs and caiman are present in the rivers hereabouts.

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.. and a kingfisher staring into space…. a bit weird, but who’s to know the mind of kingfisher!

—Stephen—

 

 

 

San Jose to Tortuguero

With an overnight in San Jose and an early start next morning (7 a.m.), the hotel put together a packed meal for breakfast, (an apple and some kind of processed flat meat between two pieces of bread), we were whisked away in a shuttle bus for the first part of our journey to Tortuguero.  At about the halfway point we stopped  somewhere called Guapiles at the Restaurante Selva Tropical, for a mid-morning breakfast and transfer to another shuttle bus for our onward journey.  Fresh fruit, our first encounter with ‘rice and beans’ (a Costa Rican staple), plantain, scrambled eggs, there was enough to satisfy most people.

At the rear of the restaurant was a covered butterfly garden which was an interesting place to meander while we waited for the off for the next part of our journey.  The proprietor had clearly put some effort into making an interesting exhibition.   Near the entrance were some glass cases with chrysalis in various stages of development.

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To the best of my knowledge this and the image below show the Blue Morpho butterfly.

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I’ve no idea what this flower is.

—Stephen—

National Monument of Scotland

_EdinMemoialMG_9050Two more images of the National Monument of Scotland, which commemorates soldiers and sailors of Scotland who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Standing at the top of Carlton Hill in Edinburgh, it is a major tourist attraction – who can resist the challenge of a hill climb to see a ‘ruin’ at the top?

Memorial_IMGP0318I understand, from Wikipedia, that the structure was never finished and that despite several proposals to complete it, it remains incomplete…. personally I find it apt the way it is, there is something poignant about it.

—-Stephen—-

There – and back again.

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Walking back to my car, after spending a little while watching the Tour de France cavalcade rush past, a sudden noise made me look to my left just in time to see the Red Arrows whoosh past, on their way to do a flyover of the formal start of the race.  A mere couple of minutes later they came rushing back the other way.  If you have a camera slung over your shoulder, what are you going to do in such circumstances?

—-Stephen—-