January 2009, the second half of my junior year of high school, I traveled to Baja Mexico with a group of students from school and my science teacher to study Humpback Whales. I lived on a research boat for 6 days on the Sea of Cortez. Over the course of those 6 days I saw thousands of dolphins, humpback whales jump completely out of the water and ate some of the most amazing Mexican food ever!
The first three days living on the boat were awesome. We camped out on remote beaches on islands in the middle of the Sea of Cortez. I learned how to properly pitch a tent so it did not blow away and learned about the local animals. After the first three days, we ran into some bad weather.
The night we encountered the bad weather we were setting up out tents on the beach of a little fishing village. The wind was so strong, it was causing a sand storm. The strong wind kept causing the tents to fly away was we were trying to pitch them. There were 6 girls that had to pitch two tents and three boys that had to pitch one. Us girls worked together to pitch out two tents. Two would hold down the tent, while the other four would dig the stakes into the ground and attach them to the tent, once the tent was up, we carried huge boulder rocks to put on top of the stakes to keep it from blowing away. The six girls were able to pitch both the girls tents and pitch the teachers tent, all during heavy,strong wind and horrible sand storms. By the time we finished two tents, the three guys hadn’t even gotten their stakes in the ground. Talk about GIRL POWER! To top it all off, we had to take the tents down not even five minutes after putting them up because the wind was too strong.
After out tent pitching incident, we spent our last 3 days staying on the boat. We hiked to a local salt pond, did trust building exercises on the beach, and worked on research projects using the data we collected when we say the humpback whales earlier that week.
For those six days there was no real bathroom, there was a little toilet on the boat or if we were on land we had to use the bathroom camping style. There were no showers. We got to jump into the freezing cold waters of the Sea of Cortez once! But boy did it feel good and refreshing!
Although there were no bathrooms or showers, I was bruised and scraped up from pitching tents in sand storms, I hadn’t gotten a good nights sleep in 6 days, and I didn’t get to see as many whales and dolphins as I hoped. My trip to Baja Mexico was a trip I will never forget. I learned so much about myself, my peers and the environment. I would not have traded the experiences I had for the warmest shower or comfiest bed.
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