At 5am on Wednesday as the sun was rising over Sri Lanka we were up, showered and ready to nod off again in the back of a high speed tuk tuk.
I wasn’t overly confident about getting up so early given that G has had to wake me every morning since we arrived. I need silence and blackout to sleep so when I noticed the curtains that are a little bit on the skinny side in our room, I thought I might wake up at silly o’clock every day.
But nothing compliments daybreak dozing quite like the ocean rolling at the beach outside. And the rook who urgently squawks at our window just after 7am most days, he doesn’t bother me at all.
I’ve never slept so well.
Fourteen miles to Mirissa (1,200 rupees in a tuk tuk) and a couple of mosquito bites later (if it’s dark wear repellent, these guys mean business. We use Avon Skin so Soft but it was too early for all of that) we arrived at the harbour where we would set out on our mission to see some whales.
There are tonnes of them around the south coast of Sri Lanka and November to April is high season so we were hopeful. I wasn’t keen on the idea of overcrowding and had heard some tales of lots of boats all trying to get a close look at one lone whale so I did some real research as to which company was most eco friendly and chose Raja and the Whales.
We were given coffee, ginger snap biscuits and life jackets as we boarded and set sail at 6.30am.
The water was calm and flecked with pinks and peaches as the sun was slowly coming to life across the bay. We passed fishermen in their wooden boats waiting for the catch of the day. They were usually followed closely by cheerful pods of spinner dolphins casually pinching their fishy Breakfast as they passed.
It’s as though they are dancing when they pirouette in and out of the waves effortlessly. In fact it’s thought that they do this to remove little sucker fish that latch on to them and hitch a ride elsewhere.
There are no free rides as such but a tuk tuk should not cost more than a dollar (150 rupees) to get you around town.
After a brief run through what we could expect to see, came the mouth watering fruit plates. The juiciest mango, passionfruit, watermelon, papaya, pomegranate, pineapple, orange, apple and banana. It was such a vibrant display on the plate that I was hesitant to ruin it.
But I did, obviously.
There are fruit trees everywhere here, everything we’ve eaten has been so fresh and fragrant. It almost makes the fruit that we eat at home seem like half hearted impersonators.
It was a couple of hours and a good few travelling dolphin displays before we were out far enough to see any sign of whale action.
The team perch on the edge of the top deck searching the horizon for disturbances to the smooth blue that surrounded us.
Suddenly there were shouts from one of the crew at the back of the boat. Ten o’clock! Ten o’clock! The boat tilted a little more than I’d have liked as everyone on it quickly tiptoed to the left side to try and catch a glimpse.
About three hundred metres in the distance blew a huge gush of water above the surface. And that was the first whale that I’ve ever seen in the flesh.
By law, boats are only allowed to sail within one hundred metres of any whales that they encounter, unless they decide to swim by the boat and then it’s ok. They must always remain side on too because their eyes are at the side of their head rather than the front so they can’t see what is in front of them.
We saw blue whales and sperm whales all going about their underwater business in total peace and quiet. Popping up for a few minutes at a time to take a breather. It was amazing seeing them dive so fluidly when they are of such gargantuan proportions!
I will admit I was hoping to see a jump and a splash but as these are the biggest and heaviest of them all, they tend to take it easy.
Once the humongous tail popped up, we knew that it would be at least another ten minutes before they appeared again, they dive for up to fifteen minutes and could reappear somewhere completely different so there was a lot of tail chasing.
After a few hours of being lucky enough to watch these majestic beings just pass the time in their world, the boat turned around and we headed back to ours.
Most people snoozed on the top deck taking full advantage of the couple of hours we were all owed from the early start.
Another wonderful day on Earth.
We had a whale of time.