Looking for Whales

Looking for Whales

Every time someone pointed at the water, people turned to that direction only to see nothing

Lots of things did not go as planned. We saw no Aurora Borealis and the whales were nowhere in sight. I knew this would happen. The season was not ideal for watching the lights, but it was worth a try. Plus the winter equinox (longer nights, shorter days) made it hard to do much unless you’re a night person or really love winter. The only silver lining was that it was low season. There were fewer tourists, so it was easier to walk around the city.

On the day of the trip, I called the boat company to confirm our reservations. Sometimes, being paranoid help and in this case, it was the reason we were on that boat. Apparently, our names were not on the list even though I booked online weeks ago. We were lucky that the person on the phone was reasonable. I gave him our confirmation number and names. Pretty soon, a man picked us up at a meeting point.

He looked pissed and annoyed as he drove frantically to the pier. There was no explanation—nor apology—and so we sat in the back of the van awkwardly. When we got there, everyone was already inside the boat, and the crew was waiting for us—the very last passengers. Judging eyes followed us as we walked past people already settled in their seats. I felt my face flush. It wasn’t our fault but how were they supposed to know that? They probably thought we were irresponsible tourists. The boat’s engine started seconds later, and everyone resumed their business.

There’s a narrow staircase that leads to the bottom of the deck. We grabbed overalls that looked like something you see in deep-sea fishing shows.

Moving around wasn’t easy because of the consistent shifting of the boat. People stood by the edges and kept their eyes fixed on the water. I imagined seeing one or two whales jumping out of the ocean, and swimming close to the boat. I always had a profound love for the sea and the creatures living in it. I used to have an encyclopedia when I was a kid that had pictures of sharks and whales.

Hot chocolate sounds good right now. My body was warm thanks to the overalls, but my face and hands were freezing. Every now and then, it would rain, followed by mild snow, then rain again. It was as if the sky couldn’t make up its mind about what it wanted.

The guide sat on an elevated platform reciting facts about whales in his monotone voice. Everyone was eager to see something that every time someone pointed at the sea, people turned in that direction only to be disappointed. People eventually got bored and after a few hours of standing around, went inside the deck for warmth. Jeremie decided to follow them and slept the rest of the trip.

As for me, I stayed, holding on to my camera still hoping for something to happen. Maybe I’ll see a fin. I wouldn’t mind that. My hopes were high even when it was almost time to head back to land.

Up ahead, snowy mountains began to emerge. The guide said something on the radio. We were going to try one more spot and then head back to the pier.

We never saw any whales that day. Despite hours at sea, there was nothing to see. I was disappointed but knew I would see them one day. Maybe not in Iceland, but I was determined to see them in the wild.

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