The allure of the unknown often overpowers our will, taking us to places we never thought we could ever visit. While each of us might have our own definition of the unknown, for me it has always been the ocean which made me sit up and ask questions. The vast emptiness on the surface holds life beyond our expectation, and it was with the aim of discovering what lies beneath the deep blue that I chose to embark on an adventure trip in the Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka, during my stay of a week offered me a glimpse of beauty which made me fall in love with the island, but the country is more than what is on the ground – it is as lively and enchanting when one chooses to venture away from land, into the waters.
The journey to Mirissa from Yala National Park was completed during the night, with the rains ensuring that we slept through it in entirety. It was only on reaching the place did we realize the contrast – the dense jungle gave way to sweeping beaches and palm trees, with nondescript hotels and restaurants lining the entire road.
While exploring the beach, we came to know about dolphin and whale watching tours which promised to bring us face to face (or rather fin to face) with the creatures of the deep. Intrigued by this prospect we decided to see for ourselves, putting aside our intention of sleeping through the day to actually wake up before dawn the next day and heading out to the harbour.
Navigating through the small roads we finally made it to the harbor, only to find a number of boats awaiting the hordes of tourists. After paying around 6,000 Sri Lankan rupees (ALWAYS REMEMBER to BARGAIN), we got onto one of them, even as other boats vied to get everyone’s attention. Reminded me of a fish market to say the least.
Into the ocean
So, according to the local experts, the best chance of spotting whales or dolphins was early in the morning, and as such the boats began to exit the harbor one by one. The 6,000 rupees paid by us included a breakfast sandwich and some juice, which we happily polished, and not a minute too soon, for the rain gods had followed us here as well.
The rains did little to deter us, for the rough sea was already spraying us with water. After an hour or so of patient waiting most of us grew restless, for there was no sign of even a fish, let alone a whale. The boat operators, now realizing that they might have to refund our money decided to work together, relaying messages across all boats in the ocean.
This, thankfully, bore fruit, for one boat had spotted a pod of dolphins up ahead.
This resulted in a mad rush among the boats, with each one trying to beat the other to the area. But thankfully, even before we reached the spot, we could spot the dolphins. These were smaller than what I had seen in the past, but they made up for their lack of size through their enthusiasm. Oohs! and Aahs! Echoed through the boat. Watching them jump out of the water and perform flips was truly out of this world. We were thoroughly entertained by them, even as they decided to swim with our boats.
I would count the number of dolphins we saw to be around 20, quite impressive considering the weather. With the boat operators fulfilling their promise to show us dolphins, we expected to head back to land, but the rain gods perhaps had something more in mind for us.
As we were on the way back, there was commotion among the crew members, for one
of them had spotted a whale just a few feet away from us. This instantly energized each of us, even as everyone clambered to get a view of the giant. From what was told, it was a Sperm Whale. I for one was overjoyed at having seen a whale and dolphins on the same day, but there was more.
This sperm whale was accompanied by her young one (mind you, even the kid was huge). As both of them swam away into the ocean, the boats tried to keep pace, only to lose out on them as they disappeared into the horizon.
As we made our way to land, my mind was abuzz with thoughts. True, I had got certain answers about the unknown, but the experience had just increased the number of questions in my mind, which made me ask myself – Where next?