Location: Húsavik, Iceland
In a heavy suit and thick rubber boots, I trudged onto the boat.
The straps of my life jacket were uncomfortably tight. It was cold too; so cold that I shivered even in my four layers of clothes.
Sitting down didn’t help much, but thankfully I was at the very front of the boat, so stretching out my long legs wouldn’t be a problem.
But despite all my irritations, I was excited. I was going to see some whales.
The driver said it would be a two hour long journey and that there was a 99.9% chance that we would see at least one whale. Those chances seemed pretty high to me.
After about an hour, halfway through the ride, I had seen nothing but water. A little too much water. The air was laden with a dense mist that stuck to my face and seeped through my protective gear. My toes were frozen to the point I could not feel them; my hands shook like salt from a glass; every last muscle in my body quivered. I was downright miserable. But if I was going to see a real-life whale, it would all be worth it.
We approached an island speckled with thousands of white dots.
The guide told us it was known as Puffin Island, and that all the little spots were puffins. I couldn’t even begin to count how many there were!
There were so many, they even dotted the sky like flakes of snow.
It was very cool to get to see so many puffins in the wild, and unexpected too. I didn’t even know the birds lived so close to Iceland. The last puffin I remembered seeing was the one from Antarctica in Happy Feet 2.
Another thirty minutes went by, and I had only two thoughts on my mind; I feel like I’ve been swallowed by a block of ice, and where are the whales? I was beginning to think I was a part of the 0.01% that wouldn’t get to see any.
The ride was nearly done, and I began to hope only for it to end. I couldn’t stand the thought of my feet squishing in soggy socks or my fingers buzzing on the end of my frozen hands any longer. It was almost too much to handle.
As a sudden twitch snapped my head to the left, my eyes widened.
We pulled closer, until our boat floated in line with it. I looked over the edge right as the whale breached the surface with a jet from its blowhole. I scrubbed my goggles clean just to make sure I was seeing things right.
A smile shattered the thin sheet of ice holding my lips. A whale! A real whale! I had never seen one before, and it was close! So big!
“A Humpback.” The guide announced.
After the first one left, we saw another, and then another, and another.
Some swam close by.
Others dove into the depths in the distance.
It was amazing. I forgot that I was frozen. I forgot that my socks were soggy. It was like I was in another world.
Overall, whale watching was certainly an experience to remember.
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