Sunday, March 24, 2019

Re-entry from Mexico

I swam with whale sharks.

Carl and I drove from Todos Santos to La Paz where we took a boat with five other people into this beautiful lagoon. Our guide jumped in the water and signaled for us, so that's what we did. we jumped in the water and swam alongside whale sharks. It was an amazing experience -- these enormous creatures of the sea are not aggressive, and we swam alongside them (no touching) and just - well -- communed. I can't explain how it felt other than thrilling. Free. A little later, dolphins gathered around our boat, so we jumped in and swam with them, too!

It was sort of a religious experience overall, even for the non-religious.

On the way back to the harbor, a young humpback whale joined the dolphins and literally frolicked in the water right in front of us. He didn't completely breach, but he did slap the water and roll around and around. We did not join him in the water but rather watched in delight. Carl took some amazing photos, but you'll have to follow him on Instagram to check those out as he puts them up. His instagram is @mo_better_birds and

The night before we headed back to southern California, Carl and I walked down the beach (never a soul on it but us!) from where we were staying to see whether the turtle eggs had hatched and would be released. Because we are just about the luckiest couple on the planet, they were, so we got to join in the most magical sort of ceremony. The Olive Ridley turtles (Golfina in Spanish) were protected under this tent on a remote stretch of sand about a half mile or so from where we were staying. The tent served as a sort of incubator and protection from predators, after the females lay their eggs and went back to the ocean. When the turtle eggs hatch, the volunteers release the little guys into the ocean. About thirty people gathered to watch about twelve of the tiniest little creatures you've ever seen make a break for the Pacific, a slow crawl through the sand and into the water. I have experienced this once before in South Carolina when many more turtles made their way to the ocean from nests along the dunes, and that was fantastic, but there was something magical and profound about seeing them walk into the pounding surf of Mexico. A turtle would reach the water and disappear as the tide pulled him out, but more often the huge waves would crash into the beach and fling the turtle back. She'd right herself and start the journey again. We stood in a line and watched them in the orange light until they were all gone. No one spoke. We all knew that once they made it to the ocean, their chances of survival are slim. The whole thing is both terrible and awe-inspiring.

Now we're back in southern California, and I'm struggling with re-entry. I'm not looking for sympathy, though, as I know how fortunate I am to have had this vacation. My dear friend, the angel Heather McHugh, made it happen. I feel rested and restored and hope to hold on to that feeling, but to be honest, I'm overwhelmed also by the ongoingness of my life, those things that are constant struggles. That fatigue isn't ever lessened. I am infused with the soft air and bright colors of Mexico, the delicious food and sweet people, the simplicity of all of it. I long to make my own life simpler, to hope for peace and wellness for Sophie, especially, but also to weather the transition into my sons' adulthood. I am deeply grateful for the love of a beautiful man.

On re-entry, though, I feel more like those turtles, plodding by instinct toward the implacable sea and ferocious waves with only the most infinitesimal chance to make it at all.


  1. A fantastically beautiful post. Welcome home, Elizabeth.

  2. Mother nature is always far more awesome than anything manmade. Love that last photo of you two.

  3. Wonderful post, with amazing pictures. In the last picture you and your favorite photographer were just beaming with love. The expression on your face says it all.

  4. Oh, Elizabeth! What a beautiful post! I am so glad that for a little while, at least, you got to feed your soul and slake its thirst. I can't imagine swimming with those gentle giants. And it IS a holy experience, I think. Aren't things like that exactly what the words religions have taken as their own were created for in the first place?
    So strange the turtles are hatching there now. On this more eastern part of the world, and even in the Yucatan, the baby turtles make their bid for life in the summer. More holiness. A sacred journey.

  5. The photos, your words, this whole experience seems holy. And to share it with your love, priceless.

  6. Im sitting in a yard in Jersey, next to my dog, alone and crying right now at how beautiful this post is.

  7. Yes. Especially that last part. Thank you for putting it into words.

  8. this is the sweetest post, Elizabeth! How magnificent to experience the ocean and its creatures the way you did. It sounds and looks ecstatic. I'll be sure to head over to Carl's Instagram page for more photos. Did you drive into Mexico or fly? I think that lovely land is on my list of places to visit. There are many glorious areas in that varied and diverse landscape called Mexico. Love that you got away and felt free as a bird with your sweet man.

  9. This is spectacular and I am delighted that you could have this experience and thank you for sharing it! To make contact, however tentative, with creatures - large and small - beyond our understanding in such a positive way, oh I am envious.
    The closest I got was swimming near dolphins thinking how they had a laugh at my meagre skills in the ocean.

    Also, have a listen to this beautiful podcast about an encounter with a grey whale while night swimming:

    Have a gentle re-entry into the tedious life.

  10. Wow! So amazing and beautiful. I'm so happy for you. That last pictures says it all. Your face. Pure lovely joy. XXOO

  11. Beautiful experience... and yes, re-entry would be incredibly difficult.



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