Let There Be Whales

“Please, please, please let there be whales,” I prayed softly as the airplane skidded to a halt at Cape Town International airport. I glanced through the window and my heart sunk into my shoes – it was lashing down with rain. Not the perfect weather I had hoped for, especially when all we had were two days before we had to return home again. I had known we were taking a gamble when I booked the weekend breakaway two weeks before the official whale season, but it was the only time my husband could get off work, so it would have to do.

We were drenched to the bone by the time we got into the rental car and headed out of the Mother City towards Hermanus, a little town known for being the best land-based whale watching centre in the world. “Much good that will do if we can’t see two feet in front of us,” I grumbled to myself as Table Mountain faded into the haze behind me.

My spirits lifted a little the further eastwards we travelled. By the time we stopped for lunch, the rain had let up and an eerie mist covered the tops of the mountains surrounding us. Not ideal, I’ll admit, but infinitely better than the rain. Now my fingers were crossed again in the hope that we were not too early in the season, that we hadn’t come all this way and spent such an inordinate amount of money for only two days in vain. “Please let there be whales,” I repeated hopefully.

We reached Hermanus just as the sun broke through the cloud cover. It was beautiful. The water sparkled a dusky grey-blue, seagulls were calling overhead and the salty tang of the ocean lingered in the air. I kept my eyes fixed on the water as we drove along the coastline towards our hotel, not expecting much, but hoping against hope.

“Second floor, on the left, a sea-facing room,” the receptionist said as she handed us our key. I practically ran up the two flights of stairs, unlocked the door and dumped my suitcase on the floor. The hotel was just across the road from the rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean and I wanted to go out at once in search of whales. “Just a second,” my husband said, and pointed towards the bathroom. I settled for looking out the window instead.

My heart skipped a beat. Surely I couldn’t be that lucky? There it is again! A blast of air shot from the water and a huge grin suddenly covered my face. There were two whales playing in the bay just outside my window! This weekend was going to be perfect after all.

S Jones

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