Whenever we travel, the memories that really stick with us are always different. In Thailand, it was the incredible food. In Vietnam, it was a hike through Hmong villages. In Nicaragua, it was the incredible sunsets.
However, for Gonzaga Bay, my most vivid memory will likely be of a guy camping up the beach from us — Scott.
We met Scott shortly after arriving at Gonzaga Bay. We loaned him a spare speaker cable (his had broken on the road) and it was as if we were long lost friends, reunited. He immediately offered me a beer (it was 9:00am, and he scolded me when he saw me looking at my watch — “this is the beach, man, time doesn’t matter”), he loaned us his paddle board, and he invited us to happy hour.
That afternoon, a whale shark was spotted out in the bay. Scott immediately raced out on his paddle board to check it out. As he followed the whale shark around the bay, it was soon coming very near to shore. When’s the next time I’m going to have an opportunity to swim with a whale shark? I stripped off my shirt and ran into the water.
As I got closer to the whale shark, the immense size of the animal was frightening. Was my decision to jump in a little too impulsive? The giant animal glided towards me. Could it see me? Why was it coming so close? At the last moment, it shifted directions, and silently moved beside me in the water. I was filled with awe, wonder, and fear — let’s face it, even if the whale shark didn’t mean me any harm, he was still HUGE!
The giant was only a few feet away now, and I was pulled out of my reverie of amazement by Scott. “Can you believe how huge this thing is? Grab on, man! Take him for a ride! They love it!!”
As Scott realized that I wasn’t going to ride the whale shark, he decided the opportunity shouldn’t go to waste. He leaped off his paddle board and hit the water with a giant splash right above the whale shark.
The next few moments are a little hazy. I had water in my eyes from the splashes, the whale shark dove, and suddenly Scott was up and splashing around next to me. “Man, I swear the big ones love it, but these little 14 footers must not like it that much!” Turns out, this whale shark didn’t want to let tourists ride him.
Later that night around the camp fire, we met Scott’s amigos — Mike, Jeff, and Franz (“You gotta meet my buddy Franz, he’s from Switzerland man! And he plays guitar! Can you believe it??”). These guys were all so friendly.
Soon, the guitars came out. Turns out, Franz is a great guitar player. He was joined by a few other guys pre-running for the Baja 1,000 (here’s the blog for one of them) who had camped down the beach. Together, even though they had never played together in their life, they jammed together to some great songs. There were even a few originals from Franz — one about a beautiful waitress in a little fishing village, and another about the local hooch, ricea, which has psychedelic side effects. During this amazing performance, Scott kept repeating, “wait a minute.. is this real life?”
Looking back, Scott’s over-sized personality, his friendliness, and his attempts to ride a whale shark will forever stick with me when I remember back to our days at Gonzaga Bay.
Here are some pictures of our time in Gonzaga Bay with Desk to Glory: