On Wednesday, August 28th, I departed from the airport in Toronto in Canada and initiated a journey that ultimately would transport me 6000 miles south to Argentina. Fifteen hours later, I arrived in sunny Buenos Aires, referred to by some as the Paris of South America.
During the long overnight leg of my flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires, I sat beside a kind-hearted 27 year-old woman who had just returned from an amazing trip to Ghana in Africa. She recounted for me her fascinating story about how she had gone there to help build a school for young children. Of particular interest was a six year old street child named Divine who had taught himself to read and in fact was reading at a level far beyond what was normal for kids his age. I mentioned how much I would like to somehow help these kids. More than anything else, she said the kids love to read books so I told her that I have in fact written some chapter books for kids and would love to send some books to the newly built school, which I will do when I get home. So this letter is in fact a note to myself……John, send some books to the school in Africa when you get home!
After spending a day in Buenos Aires with dear friends and grabbing four meager hours of sleep, it is now five o’clock in the morning on Friday and I am back at the airport, and in a few minutes I will board yet another airplane that will take me a further 1,000 miles south to Patagonia. I am departing Buenos Aires, a very congested metropolis of approximately 14 million people, and in a few hours I will be in the extremely remote village of Puerto Piramides, with a population of 400 people. From 14 million people to 400 is quite a transition!
Idyllic Piramides in tucked into a secluded bay alongside the edge of the South Atlantic Ocean and it is in the surrounding waters that the endangered southern right whales return each year to mate and give birth to their calves. It is these whales that Dr. Roger Payne first studied in 1970 and it is these same whales that, in a few days, I will soon be flying over in a small airplane and hopefully getting some good pictures that the scientists can use to identify and monitor the health of the individual whales and their newborn babies.
Please help me help the whales by wishing for gentle winds and calm seas so I can get the best photos possible to help these gentle giants in their struggle to survive all the problems they face these days.
They are calling for us to board the flight to Trelew now so I have to go.