I’ve spent the last two days trying to figure out what to say… I’m having a really hard time finding the words. It’s so strange being home. Don’t get me wrong, seeing my mom and sister is awesome and really needed, but it feels like as quickly as I left, I am back again. During the last three months, time went by so slowly and everyday was filled with some kind of misery…. but now sitting in the office blogging about being home, makes it feel like it all went by really fast. Maybe it’s because trying to remember everything that happened and everything I saw makes my head hurt too much!

The morning we left:

We loaded up the car at about 8am. I still didn’t feel like I was leaving, even though I was putting our suitcases into the car… I just couldn’t believe it was happening. Two police officers that we got along with quite well, stopped by to say goodbye. Which I thought was kinda cool considering our relationship with the police has had its ups and downs. After we said goodbye to the lady who owns the small hotel we were staying at (she is so sweet! I’m going to miss her. She gave me tons of soup because she was worried about me getting too cold) we headed to the Cove to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye to the Cove girls was hard enough, then I had to say goodbye to the Cove. I had already said goodbye to it one night we were all hanging out watching the lighting storm… but it was the last time I was going to see it until next year (hopefully). The boats were out, but coming back empty-handed and the water was rough and dancing around at the shore. It was a quiet and pleasant goodbye… but still really rough. My dad came over to comfort me and I started crying, trying to keep from bawling! I ended up bawling on Libby’s shoulder ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry Lib! But I’ll be back next year… I just couldn’t help feeling like I was abandoning them (the dolphins)ย My dad, Thomas and I hit the road for Osaka airport. The ride was so quiet and I fell asleep, I was so emotionally tired

!ย  The 1st flight to home went smoothly. I thought that we were going to be followed around by security until we were on the plane, just like Matt Smith was. But they left us alone. Haha I”m surprised they didn’t have a jet fly us out of the country just to make sure we left! ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was a red-eye flight, and I didn’t get much sleep. They had a few free movies we could watch, but they were all sad movies like “Charlie St. Cloud”… and I was really afraid of crying on the flight, I did enough crying in the Airport waiting for the flight!

We had a two-hour lay over in San Francisco! We had to go through customs and through security again. When the customs guy asked us how Japan was my dad said “It sucked!”. The guy was kinda surprised by our answer, and asked why. I asked him if he had seen the movie the Cove and my dad added “They killed dolphins!”. The guy goes “Yeah I saw that movie, really sad stuff”. We were like yeah, that’s what we have been documenting the last three months. He welcomed us into the country and we were on our way.

The Second flight we were not so lucky, It was one of those really small planes were the isles are like a foot and a half wide and your knees might as well be in your chest?! You know what I”m talking about? Haha, at least it was only an hour and a half… of nothing but annoying event after annoying event! It started with these two guys who sat down behind us (complete strangers to each other, from what I could pick up), they talked as loud as drill sergeants and for an hour and a half never shut up! The conversation went from, hi my name is… to work… to debt… to “So long and thanks for all the Fish”.

But the best part of the flight: You know how when a plane is taking off and there is that little jolt when the wheels come off the ground? Well this poor guy (who I might add was in the seat next to my dad, across the ridiculously small isle) has his face shoved into a barf bag and is hurling his guts out! Projectile vomiting into this tiny blue bag! I couldn’t even believe this was happening, it smelled terrible! He must have been afraid of heights or something. I was so afraid of him throwing up everywhere because once I was on a six hour flight where this one guy barfed on practically every isle and all the bathrooms in the cabin. So we were all walking on blankets with barf underneath them and using the first class cabin bathrooms for hours! So the second flight home was not as great as the first.

My mom and sister got us at the airport! I was sooo excited to see them!

Once we were finally home we unpacked everything that evening! We just wanted it out of the way and done with! I was finally in a place where it was safe to cry lots, and that is exactly what I did!

I keep trying to figure out what it feels like to be home, and it’s hard because I have done nothing but sleep and eat for the last two days. I really felt like I was abandoning the dolphins and I was terrified of having to go back to normal life. But it’s not normal anymore… I am going to continue my work from home, go to school, and prepare myself to be ready to fight next year. I’ve witnessed a lot of horrible things… but it’s all pushed me to fight harder. Even though in the moment of witnessing these barbaric acts, you were asking yourself ย “are we really helping?” ย Well I believe we are! They wouldn’t be hiding if we weren’t. The police wouldn’t be so present if we weren’t. There wouldn’t be this huge international pressure every time dolphins are driven into the Cove, if we weren’t telling the world what is happening every single day. And we will continue to do that, until they are forced to stop… or until the last dolphin takes it breath. They may be dying in vane… but never again will they die unseen, or without the world calling and writing to the Japanese government to stop issuing permits!

My Plans for the Blog!

I have a few plans for my blog. I won’t be updating every single day, but my goal is to at least four times a week. I’ll talk about Scuba dives or how much trash I cleaned on the beach one day… I have a big photography project I want to work on and I’ll publish it here as I finnish series in the story. I’ll cross post articles I think are really important and whatever else I feel like blogging about as things come up.

But my two biggest projects right now (aside from my senior project) are writing a book, and working on some sister city stuff. My own town has a sister city within Japan, and I want to go talk to the board about the slaughter in Taiji. And yes I am writing a book! Haha, so many people have convinced me I should, and there were so many stories I could not put into the blog while I was in Japan! So I’ll let you all know how that is going.

*My facebook page is still the place to go for instant updates. We are asking facebook to rename it to Cove Guardian Updates though.ย 

Far fast and deep,

Elora Malama West

16 Replies to “Home Sweet Home”

  1. Hi! Elora
    I just wanted to say thank you again for everything you done and gone through, for those of us that could not be there, your truly amazing!
    It’s no wonder that your emotions are all over the place at the moment and I am sure it will take a while for you to get back into your home routine again.
    It must feel really difficult leaving the cove after such a long time, but your time there was just the first stepping stone in helping those dolphins to live their lives free in the oceans.
    It will take time but your commitment and dedication along with others you have inspired will one day give the dolphins the freedom of life they deserve.
    Take care and enjoy being home with you lovely family.
    Fi xxx

  2. My fiance and i will miss you and your Dads blogs I’m sure you will be back at the cove some time but for now we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas

  3. First, I am so glad you and your dad returned OK and that you both are safely at home. I know how difficult it must be for you both to leave Taiji, and it is something that I can relate to so very well. I was in the Philippines for two weeks and enjoyed being there so much that it was so hard for me to leave. I came home feeling quite emotional!

    I found your words (in this blog) to be quite inspirational and quite encouraging. I have often asked myself if I am making any difference and if I am helping at all since I have not had the chance to be at the Cove with all of you. Even though I’ve done so much on behalf of our brothers and sisters of the sea, I’d find myself asking, “What more can I do? What MORE can I do?” I have already written a bunch of thought-provoking letters and had them faxed out to the embassies, consulates, and fishery office. I’d get your and your dad’s updates and then follow up with my letters. I’d share the updates with many others and discuss about them as well. Still, I’d wonder if I am making any difference at all. Reading your words about the response on the part of the dolphin killers by covering up their atrocities, I feel encouraged knowing that what I have done is making a difference, even if I am one of the many people doing the same thing. It’s so hard when the atrocities still persist, and I think that’s probably why I find myself questioning about all the things that I have done and if I am making any difference. Because the dolphin killers have not retreated from their evil acts and because the most dedicated Cove Guardians are always at the Cove providing updates to all of us, I will continue to keep up with all that I have done. I truly DO care so much about our beloved brothers and sisters of the sea not to be doing anything to help them!


  4. Elora, I just wrote this LONG ASS email and I hit something with my finger and poof it’s gone! Hate when that happens., And now I’m in a rush.
    (in a nut shell) Thank you, thank you and thank you for what you (all) did.
    I have written Oprah soooooooooooooooooo many times asking her to have you and your Dad on her show. Can you let her know you are home. (I have) ๐Ÿ™‚
    She reaches 10 MILLION people, that is a lot of people that can help with the calls, e-mails, letters and $ donations!
    Glad your home safe, sounds like a (horrible 2nd leg) yick!!!
    I’m so excited your writing a book, I WANT A SIGNED COPY! please keep us all updated, and I’ll see you on the Oprah Show, I pray!
    My daughter, husband and I went to the anti-whaling day in Chicago we met Matt Smith, I could not believe he had been in Taiji, SO COOL! and where he is now, how awesome, I could SO see you on one of thoes ships!
    My daughter goes to school and lives in Matt’s home town, after he returns he will head home and he told Britttany he will show her all his pictures ๐Ÿ™‚
    GOD Bless you both and remember by you doing what you did, it will only help stop this barbaric torture and it will end someday. These poor families of dolphins and whales, it’s so GD depressing! I think of it like actually humane families, where someone comes in and one by one they slaughter them all. Like real people. My God they are one of the closest things to us! Such a sick horrifing thing, God makes me crazy! We will all keep with the fight, we all just have too. We have to be their voice.
    PLEASE don’t forget to email Oprah. It could be amazing, you there talking and showing videos and pictures, could be so helpfu!
    Compassion is one of the most beautiful things people can have in their heart, those fisherman have NONE, so awful!!!! Can you imagine one of those men being your Dad. GROUSE!
    Your so blessed to have the Dad you do, you all must be an awesome family.

  5. I knew it! A book. You are a brilliant writer. thank you
    Can’t wait to read it and give others in Japan a copy ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. So long again … the natto will still be here waiting for you when you come back next.

    For those of you following Elora’s remarkable work, please give a thought to the other inter-species holocausts going on in Japan and support those Japanese working to stop them.

    Since WWII, over 400,000 black bears have been killed in Japan despite being endangered, some years as many as 30 to 50% of the existing population have been killed, the vast majority never having frightened or threatened any human being and due to the human mismanagement of their environment.

    Anywhere between 400,000 and 600,000 domestic cats and dogs are gased every year, 95% of them never even reaching the age of six months, sometimes even in mobile vans before they get back to the local pounds (lost family pets included). They come from pet-shops and breeders that cannot or don’t want to dispose of their animals, and from families who want to get rid of pets which have become unfashionable.

    Or the 10,000 plus macaques which are killed, around 10% of the population whose forest territory again, we human beings have taken and mismanaged through industrial mono-cropping to the point they, like the black bears, are driven by hunger into conflicts with the interests of rural people.

    Please remember, there is not just one Japan. There are many Japans. Not all Japanese people know about these issues. Many do and care. Not all Japanese believe slavishly what the government says and support it. There are very young and small veggie, vegan, animal rights and animal welfare movements starting up here and they need support from the West.

    It is easy to demonize Japan but the “Demonic Japan” is largely a false construction that has nothing to do with the real people of Japan. There is more potential for the establishment of sustainable lifestyles in Japan than in most developed nations and the people are more likely and able to adopt to them en masse than individualistic Westerners. Japan is also a scene setter, gateway and leader to the rest of Asia. It has great influence.

    And, lastly, please have a little bit of compassion for the majority of Japanese people who, despite the West’s idea of Japan as a “rich” and developed nation, actually live far harder and far poorer lives than most Westerners … with far less space, time, privacy, freedom and democracy. A lot of Japan will never develop into being a “first world” nation. Speak for those Japanese rather than at or against them because the arduous, repressive and fear-based society they live under does not allow them to do so.

    Within Japan, non-profit, animal and environmental or ethics based campaigning is new, rare. It enjoys few of the tax privileges and advantages that they do in the West and is not entirely trusted. Charitable giving is only a tiny fraction (e.g. Japanese household contributions approximate $27 per year as compared with $1,620 per U.S. household). Charitable individuals just do not have the same amount of time to do anything, even when they believe in something, nor space to do so.

    Remember the real traditional Japan, not the one the whaling industry and bureaucracy are attempting to create … the 1,000 years of Buddhist influence which led a primarily vegan diet, or the 250 years of peace and order during the Edo period, a plant based, sustainable and recycling society in which villages operated as largely autonomous units and capitals rose to become the largest and most ordered cities of their time.

    It was the West that brought the destructiveness of modern, industrial capitalism forcible and against Japanese will to Japan, perhaps it could be the likes of the Wests who will once again forcibly remind Japan of that past and lead it back to refined values of ethics and sustainability?

    Either way, let us also remember that whatever sins Japan does carry out in the area of animal abuse and exploitation, it is only a small fraction of the abuse, exploitation and waste that goes to feed the plates of America and elsewhere.

    This time around, the revolution starts on your own dinner plate. If you cannot make it to Japan, start in your own kitchen. Go vegan.

    Look forward to the books of words and photographs. Best of luck. Change the world.

  7. Great!! I’m so glad you decided to write a book! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t wait to buy it. I think everything you have done has been for a difference. My mom use to say that every act, kind or cruel, radiates out like the circles in a lake when you drop a pebble in. You have dropped a lot of “kind pebbles” in and your work is slowly turning into a wave. I’m so glad you made it home safe and sound, and I have a 20 year old, so I know just how much your mom has missed you!!! Have a great holiday season West family. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Welcome home, young lady……..happpy to hear you will write a book……for now, it is important you assimilate baci into your “old” life as best as you can…it might feel different..YOU are different now…hopefully your friends and classmates will understand what you have witnessed and how it has affected you…Just remember to talk when you need to talk and cry when you need to cry…it is part of the healing process….and if you really need to and your parents think it would be wise….see someone.. We all wiil wait for you to come to us…for now..just BE….

    You are loved!

  9. To “You Can Guess”………thank you for your message!!!!! we all need to take the blinders off and use our “peripheral” vision! I agree with your words….but we all get caught up in a “mission” and then other important issues take a back seat….sort of a “band wagon syndrome’?…all it took was a handful of divers/surfers and a celebrity and then Elora and her father and Ric O’Barry to bring Taiji out of the closet…..and that is where all the focus is right now….and of course the Southern Ocean mission is beginning….I get everything you said….I hope others will read and understand what you have written!
    Well done!!

  10. Hi Elora!
    Thank you so much for your work to save the dolphins. Your photography is wonderful.
    I am a filmmaker working on a music video entitled “Set the Dolphins Free.” I am looking for 5-10 seconds of footage of the dolphin killing in Taiji by independent filmmakers. Or still photos. I would of course give full credit to the photographer. Any ideas where to find this? The footage already used for the TV series and the movie are too hard to come by; I am looking for independently shot media. Thank you! Diane Mason, HOPE Films.

  11. Hi Elora!
    Thank you so much for your work to save the dolphins. Your photography is wonderful.
    I am a filmmaker working on a music video entitled โ€œSet the Dolphins Free.โ€ I am looking for 5-10 seconds of footage of the dolphin killing in Taiji by independent filmmakers. Or still photos. I would of course give full credit to the photographer. Any ideas where to find this? The footage already used for the TV series and the movie are too hard to come by; I am looking for independently shot media. Thank you! Diane Mason, HOPE Films.

  12. Elora, where have you gone? I check every day to see if you have written anything and would love to hear how you and your dad are doing. Thanks

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