My folks decided to give the whole family a well deserved break from the routine of the city. They envisioned us all having a fabulous time of relaxation and leisure, while being treated like royalty in one of those fantastic resorts in Los Cabos.
It sounded like a good opportunity to get a great tan and enjoy days filled with sunshine, while splashing around in a sparkling pool or building sand castles on the beach. We also dreamed of sightseeing in Baja, eating the best meals of our lives and, if possible, do some souvenir shopping as well. In our original plans, we never thought we would all have so much fun together, doing fun stuff like burying my dad in the sand and then drawing a hilarious shape of a sexy mermaid on top of him. That was one of the best times we had and they were definitely the funniest photos we took, making everyone laugh when we showed them as soon as we got back home!
In Los Cabos, we ate delicious food all week long, including lobster and traditional spicy Mexican dishes. We walked around the main streets and marinas of the quiet towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, and visited just about every shop! The weather was so good that we had the chance to see amazing sunsets, the most impressive that we'd seen in our entire lives. The ''kids'', my siblings and I, stayed busy playing with our new friends that were on vacation the same week as us, from cities in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. I got to be the leader of the games, because I'd learnt languages in school. I helped to translate between those who spoke Spanish and the English speakers, and I remember feeling really proud of myself.
Although we didn't really want to leave the pool or the hotel, my parents went ahead and booked something that sounded very interesting indeed. All we wanted to do was stay with the gang and play to our hearts content, because we knew our vacations would soon end. However, Mom and Dad made reservations for the Whale Watching Tour, a classic winter excursion that takes place in the Sea of Cortez.
The day and the time for the tour finally came. Early in the morning we got ready, boarded a boat and began the journey that had all the promise to become an incredible adventure. Immediately after boarding, we were told to put life on vests and then had a brief explanation of what we were about to see. The boat started to move and from that moment on I anxiously waited to see the gigantic whales up close. I had a thousand fantasies in my mind. I wanted to know first hand if they were as big as I imagined, if they truly had those big tails, and if they actually expelled those big spurts of water from the tops of their heads. All I knew about whales at that time was taken from the cartoons on TV.
"They're not too far from the shore", the guide was telling us, while the boat was making its way. As I didn't see the action immediately, I was beginning to get a little annoyed thinking of all the fun that would be taking place back at the hotel's pool. Then all of a sudden we began to see big streams of water, like giant geysers, shooting high up into the sky. My Mom gathered us close and prepared the camera to take pictures of what we were about to see. "There they are!", "There they are!" she was shouting while she turned our heads towards the tails, spurts and friendly splashing that let us know we were very close to the whales. And there they were; it was the most incredible scene that my young eyes had ever seen.
As the boat slowed down, the guide and captain took the necessary safety precautions, making sure we didn't get to close until we were all properly and safely positioned in the vessel. The whales behaved as cautious and curious as humans do, when both species are in close contact. We didn't have to move any further forward because these friendly animals were the ones that actually approached our ship. At the beginning, they showed the tips of their gigantic tails out the water and also did gracious movements, meaning a warm welcome to us and sealing a pact of friendship at the same time.
From that point on, we were cordially received into their playground and they swam and played all around the sides of the boat. They were simply awesome, fascinating and, I must confess, because of their immense size, a bit intimidating as well. They looked like airplanes, but under the water! The whales felt so unafraid that they started to get so close we could see every detail on their skin.
One of them showed me, face to face, his big eye. Maybe due to the increase of adrenaline or the rush of my heartbeat, I can't recall now if that eye was the size of my hand or my whole arm. I felt invited by him to touch his body, so, scared but quite confident, I did. It was like a wet and loving handshake that gave me the chance to feel his rough texture. That gentle, innocent experience lasted just a couple of minutes but, without a doubt, it's one that I will never forget.
During those special moments and because of the excitement of the whole event, I forgot about my new friends and the jealousy of missing the games in the pool totally disappeared from my mind. All my attention was on the family of whales and making the most out of this unusual encounter. As you can imagine, it took the rest of the day for me to share the entire tale with all of the kids back at the hotel. I showed them pictures of our adventure, and also shared all that we learned about those majestic animals that migrate, play and breed right here, where the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez meet.
It was definitely an experience that I would like to repeat and share with my own children in the future. I'd take them to that very same spot in Los Cabos to watch the whales up close, just to see the pleasure on their childish faces, expressing fear, amazement and happiness, all at the same time. Maybe, I'll see in them, the same face that I showed during that intimate moment, which created such wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
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The Extraordinary Experience of Touching a Whale
- Fernando García Castro