In the winter of 2005, my Grandmother on my mother’s side invited me to travel with her to Guerrero Negro, Mexico to see the whales that travel there to lagoons in order to mate and give birth to their young. I excitedly accepted the invitation and we were scheduled to meet our tour guides in San Diego in February of 2006.
When February finally arrived, we left from my grandma’s home in Camarillo, California and headed to San Diego. When our touring group met at a small facility near San Diego State University, the outlook was bleak. There were ten of us that had to cram into a ten person van. Normally, this would be no large feat, but it was not just the ten of us, but all of the baggage and unnecessary bauble of seven women leaving town for a week. The poor three men in our group had to be the ones to strap as much as possible to the top of the van and then stuff the remainders in the limited nooks and crannies of the vehicle. Needless to say, everyone held numerous items in their laps for the long trip down to Baja California, making the trip seem so much longer. Once we made it into Mexico though, things began to brighten. The people were so kind and considerate. Although Mexico is full of dirty buildings and stray dogs, there is an unexplainable beauty about the place.
Our first day out in the lagoons to find whales was beautiful. It was a sunny day, no clouds in the sky, and the sea was glistening. The boat was right on the water, so when the whales finally came, we were right there with them. They swam right up to the boat and stuck their massive heads out and looked straight at you with wise eyes. The majestic animals rubbed up against the boat, begging you to rub them, and they really enjoyed the interaction. The babies were so playful and took more pleasure from the contact than the mothers. This experience made me more aware of the regal animals in our oceans.
Along with the encounters with whales, I also spent time with my grandma that I never had the chance of doing previously. I got to know her a lot better and we became friends. She inspired me to love nature because of her adoration for it. She lived to see the beautiful creatures of our earth. The ocean species were her favorite, however. Whenever she saw a whale, or a sea lion, or even some sort of common sea bird, her eyes lit up like a child’s and her face glowed. Something about animals made her happier than anything else in the world. During our whale watching trip, she passed some of that on to me.
Just last June, my grandmother passed away from brain cancer. She went so fast. She never showed any sign of sickness until two weeks before she was gone. I miss her every day. I thank God for the time I spent with her on that trip to Mexico, seeing her in the place that she loved, the sea. I hold pictures in my mind of how her face looked every time she caught sight of a whale breaching or touched one of their blubbery bodies. When we let her ashes go into the ocean, there were thousands of sea birds and around fifteen dolphins there to greet her. Her friends were there to welcome her home.
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