Eight beautiful souls embarked on a two-hour flight and a five-hour drive through jagged terrain – turned dirt road – turned hardscrabble desert. Just beyond a glittery expanse of salt flats that sparkled like diamonds, we finally arrived at San Ignacio Lagoon.
Our adventure began.
Greeted by friendly staff, we unloaded our bags in our stilted wooden cabins on the shore of the ocean and immediately headed out for our first whale excursion. We went out in 90-minute intervals for a total of 7 times over 4 days.
En route on the 20-minute boat ride to the Lagoon, we navigated along wild dunes and shell-scattered beaches engrossed with sightings of dolphins, sea turtles, pelicans and osprey. All were beautiful. Yet all paled in comparison to what I had come for… a Whale encounter!
At one point we had a school of dolphins simultaneously jumping the waves on either side of our boat and as cool as that was, and in true spoilt American fashion, I caught myself thinking “meh – been there, done that – this is nothing compared to a whale encounter.” And then I chose to appreciate the magical moment with them as they are also divine!
Gray whales are known as the “Friendliest whales on Earth!” They are curious about humans and often seek out the boats and even bring their young calves up to the boats to visit, observe, and be touched by you. They love to put on an acrobatic show and sing for you.
These gentle giants, often reach 40 feet long and 40 tons. They migrate between three protected lagoons each winter to mate and give birth. Their journey is the longest annual migration of any mammal on earth, a round trip of 10,000 to 14,000 miles from Alaska.
For over 100 years, San Ignacio lagoon was used by whalers to trap and kill Gray whales. The Grays were known to the whalers as “Devil Fish” as they were one of the only species of whale to fight back aggressively against the whalers.
We learned that whaling was halted in 1946, which means some of the individual whales were the same ones who were hunted by man and now they are the friendliest whales on earth! This is the ultimate example of true forgiveness.
I will never innerstand how any humane person would desire to kill them or destroy their home in the name of profit.
Several hundred gray whales make their way to San Ignacio each winter, and about 200 of them were still in the lagoon while we were there. In fact, it felt like we had seen almost half of them all on the first day!
Within the first five minutes in the preserve, we were greeted by more than a dozen spouts accompanied by a deep, hollow “Fooooossssshhhhh!” AAhhh, this is what I had come here for!
We each had panoramic front-row seats to the daily performances of the magnificent whales as they glided past us like submarines ascending to and then descending from the surface all around us.
Each time they rose for a breath their bodies formed a smooth arc and vertical shoots of spray erupted toward the sky. This created a rainblow also known as a “Whale-Kiss.” I got sprayed in the face three times. Oh, how I love whale kisses and salt life. It was the best shower ever!
All eight pairs of eyes scanned the surface of the Lagoon watching for the gentle giants below the surface to show off their prowess and signature moves.
Each time someone saw a spy hop – where a whale rises up vertically, poking its head up out of the water to take a look around – they shouted the location “THREE O’CLOCK – SPY HOP!” and all of our heads spun around to catch the glimpse in time.
When someone saw the dramatic exhale each time their backs broke the surface – they shouted the location “SEVEN O’CLOCK – RAINBLOW!” and all of our heads spun around to catch the glimpse in time.
Each time someone caught a glimpse of the perfect breach as they shot out of the water displaying their full bodies – they shouted the location “ELEVEN O’CLOCK – BREACH!” and all of our heads spun around to catch the glimpse in time.
When someone saw a whale tale fluke – they shouted out the location “ONE O’CLOCK – WHALE TALE FLUKE!” and all of our heads spun around to catch the glimpse in time.
Those terms blared like a loudspeaker a hundred times a day like a beautiful broken record stuck on a skip. What’s so funny about it is that each shoutout of the whale choreography carried the same weight of excitement the 100th time we saw it as it did the 1st time.
There was a moment when our panga was surrounded by eight whales in every direction and it felt like we were floating helplessly in a little dingy to be swallowed by them due to the enormity of their size. Yet, I’ve never felt safer and more loved.
We saw single whales, mamas and their babies, and a fury of mating activity. We even got flashed during a mating session and saw the ole “Pink Floyd” – the local nickname for the male whale’s 6-foot-long penis, which is bubble-gum pink.
The name “Pink Floyd,” and the quest to catch a glimpse of the enormous anatomy, stirred a peal of roaring laughter when we saw it as someone shouted out “wow! that thing is bigger than me!”
We jockeyed the seats of our Panga boat – an open 23 feet long fishing skiff – trying not to miss a single moment each time a whale would swim directly under our boat toying with us.
The whales would dive, torque, churn together and play together all around us and just below the surface of our boat.
Sometimes they sounded like a chorus of a multi-dimensional song as they coordinated their spiraling movement from the depths toward the surface together.
And then on day two, it happened…
We went from up close and personal whale watching to whale touching.
And even though there were seven other lovely souls on that boat and in this experience with me, there was a moment where all I could see was the whales. I just wanted to slide into the water with them and be carried away like Callgon, never to return.
What is it like to touch and be touched by a whale?
Trying to describe the majestic interaction of being touched by a Whale is nearly impossible. All I can say is it left a poetic remembrance, an ethereal connection without words, a surge of unified energy and a majestic imprint upon my soul.
To see this enormous creature, nearly twice the length of our boat, gliding beneath it, knowing she could over-turn us in an instant, yet carefully maneuvering alongside of us, below us, around us, curious of us, trusting of us and allowing us to stroke her, kiss her, hug her – well, to say it’s profound is an understatement.
As I reached my hands out and rubbed her mottled skin in wonder, I remember thinking “wow there’s a 40-ton whale between my hands right now receiving me and connecting with me.”
She was firm and rubbery, powerful and gentle, mighty and angelic – all in a single touch. I just desired to make that soulful contact with her again and again and again. I desired her energy all over my body.
And then she looked at me.
My eyes filled with emotion, my body with pure joy.
It was a moment that changed me – looking a gray whale in the eye or perhaps it was her looking through me… fortified my soul.
There was just something about touching and connecting with this sentient being that pierced my soul deeply and in ways, I never imagined and will never forget.
All I would whisper to her was “thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
It was a moment I will remember for a lifetime. Because not only was it a feeling of pure love and joy, but it caused me to again pause and reexamine how I show up in life and in the world. It allowed me to see all the B.S. (Brief Systems) I’ve been hanging onto that. just. does. not. matter.
Back at camp over delicious local cuisine, we excitedly recounted tales from each of our first contact points with the whales.
Collectively we concluded that there was a powerful magic in experiencing the healing energies and wisdom of these magnificent creatures that ushered in the opportunity to realign our individual compasses to our True North.
We each, in our own way, connected with our heart’s deepest desire and created the space for new ideas, energy, opportunities, and choices to arise.
We know as we continue to process and integrate the wisdom imparted by the whales, that more happened and is happening for us than we can even put words to and comprehend at this moment.
As for me, I’ve always dreamed to touch a whale, but in the end, it was the whale who touched me.
As the dawn cracked open a new day, the whales cracked open my heart. The part that has been shut down for so long, grieving the unexpected and untimely passage of my Mother.
At that moment, I realized that I didn’t choose this trip, it chose me. I was able to experience a new sense of peace, purpose and even healing.
At sunrise, on my Birthday, I was carving messages in the sand with a seashell and when I took a photo, I realized there was an orb in the form of an exclamation mark on the picture I snapped.
Tears of knowingness – that mom was with me – streamed down my cheeks. She shows up in orbs, even in my dreams, that I know are real.
After months of not even being able to picture her in my mind, I began to see her again. She was in the sun, in the clouds, in the sky, in the sand, in the water, in the whales…
She was the center of my Universe…
…and now, I felt like I was the center of hers.
She is E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E. She is E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
And all I could whisper to her was “thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
I left with much more than what I came here for…
Healing, forgiveness, love and even a new sense of freedom, purpose and meaning.
Oh, and a new book came through! It’s called “The Golden Compass.” Only, I’m not writing it – it is writing me!
The entire storyline came through me in just three days at the camp. It’s amazing what comes through when we allow and create the space to BE.
The book is a parable containing treasures and discoveries of truth, false beliefs, and life lessons that a character named Carry Prema learned along her life’s journey in search of the meaning of life.
Carry Prema, (a name that my guru assigned to me at an Ashram in India that means “wherever you go bring love”) backpacks the world to find herself, only to discover “the thing” she was searching for was never in a place, a person, a possession, a career, an achievement or an experience, it was the journey into standing before a mirror and loving what she saw. She discovered that all of the answers were inside of her all along all she had to do was activate her Golden Compass to find her way.
I welcome another new beginning and embrace the ripple effect of impact from this experience that will last for months, even years to come.
It is extremely rare to have such an intimate experience with these mammals in the wild, and something that most people will never get the chance to experience even once in their lives, and I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten to experience this twice.
My intention for you is that you will step into your courage and say “YES” to YOU!
What is something huge that you desire to do?
Go do THAT thing!
Cheering you on to create your own new adventure!
“Following your dream is not a matter of cost or time, it’s a matter of courage and commitment!” – Traci Bogan, Dreampreneur