An Extraordinary Experience

A few months before my wife, Verna, died, she had a partner during an event at RSE who told her about a place in Baja California, Mexico, where you could go and see whales, and might even get close enough to touch one. We talked about going, but it was something we never got to do. In February of this year I decided that before something happened to the west coast, I was going to find the whales. I read how the Gray Whales migrate from the cold waters off the coast of Alaska each year to mate, then return the following year in January to have babies in the same warm water off the Pacific coast of Baja. They head back to the arctic water toward the end of March, the babies gradually getting used to cold water, rich layers of blubber from mother's milk protecting them as they swim north near the coast. For a few weeks, I had escaped the snow and cold of this past Montana winter, spending some time in the California desert. In a recent event Ramtha mentioned Palm Desert, and said it would be more like Palm Ocean, so I was glad I went when I did.

The whale birthing water is 600 miles from the Coachella valley where I was staying. I crossed the border into Mexico at San Ysidro, and stayed in Rosarito Beach on the coast for the night. I got up the next morning and drove south until I reached my destination, and found a place to stay in Guerrero Negro (Black Warrior, named after a whaling ship) and went to bed early. I wanted to avoid the popular route to the water, which would mean too many people for me, so went in a less-used entrance that wound through a salt mining operation (largest in the world) that resembled a maze if you were unfortunate enough to get lost. I did get lost, and for almost an hour I traveled through the labyrinth, attempting to find the exit that lead to Laguana Ojo de Liebre. I met Mexican workers who were very friendly, and each of them gave me different directions in Spanish on how to get out, but none of these lead to the water. The main road was wide enough for the huge trucks loaded with salt, but the narrow roads that drifted off into the marine mist were covered in deep pot holes, and washboard surface.

The night before, I had this dream about the whales. When I woke up, all that I remembered was this huge blue whale eye looking directly at me. It stayed with me as I shaved and ate breakfast. It stayed with me through the salt maze; I kept focusing on the eye, as if it were a card on the field at the ranch. I held it and kept driving, not knowing where I was or how to get out, but certain that I would. Finally, I saw a black truck coming toward me. The driver waved me to a stop and I was surprised to see a handsome Mexican, dressed in a sports jacket and white shirt, step out. Where did he come from? The man was polite and was interested in what I was doing on this narrow, rough road in the middle of the salt flats and bogs of brine. He listened to my story, then told me in perfect english, to follow him. We drove, intersecting strange, little-used roads through the pools of salt-crusted water covering the road, and seemingly going in circles, and criss-crossing similar roads. After following his dust for a few miles he pulled over and stepped out of the truck. He said that I would not be lost again, and to stay on the main road, and to go slow. He looked at my plates and said I was a long way from Montana. I was hot, and thirsty, and I said that, Yes, I was a long way from home. He also said the road was well marked for me on the way back. I continued, and soon I was actually seeing carved signs of a diving whale leading me on. I had made it out of the maze.

After I arrived at the water, I waited until there was a little Panga fishing boat and someone to take me and a few others out to the open water. We went into the water until there was no land to be seen, and there were whales several hundred feet away, diving and swimming. I wanted to get close. I kept focusing on the blue eye, not allowing any frustration to set in. We came near another panga boat with people standing up looking out at something. There was a mother and a baby. They were not interested in that boat, but when we came closer, they came right up to our boat and directly to my side. God they were big! The females grow larger than the males, up to 50 feet in length, and weigh up to 40 tons. The babies at that time were around 16 feet long. This mother brought her baby right up to the boat and nudged her close to us. The baby rolled on top of the mother and rose up out of the water and there was my beautiful blue eye staring at us! I reached out and touched the baby and ran my hand up and down its face. The mother came close and I rubbed my hand over her barnacle encrusted face and felt the spongy skin of this wild mammal, and saw the huge yellow eye of the adult whale. This experience was right up there with watching my little girls being born and my grand girls coming into this world.

The whales stayed with us, moving next to the boat and swimming under it but never touching it. They knew exactly what they were doing, and for some reason wanted to be near us. They could have drowned us in a moment. I rubbed them over and over, and everyone crowded around me because that was where they always came. I took movies while other people took photographs. I rubbed the whales with my right hand, while my left hand held the camera and pointed at the clouds or water, my attention busy with the whales. It was a thrill and worth every moment of the labyrinth, and the long drive down. I will never forget the burst of a whale lunging out of the water right next to the boat, then slipping back down, disappearing into the blue water.

Finally, we had to get back, and as we left, I looked to see if the whales would give some attention to the other boat. I searched and there they were, swimming away with us. They stayed close until we had to pick up speed and get back to shore. All the way to the dock I kept seeing the large blue eye, but now it was a past experience, and I savored the wisdom and excitement of the event. I was filled with emotion. I was all smiles and laughter; I wanted to stay on and do it again, but I knew I had to get out of Mexico and back to Montana. The next day the miles were nothing to me. I kept reliving the experience all the way to Rosarito Beach, where I spent the night listening to the ocean, and thinking of mother whales and of huge babies. In the morning I rose early and left Mexico.

I can still see the eye, I can still feel the skin, and the wild spray of the whales as they blew and breathed right next to me. It isn't that people don't get to see the whales if they travel to the breeding grounds, or even touch them, because many do. It was that I knew I would, that I would see that eye close up and real, and that I created what happened to me. I can't conceive how or why man would kill such huge, wonderful, gentle creatures. Even after the whalers almost exterminated this species twice, they still seem to love and trust us. I kept telling them how beautiful they were while I petted them. And they kept coming back to me.

I will never, ever forget that mother and her baby.

Ken can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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