The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. ~ Richard Bach
Over the last two weeks I’ve written part 1 and part 2 about this fabulous journey. While the last two pieces were primarily about the adventure itself and most importantly our interactions with the whales, today I want to talk about the family at the middle of the story of the whales of San Ignacio Lagoon.
My guide on this trip was Tony and he was a great guide who has a really close connection to the whales, we called him the “whale whisperer.” He was an incredibly nice guy and very knowledgeable about the sanctuary, the whales biology and behavior. I was fortunate to have him as a guide and even more so as we got to know him. Tony has a unique connection to the whales of San Ignacio. You see, his grandfather Pacheco started all of this.
The fisherman in the area had a long contentious relationship with the whales. They considered them a problem that interfered with their fishing each year when they arrived and so they called them the devil fish. One day, Pachecho, had a whale under his pachanga, it would spy hop up on one side than to the other side of his boat. This of course meant he couldn’t fish, finally, bravely, he decided to touch it. He did so briefly and nothing happened, so he reached out again and left his hand on the whale, scratched and rubbed it. To Pacheco it felt like the whale enjoyed the interaction. He returned to the village afterward and told everyone about it and of course no one believed him. He also told an American friend who would eventually bring down his family and have a similar experience. Word of mouth then traveled, this was the early 70’s so it took some time, but eventually people wanted to come interact with the whales. This was how the whale watching business started in San Ignacio and led to the Mexican government in the 80’s turning the lagoon into a whale sanctuary. Pacheco tells his own story much better than I do of course and you can watch him do it in the YouTube video, The Whales of Gold.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Tony’s father Ranalfo, someone who has literally grown up with the whaling business and the whales of San Ignacio. I spent an hour one night before dinner speaking with him about the history of the village, his family and getting a look at his birding life list. This was completely fitting because I had met him the first morning of our arrival as I was looking at an Osprey on some nest platforms the locals had built for them.
I felt incredibly honored to have gotten to spend time not just with the whales but with the first family of San Ignacio’s whales, the Mayoral family.
Have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane