Have you ever been whale watching?
Ever heard a whale sing or beheld a whale breaching to reach the sky? Ever had the opportunity to look a whale square in the eye?
When I asked my friends visiting from Louisville, KY, Sheila and David Tasman, what they wanted to do in Puerto Vallarta, whale watching was their first request. We often see whales from our terrace perched high in the jungle, but a zodiac ride on Puerto Vallarta’s beautiful Banderas Bay was on their radar. Beholding these mammoth beauties up close and personal would be a thrilling treat.
There are about 800 whales who migrate here, and we were hoping Vallarta Adventures, who tracks the whale migration by plane, would strike a vein of golden memories for us. That said, there are no guarantees. Our expectations were realistic. We decided not to be disappointed, whales or no whales. We remembered Eckhart Tolle’s philosophy from his book, The Power of Now, “Cherish the moment. Live in the NOW”. We were happy to be together to savor whatever the day beheld.
In our wildest dreams, we never imagined what would transpire next…
The life-altering, jaw-dropping experience of a life time!
Our walking encyclopedia of whale science, guide Emilio Ochoa, was exceptional. He could smell a whale from a mile away. For three hours we were totally enthralled with majestic whales cavorting, slapping the glistening bay waters with glee, breaching and rolling over to swim on their backs on full time play alert. When a mom and her baby arrived, we were treated with a huge billow of water forcefully sprayed followed by the baby’s tiny copycat puff. We were mesmerized when Emilio placed an underwater microphone to capture fascinating whale sounds and singing. Our hearts were pumping in high gear, and our brains were focused on acoustic attention.
What a grand day! We were happily on our way back to the marina, filled with joy and gratitude for beholding more whales than we could count.
That’s when it happened…
We four were seated in the row next to the captain at the back of the zodiac. Little did we know we had the cat bird seats. In a New York minute, Emilio yelled to Captain Ramon, “Turn off the engine!” We could see nothing, but eagle-eye Emilio spied the swimming behemoths heading right for our small zodiac. Engines immediately off, the whales shocked and enthralled us. Repeatedly circling us, they went back and forth under our zodiac, often upside down. Best of all, they kept raising their welcoming barnacled heads within inches of our faces. I could have easily touched one! The last time, one sweet mama rose up and stayed stationary next to my head. We were eye-ball to eye-ball. WHOA!!! I am the one on everyone’s video yelling, “I’m going to pee my pants!”
The majestic, curious whales seemed to enjoy the excitement as much as we did. Pure magic. I felt no fear, despite the proximity. Just the opposite. Peace and amazement all rolled into one exquisitely fortunate experience.
I have been on whale watching excursions before, but this trip was the pinnacle of pure, raw excitement. It will etch AWE and JOY into my soul forever. These massive creatures were calm, serene and pure fun to behold. How they interacted with us was soulful and elegantly graceful. Best, we were able to share it with our friends.
Positive psychology reminds you that shared experiences add the richest textures to your life.
More than money or possessions. Research on meaning and end of life is noteworthy. When people at the end of their lives were asked what mattered the most, they recited their positive emotional experiences, travels, and their sense of belonging. They regretted the opportunities they didn’t take and the journeys they wish they had made. Key learning? Don’t put off life!
This trip will etch smiles on our four faces forever. Daniel Kahneman’s “Peak-End Theory” also comes to mind. When you look back at an experience, you tend to remember most the most intense times of an experience and also what happens at the end. We hit the whale watching memory jackpot!
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Hope you enjoy the audio of our whale sounds. This may be the oddest Valentine’s gift ever, but hope it warms your heart.