There she blows!!!

We spent the first couple of hours moving up and down the coast snacking on guacamole and chips. We hadn’t seen a single whale and things didn’t look good. “We probably won’t see any whales today,” my daughter said.  A minute later we saw an outburst of foamy white water and the sound of a powerful stream of water being forced through a blowhole off the starboard bow.  Seconds later we witness the arching back of a whale’s shiny skin before it dove again into the dark water. The helmsman turned the stern west and headed toward open water as two more whales emerged from the blue water.  Simultaneously, they cleared their lungs, like giant bellows, shooting a fine misty cloud into the air fifteen feet high. We realized we were running alongside of a pod of ten or twelve whales.

The captain was careful not to not to get too close. Earlier this year, when the orcas migrate around Cape Hope in South Africa, a couple on a sailboat was following a humpback too closely when the whale suddenly felt threatened. It circled back, leaped out of the water, arched gracefully and came crashing down on the deck of the small vessel, snapping the mast in two.

One never knows how big the whales are until it’s too late. Knowing the danger involved, our captain kept his distance and followed the pod by watching the horizon. The whales open their blow holes just before they reach the surface and it makes a gushing sound and a marvelous display that makes them easy to track. The whales were venturing deeper and deeper into open water, heading into the sun.

We decide to head back to the coast and drop anchor in a cove for lunch. The helmsman found a secluded inlet several miles south of Cabo, a small bay protected from the big waves of the Pacific where he could fix lunch. 

As he cooked up a meal in the kitchenette, I finally felt relaxed. I had forgotten what day it was and, more importantly, I didn’t care. Since leaving Chicago, I had been on the run from my own ghosts, rehearsing conversations in my head, some of which I would never have. I realized that running from Chicken Man was nothing more than flagrant stupidity on my part.  There had been nothing special about this patient: he was just one of those I couldn’t help and he left my shrink-ego feeling beaten, stomped and humiliated. The son-of-a-bitch didn’t want help because he enjoyed his illness, and this wasn’t the first time I had dealt with this type of situation. Chicken Man represented all of the paranoid fixations that have plagued me since graduate school: the fat-Irish pig that gave me a B, the psychotic Italian woman that hated men, the self-centered Argentine that ranted about being stuck in the Midwest.

These bastards were my very own Moby Dick. Like the whales we were spotting in Cabo, they were visible because they were traces of something much bigger that swam below the surface, and maybe it was best to keep my distance from the whale, come to terms with the underlying symptom, and let the leviathan swim away. Perhaps behind these unworthy opponents was the fantasy of recognition, the idea that there was really something to achieve, a place to go, a hero’s welcome somewhere. The endless pursuit was leaving me two steps behind and stupid. Ironically, it is the adversary that gives makes the object real, gives it substance, because the antagonist is never there for nothing. But Chicken Man was also the empty shadow of girlfriends past, women I didn’t call back after a weird night, people I owed money to, and colleagues who disagree. I suspect that I am just as much part of their nightmares as they are of mine. And, maybe I don’t function at all without them; I am not the person I am without those shadows. So, instead of trying to exorcise the jackass, it’s probably best to make peace with him for a while. 

After a day on the water, we had a good-night´s sleep before heading to the airport to catch our flight to Dallas.

Cross-posted at My Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy:

About the Author

Jimmy Gabacho

Gabacho– according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy– is derived from an old Provençal word “gavach,” meaning a person from the foothills of the Pyrenees who spoke incorrectly. These days, it means “outsider,” somebody who just doesn’t fit in.

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