Harpooning and rendering whales is a job that stinks. So Macklish decided to leave the smelly sailing ship one windy night while it was traveling close to the eastern coast of a mountainous island near the lagoon where the whaling captain liked to kill grays.
Macklish convinced two other Scots, Collins and Hastings and both named John, he had met in a bar in San Francisco to flee in one of the ship’s small rescue boats. Then, hidden in a cove, they waited for the ship on which they had embarked in a drunken stupor to sail north for more whaling.
Macklish, a First Violin of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, could see from his first hunt that he had neither the hands nor the guts needed to cut up and remove greasy slices of whale. The two Johns must have thought the same. They were more atracted to the bustling brothels than to the carnage of sea animals. It was for those reasons, they came drifting, naked and nearly shipwrecked to the Mission of San Jose del Cabo in the hot summer of 1862.
In one of the nearby houses, Macklish found an old violin that someone had brought from Cremona! Excited by his find, he played songs popular with Scottish Highlanders. People were fascinated by the sweet sounds of the instrument and gathered to listen. It was not his spirit but his talent that captivated the young almond-shaped eyes and long blonde hair daughter of the rancher that was their host.
Macklish would join her in marriage that same year. It was a lavish wedding that brought together all the residents of the missions and southern ranches. Every day, five fattened steers, ten fattened pigs and eight deer were slaughtered and roasted underground, along with variety of poultry. The meat was marinated with dark wine brought from the northern missions.
The dancing before, during and after the wedding lasted a week. Musicians arrived from throughout the region and the first day Macklish willingly accompanied them with the borrowed instrument. The solos of Vivaldi and Mozart that were requested have never been as revered as they were by the simple fishermen and ranchers.
Contrary to customs, the beautiful native bride was not who climbed the social ladder by marrying a European, but the First Violin educated in Glasgow and impoverished castaway who eventually attained the status of a rich Californian farmer. To God he had given thanks.
Juan Melgar is a professor, cultural journalist, radio reporter and TV writer. Author of the story books of Thin man adrift (FORCA, 2007) and Ordinary Narratives (ISC, 2010). email@example.com.
PS. Hastings, one of the Johns, returned to Scotland. The other, Collins, left his heirs on the peninsula