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Learning to throw stones.

The love of nature, a lesson from father to daughter

By Aida Navarro, AIDA Communications and Human Resources Advisor

On Father’s Day, I’d like to share the vision that my daughter Constanza has of her father. At AIDA we celebrate all the fathers who instill in their children a profound love for nature. We share your desire for all children to inherit a healthy planet on which environmental justice thrives. We also celebrate all the lawyers, like those on our team, who fight daily to defend the environment and human rights. We firmly believe that the love of our natural world begins in the cradle.

I was barely a year old when my dad took me to one of the most magical places on Earth: Yellowstone National Park, the world’s first protected area. Nature and all the special creatures that live in it have enveloped my childhood ever since. When my teachers at school asked me what my father did for a living, I proudly told him that he is a defender of the planet.

In his office, the walls are lined with photos of animals. My favorite is the white shark, which he took in a place called Guadalupe Island, where he’ll take me when I’m older. Every night I choose a book about sharks to read at bedtime. I already know the names of most species of sharks and I know what I must do to protect them.

My dad Fernando says that being an environmental attorney is hard sometimes because he has to fight against people that do things to destroy the planet. Attorneys, he said, have to study a lot, know a lot of laws and use their brains to find ways to avoid damage to people and the environment.

My mom knows a lot of lawyers who do the same work as my dad. She works with them in an organization that shares her name: AIDA. She helps them so that other people know what the organization does and can help them to defend nature.

A Passing Dream

I’m not sure if my memories of Yellowstone are real or if they’re all mixed up with photographs and the stories I’ve heard. I remember seeing a huge herd of buffalo out of the car window. They were so close I could smell them. I remember how patient my dad was when we was waiting to take a photo of a group of wolves that looked just like the tattoo on his arm.

I can almost still smell the forest and hear the funny sounds that the squirrels make. I remember how amazing it was to discover, beneath the bark of trees, entire worlds so hidden from the gaze of us giants. Among so many other things, on that trip I learned to climb trees and throw stones, important skills for a young girl like me.

I remember a mama bear with her two cubs crossing the road right in front of us. All of us in cars smiled an unforgettable smile and waited patiently for the animals to pass.

My dad waited for me to grow a little bigger before he took me to meet the giants he had told me so much about: the grey whales. We drove for many hours. On the way, we stopped to walk among giant cactuses that grew up among the rocks. It was very hot and my dad told me about all the animals that lived in the desert.

When we finally arrived to where we were going, we got on a small boat. We shouted with joy and excitement when a whale swam up and played with us as if we were a little toy boat in a bathtub. My dad held me tight in his arms as I stretched out to touch the whale. Her skin felt thick and airy, like those inflatable castles I love to jump in. I didn’t like it when the whale blew into my face; it smelled like fish!

Living with Nature

Even though he grew up in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world, my parents chose to live in a much quieter place, on the Baja California peninsula.

The view of the ocean delights every sunrise. We breathe clean air. In the mornings, my dad takes me to school down a long dirt road. On the way there, I like to greet a honey-colored horse that rests beneath a tree. At school, we have chickens and guinea pigs. We make compost, plant vegetables, run between trees and listen to birdsongs. It’s so much fun.

When my dad travels, I miss him a lot, but I’m so happy that he’s out there saving the whales, dolphins and turtles. “Save so many dolphins,” I tell him when we talk on the phone.

I imagine him as a super hero sailing in distant seas to rescue animals trapped in nets that fishermen forgot, or animals that would die from eating plastic they confused with food. I don’t want them to kill the animals.

I think that when I’m older, I’ll be a veterinarian, or maybe a lawyer like my dad. That way I can defend the bears, sharks, trees and rivers; and also the children who have lost their homes to floods, or don’t have clean water to drink.

Now that I’m almost five years old, I want my cake to have animals in danger of extinction on it... or maybe reptiles! 

I have so many unforgettable memories of Yellowstone, and even more photos, but the best memory, the one that still floods his face with happiness, is that on this trip I learned to say, “dad.”

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