day two in paradise. what bliss awaits me today? only the event i looked forward to the most, the dolphin swim!
i had no idea what to expect. would we be in the open ocean? how tame would the dolphins be? aren't all dolphins relatively tame anyway? will i get to ride on their backs? (yes, that was the ten year old little girl in me wanting that) i was giddy.
so we board another shuttle bus and settle in for a two hour ride to Xel-Ha. pronounced shell-ha - in case that was a burning dilemma for you, as it was for me. the ride was good. the anticipation was almost more than i could bear. my mom, however, was having a bit of anxiety over it. she is afraid of the water, especially water you can't see the bottom of. i did my best to calm her nerves, and applauded her in taking on her fear. bravo, mom!
Xel-Ha is a beautiful theme park. of sorts. you get wrist bands and enter in revolving gates much the same as you would at disneyland. but once inside you realize you won't be seeing costumed characters roaming the park available for photo ops. instead you watch where you step so as not to get in the path of a large kimono dragon. you look at each tree and try to spot a parrot. you gasp as you see the gorgeous cliffs and ocean before you. upon closer examination you realize that all those moving things in the water are droves of snorkeling tourists. identifyable by their bright blue life jackets (everyone is wearing one). this is perfect. i was afraid my glorious dolphin swim experience might be cheapened by occuring in a pool. no pool here. excellent.
this was what lie in wait for my mom and i:
but first we had to eat lunch. and go through a series of hurry up and wait scenerios. like, wait for the guide to take you over to the dolphin swim area. then, wait in the line to sign your, ' if-i-die-i-won't-sue-the-park' legal waiver. next you are ushered into a small arena of sorts, to watch a video on what not to do during your dolphin experience. we are told that the video is in spanish, but not to worry as subtitles will guide you through. um, unless you majored in speed reading, the subtitles were useless. it went fast! the only saving grace (and only thing stopping my mom and i from raising our hands with pathetic looks of "help, i seriously don't understand this") was that there were picutures. and whenever a forebidden action came on screen, there was a big red "X" drawn through it - with a swishing sound effect. it was clear. american-tourist-dummy proof. sigh of relief.
okay, now after the video, they haphazardly pass out life vests. many of us didn't get one, and there was a bit more panic. hands raising, looks of concern, all the standard 'don't leave me out' stuff. next you are sectioned off into groups of 6-7 and marched out onto your waiting platform (see above picture). and then, into the water you go.
the trainer (of both the dolphins and the humans) gives specific instructions, which the dolphins follow way better than the humans do. it's amazing how quickly intelligent adults can resort back to fifth grade behavior, and need to be gently reprimanded for. yep, that was us - all of us. they even made us do stupid human tricks disguised as dolphin commands. i have a video of the whole thing. it's hilarious, and the dolphins endure every bit of our stupidity. good dolphin.
no cameras are allowed, but for a mere $25.00 per picture you can have your dolphin memory for a lifetime. come on, how can you not purchase at least one?? yes, it stank of big business, but we all fell. hook, line and sinker.
brave mama with her triumphant smile!!! i think the dolphin was a bit proud of her too.
he rewarded her with a sweet (albeit a bit rubbery) peck on the cheek.