Saturday, March 18, 2006

Fa Love Pa

In case anyone was wondering why it’s taken me more than a week to update this blog, I can assure you it had nothing to do with any angry 9/11 relatives having attacked my home or destroyed the website server. I think they have plenty of other things to occupy their time than to swat at minor annoyances like me.

And besides, the truth of the matter is even more unbelievable to anyone who has known me for any reasonable length of time.

Because last week I spent four lovely days in Cancun, Mexico, eating and drinking till I could neither walk straight nor think clearly. It was a smorgasbord of earthly delights laid bare at my feet for the picking, and so did I pick. Often.

Which explains (I hope) the above photo taken on March 15th, 2006, when I spent the day at a water called Xel-Ha (pronounced schell-hah) and jumped into the tank with this cute critter. Needless to say, it was well worth the time-share tour I took the previous day to get the free ticket to get into this place.

I never even would have considered doing such a thing in the past, but I was accosted by a very nice guy right off the airplane in Mexico (Jesus) who promised me a free ticket to whichever park I wanted in a brochure he was waving around if I just took a tour of a time-share he was trying to generate tourist visitors for.

A precious moment before shrugging off the whole thing and moving on to start imbibing at the all-inclusive resort I was booked at, I noticed a tiny image of someone in the water with a dolphin. Below the photo it said: SWIM WITH DOLPHINS!

Hmmm. Suddenly a time-share was starting to sound mighty interesting.

So I signed on with the promise of a ticket to the necessary amusement park after my tour the following morning. Five minutes off the plane and I saved $75.00 on the entrance fee to a tourist trap and had a plan to swim with dolphins. Pretty sweet deal.

Right about now I guess I should say something about how swimming with a dolphin has always been one of my lifelong dreams, but to be honest, I have to say that as much as I love these beautiful sea creatures, it had never even occurred to me that such a thing would be possible (much less financially affordable!) for a guy like me – so the thought was not even one that I had ever entertained.

But like having a lifetime flashing before your eyes during a moment of crisis in which you suddenly realize the images you are seeing are someone else’s life, I knew then and there that I had in fact ALWAYS wanted to be in the water and touching a gentle, intelligent dolphin. It was just that until this particular moment, I never knew that before.

When I finally got to Xel-Ha, the first thing I did was try and buy a ticket for the dolphin experience (yes, it was separate from the general admission). At which point I was told that it had been sold out for the day.

It would be no understatement to say that my heart sank to the bottoms of my feet. Damn near wanted to cry when I heard that.

The guy at the cashier was very nice, though, and told me to come back again after noon and maybe there would be a cancellation I could take advantage of.

Cancellation? Who the hell would give up their chance to SWIM WITH A DOLPHIN?!?

I went to the top of the park, got a big ol’ inner tube and floated down the water for an hour or two, going down the river like Martin Sheen in APOCALYPSE NOW -- except that with all the scuba divers, fellow floaters, people diving off the mountain side into the water and noise in general, this felt much more dangerous.

When I went back to check for tickets, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that there was no chance of any dolphin interactivity happening today. I had my fun in the water, though, so I chalked it up to experience; next time, get advance tickets.

But unbelievably (yeah, right – you’ve already seen the photo!), if I wanted to go there were tickets available RIGHT NOW, so I’d have to forego lunch and IMMEDIATELY turn around and go to the orientation area.

Needless to say, lunch waited an hour.

Got shown a brief movie, put on a life jacket, and got into the water with a small group of people (there were four groups of ten altogether, and each group had two dolphins to interact with). Got 45 solid minutes of quality time with the critters and I could not have been happier.

Felt an instant affinity with them and made sure to stroke their bellies every time they swam by me – which made them shift to one side just a little bit to raise one eye above the water’s surface so we could make contact. They seemed to enjoy that. I also stroked them just underneath where it seemed their chin should be. My cats love being touched there, and I was surprised to see that the dolphins similarly enjoyed this.

As we all stood to one side on a platform in the water, they gravitated towards me and I slid my hands along the underside of their “nose”, which didn’t seem to bother them a bit despite what we had been told. In fact, doing this drew one dolphin even closer to me for some more. I was shocked that, despite being told how much they love children, they were practically ignoring the cute little girl in our group and spending quite a bit of time over with me. Lucky bastard me, eh?

Their flesh is like soft, living plastic with undulating muscles underneath. Beneath the wetness you can feel areas of tender lard where you wouldn’t expect it surrounded by turgid cartilage that gives solid shape to the area around it. This was most obvious in the strength of their incredible tails.

We splashed each other with water, they swam around our group at top-speed to demonstrate how they protect people from sharks, and they even pushed every single one of us into an almost upright position from the bottoms of our feet from one side of the pool to the other.

Beware the ides of March, indeed!

So there you have it. I wish I had something witty or conclusive to add, but all I can tell you is that if you ever get the chance to do something like this, DO IT.

And lest you think I’ve turned over some kind of New Age leaf after this mind-blowing experience, come back in a few days and I’ll post some thoughts about the third anniversary of our invasion of Iraq that’ll take the dumbfucks in control to task.

Ya’ see? It’s still me.


Blogger peace-sue said...

You paid to get into the water with captive dolphins???? AARRGGHHH!

I'm mostly kidding, in that, from what I've read, dolphins are happy domesticated animals. Still, I'll not get in a pen with an animal for any reason.

Just promise me that you know that elephants are only meant to be free, and you won't support their captivity. I know this can provoke a whole long list and I myself avoid it by going zoo and circus free, but I gotta say, elephants are a particularly special case. email me and I'll tell you why.

11:18 PM  

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