You may have seen that I’m just back from an amazing vacation on a cruise ship. The whole trip was wonderful, but the best part was swimming with the dolphins on Grand Cayman Island.
It was a group thing. Show up in your swimming clothes, please no jewelry or sunscreen, for the safety of the animals. Put your stuff in a locker. Stand in line. Listen over the din of the crowd to try and hear the instructions. Find a life vest in your size.
First they run you past a manta ray. It’s a baby so no stinger, and you get to pet it, but I didn’t really see the attraction. But I suppose it’s a good photo op for them. Whatever.
Next you traipse over to the other side of the enclosures to the dolphins. Our group had 10 people, in pairs. We got to play with Alma, a 25 year old rescue. You could see where her tail fin was very chewed up, apparently a boating accident. At 25, she’s a senior citizen, but she still seemed very spry to me!
I was really pleased with the way the whole encounter went once we reached Alma. Her handler was patient with her, and all the customers. He carefully explained things. He made sure everyone got the full experience. One of the people in our group fell off her board (I’ll explain that next) in the middle, so he encouraged her to go back out and try again. It was really well managed.
We got to interact in a number of ways with the Alma. Everyone got to just touch her as she drifted past us in a row. Then she came and held herself out of the water and everyone got a kiss. Then around again where we each got to hold her fins and ‘dance’.
The highlights were the ‘pushes’. The first one, you swim out to the other side of the enclosure with a boogie-board. Then you lay half on the board and keep your knees locked and your legs straight. The dolphin comes around and pushes you by your foot back across the enclosure. That sounds pretty tame, but I was really shocked at how fast we went! Completely unexpected and almost-scary in the very best way!
The second ‘push’ was more of a pull. Alma swam up along side so I could hold on to her side fins. Then she swam upside down and I rode on her belly back to the line up. I could really feel the power in her body on that one.
I was worried, before hand, that it wouldn’t be wonderful. That it would be crowded, or too short, or the dolphins would be mistreated. I’m very happy to say that, as usual, all my worrying was a complete waste of time. The dolphins seemed to be having a good time at their jobs, the handlers were patient and caring with them, and the water was clean and clear and looked as though it was connected to the ocean, perhaps with sluice gates or something, to keep the water fresh and balanced.
What I learned from this is, I need to do more things just because they are fun. Seriously. Look at my face! I need a lot more of that in my life!