Thursday, February 09, 2006

Swimming with the Dolphins (the ocean is their toilet)

In the cafeteria at work on Friday, I ran into a guy I happened to go to Mexico with in 2000. We had no idea beforehand, just saw each other at the airport that day. It reminded me of when I fulfilled fantasy #27 "Swim with dolphins". I was visiting a wildlife preserve in Mexico(the one other than my hotel) and for $50US they will let you swim with dolphins for a half-hour. I was pumped. I had gone scuba-diving the day before so I had my fins, snork and mask and I was all ready to meet Flipper and his buddies and make dolphin noises underwater.
So I get there and they take away my mask, fins and snork, make me put on this ridiculously HUGE life jacket that I can't even turn my head to either side once it's on and the next thing I know I'm bobbing unhappily in the water like a friggin bowling pin.
So me and the 50 other bowling pins are floating there and they bring in the dolphins, about 8 of them, and we each break off into groups. We had a girl dolphin from Cuba. It was educational.. The trainer flipped her over and showed us the difference between girl dolphins and boy dolphins(the dolphin didn't seem to mind, he gave her a fish after). Soon after we're bobbing in the water and the dolphins are swimming through us and you can touch them as they swim by. They feel like a wetsuit made out of orange peels.

There was a gay couple from New York in my group and one of them was a real pain. The trainer goes, don't touch them on the head forward of their blow hole or ears, they don't like that, so New York proceeds to stick his finger in the dolphin's blow hole and ear and it gets pissed off and swims away and he goes "Hey, where is he going! Hey! Why is it leeeeeaving?!?!"

"First off he is a she" I said , "and second..." but he wasn't listening. Idiot. So I swam into the middle to put some distance between me and the new york guy who was now trying to poke the dolphin from the other group in the eyes insead and the next thing I knew, I had three dolphins around me.
They seemed to be trained to swim past you, let you touch them and then they look around for a fish, so I pet them, the trainer is on the side chucking fish and I had a feeding frenzy going on. It was great! And then Mr New York came dog paddling over to spoil the fun "They're over here!!! Over here!! Oh Don't swim away!!".. Dolphins are smart. They can tell if you're an asshole right away. They bugged out and one left a big chocolate swirl as it took a crap underwater. Hey! We are swimming in the dolphin's toilet( It's not like TV! Flipper never did that!)

They they lined us up and the dolphins jumped over our heads and stuff for awhile. That was cool. When it was over I was still kinda pissed at the NYC eye poker so I did a fast side stroke to the dock, beat everyone there and was the first one out. As I'm standing there dripping the trainer came over and said something in spanish and I said "Hmm?" and then he said in english

"Do you want more to swim with dolphins?" (or something like that) And I said "Sure!" he goes "OK, is free, stand here." So I'm standing on the side and I'm trying to get my wife's attention. She has been watching from the observation walkway the whole time but she is not looking my way. She is with some good freinds we came down from Ottawa with waiting for me to come back up. The trainer is picking certain people out of the crowd of 50, a spanish guy, a couple from Britain, a guy from Germany (not the couple from New York). Pretty soon he says "OK, follow!" and he takes off around the corner. I still haven't gotten my wife's attention and she is expecting me to come up with this crowd of 45 people but the trainer is gone now, down this little path and I made the decision to GO and face the concequences later(grin).

The trainer takes us to this huge man-mad pond in the back connected to the dolphin paddocks on the other side. He explains that these dolphins are wild and they are integrating them into the swim with dolphins plan. They have just started to get used to people. They are "how you say.. tough" I think he meant rough, but hell, this looks like more fun than the other one we just did. Then I kinda saw how he picked me and the others. He probably figured that these wild dolphins would not be able to kill us as easy(grin). So in we go. These wild dolphins are cool! They ram you, kinda bite you(or mouth you, ) head butt you, roll into you, move you, etc.. They haven't gotten the "Let the stupid human pet you and you get a fish" trick. Some of them are thinking "If I ram into this human full blast I'll surely get a fish! Hey where's my fish? Musn't have been hard enough!" Now I think I know why these life jackets are made this way. It's like dolphin armor.

That was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I think it lasted 45 minutes. I didn't know any of these other 5 people but we were all best freinds after almost being drowned by semi-wild dolphins. There was one dolphin they had to take out because he was too rough. I was curious how the hell they were gonna do that, I mean the trainers are on land and the dolphin is in the water, he's gonna do what he wants. Well, first off they don't throw fish his way, then they get this big pole with a circle on the end and they slide a plastic symbol into the circle and they slap this on the top of the water and shove it underneath when this dolphin swims by. He goes and looks at this symbol, then he swims off towards his dolphin paddock. ?????????? I asked them how that works but they were unable to translate.

Soon it was over and I broke the freestyle swimming record to get back to the other side and face my wife who has spent the last 45 minutes in a foreign country wondering where the hell her husband is.. I found her angry and arguing with the Swim with dolphins tour guide.

"My husband came down here, swam with your dolphins and he did not come back up with the other people! Is he dead at the bottom of your dolphin pool?" The guy actually bent over and checked if I was(grin)..

"Hi honey!" Uh oh....

That was bad.. But worth it!!

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