Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wednesday 27th March 2013

Peter-ism of the day: "I always wanted to be a mermaid." (To which Phil responded, "That's my boy, so proud!")

Picture of the day:

And here's the picture I wanted to use yesterday:

Hellen's Version

Another early start because Discovery Cove opens at 8.30 and serves breakfast. After breakfast we struggled (and I do mean struggled) into wetsuits and hit the Grand Reef for snorkelling over shoals of fish and stingrays. Unfortunately my plans to have fun were foiled by histrionics from two of the children. Ceri had cried for several minutes while attempting to put her wetsuit on because of painful sunburn on her shoulders, and then refused to get fully in the water, afraid it would hurt her shoulders even more. She usually loves swimming, especially underwater, and I'm still really disappointed she didn't get to experience snorkeling on the reef.Although she managed the dolphin swim she didn't start to really enjoy herself until I had removed the wetsuit and dressed her in her normal clothes again (just three hours after we arrived).

I also spent almost an hour with Hari who had been upset all morning and similarly only really relaxed when she was back in her clothes and burying Peter on the beach.

After swimming on the reef for an hour I went off to the restroom (see, I've learned the lingo) and struggled out of my wetsuit. I then found I couldn't struggle into it again, so I went to the wetsuit distribution station to ask for a bigger one. The attendant took one look at me and asked if I was allergic to rubber. My legs to the knees, shoulders and upper arms were covered in a rash so apparently I was. I was issued with a vest to wear over my swimsuit instead and the rash was gone within a hour. Good thing too. My legs had an area which was just rash, then rash on sunburn, then just sunburn. Very interesting look but not likely to catch on.

Everyone Else Version

Discovery Cove was the reason we came to Florida this time, and it didn't disappoint. From the friendly and personal welcome as we walked into the lush and beautiful reception area, to the dolphin encounter itself, it was all perfect. The food was all free, plentiful and delicious, everything was provided including towels and dolphin-friendly sunscreen, and although the weather was still rather too chilly to be comfortable at first, there were space-heaters in the eating area and elsewhere, and the water was warm.

The Grand Reef was amazing. We snorkelled over shoals of beautiful and colourful fish, stingrays we could touch (they had had their stings removed) and coral in all sorts of shapes and colours. I found an isolated little area through a cave, and looked down to discover that I was swimming over some very large sharks! Once I had established that there was glass between me and them I felt a little better, but several other fish and rays brushed by me. It was a magical experience, especially going round it with Gwen and then Roderic.

Our dolphin swim was at 12.30, and reviews I had read prior to the event had said that it was rather brief. Not at all. After an introduction we were taken to the pool where we met Jenny, our dolphin. We learned all about her, touched her, learned hand signals which she responded to, and played with her. Then we swam out to the deeper water and, one by one, rode Jenny back to the shallows. All-in-all we had about an hour interacting with our lovely dolphin and it was a moving and wonderful experience. The whole thing was filmed and photographed, and we bought the complete package so that we could remember it all properly.

We then had a very good lunch, laughing at the extremely tame squirrels and birds that kept appearing on the tables and trying to steal the food, and listening to a very good steel band.

In the afternoon I had some lovely mummy-daughter time with Gwen as we snorkelled around the tropical river, though an aviary and caves with stalactites, under waterfalls and over sunken ships. Swimming at the local  pool is going to seem so dull in comparison from now on. We sunbathed until the park closed, topping up the sunburn beautifully. My face  and shoulders are now very badly burnt, and I shall age even more prematurely than I already was. Totally worth it, though, as a reminder of a wonderful day with Jenny the dolphin, great friends and my slightly irksome family.

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